Small-Scale Efforts Have Impact on Climate Crisis

It’s easy to think that nothing will get better. Oberlin College introduced the ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by 2025 in 2009. In 2014, a major leap was made when the College discontinued the use of coal. Nine years have passed since. Oberlin is now entering its third year of construction work for the Sustainable Infrastructure Program, which will bring the College 90 percent of the way to carbon neutrality by upgrading the campus’ outdated heating and cooling systems. Not only will the SIP help Oberlin reach its carbon neutrality goal, but it will also save money and millions of gallons of water each year! This is a major win for sustainability on campus.

The SIP isn’t the only way Oberlin is making efforts toward a more sustainable future. In another recent victory, the Office of Environmental Sustainability signed a contract to eventually bring in sheep to mow around solar panels in North Fields, which will reduce the carbon impact of maintaining the College’s solar field. 

Student groups are making an impact as well. The student-led Resource Conservation Team leads waste reduction efforts, including the Free Store and Oberlin Food Rescue, while the community resilience group Students for Energy Justice recently led a walk protesting the NEXUS natural gas pipeline that runs through Oberlin.

All of these Oberlin groups are doing crucial work; now more than ever, it’s important to take action against climate change. The chances of success in climate-related efforts are rising as more and more people across the political spectrum begin to see it as an urgent issue. Research from the Yale Climate Communication program shows us that 53 percent of people in the U.S. are either “alarmed” or “concerned” about climate change, an increase from 38 percent in 2012. Support for climate-related policies is even higher at around 66–80 percent of Americans. This high level of concern is severely underestimated by most of the U.S., leading to widespread misperceptions that climate policies won’t pass. Taking visible climate action is a great way to help combat these misperceptions.

Oberlin has shown us time and time again that we have the ability to be effective against climate change. Even small efforts can have a major impact on our planet, so why not do something? One simple action anyone can take is calling or emailing an elected official to show support for climate policies, which can help bust the myth that people don’t care about climate change. Citizens’ Climate Lobby makes this easy with a form specifically designed for contacting local congresspeople about climate legislation. Oberlin students can also get involved with the Resource Conservation Team, Students for Energy Justice, or other sustainability groups on campus.