Let’s talk about climate change differently
Today, I would like to speak with you about climate change. It’s all right; I come in peace. Before you stop reading, I won’t be discussing statistics, using guilt or inciting controversy.
In America, the debate surrounding climate change has become far too divisive. The mainstream media and its pundits have used the topic as a battleground in our culture war. Partisan vilification of people on both sides has taken the place of nuanced discussions about our role in carbon emissions, global warming, ocean acidification, deforestation, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity and weather.
In past years, our society has depended and relied on traditional media (newspaper, television and radio) for information. Recently, that has shifted as the internet has allowed for more accessible media and information. As of 2016, the Pew Research Center found a majority of people were also getting their news from social media. This finding was underscored by Russian election meddling, which utilized Facebook to exploit the political division in our country.
We have become separated on an issue that should be simple to rally for: the well-being of our home. Recently, social media has made the effects of climate change more visible. A 2019 study by Elsevier Analytics found that social media posts positively affected people’s knowledge and awareness of climate change. Social media exposes people to more conspiracy content, contentious debates and misinformation, but it also makes research and the ever-updating effects of climate-change more available.
The issue of our actions affecting Earth should not be contingent on one’s liberal or conservative status. It is the responsibility of our society to collectively preserve and sustain our home. We need to cease arguing about which party is at fault. We are all responsible for the Earth’s condition. And we can all do our part to contribute to a solution.
Each of us, especially as Americans, produce and consume a gluttonous amount of resources and waste. We throw away literal tons of trash with no consideration of our actions. We buy products designed to not be reused or to be obsolete in a short amount of time. We neglect to recycle or adequately reuse products. We drive cars everywhere we go because our Midwestern cities lack adequate public transportation or convenient alternatives like bike routes.
Our communities need to take responsibility for our actions. We may not have lots of fiscal resources to use in combating climate change, but if action is taken early enough, we may not need them.
One of the projects I was most passionate about during my time at Allen was planting the seed for a recycling program. For a brief time, I collected excess recyclable materials on my own throughout different departments at Allen. This gave me a glimpse of the immense amount of waste we produce. I then took this to the recycling center in Garnett where I properly sorted the material among the recycle bins. Such a system could be put in place in Iola. Yes, it would just require investment and time, but the opportunity to protect our region’s beauty would more than justify the expense.
Through community collaboration, Iola could institute its own recycling program and provide an example for southeast Kansas. Instead of waiting until Earth forces our hand, we can protect our environment. The hotter summers, sporadic winters, frequent floods and drifting tornadoes are omens. We should be protecting the earth God gave us as if it was our breathing mother. Let’s protect our planet; it’s the only one we’ve got!
Imani Lemon is an Allen alumnus. He graduated in the spring of 2019.