Winter is coming, and Rider students will soon be enjoying the heat in their dorm rooms and filling up on warm meals in Daly’s, Cranberry’s or the Dining Commons. With access to these resources as cold weather moves in, it is important for students to be mindful that these advantages are not afforded to all people. The issues of hunger and homelessness impact thousands of people in the United States, with 13.5 percent of the population living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census, and many with limited means in addition to that population. Climate change exacerbates these problems domestically and globally.
With the significant increase of extreme weather events caused by climate change in recent years, the need for resilient communities moving forward is more important now than ever before. People are losing their homes and seeing their communities destroyed in new ways. Changing climates mean rising sea levels and worsening droughts, among many other impacts that directly affect how people live.
In New Jersey, we have seen these issues firsthand. Many lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy, and years later struggle with the rebuilding process. The superstorm was an anomaly at the time, but there is a worsening threat for reoccurrence as the increase in temperature and precipitation in our region accelerates with the changing climate.
Senior education major Jennifer Sweeney is a resident of coastal Toms River, and said, “I’ve lived by the beach all my life and see the changes that have already happened. I learned in a Baccalaureate Honors Program class how these changes in the environment impact the Jersey Shore and, whether people know it or not, in my community, sea level rise is a real concern.”
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees states that “since 2009, an estimated one person every second has been displaced by a disaster, with an average of 22.5 million people displaced by climate- or weather-related events since 2008.” The populations that are impacted the worst are those on the frontlines of poverty.
As the campus continues to participate in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in these upcoming days, students can attend educational events to learn more about these issues and help to make a change in the community. This Friday, the Eco Reps will be partnering with Aramark to bring attention to food waste in Daly’s.
Although Rider is making large strides as a sustainable campus, there is still a lot to be done, and that starts with individual actions. Be conscious of how your lifestyle contributes to climate change. All people share the same resources, and excess for one means too little for another. In order to be a truly sustainable society, we must work together to ensure that basic needs are met for all.
Lawrenceville Eco Rep
Printed in the 11/16/16 issue.