Imagine – you’re in elementary school and it’s Earth Day. To celebrate, your teacher handed out markers and a coloring page full of blooming flowers, happy animals, and clear skies. Then your class comes out to talk about the environment and its many wonders. Yet as soon as you step outside, you realize the stark differences between your idealistic coloring and the real world. You see blooming flowers replaced by barren soil, flocks of birds retreating from the scorching heat, and smoggy skies. This is not what Earth Day is supposed to be.
Whether the ice caps are mergerthe global sea level is rising where the earth is burningwe all know that the climate is changing. Nations around the world came together in 2015 to adopt the Paris Agreement – a legally binding treaty on climate change with the aim of limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Just a few weeks ago, the International Panel on Climate Change published its sixth evaluation report, which indicated that this objective could not be achieved. As it stands, the scientific evidence shows that cumulative net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2010 in all major sectors, mainly in urban areas. This information is not new — we have studied these growing trends for decades. Yet some continue to ignore this problem because they do not recognize its catastrophic future. effects. Others call climate change a simple prank. Both forms of repression are detrimental to any progress made.
Not everyone has remained silent on this issue – after a multitude of student protests and requestsmany universities have started to act. brown university possesses sold 90 percent of its investment in fossil fuel extraction and Stanford University has reduced more than 90% of its active holdings in fossil fuels, to name a few. Here on Grounds, the student group DivestUVA has writing innumerable letters to the rector of Ryan University and to the Visitors Council, urging to divest the University’s $14.5 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry. These efforts demonstrate that not enough has been done to reverse the impending effects of climate change on Grounds – like these student groups, we need to look at the bigger picture. While individuals can and should always engage in sustainable practices, ultimately it is institutions that are able to bring about the changes we so desperately need.
The Climate Action Tracker has rated the United States is falling short in its response to climate change. In Virginia, Governor Glenn Youngkin failed nomination from former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to the Secretary of Natural Resources and announced in December that he for to withdraw the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative demonstrate that the state administration is indifferent to the climate crisis. Climate change has been – and continues to be – politicized and written off by policy makers. However, a dying planet should not be the subject of political debate, nor remain in indifference.
That of the University 2011 goal reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 2009 levels was accomplished six years at the start of 2019. While we commend the University’s achievements, the ease with which it has achieved this goal suggests ‘She should hold herself to higher standards. The University must devote itself wholeheartedly to the fight against climate change.
More recently, the University’s 2020-2030 sustainability plan was approved by the Board of Visitors — setting targets to be carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil free by 2050 – while the University Investment Management Company annual report 2020-2021 primarily celebrates smaller community efforts to combat climate change. Although beneficial, these actions are not enough. On the one hand, the University must be much more transparent in the specific actions it takes to achieve these goals. For example, carbon neutrality can theoretically be achieved by purchasing carbon offsets – an unethical practice that dump responsibility to reduce carbon emissions on other companies. In addition to greater transparency on how it plans to achieve carbon neutrality, the University must fully disclose its fossil fuel investments and accelerate its timeline for divestment. UVIMCO, on the other hand, must recognize the reality that small-scale efforts are not enough. Reversing climate change is driven by large-scale institutional action and time is running out.
Our climate is changing. Our Earth is dying — children are To go without water, forests are increasingly burning and species are decline. With Earth Day fast approaching, we must heed the warnings of climate scientists and act now. Every day we are exposed to a changing climate and choose to do nothing is a day spent living in blissful ignorance – killing ourselves and life as we know it. This Saturday there is a national climate change March in DC called the “Rally for Climate, Care, Jobs and Justice.” And here on Grounds, there is a multitude of Earth Day Events and clubs fight against climate change. We encourage students to make their voices heard — attend the “How to Save a Planet Eco-Fair” and DivestUVA march on climate change — do your part by demanding change from the University administration and local legislators.