OPINION: Civil Disobedience Is The Way to Combat Climate Change

Humans have never faced a more universalizing threat to our existence than the effects of climate change; civil disobedience is the answer to this madness.

While the climate warms with every year we are alive, we are left to wonder: what can we do to prevent this human-caused apocalypse from happening?

Most people talk about recycling, going vegan, and using sustainable products to help lower the individual carbon footprints humans leave. The problem with this is that individual people aren’t the main causes of climate change. For example, the ban on plastic straws was a great step to help cut out the amount of waste by getting rid of an unnecessary product people use every day. However, according to a Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment article, plastic straws only account for less than one percent of the waste in the ocean. The article quotes Jim Leape, co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, who said,

“The risk is that banning straws may confer ‘moral license’ – allowing companies and their customers to feel they have done their part. The crucial challenge is to ensure that these bans are just a first step, offering a natural place to start with low-hanging fruit.” 

While he is correct that this is a valuable first step, we cannot be satisfied with this step. According to the article, plastics will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050 if we continue our current trends of waste. 

While our wasteful nature as humans should definitely be factored into how we should approach fighting climate change, the biggest thing that we should concentrate on in the climate change debate is our carbon emissions.

Carbon Dioxide is a gas that traps heat and is reradiated from Earth’s surface into our own atmosphere. This process is commonly known as the greenhouse effect and is crucial to Earth’s survival as it helps balance our temperature to an optimal level. However, like everything in life, moderation is key. When there is too much carbon in the atmosphere, more heat is absorbed from Earth’s reradiated heat and the planet warms.

Now, according to a LA Times article, there are approximately 253 million cars on the road in the United States in 2014. At the same time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the average car produces 4.6 metric tons of CO2 emissions every year. If you do the math it comes out to about a number slightly bigger than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 produced every year by American drivers. While this number is very staggering to look at, it pales in comparison to the 480 billion tons of CO2 that has been put into the air since 1965 from 20 of the top fossil fuel companies. This is the equivalent of 35 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the last 54 years. While American drivers are responsible for a large chunk of carbon emissions, these fossil fuel companies take the cake for who are biggest emitters overall.

Source: The Hill

This is where civil disobedience comes into play.

According to Joseph R. Desjardins in, Environmental Ethics An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy,

“Civil Disobedience is the intentional refusal to obey a law on moral grounds as means of protesting or thwarting government policy. As a form of protest, civil disobedience often but not always protests the very law that one disobeys.” 

In this case, people shouldn’t protest because of a certain law that hinders progress; rather, protests should be about the lack of laws regarding carbon emission.

Last month a group of scientists at a protest in England stated that they endorse civil disobedience in an attempt to make governments take action against climate change because not doing so would result in “incalculable human suffering.” The 400 scientists that were in attendance at this protest have aligned themselves with a group called Extinction Rebellion, a British Civil Disobedience group. After this protest, nearly 3000 people across the world were arrested for doing peaceful protests later that day.

Source: The Guardian

In the end, major action needs to take place in order for our world to hopefully reverse the effects of climate change. While focusing on your own carbon footprint is a great way to start lowering emissions, we know who is really behind this ecological disaster. Mass protests and civil disobedience may be the only way to save the planet from becoming unlivable to most species on Earth, including our own.

Written by: Tom Derig

OPINION: Students Should Pay Attention to Impeachment Inquiry

Impeachment is more popular than ever in this country, especially among college students. A recent study done by Collegereaction.com, found that nearly 76% of college students across the country support impeachment. 

Donald Trump has been a businessman far longer than most college students have been alive, and not many know much about his life pre-presidency. Yet college students have seen what he has done as President and have formulated their opinions about him from his first term in office. 

After 3 years and numerous scandals later involving the President’s taxes, an illegal payment of a pornstar, and Muller Report. More recently the nation is seeing a new scandal unfold involving his withholding of foreign aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the Biden family.  

In nearly every new poll that gets released, Donald Trump’s approval rating has been slowly decreasing since the beginning of his presidency. For example, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Donald Trump Tracker, Trump’s average approval rating across most major polls has dropped to 40 percent overall. The latest scandal with Ukraine has not only lowered Trump’s approval ratings by about 3 percent but also has people talking about the subject of impeachment.

On Oct. 31, the House voted for the impeachment proceedings and it seems many people share a collective misconception surrounding impeachment. The idea that once the President is impeached someone new will take over as President is not the entire case.

Impeachment refers to charging a high-ranking government member with misconduct and begin removing them from office. 

