Chris Christie sat on live television the morning of Dec. 1, staring at Joe Scarborough as he was asked if he believed in climate change. The New Jersey governor, a supposedly educated politician, looked directly at Scarborough and gave his answer.
“I don’t buy that, Joe,” Christie said. “I don’t see any evidence that it’s a crisis.”
When asked to identify what scientific data he used for that conclusion, he said didn’t need any. That was his “feeling.”
Christie’s comments come as President Obama attends the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. The conference is also known as COP 21, the Conference of Parties taking place 21 years after the first meeting in Rio. The gathering of international leaders is aimed at developing a legally binding agreement to keep climate change from increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The conference is often referred to as human’s last reasonable chance at battling the global climate change. There are more than 50,000 people at the conference, running from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, and representatives from over 190 countries are present.
But even with all of this discussion on climate change, there are still those denying that the world’s rising temperatures are not a real problem, and are certainly not issues we should be addressing in the face of terrorism, violence and financial challenges across the world.
This month’s Green Film, Merchants of Doubt, shines a blinding spotlight on “fake experts” who utilize the media to convince viewers that global warming does not exist, and that modern science is simply supporting political agendas. And as college students, this isn’t a joke to laugh about. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sift through all of the untrue garbage aimed at us, the naïve kids who don’t know the real world yet. How can we find the gold when all we’re facing is trash?
It’s essential to remember that even though these “reputable” sources are marketing their doubts to us, we can’t argue with facts. Nobody disputes the existence of gravity. Nobody questions whether the earth revolves around the sun. And nobody argues against the chemical compositions of our ocean, our land or the air we breathe.
So, why are we fighting about climate change, even after hundreds of scientists have confirmed rising temperatures, and thousands of scientific studies reinforced their words? It’s the result of the worst kind of ignorance: willful ignorance.
This is no longer an issue up for debate, and it is no longer certain we can reverse climate change. The Jersey Shore seems to be grow more vulnerable each year. Billions of people cannot access clean drinking water. Rising temperatures result from heat trapped in an ozone layer weakened by greenhouse gases, and about 90 percent of all greenhouse gases in the air are the result of human activity. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that our planet is over its carrying capacity. Too many of us are tainting the resources we have left.
Climate change is not an issue that can be solved by slicing our population or flying half of us to Mars. That’s why COP 21 must mean more than a bunch of world leaders sitting and talking about the earth — it must mean a solution.
With that being said, it doesn’t mean we should helplessly throw the responsibility to our politicians. We can all agree that they won’t solve all the issues by themselves. Each of us, students, faculty and administrators, need to stake a claim in that responsibility.
Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization based in Oregon, has been leading the fight in filing lawsuits against the federal government. Their basis is simple: The government has not been protecting us from climate change. But here’s where it gets different: All of the plaintiffs are kids, too young to vote.
If a bunch of 13-year-olds can lead us in a battle for our planet, why can’t we follow their lead? We’re older, with more opportunity and knowledge. We don’t have to fly to Paris or sue our government to make our voices heard, but we can make sure we’re doing our part. We shouldn’t be falling behind kids who aren’t even in high school yet.
All of us at Rider can make little changes that collectively are huge helps to our climate problem. We can eat less meat, make use of Rider’s water bottle refill stations, try to drive less and shut off the lights when leaving the dorm or office.
And we can all stay educated. Listen to the Eco Reps’ advice and their information. Follow the Paris Climate Conference on COP21’s website, or on reputable news sites like The Los Angeles Times, which update on a daily basis. Realize who the merchants of doubt are and make sure you don’t buy what they’re selling. And remember, climate change is an immense issue, but it doesn’t take 190 nations or a nonprofit in Oregon to make a difference. To fight a problem like global warming, it’s going to take a global call to arms.
The second viewing of Merchants of Doubt will be hosted by the Eco Reps in Sweigart 115 at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9.
The weekly editorial express the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 12/09/15 issue.