If You’re Not Scared, You’re Not Paying Attention



A depiction of melting ice caps in Iceland, due to increasing temperatures.

Charles Burns and Stella Gunn

Maybe you dream about leaving Charlottesville to go live by the beach or in a big city. Maybe you want to stay in town, and prepare your kids for a beautiful future. However, these dreams and goals are dependent on one thing: a healthy planet. Right now, with the ongoing climate crisis worsening and global temperatures rising, we have to start considering our planet’s future before our own.

Climate change is an urgent crisis that needs to be confronted in order to curb the devastating effect it could have on the planet in the near future. If the earth continues to be ravaged by global warming, the effects could be disastrous; rising sea levels, droughts, and extreme weather are only some of the potential consequences. Someone would be hard-pressed to deny this, essentially denying the conclusions of countless climate scientists and reports by doing so. With emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide as well as various other human factors, playing a large role in the warming of the planet, it is imperative for all of us to immediately attempt to reduce our negative impact on the environment as much as possible.

Ultimately, it is our generation that will inherit our parents’ mistakes. The fact that our future may be jeopardized by a problem we did not create may make you resentful, but it is important to cling to hope for a better future. We have time right now to change the outcome of our stories and our children’s stories. To accomplish this, however, we need to instantly mobilize and recognize the severity of the threat we all face. When the United Nations met last March, the General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés said in her opening statement, “Climate change is, quite simply, an existential crisis.”

Many students at Charlottesville High School agree with this, with 63.3% of voluntary student responses citing climate change as “an urgent crisis that needs to be addressed immediately.” Eli Chancey, a senior at C.H.S., believes that “climate change is the single most pressing issue in the world,” saying that “all other issues and crises become irrelevant when the world can no longer sustain us.” Another student, who requested to be quoted anonymously, said that the climate crisis makes them feel as if “everything I do is obsolete.”

70% of responses also stated that the government isn’t doing enough to combat the climate crisis. Some solutions that have been proposed by students are “more incentives about recycling and farming” and “more environmental protection policies and enforcement of said policies.” On a similar note, 46.7% of student responses said that C.H.S. has not done enough to make a positive impact on the environment. When pressed on the matter, Dr. Eric Irizarry, the principal of C.H.S., acknowledged that there is more that can be done, but also said that there is a lot that C.H.S. has already done to contribute to a greener environment. These include “solar rays on the roof, motion-sensored common spaces, and filtration systems by the baseball field.” These are only a handful of the many improvements that scores of institutions and corporations can make to positively impact the planet.

There’s plenty of action students can take too. We can all do our best to reduce plastic use, reduce fossil fuel emissions, conserve energy, buy local and organic produce, and advocate for political action. After all, as inhabitants of the same planet, we’re all in this fight together, whether everyone wants to admit it or not. As Greta Thunberg, a young environmental activist, said, “The world is waking up, and change is coming, whether you like it or not.”