The independent news organization of Duke University

It’s getting hot in here

You’re hot. No, not like that.

Whether or not we believe that we’re the cause of climate change, this planet is getting hotter. Stronger storms, faster floods and longer droughts will challenge our generation in ways we can hardly conceive.

We may feel complacent, ignorant and not fully aware of our vulnerability to climate change. Our society seems to be unable to come to a consensus for action.

But climate change is happening. It will increase the severity and frequency of natural disasters like that of Hurricane Katrina. It will dramatically change our food and water supplies. It will unprecedentedly elicit the disparity between developed and developing countries. Climate change will not wait for us.

Duke is relatively environmentally conscious, recently being awarded a Gold STARS—Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System—rating for its sustainability initiatives. Five years ago, Duke pledged to be carbon neutral by 2024. In 2011, Duke already reduced 11 percent from its 2007 emissions baseline. Most organizations have taken bold steps to reduce their carbon footprints, including Duke Athletics. However, the problem remains larger. We, as students, must take a stand. We must be the source of change.

As a country, we are not yet ready to give up oil and coal to mitigate our problems, but there is still another way—if we act with vigilance and commitment. As individuals, we must make changes to our everyday habits—use reusable water bottles, turn off lights and turn down the thermostat.

We must take a stance and push our government to act as leaders. We need their visionary leadership. We need bold policy interventions, most importantly mitigation of disasters, to meet these immense challenges squarely and effectively. We have been handed these problems and we can whine and complain about them—or we can start solving them.

Discussion and understanding is the first step to tackling any problem. The class of Public Policy 145: Leadership, Policy, and Change invites you to take hold of our future in this changing world with renowned author, Mark Hertsgaard, this Friday April 13th at noon in the Sanford School of Public Policy. Ready or Not: We are Generation Hot!

Kelly Bies, Trinity ’14

Daniel Jung, Trinity ’14

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