Brandeis Dining Services has recently increased their efforts to promote sustainability on campus by providing compostable utensils and compost bins at events. Sustainability Programs also, admirably, hosted an information session to inform students and faculty about recycling myths and ways they can recycle more efficiently. However, the fact is that regardless of what the administration does to try to encourage students and faculty to care about the environment, action starts with the individual. Having the resources available is important, but unless people are aware of both the measures that have been taken and why they are important to take advantage of, nothing will actually change within the university.
Education of individuals about the importance of sustainability is the only way to get them to take action. If they are not aware of the reality of the danger, then they have no reason to make the efforts necessary to be more sustainable in their daily lives. We at The Hoot, for instance, did not realize that if even one item of trash makes it into a recycling bin, the entire bag of recyclables becomes invalidated and heads to a landfill, and knowing this we are going to be much more mindful of what we put in the recycling bin.
But in general, a lack of education is bolstered by the misinformation touted by politicians, namely President Donald Trump. Trump and many other climate change deniers have used the recent extreme cold front that spread from the Midwest through the East Coast to discredit global warming.
As Trump so eloquently put in a tweet on Jan. 28, referencing the below-freezing temperatures, “People can’t last outside for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!” However, like many expert environmental scientists have said over the multiple decades in which climate change has been common knowledge, short-lived cold fronts in concentrated areas do not erase the history of slowly rising temperatures around the globe. In addition, the misnomer “global warming” is not as accurate as the more widely encompassing “climate change,” in which the environmental issues that we are facing are not isolated to warming temperatures, but instead general changes in the weather, including natural disasters and freezing temperatures.
Regardless of the inaccuracy of conservative politicians’ claims, people will continue to hear them and believe them. The only way to counteract this spread of misinformation is to educate people with the scientific facts that have been built up over the past decades and ensure that this information is even more ubiquitous than the words of Trump or his followers.
As people learn more about how climate change works, they will be more open to taking part in efforts to prevent it. Initiatives to improve sustainability such as those made by Brandeis in recent years will not only be introduced by the administration, but followed by students and faculty.
Misinformation is rampant, but we cannot allow the lies that are spread to damage our future.