Let me set the scene: 97 out of 100 doctors confirm that you have COVID-19. Do you believe them? Let’s up the ante. They tell you that there’s a simple treatment but that you must be proactive about starting it to avoid irreversible consequences. Does the language sound familiar? I know COVID-19 is on all of our minds; but I’m talking here about climate change.
It is irrefutable that the climate and ecological crisis is the greatest long-term threat to human civilization. Scientists estimate that the Earth has gotten around 1.2-1.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in just the last century, and 10 of the last 13 years have been the warmest years ever recorded. Droughts, ocean acidification, severe storms and sea level rise are destabilizing nations and steadily destroying ecosystems. 97% of climate scientists are certain that these changes are due to human activity. And, they’ve given us a deadline: we must reach net climate neutrality by 2050 to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. The less catastrophic have already begun.
Two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg puts it simply: “The main solution… is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emission of greenhouse gases. And either we do that or we don’t.” Greta is right. We must replace our use of fossil fuels with renewable energy. New issues, such as a global pandemic, desperately need our attention. But, the clock is still ticking on climate change.
If the momentum behind the Black at App State collective is any indication, students are ready for structural change. And we should be making demands, because App State wouldn’t be here without us. This is our school. Along with a host of other campus issues, it’s time for ASU to commit to purchasing 100% renewable energy. This must include a transparent timeline for implementation and additional measures, such as a total divestment of the University’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry.
According to its own mission statement, “Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all.”
But how can any institution live up to such a bold and noble mission if it is still part of the problem? It’s time for action.
Devin Mullins is the Director of Sustainable Development for the Student Government Association and a rising junior studying Political Science and Sustainable Development.