Opinion
Wake Forest needs to spearhead climate change
Old Gold & Black
By
Staff Writer
Friday, September 1, 2017

The Wake Forest student body is dormant on the pressing issue of climate change.

There exists a dire need for creativity and innovation, and the need for students to boldly engage with the problem. There is nothing that is more pertinent to Pro Humanitate than addressing an existential threat to humanity. The world has already started to feel its immediate effects through dramatic weather changes, exacerbated natural disasters, rising sea levels and melting ice caps in the Arctic. However, the changing climate has yet to impose its most severe consequences.

Unfortunately, our student body has been far too passive. We have the knowhow and capability to affect solutions in realms of explanatory dialogue, fresh business strategy, and more ethical approaches to the environment. Further, we can play a major role in increasing awareness for the communities that bear much of climate change’s impact: the poor, communities of color and vulnerable people still searching for what is a basic human necessity — clean air and clean water.

It’s beyond time for Wake Forest’s student body to critically engage in this topic and the university is in a unique position to provide comprehensive solutions. Given its intelligent student body, esteemed faculty and cutting-edge research, which is most notably observed through the recent addition of Innovation Quarter, Wake Forest has the tools needed to lead.

The time is here for Wake Forest students to optimize our resources and engage in a topic that we have been largely left to solve on our own, due to decades of economic and political complacency. Young people know better, and we must do better.

What does this challenge afford? The opportunities are vast. There is a critical need for improved business strategies; this involves cleaning up the energy grid, providing services and products that lower carbon emissions and allowing workers to find greater fulfillment in the work they do every day to ensure a habitable earth for future generations.

Secondly, there is a need to bridge the gap between technical, scientific jargon and digestible information that wide audiences can consume. This involves students creating dialogue that reaches beyond the student body and into the broader Winston-Salem community. Wake Forest is assisting in Winston-Salem’s renaissance, so why not supplement it by pushing for a greener, healthier Winston-Salem? Lastly, there is a need for students to show they care.

Pro Humanitate is nothing more than fluffy verbiage if students don’t engage in our changing climate. It needs to be a movement that functions as its own entity, without the need for specific leaders to keep pushing it forward. This change ought to be supplemented by many bright minds, but not dependent upon only a few of them.

For a student body that meticulously allocates precious time for worthy ventures, this issue is unquestionably worthwhile. It is, in its very nature, a selfless movement. It requires observation of past mistakes with the goal of substantial improvement. This improvement will benefit all of us, but most significantly the poorest people in our society who have been neglected — left largely to deal with environmental degradation without comprehensive assistance from political and business leaders.

These people are the ones who breathe the smog from our factories, the ones living next to coal plants and the ones who have been left voiceless to fend off powerful business interests in their communities.

There is no shortage of economic, political and social spheres in need of assistance and change. The current head of the EPA is actively dismantling the department charged with protecting the environment. Our president has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, which places us in the company of Syria and North Korea. The former is in a brutal civil war and the latter opposes joining because the nation’s leaders don’t believe the agreement sufficiently addresses our environmental dilemma.

U.S. political “leadership” is not leading on this daunting issue. It is evident that students and universities need to pick up the pieces and devise solutions that will propel the movement forward. Climate change must be sufficiently addressed. And it can, if we harness the capabilities of our entire student body.