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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Kim

Continuing climate activism past CMU

Updated: May 11, 2022

College kids tend to be more socially conscious, and students at Carnegie Mellon are not an exception. Many of us feel that we have a moral obligation to take care of our environment and invest in our planet's future. Different projects around campus this academic year have demonstrated the impact of plastic waste. 2019's Carnival theme centered around sustainability. Different hackathons encouraged our undergraduate students to conjure up policies that could help curb our carbon output. All of these are fantastic initiatives, but what happens once we receive our diplomas and enter the workforce?

In early March, our editorial board mentioned the lack of coverage on climate change. Although there are obviously parts of the topic that are outside our control (such as the impact big corporations and massive consumerism have on our planet), many of us are unaware of how our individual impacts can shape our future. We're cognizant of the usual "stop using plastic straws" and "cut back on meat and dairy" proposals, but what about one key aspect of our everyday lives after college: our careers?

I'm not telling readers to abandon their ambitions of working for Google (I know too many of you are planning on camping out right outside Wiegand to secure a spot with a Google recruiter in the TOC). However, I don't think that challenging students in a university that prides itself on innovation and groundbreaking discoveries to consider how they can use their education to further advancements into building a more sustainable planet is too much to ask for, either.

It's easy to shift the blame for climate change entirely on people with more money, power, and resources than we do. Our individual impacts seem minuscule at best; what difference will swapping a beef patty for a veggie patty make on carbon emissions? However, by enrolling in such a prestigious institution of higher learning, it is our responsibility to strive to become leaders. We are privileged with high-quality education and resources that many people can only dream of having access to. Being complacent with the status quo not only undermines our potential, but also prevents the potential for a better future. Today as students, we can say that it's Big Oil's fault for tearing up our ozone layer, but tomorrow we may be using our business or computer science degrees to contribute to cryptocurrency mining (which has a catastrophic impact on our climate).

Regardless of our majors or our fields of expertise, we can use our passions to help causes that will not only impact our current generations but generations to come. The purpose of education is to give us tools we can use to help society progress. Whether a degree in humanities to communicate information, or a STEM degree that helps us find more efficient sources for energy, or a degree in the arts to remind us of our humanity and why we should care for our future, we can all make an impact, even after we throw our graduation caps in the air and move on to the next chapter.


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