Hannah Michelle Bussa
Kristina Hughes, the Sustainability Coordinator at UNO, explained some of the impacts of climate change.
“Locally and in other states and countries, we’ve seen an increase in intense weather events which is being driven by climate change, and these will only increase,” Hughes said. “Other natural disasters, such as wildfires, will continue to increase as well…Our coastal cities are also at high risk from rising sea levels, putting some of our most vulnerable global communities at risk. Habitats will shift leading to changes in growing seasons and even extinction of a variety of species.”
As a third-year UNO student, Annika Kuchar echoed these fears.
“Some potential impacts of climate change include the destruction of nature and wildlife habitats,” Kuchar said. “As a biology major, this scares me to think of all the organisms, including humans, that will be affected by climate change. As a student, I fear for my future and sometimes even wonder if I will achieve all of my life goals before the impacts of climate change are irreversible.”
Kuchar also advises students to vote.
“One way we can directly impact our environment is by the people we chose to lead us. Advocate for what you believe in, and advocate for those who uplift your beliefs,” Kuchar said.
Kelly Lemke, the Communications Manager for the Office of Sustainability, also discussed the intersections of racism and the climate crisis.
Lemke said: “[Sustainability] encompasses so many aspects of our lives and social justice movements. It is often said that there is no climate justice without social justice. It is statistically shown time and time again that communities of color, low income and other marginalized groups are more negatively affected by ‘climate chaos’ than their counterparts. This gets into a whole different topic of how intersected environmentalism is to pretty much every other movement. One unfortunate example of the effects of environmental racism is the Flint water crisis.”
However, fear can be turned into action.
Lemke continued: “The reality of climate change is that it will affect everyone, disproportionately minority and/or low-income communities, but no one can escape it. This often results in a feeling of despair and some even have the mindset ‘if we are all going to die, then what is the point of all this?’ I think this is a very dangerous mental place to be. The fears of impending doom have the ability to freeze people in their tracks… It leads to feelings of hopelessness; however, we absolutely cannot let that paralyze us. What is done, is done. We cannot go back and change the systems we have developed, but we can take control over what we do as individuals and what we encourage others to do. Find your community of like-minded people and work with them…The day we stop trying, is the day the movement dies, and our Earth needs us more than ever right now – she deserves it.”
The month of October is Campus Sustainability Month at UNO. Lemke said this month is all about encouraging students and the community to get involved in efforts towards sustainability, as well as to be educated about environmentalism topics. Topics include environmental policy, sustainable eating, composting and everything in between.
Students can get involved in these events, SustainUNO and other action-oriented sustainability organizations on campus by visiting the UNO website or visiting @sustainuno and @unosustainability on Instagram.