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Climate change heats up: how will The College at Brockport respond?

by The Stylus staff

Staff editorial

Tue, Sep 12th 2017 11:00 pm

There was a time, not too long ago in the grand scheme of things, when we thought Earth was the center of the universe and when whiskey was used as an anesthetic for amputated limbs. Luckily, science came and knocked some sense into us. 

Climate change is no different, as scientists have done all they can to urge the masses that we have permanently altered our one and only home: Earth. It’s almost too late for those with the power to enact change to accept their moral duty; corporations, oil companies and to a lesser extent, college campuses, are all exceptionally more responsible for their impact on the world around them due to the amount of waste they produce and resources they expend. 

 As extreme weather conditions ravage different parts of the United States, we at The College at Brockport continuously experience after-effects as we watch the world struggle to cope with damage and loss of lives we wonder what more must it take for greater institutions to funnel resources into mechanisms that combat climate change? 

Confusing weather patterns, such as the extreme wind storm which took place in the Greater Rochester region in March 2017, was followed by heavy snow. Rochester beaches were forced to close over the summer due to excessive flooding by surrounding lakes. 

Currently, historically large and powerful hurricanes have ravaged parts of Texas and Florida while the state of Oregon is largely on fire as temperatures rise and everything from street signs to garbage totes melt in Arizona. Somehow, not everyone can agree on one thing: none of this is normal. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the eye of Hurricane Irma alone is as large as the Rochester metropolitan area, or between 20 to 40 miles in diameter, to put it into perspective. 

While Hurricane Irma is only the third category five hurricane to ever hit the United States, it is not unreasonable to assume the shear force and power of world weather will heighten and refuse to discriminate who will be affected by it.

We can share GoFundMe links and resource lists for survivors all we want, but there is a significant portion of the population which believes these events to be natural, and further, no cause for alarm.

Our campus evolves with changes in demand for space and environmental accommodations, but there may never come a time where our efforts are adequate. 

What with a new dorm building being built on campus, students may be curious about the details behind this project in the context of environmental sensibility. 

According to governor.ny.gov, the dorm building, which will eventually house 256 students, will meet LEED-Silver standards under the U.S. Green Building Council’s sustainability and energy efficiency guidelines. 

This status is achieved based on the number of points a project earns in categories such as water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and the potential to reuse and recycle resources used to build and sustain the project. The SERC, Liberal Arts Building and Lathrop Hall were also awarded this status upon their completion. 

As the campus continues to age and buildings are replaced, new buildings should fall in line with LEED guidelines as well, so as to create a foundation for the future. 

While this is optimistic news, if we are to think about the future of our campus, students may be seeking other visible details indicating Brockport is amongst collegiate pioneers fighting climate change.

We at The Stylus wonder about the underuse of solar panels, as we know them to be expensive investments yet incredible assets which pay for themselves. Currently, we notice a lack of such energy technology. There is also interest regarding hypothetical hybrid car charging stations to accomodate eco-friendly vehicles.

Concern comes from the fact that money is being poured into construction projects in order to accommodate an increasing incoming class of students while some students remain unsure if renewable energy, along with all other favorable options for environmental sensitivity, are being taken into consideration and put into use across campus.

Of course, the responsibility should not be placed entirely on administration. What are we, as students, doing to take advantage of the trash and recycling receptacles constantly being placed in convenient places around campus? What are we doing in our daily lives? 

As we have aged, we as millennials have become known as the most eco-conscious generation. If we are not pushing for those with power to implement policy in the face of an administration that denies these monumental changes happening to our planet, then we are not earning that eco-conscious reputation. 

The horrific weather brought upon us by climate change will only continue. Billions of dollars in property damage costs will spring up and areas will become uninhabitable due to lack of government aid. The reality is that we cannot trust our current government to prioritize climate change, if we look at President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, as well as his cutting back of the EPA budget. 

Right now, the Trump administration is approaching equal footing with big corporations who do not have as many expectations placed upon them to regulate emissions. If the issue of climate change isn’t one of its first priorities, then we need to have a long conversation. 

The issue lies in the fact that we are unsure if they are willing to have it as well. Judging by the fact that within days of winning the presidency, someone on Trump’s team removed the educational section regarding climate change on the official White House website, we cannot hold anyone but ourselves accountable.  

We hope, going forward, that Brockport is on the right track. We must do this not simply to ease our guilty consciousness, but so that when the time comes, we are able to say we did all we could. 

We must do these things to invest in our futures and of those not yet born. The effects of the damage done on our home planet will only continue to make themselves known, but we can take steps to slow them down and stop them in their tracks. While it is unreasonable to feel quilty over things we cannot control, we do have a say in this issue.