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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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OPINION | Students need an active role in fight for climate justice

By 2050, climate change specialists predict that New Orleans and a large portion of southern Louisiana will be underwater due to rising sea levels related to climate change. Everyday in southern Louisiana, daily average temperatures are growing alongside sea levels.

(Shivani Bondada)

But, Louisiana is facing additional unusual natural disasters. Just last week, forest fires ravaged over 60,000 acres, one of the worst forest fires in Louisiana state history. This fire is a result of triple digit temperatures and “the strongest drought we’ve ever recorded,” according to Governor John Bel Edwards. Louisiana firefighters are relatively inexperienced with wildfires, but they have received more training, since “this is the new normal with climate change,” Edwards told The New York Times.

According to the United Nations, climate change is the “single biggest health threat facing humanity to date.” Climate change already harms health through pollution, disease, extreme weather, displacement and increased hunger where people cannot grow sufficient food. Coastal cities like New Orleans will ultimately feel the effects of climate change first. It is imperative that action be taken to aid in the fight for climate justice. Tangible change can only be achieved through governance and dedication of industry leaders. 

Tulane University is currently the largest private employer in the city of New Orleans and has taken on the responsibility of pursuing climate friendly policies. In 2015, Tulane adopted the Climate Action Plan, with the goal of reducing emissions by 30% for 2025 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Tulane also collaborates with over 25 other leading research institutions. 

Tulane’s commitment is a strong start to addressing climate change in New Orleans, but this will not be enough to effectively combat what is to come. It is the government’s responsibility to enact laws and regulations that promote climate justice. If students care about preserving New Orleans, they must use their ballot to say so. 

Most Tulane students spend four years in the city and feel a deep admiration for New Orleans by the time they graduate. It is important to show appreciation for the city through consideration of local politics. Students can register to vote in Louisiana and use their vote for politicians who prioritize climate justice in their agenda. Students who are registered to vote in their home states can also aid in the fight towards climate justice through participation in local marches or writing directly to lawmakers. 

Students can also take an active role in the community by volunteering with New Orleans-based nonprofit organizations like the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana or Soul NOLA. These organizations are always looking for volunteers to help their mission, whether that be planting trees to help with erosion or helping their policy advocacy

New Orleans provides Tulane students with a vibrant, beautiful home for four years, but students must repay the city by caring for the environment of the city. Coastal cities such as New Orleans will be hit hard by climate change, so all New Orleanians, students or not, should take up an active role in the fight for climate justice. 

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