It’s the end of October and it’s hot. My fellow pumpkin spice drinking and cardigan wearing girlies, gents and nonbinary friends may be left wondering: What in the world happened to sweater weather? Rather than wearing sweaters, it seems like this is the season of sweating.
Science has the answer. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the rate of warming is more than twice as fast as it was in 1981. In fact, scientists say that 2023 is on track to be the hottest year on record.
These statistics can leave people feeling hopeless and helpless. Exerting effort on such a large issue can seem futile. And, given how busy we are as college students, we may feel we don’t have the time to help in the first place.
As 5C students, it’s important for us to find an avenue in which we can make a difference.
One way to get involved in the effort to slow global warming is joining Divest Claremont Colleges, a club that started in 2015 to put pressure on Pitzer College authorities to divest from fossil fuels.
“The main strategies of the organization are a two-pronged approach of working within and outside of the institution,” Anthony Shing PZ ’24, a previous member of Divest 5Cs, told me. “Working inside could mean signing petitions and encouraging faculty to support divestment and contacting admin and trustees to be more transparent about their investments. Working outside is more about generating public pressure and educating students about divestment.”
Getting involved with on-campus organizations such as the Green Bike Program and the Robert Redford Conservancy are also excellent choices. You can also participate in climate strikes occurring on campus. For those looking to make an impact beyond the 5C bubble, I encourage you to engage with organizations like California Society for Ecological Restoration, United States Fish and Wildlife Services and the Sierra Club.
However, involvement doesn’t have to be limited to solely participating in Divest 5Cs or other on-campus organizations.
For those who can afford it, action can look like urging your friends and family to switch to using electricity from wind farms and solar panels. Also, switching your car to an electrically powered one can save you up to $1,000 a year overall.
Of course, not every 5C student has the socioeconomic means to implement these changes — and that’s okay. For those who don’t find themselves able to make the solar switch, I suggest action in the form of lobbying to hold policymakers accountable. This means reaching out to your representatives and signing petitions to enact change, a process made simpler through organizations like Sunrise Claremont Colleges.
According to the Berkeley Lab, “the primary barrier to increased alternative energy use will not be cost, it will be enacting new policies. A coordinated policy response between states and the federal government will be necessary to succeed.” Let’s help make this a reality by putting pressure on government officials to make the changes we want to see.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, I don’t blame you. Sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is entirely in our tiny, minuscule hands. It is a valid feeling. At the end of the day, it is impossible to tackle the climate crisis alone. It is far too much to bear. That’s why it is so important that we make a concerted effort together.
When I need inspiration, I turn to this quote from Naomi Klein’s book “On Fire”: “The answer to the question ‘What can I, as an individual, do to stop climate change?’ is nothing. We can only meet this tremendous challenge together, as part of a massive and organized global movement.”
Whether you excel in writing, public speaking, math, computer science, graphic design or more, your skills are valued and can be utilized in tackling the climate crisis. There is strength in numbers and your participation does matter. Together, in solidarity, we can enact change. Let’s get to work before it’s too late.
Joanne Oh PZ ’25 is a biochemistry and sociology major at Pitzer College. Although no longer an environmental science major, she still is passionate about the environment. It’s almost as if she cares about preserving the earth she lives on.