Written by Victoria Mansfield
“Climate change” action: what do these words mean to the average college student? To some, it may simply mean changing personal daily behaviors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To others, it also includes taking part in a large movement that pushes for policies that will reduce these emissions. Climate change is an issue that currently affects all of humankind in a multitude of ways, and will only worsen as time passes. Even those who do not identify as environmentalists should have reason to care about climate change because it is not only an environmental issue, but is also an issue that has implications linked to many other daily human affairs, such as resource management, social justice, and economics. When considering these issues, one must realize how they are interconnected and have larger impacts on certain communities. Effective resource management is crucial as climate change threatens the state of natural materials that we depend on. Additionally, implementation of successful financial structures to support this management is needed. Climate change and its mitigation measures deeply affect present and future generations.
Rather than leaving this issue for later generations to solve, we should acknowledge the power we have and use the tools and resources that this university currently equips us with in order to work towards addressing climate change. We are fortunate to reside in a school environment that fosters innovation and collaboration. UCSB students have been successful in making significant changes to overcome social justice and environmental issues in the past, so why not continue this enthusiastic spirit that yearns for advancement? The UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative is a UC wide goal to become carbon neutral by 2025, with emissions of net zero greenhouse gases from vehicle fleet and buildings. It will have a huge impact when achieved, not only across the UCSB campus, but also across all UC campuses. Student engagement with this initiative is absolutely essential to bring about positive change. Why aren’t we as informed about or engaged with this as much as we should be? Shouldn’t we maximize this precious time to take responsibility to push forward ideas that help us get closer to climate neutrality and justice? To build this civic engagement, we need to come together and inspire others around us to build a movement that demands change, and keeps the vision of our net neutrality goal ahead of us.
Our university already serves as a leader in sustainability and celebrates its ranking as the 3rd “greenest” university in the United States. Though we should take pride in the great deal of work that we have already accomplished, there is much more to be done on a larger scale. Planning this influential on a student-serving campus should not be something only left to administration and faculty to address. Our student creativity and student-coalition building should push us to partner with other groups to unite, work together, and find common causes to begin paving the way towards sustainability for future generations.
It can be difficult to step outside of our busy lives and schedules as students to focus energy on a new campaign, but allotting time to work towards something this great that will affect many lives should be worth the effort. How to start? Be curious about what efforts our campus is involved in, respond to that email asking for your input, attend that educational opportunity or forum during your free time (and bring others with you), and get involved in creating and collaborating for change on our campus. Specifically, giving student input and suggestions on upcoming campus policy decisions is highly encouraged and necessary. We should make the time to learn about climate change and carbon neutrality, which greatly affects our campus and the broader environment, and work to communicate our ideas on sustainable improvement with the various UCSB communities. When there is a collective push for action, then the journey towards achieving carbon neutrality will become more apparent and positive.
If you are interested in getting more involved with this initiative, please contact: Victoria Mansfield at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jewel Snavely at Jewel.Snavely@vcadmin.ucsb.edu.