Climate change is likely the most prominent global issue today, and Trinity University tried to play its part by participating in the Global Climate Strike on Friday. In what was meant to be a walkout from classes, students and faculty gathered in the Coates Student Center for a two-hour “teach-in” about the state of the climate. Professors and students presented their perspectives on the issue through lectures, poems, songs, visual art, and yelling.
The event began with physics professor Niescja Turner, who spoke about the greenhouse effect. She emphasized that this effect is a good thing, but the recent introduction of too much CO2 into the atmosphere creates too much of this good thing. The climate takes a long time to change, but the amount of CO2 is increasing too rapidly. Next, geosciences professor Glenn Kroeger spoke on the historical levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. It has been fluctuating for as long as measurement tools can take us, but it has never been above 400 ppm (0.04% of the atmosphere) as it is now. His thesis was similar to Dr Turner’s: we should be wary of how we are treating the atmosphere.
These professors provided sound, reasonable and convincing evidence for the warming earth. They both condemned climate fear-mongering and extreme solutions. It would be hard for anyone to disagree with their data-based points. But, of course, there are two sides to every issue. In this case, there are those who make arguments that are valid and sound, and they strive for genuine conversation for the other side.
Then, there are the unreasonables, whose yelling only serves to preach to the choir and confirm their insanity to their opponents. These unreasonables proposed no solutions other than sorrow and anger for their situation.
A recent Trinity graduate and representative from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) followed the science professors. This speaker diverged as far from science as possible, screaming about how climate change was tightly linked to capitalism and other institutions such as racism, sexism, ableism, and “speciesism.” In a perfect caricature moment, she told us in curse-laced language how she was “angry all the time,” then inviting us to feel angry and upset and anxious along with her–because, if you feel okay, you’re part of the problem. She directly called for an end to capitalism, which led to an unsettling swell of cheers throughout the room.
The complete lack of awareness shown by most participants was the sharpest bit of irony at the event. The building was well-lit and air-conditioned. Every person present was handed a freshly printed sheet of paper with the lyrics to a song we sang. After the teach-in, many attendees planned on driving several cars less than three miles downtown for a citywide strike, where they likely generated loads of garbage in discarded signs. They want to limit every aspect of life, yet they refuse to change some of the most basic elements of their lives for their own cause.
Anger isn’t going to solve any problems. If everyone who spoke about climate change would do so with the same tone and reason as the science professors, perhaps more people could get on board with practical steps toward compromise. Sadly, it seems most students believe that the best solution is to become upset about everything and hope someone notices. It is simply not possible to get things done for the climate if you believe the issue of climate change must be solved in conjunction with every other so-called issue that exists.
Kroeger illustrated how seemingly utopian ideas can be impractical. Proponents of the Green New Deal, for example, plan to replace all fossil fuel-burning cars in ten years. He explained that the most fuel-efficient vehicle you could drive is a bicycle, with the second-most fuel efficient being the vehicle you drive now. While electric cars are more fuel efficient once they’re on the road, their production still generates lots of carbon, meaning it would take a long, long time to break even with regular fossil fuel models. On top of that, the earth does not even hold enough of the minerals needed to produce these electric cars.
The left has made climate change too polarizing. The more we hear about how the government plans on limiting the amount of beef we can eat and how much we can water our grass, the more regular people will stubbornly oppose any change. It is not unreasonable to fear the removal of basic rights. During this teach-in, we were told that “fashion kills,” and that as part of curbing climate change, we should never buy new clothes again. We were also told not to have kids, and that “reproductive justice has to be a part of climate justice.” It sounds like people on the left are willing to take away whatever they need in order to solve a problem many cannot even properly define.
As long as we speak practically, we will uncover more middle ground than we think. So many people cannot see past their own noses, refusing to see better ideas before them. People are so rushed to “solve” the climate crisis, but the science professors made it pretty clear that we need to take our time on these things. The idea that the world will end in twelve years is simply untrue—as it has been every decade since alarmists first started spouting it. All reason and sense has gone out the window in favor of outrage and complete absurdity. From the supporting cheers that the speakers received, it seems clear that climate extremism is no longer a strictly far-left issue, and that young people have blindly bought into environmentalist propaganda. It is truly upsetting that Trinity has legitimized this sort of nonsense.
All images by Samantha Farnsworth.