Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

UN Releases Grim News on Climate Change

    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released their fourth report since 2013, sharing grim predictions of what will happen if the world does not start making an effort to slow down global warming.

    The report recommends that greenhouse emissions be reduced by at least 40 percent by 2050, and that emissions are completely eliminated by 2100. If these goals are not met in time, the world can expect to see significant consequences, including rising sea levels, storms and shortened food supply.

    The report indicates that the effects of climate change are a result of humans, but climate change can be overcome if action is taken soon. It also stresses that the people affected most will be those who contribute the least to the problem—citizens of developing nations.

    “Developed countries like the United States, China and India are producing the most carbon dioxide which are directly causing climate change,” said junior and Sustainable Student Action member Hannah Nia. “The countries that are being impacted first are the ones not consuming as much carbon dioxide, so it’s kind of this inverse relationship on who is being impacted. They are Third World countries who don’t have the resources to take care of themselves in the future.”

    One of the biggest concerns regarding climate change is that clean water is becoming less available and farming soil is getting damaged. For countries that are already lacking resources such as food and water, climate change will only make things worse.

    “There are different types of damage: there is ecological damage and [damage] having some type of impact on people’s lives,” said associate professor of environmental studies Tanya Hayes. “Climate change will have the greatest impact on the individuals who don’t have the resources to adapt, generally the poorest of the poor.”
    Seattle University, an institution that prides itself on sustainability, has taken action to play a role in the fight against climate change.

    “What Seattle University is doing in terms of its operations is that our buildings are very energy efficient,” said Campus Sustainability Manager Karen Price from the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability.

    Some of the recent steps taken by the university over the last few years include installing a heat recovery project at the Connolly Center pool, which significantly reduces the amount of energy necessary to heat the pool, as well as installing a more efficient gas boiler to heat the buildings. Seattle U also replaced its incandescent bulbs with LED lights as a means of saving energy.

    Seattle U has also taken important steps to save water on campus. Toilets and urinals are some of the most water-efficient units that can be found on the market. Some urinals, including those in the Student Center, are completely water-free. Another step taken to reduce the use of water was the installation of aerators—small devices that alter the water flow to make units more efficient.

    “If you buy a bathroom faucet from the hardware store, it will flow at two gallons per minute,” Price said. “We put aerators on our faucets which reduces the flow from two gallons per minute to just a half gallon per minute.”

    Even with Seattle U’s focus on sustainability, there is more that the university can do to combat climate change. For example, students of Sustainable Student Action are encouraging the university to divest, which has been an ongoing effort over the last few years.

    “What SSA is doing is asking our administration to divest its endowment money out of the fossil fuel industry, which is directly causing climate change and the consumption of carbon dioxide emissions,” Nia said. “I think that it is important to raise awareness about the fossil fuel industry and its detriment and destruction to our environment.”

    Despite the actions that have already been taken, the growing problem of climate change is urgent, and there are ways students can continue to reduce the amount of energy they use and help protect the environment.

    Taking small steps to save water, use less heat, use greener means of transportation and using reusable materials such as shopping bags and water bottles can go a long way in reducing one’s personal involvement in greenhouse gas emissions, experts said.

    “People look at climate change as this big and scary doom-filled thing, but there are little actions that can be taken,” Hayes said. “We will have to adapt. To have a little bit of hope out there, there is research and programs going on out there to help mitigate climate change and to help people adapt.”

    Harrison may be reached at [email protected]

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