OPINION | Tulane students engage in Earth Day celebration

Setah Alavi, Staff Columnist

(Will Embree)

Earlier this year, a U.N. report signaled that climate change had become a “code red for humanity.” Climate change plays a lead role in the increase of weather-related disasters by five times within the last 50 years. Many of these effects are “irreversible,” and consequences will only continue to get worse if left unchecked.

Today, it may seem as though there is a complete disregard among the general public for the current climate disaster. 

However, environmental activists have been seeking change for years. Gaylor Nelson, a Wisconsin-born World War II veteran and U.S. senator, sought preventative action for the climate crisis. 

In 1969, after spreading awareness about environmental issues while touring the nation with President John F. Kennedy, Nelson announced the idea for Earth Day. Nelson, inspired by the “teach-ins” held by Vietnam War protesters, envisioned Earth Day as a “large-scale, grassroots demonstration against the degradation of America’s natural resources.

The spirit of Nelson’s efforts to save our Earth continues through the advocacy of student bodies at colleges nationwide, including Tulane University. 

Within the Tulane Hullabaloo’s climate change archives, there are over 15 articles calling for climate action.

Titles range from opinion pieces calling for “ … action to combat coastal erosion” to easy initiatives to reduce one’s environmental footprint. No matter the content, there is a common theme across all the pieces: it is time for a change.

This sentiment goes beyond the confines of student journalism. This Earth Day, Tulane students took action against climate change, showing that any step forward is a step in the right direction. 

Sophomore Nico Acosta recounts his Earth Day experience. He said, “This year I celebrated Earth Day by attending the demonstration and teach in that was led by Sunrise Tulane, USG sustainability, and Tulane College Democrats. The march was led to protest the millions of dollars that Tulane has invested in the fossil fuel industry as well as to raise awareness about environmental justice on campus and in New Orleans.”

Acosta also said that the teach-in was “part of the larger Earth Day demonstration.” He said, “The teach in part was to increase awareness about environmental justice and the role that different organizations play in perpetuating climate issues.”

Others opted out of the Earth Day demonstrations this year but took time to reflect on their environmental actions. 

Sophomore Barron Jones spoke on his hopes for living sustainably in the future. “I want to start composting when I live in a house next year I always thought that would be cool,” Jones said.  

Although not all students participated in Earth Day demonstrations, evidently, Tulane students are still looking to improve their sustainable practices. 

Sophomore Alex Fisher expressed similar attitudes.  “I could stop eating [meat] or never get my drivers license cause then I can’t drive,” Fisher said. Fisher took a more satirical approach to climate action, but the message is nonetheless the same. 

Others have begun to implement the changes they wish to see in their lives. In order to live a more sustainable life, sophomore Casey Wade said, “I don’t eat red meat because of how much methane the beef industry produces.”

This Earth Day, Tulane students took the time to implement, reflect and continue their methods of environmental advocacy. While the approaches varied, the spirit of Earth Day and the perseverance of Nelson’s passions were in no doubt seen through the actions of the Tulane student body.

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