State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

You Asked: How Can Students Make a Difference on Climate Change?

You Asked” is a series where Earth Institute experts tackle reader questions on science and sustainability. In honor of Climate Week NYC and the Covering Climate Now initiative, we’re dedicating a few weeks to focusing on your questions about climate change.

The following question was submitted through our Instagram page by one of our followers:

How can many of us, as younger students, do our part to help limit the effects of climate change?

Response from Meredith Harris, a student in Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary (Class of ’21):

Arianna Christina Menzelos and Meredith Harris co-lead Columbia for Carbon Neutrality.

Students can take action by educating their non-environmentally informed friends about the perils of climate change, and the basic habits they can change in their daily lives (such as eating less meat) to help make an impact. While it is difficult to write policy, or change the minds of adults in power, informing the current and next generation will help prepare society for how we can combat the most life-threatening issue any of us will have to face in the coming years.

Response from Arianna Christina Menzelos, a student in Columbia College (Class of ’21):

There’s no question that I want radical climate action — i.e. upending social, economic, and political orders in favor of a more sustainable status quo overnight. However, I worry that a narrow focus on macro goals (a Green New Deal, international agreements, etc), will prevent me from taking initiative on the impacts that I can make as a student. In the past two years, I co-led a campaign with my close friend to urge Columbia to commit to carbon neutrality. Sure, Columbia is not New York City, or the state, or the country, but it is my world (at least for the next two years).

My best advice in taking climate action is to choose a project — no matter the scale — and see it to its completion. Then, you can take up another one. And maybe one day it will be on a more global scale!

Note: On September 20, three days before the UN Climate Summit in NYC, millions of young people and adults will strike all across the US and world to demand transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis. Click here to find a climate strike near you.

Got a question about climate change? Feeling curious about conservation? To submit a question, drop a comment below, message us on Instagram, or email us here.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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