The world has heard it on the radio and on television: “Pollution is killing our planet.” People have seen posters throughout the halls that demand they recycle before it is too late. Talks around the dinner table have led to debates about if the words are true or not: climate change.
For many, climate change does not mean anything. Many are not educated on the fact that the climate truly is changing, and not for the better.
Riverside High School senior Angel Akinleye, a high school student leader for Earth Charter Indiana said, “Climate change is the climate changing in a negative way, and it is impacted by human beings. We are the ones who contributed to climate change.”
Earth Charter Indiana executive director Jim Poyser said that the Earth Charter principles were established in the late 1990s by people from dozens of countries that realized the planet was having a climate crisis.
“So, 20 years ago, they said, ‘Look, we have a climate crisis. How are we going to solve it? Well, we can’t really solve it unless we address the issue of poverty. And we can’t really solve it unless we address the issue of racism, and we can’t really solve it unless we have democratic institutions that are transparent in how they operate,’” said Poyser.
Poyser said that the climate typically changes in increments of 30 years or more, and if someone has lived in one spot for 30 years, as he has, they can see the changes occurring themselves.
“What I am noticing, for example, is that there is a lot less snow, and the snow, when it falls in the winter, does not last as long. When it starts snowing is later in the season, and when it stops snowing is earlier in the spring. This is all predicted by a warming atmosphere,” he said.
According to Poyser, the changing of the environment has also affected animals and plants by destroying their homes and making it harder for them to adapt in a changing climate.
AP Environmental Science teacher Randy Hein said, “When the environment changes faster than organisms can actually keep up, we see extinctions. Right now, probably one of the largest losses that we’re having that we cannot get back from any kind of recovery is the species loss. So, when we lose biodiversity and the species are gone, you know it takes with them a lot of information.”
Hein is also the teacher sponsor for the Environmental Sustainability Club at Floyd Central. Hein said that this club tries to lessen its ecological footprint by conserving materials that are limited and reusing the ones that can be reused properly.
“What they try to do is they share more ideas about more sustainable lifestyles, more sustainable living. It is a group that likes to lessen their ecological footprint — the amount of resources that the planet needs to provide for an individual,” said Hein.
Hein said the club likes to brainstorm different ways members can improve their everyday lives and make a big impact in the community. He said that one of the ideas they had was to bring in used clothes and donate them to a charitable cause.
“They did a clothing exchange among the members; of course, you can’t do something like that today either, but they brought in things that they didn’t use anymore, and whatever was left over after the exchange I took to The Mustard Seed, and we donated those,” said Hein.
Reusing clothes is not the only way to reduce waste. Poyser also recommends food composting to those who have a tendency to waste or overbuy food.
“There’s a lot you can do to reduce rotting food. First of all, you can compost your food waste. That’s what I do at my house,” said Poyser.
In agreement with Poyser, Akinleye said food is often wasted; however, she also mentioned that when many people go grocery shopping, they do not use reusable bags and use plastic ones instead, leading to more pollution.
“I was watching this documentary, and they went to the deepest parts of the ocean and what did they see? Plastic bags. I feel like it’s up to each individual to make their choices and to help with this crisis,” said Akinleye.
Hein said many will continue to drain the earth of its resources and not think twice about climate change, but people need to come together and stop using the services they believe the earth has provided for free.
Hein said, “When we lose just the aesthetics, you know, that is one thing, but when we start losing those services that the environment provides for us, and we contaminate it to the point where it cannot provide us clean air, and cycle carbon, and nitrogen, and phosphorus, and when it starts impacting the natural cycle of things, it’s a long-term loss.”
Originally published by Floyd Central High School’s The Bagpiper on December 15, 2020.