On March 29, I wrote an article calling for Fairfield to advocate for itself as a sustainable campus. On the outside, Fairfield appears to have no sustainability policies, and its students reflect that. There is frequent litter around campus and the beach, hoarded trash rooms and an overall lack of care for climate change, even though it is something that is impacting our generation. The lack of care from students reflects poorly on Fairfield’s administration. Sustainability, on the outside, appears not to be a priority. Plastic is everywhere in dining services, and there are even times when water filters are not clean to use with a reusable water bottle.
After some research, I found that there are plans in place to make Fairfield more sustainable with faculty contributions. However, these plans are not publicized to students at all, and I called for Administration and Admissions to start making sustainability a part of the Fairfield identity. From the first time you set foot on campus, tour guides should mention the plans to become a more green campus. That way, new students know from the beginning that picking up after themselves and not wasting so much plastic is expected despite it seeming like the bare minimum. Personally, I found it to be a simple ask.
Since then, the Fairfield administration and social media platforms have remained silent on the matter. The Fairfield Instagram didn’t even make a post acknowledging Earth Day on April 22. If your argument is that a college social media cannot post about “controversial” topics, the FUSA Instagram account, which is the closest thing to our student representation, did not post anything either. And they have much more freedom to post than the general school account, which is clear as FUSA regularly posts about different holidays and events while the university account does not.
Why are we so afraid to advocate for something that is based on science? For a school that promotes itself by being close to the beach, we certainly don’t do much to take care of that space once we get here.
I’m not sure if people don’t care because they don’t see it or they don’t think it will impact this generation. I suppose it comes down to a lack of knowledge. Some say this is because we cannot see global warming or the fact that it’s not changing. In a study to understand why people do not believe in climate change, Pew Research Center interviewed 32 climate change skeptics on why they do not believe in climate change.
An anonymous man from Florida said “I think that [extreme weather events] are not happening more. I think people know about them more”.
“We know about a tsunami that happened across the world, whereas 50 years ago, we never even heard of it. It may seem like things are happening more and more, but I think that just that’s the cycle of life, the cycle of Earth. And if they are happening a little more, then that is just the cyclical part of what’s going on with the planet,” he continued.
Reading this, I thought about my hometown. I’m from northern Massachusetts, close to the New Hampshire border, and to make matters simple, microbursts and tornadoes are not common to us. They aren’t common to most of New England either. On Sept. 8, a string of microbursts and severe storms took my hometown out of commission for weeks. My parents and brother had to live with my grandparents for four days until they got power back. If you asked me ten years ago if I ever expected a tornado in Massachusetts, I would have laughed. This summer, I heard on the news about four times that tornados had landed in various parts of Massachusetts. So these things have happened, but they are on record to be happening more frequently.
It also comes down to what you listen to and how you educate yourself. Michael Ranney, who researches why people don’t believe in climate change, said how we consume media ties into our knowledge of it. “For many Americans, they’re caught between a radio talk show host—of the sort that Rush Limbaugh is—and maybe a professor who just gave them a lecture on global warming.” When fed two media pieces, people are likelier to go toward what makes the most sense. Even I admittedly do that. I don’t find myself going to research papers when I want to learn more about a topic. I go to something that I understand, and I suppose that’s why we lack so much knowledge. Certainly, I think there are more extreme cases in this, as many people will choose to side with a politician’s view of climate change instead of scientists just because they are easier to understand.
Many famous politicians will share blatantly false information with people, and some individuals will believe it because they never look at a more professional source. Donald Trump is infamous for his egregious tweets, such as, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make the U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Some people believe the paranoia he spews because of tweets like, “The environment is very important to me. Someone wrote a book saying that I’m an environmentalist.” Well, he says he cares about the environment; therefore, what he says is true! This is the problem with the world.
At this point, I can only ask that people, especially Fairfield students, start to educate themselves correctly about climate change. I’m certain that if you learn the drastic effects of what is happening, you will start to care, too.