Collective and positive action that you can be a part of.
Written By: Chris Vrettos
Art By: EJ Oakley
2016 has been a tumultuous year for the world scene. If we mainly focus on politics and science, it would be radical not to characterise this year with some lovely doom and gloom on climate change – and I don’t feel like deviating from this norm. First there was Brexit, whose implications on environmental policy have yet to be fully determined but are highly unlikely to be positive. Then there was the election of Trump, a vocal climate change denier, as president of the United States. Trump only recently appointed Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State. It is worth mentioning that the American oil company had scientific evidence of man-driven climate change as early as the 1980s and has been funding climate change denial research and groups since. The list continues with the world surpassing the 400ppm carbon dioxide limit, a damning report by the World Wildlife Fund stating that two-thirds of wildlife may be gone by 2020, and 2016 being locked as the ‘hottest year on record’; the list goes on.
As mostly liberal and open-minded university students, belonging to one of the most informed and connected generations to ever exist, we already know most of this information. On the verge of being cynical, we are tired of being told how ‘urgent’ the issue of climate change is. This often comes paired with a feeling of hopelessness as we fail to see how our individual actions can make a difference.
But is individual action all that hopeless? In the weeks leading up to the historic Paris summit of November 2015, hundreds of thousands of people, people like you and me, from any and every background, marched for the climate all around the world. Millions of people expressed their solidarity for the indigenous people (the ‘water protectors’) of North Dakota, fighting a proposed oil pipeline that was planned to pass through their sacred, ancestral grounds with the potential of polluting thousands of gallons of drinking water. After months of demonstrations, the pipeline was halted and a rerouting was planned. The overwhelming majority of millennials and young people support policies for the protection of the environment, as proposed through the agendas of progressive politicians like Bernie Sanders in the United States. And let us not forget how young people are radically altering modern eating-habits towards a more sustainable and ethical manner encountered in vegetarian and vegan diets. Individuals are getting together and organising in people-powered grassroots movements in a historically unprecedented manner.
And in an era of corporatism, where journalistic integrity is subjected to establishment interests, it is more important than ever to voice our opinions and to exchange thought-provoking, rebellious and innovative ideas and views, uncensored and uncut. Let us be loud and clear on how and why climate change must be stopped.
This presents me with the opportunity of introducing The Climate Collective – an online project started by three UCL Biodiversity and Conservation students. The Climate Collective is an interactive platform used for the discussion of climate change. We ask people from all around the world, no matter their background, to share with us their views and experiences on the issue. We aim to create an archive of stories of everyday people and their direct or indirect encounters with the impacts of climate change, thus personalizing an issue hitherto coined as being ‘too scientific’, ‘distant’ or ‘vague’.
So if you are looking for a platform to protest the millions of pounds invested in fossil fuel companies by UCL, talk about the impact of factory farming on the environment, or simply complain about the lack of snow in recent winters, look out for the project on social media. Be part of the discussion.
And because a good cliché is never to be underestimated, don’t forget – we are the ones we have been waiting for.