As a student who attended Ransom Everglades School, I was frequently exposed to the importance of environmental protection and the acknowledgement of climate change as an irrefutable—and frankly obvious—scientific fact. My initial arrival at this conclusion was, in large part, due to Ransom’s commitment to “greening” its campus. As a middle school student, I was first introduced to Ransom’s eco-friendly efforts when it became one of the first schools to participate in the pilot year of Dream in Green’s Green Schools Challenge. As one of the original schools in the program, it served an important role in teaching students from an early age about the importance of environmental protection. Many students learned to engage meaningfully with the environment by participating in various activities—an extensive recycling program, a turning-off lights campaign, a planting program at Ransom’s own Island E, an organic garden initiative, and a mangrove propagule planting program, among other initiatives. In addition to these student activities, the administration as a whole had also made clear their efforts in creating a more sustainable community.
After graduating from Ransom and matriculating to Yale, my eyes were further opened to a new world of environmental activism. I met inspiring students with a passion for change, and these students helped me realize not just the importance, but the incredible urgency, of their mission. The most current and pressing matter for many of these students lies in urging Yale to divest its 23.9 billion dollar endowment from the fossil fuel industry, thereby making a powerful national statement and undermining an industry that marginalizes certain populations and contributes heavily to issues of climate change. After a student referendum passed by 83%, various on-campus protests, and 19 student arrests at a sit-in, Yale continues to deny divestment. The ferocity with which this and many other environmental issues are being tackled, however, is inspiring.
It is with this mindset that I decided to join the team at Dream in Green for an internship this summer. I am constantly learning more: whether it be helping develop the 2015-2016 Green Schools Challenge, analyzing WE-LAB data about South Florida electricity usage, or learning about community events while talking to the incredible DIG staff. My high school teachers, my peers at my university, and the team at Dream in Green have all helped me realize the overarching importance of environmental activism. It isn’t an initiative we can leave up to other people to handle. It’s an initiative that relies on our daily attention. Don’t flee from the cause because the need for activism scares you. Activism doesn’t need to be rallying outside your local city hall every day in sweltering heat with cardboard signs (although this helps). Activism can be as simple as discussing with friends or reminding your sibling to turn off the lights when they leave their room. Keep in mind that most issues stemming from the environment have been almost completely attributed to human interference. It is your duty—and my duty and everyone’s duty—to seek out information and to learn about a cause that will inevitably affect our futures, one way or another. It will save us from a whole flood of problems down the road—no pun intended.