Before starting this project, I’d always considered myself to be somewhat a crusader against global warming; I acknowledged it and was staunchly against it. The reality is that I, like most Americans, did not do nearly enough because I was largely uninformed. Prior to this year, all I had really done was make sure that all the light bulbs in our house were fluorescent. I still felt virtuous though; I saw Global Warming as a dim, distant, and somewhat inevitable circumstance and somehow thought that changing the light bulbs in my house was the only thing I could do.
However, as the incredible enormity of climate change becomes more and more evident to me, I’m also beginning to understand that there is so much we can change to really deal with this problem. I’ve made a few changes already; I don’t get plastic shopping bags anymore; if I know I’m going to be shopping I bring canvas bags. I also don’t drive, but this is more because I didn’t bring a car to Ithaca. However, these small changes aren’t going to be enough.
The biggest change that needs to happen is for the government to enact legislation to reduce CO2 emissions. The reality is that Global Warming is not simply scientific concern; the disastrous effects of climate change (as already seen with Hurricane Katrina and other similar natural disasters over the past few years) have a huge economic cost. So, if the United States government doesn’t deal with the problem now, we will have to deal with economic problems further down the line. One of the things I will be investigating over the next several weeks is why Congress has not passed legislation to prevent global warming, and how environmental advocates might work to get necessary legislation passed in the future.
In an October 11th speech at a climate change conference hosted by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in San Francisco, Senator Diane Feinstein stated that, “Today, the vast majority of Americans agree that global warming is real – and that it is one of the most profound challenges of our time.” I’m not sure if this is necessarily true, but I believe it is imperative that we approach Global Warming from this perspective. Energy that was previously focused on convincing the American people of the reality of climate change needs to be shifted to taking immediate action. Therefore, another aspect of this project for me will be researching different ways that individuals can reduce their own carbon footprint and contribute to the reduction of worldwide CO2 emissions.
I’m excited to begin working with the Museum of the Earth on this climate change project. It will be an opportunity to educate myself and contribute to the community.
-Elena Moreno, Cornell University Student