As Energy Conservation Month comes to an end, I find myself realizing that a majority of Lehigh’s population was unaware and unaffected. Why is it that we don’t seem to care?
At the beginning of November, Lehigh students received an email from the Office of Sustainability announcing the beginning of Energy Conservation Month. The Office of Sustainability challenged students “to be conscious of our energy conservation behaviors, to commit to adopting new energy saving behaviors, and to engage with our peers and coworkers on the topic of energy conservation.”
I am disappointed by the Lehigh community’s lack of motivation and commitment to adjust its practices in response to global warming. The Office of Sustainability asserts that Lehigh is committed to energy efficiency and conservation, but this commitment is absent among the students. In order for Lehigh to truly commit to having a sustainable campus, the Lehigh student body must actively engage in changing the way Lehigh operates. Sustainability is not something that Lehigh students can simply turn a blind eye to — as students we have the duty to react to administrative initiatives. We are the generation that must task ourselves with the job of stopping the environmental degradation by humans. It starts with us. Throwing non-recyclables in the recycling bin or leaving your phone charger plugged in all day and draining energy is no longer something that can be tolerated.
I understand the reality that a majority of students don’t give the environment a second thought. Not only is this selfish, but it is also shortsighted. Pick up a magazine, read a book, check your Lehigh email. Anywhere and everywhere you look, you’ll see that the environment can no longer sustain itself if we continue our current practices. Our campus needs to open its eyes and realize that ignoring emails about energy conservation is the first step down a very dark path. We have the skill set, intelligence and capability to change, so let’s do it.
My advice to my peers is this: climate change will never cease to be an issue during our time of existence. So we have two choices: we either choose to unite together as one community or we choose not to act, and in turn destroy our planet and ourselves. The environment is not something that can be neglected any longer – its needs must be addressed. After reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, my outlook on global warming was altered completely. Klein stresses the idea that we as a society have all chosen not to acknowledge climate change by the simple act of not educating ourselves about it. Klein introduces the idea that climate change does not need to be the end of our society, but rather presents us with the opportunity for a new beginning. Klein emphasizes that as a society, we must make drastic changes to our way of life, but this gives us the ability to close the poverty gap, create jobs and re-establish democracy. Klein has shed positivity on a topic that once only emitted darkness.
As Energy Conservation month comes to a close and we head towards 2016, let’s choose as a united Lehigh community to take a stance to protect the environment. Sign the Energy Conservation Pledge from the Office of Sustainability, educate yourselves on the science behind global warming, and please, unplug your chargers.
– Lindsay Wilson, ’18