In October 2018, the United Nations released a report stating that our world has about 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Only a half a degree more than this could eradicate the world's coral reefs, and worsen the risks and effects of drought, flooding, heat, and poverty worldwide. Through this project, I wanted to remind people that nature and humans are one in the same, and that to view nature as outside of ourselves creates a disconnect that allows apathy to permeate policy and individual accountability. Climate change and the future of our ecosystem is something that affects everyone. College students of UNC-Chapel Hill, the next generation charged with taking care of our planet, talk about their relationship with their environment, and their hopes and fears for the future.
"I think we take for granted our relationship with the environment – on both a societal and individual level. On a broader scale, evidence of our mistreatment of the environment is everywhere. Worse yet, the burden of this continued destruction is most often forced upon already marginalized groups. Today, climate change and natural disasters are among the largest drivers of human displacement around the world. Honestly, it’s disheartening to see how little time we have left to structurally change how we interact with the environment. When even a shift to a digital world seems ineffective – e-waste shipped off to ‘out of mind’ countries results in polluted air – it’s hard to imagine a future where we are able to fix our toxic relationship with the environment,” said Mark Goldbach.
"I support helping the environment in any way I can. When I was in high school, I started a camp that originally stemmed from upstream/downstream environmental initiatives to help my area, where we would make things like tennis ball container finishing line waste buckets and place them all around the Tar River. Projects like these are still going on to this day by youth in my home town through the camp I helped start, growing every year in hopes of a better environment and helping the youth understand the importance at a young age," said Jessi Zhou.
"To me I do what I can to help the environment but I’m not the biggest advocate for it. I do things like use reusable water bottles, recycle, carpool when I can, bike to class etc. The report that came out basically said that things need to change and if it doesn’t then people are going to start to feel the personal impact. However, I wonder how much can change in order to prevent something terrible from happening," said Karen Vanderford.
"Growing up my relationship with the environment was pretty self serving. I loved climbing trees, hiking mountains, swimming in the ocean and just playing outside. Now, I feel more of a responsibility to be mindful and protect it. Regarding the UN 2030 report, I know we have a long ways to go in a short amount of time. So, to me that means doing more of what I can: recycling more, using less single-use plastics, and eating more responsibly. However, in order to truly protect the environment we live in, we need to see a policy shift to make big corporations and business comply with sustainable energy use. Humanity needs to understand that money is not the only green we should care about," said Edie Lindley.
"Growing up in LA, the only natural disasters we were ever scared of were earthquakes. But the recent increased in devastating wild fires up and down the state over the past few years has really left its mark on everyone. It's like nature is warning us about how much we are destroying our planet, and things will only get worse if we don't act fast," said Omar Trad.
"It’s upsetting to hear that the environment is reaching disaster levels of climate change when this is an issue that could have been prevented if more policies were in place to begin with. I think it’s especially important that we vote for representatives that care about the environment so that we can enact actual change for the long-term. We’re destroying a beautiful place and it would be tragic if humans were the cause for its demise, especially because it’s the only place we can survive at the moment. The earth shouldn’t be paying for the consequences of human greed. I’m not sure what our future will look like but I think it’s important that individuals and corporations both take care of the planet because it’s our home," said Trisha Bonthu.
"As someone who loves to travel, I feel connected to our world and the environment. I am disheartened about the recent UN report, and hope that our world powers can come together to protect our natural treasures from disappearing in the next decade," said Callen Filippone.
"As an environmental studies student, I am super passionate about the environment and I try to limit my carbon footprint to the best of my ability. The 2030 UN climate report is a wake up call that I think the developed world needed, although I don't think it comes as a surprise. It is discouraging that Trump has gone out of his way to try and reinvigorate the coal industry when there are already cleaner options out there. I'm optimistic that many corporations and large metropolitan areas are trying to take a step in the right direction by investing in renewables and cutting carbon, though. I can't remember who said it, but I think this applies: 'the Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones,'" said Danny Callum.