After impeachment is voted on in the House, assuming it is passed by majority, the next step is a trial in the Senate which needs a two-thirds majority to convict the President. 

The President isn’t the only official that can be impeached, other members of the Government have been impeached, but most of them have been federal judges. Impeachment is not a quick process and will take time for articles of impeachment to be drafted, and even longer to decide if he will be convicted of his crimes in the Senate. 

Donald Trump is being backed into a corner by this impeachment talk. On one hand, he needs to fight off this impeachment subject for as long as possible so that he can campaign for his re-election in 2020, but at the same time the longer impeachment is talked about, the lower his approval ratings will fall due to more facts coming out about his involvement to Ukraine.

On the night of Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, and the course of American life would be dramatically shifted seemingly overnight. For the people that voted for him, there was rejoice, they had found an answer to the problems they were facing in their daily lives. They loved how he spoke freely and wasn’t afraid to challenge the political establishment. His claims of draining the swamp of Washington and returning jobs to the working-class Americans resonated with many people who hadn’t seen much change under Obama.

Yet, at the same time, there were many who felt that the election of Donald Trump would be disastrous to the social fabric of this country and immediately thought the election of this President would tear the country apart.

One area that people feared Trump would especially damage was race and race relations.

Senior Electrical Engineering Major Alex Martinez said,

“I believe Donald Trump has not improved race relationships but rather has damaged ally relationships. I think the approach and beliefs of his ideas towards some of the race relationship issues contradicts with not only the natural rights of human beings, but as well as the foundation previous governments have paved for him.”

One way you can see the immediate effects of Donald Trump’s election is the increase in attendance of HBCU’s due to tensions between white students and students of color. They have sought to find a “safe haven” from white supremacist propaganda and hate incidents that have become an alarming and increasing trend across college campuses. San Diego State is not immune to these hateful incidences such as the one that occurred early in the fall semester. 

Though there is no correlation to Donald Trump’s presidency to the rise of hateful incidences, in the last 4 years there has been a rise in the number of hate groups throughout the United States. 

While the results of Trump’s Presidency are still being debated, one thing is for certain, college students of all political demographics are beginning to turn against the President and his ideals. With the General Election almost a year away, Trump must find a way to connect with college voters or else he will have a problem swaying the younger vote in 2020. 

Written by: Tom Derig

Students Participate in Nationwide Climate Strike

Person holds "CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL" sign while walking towards the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union

Protesters took it to the streets to advocate for more green policies and bring sustainability to the political forefront.

Students gathered to join in on the world-wide climate strike at Hepner Hall on Friday. The march surrounding climate change concerns began shortly after 11:30 a.m. as speakers took to the steps in front of the Love Library and Hepner Hall. The march route made its way from Hepner Hall to Love Library, down the courtyard near the union, and out to the Campanile Walkway ending at the Student Union.

Members from various student organizations including the environmental fraternity Epsilon Eta and SDSU’s Sustainability Club were all in attendance. Other organizations included Veterans for Peace, the Sierra Club, and Lush Cosmetics.

The march had a variety of speakers that ranged from concerned students, faculty, and even congressional hopefuls. Senior, Environmental/Physical Geography major, Taylor Campbell Mosley was one of the speakers. Mosley said that her passion for climate change was centered around learning about non-sustainable agricultural practices and how it takes up two-thirds of the world’s arable land.

“I was a computer science major when I started (at SDSU) and randomly in a religion class, we were talking about indigenous peoples’ land and how a lot of it is used for animal agriculture”

Taylor Mosley

Mosley explained that methane produced was a serious problem affecting our climate, and she made the transition from only caring about plastic waste to looking at the bigger picture altogether.

Common themes at the march included create and enforce an SDSU Green New Deal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, establish a Chief Sustainability Officer position in the president’s office to elevate climate as a priority, and finally, design the proposed SDSU Mission Valley site to be carbon neutral.

Echoing chants from the crowd rang in the air, “SD-SU, fossil fuels are not for you” and “we don’t want our power dirty- carbon free by 2030.” Creative signs—most were made from recyclable material—like a surfboard inscribed with, “the oceans are rising, so are we.”

Another common theme of the rally was the disdain towards politicians and their lack of concern toward climate change. Junior Sustainability Major Gabi Medina had a simple message for politicians:

“How can you deny it when there is science that is evidence that this is happening? I also think they are just greedy, that’s why they don’t want to act. As Sarah said up there, it is about money and it’s a huge money game and it’s time that policymakers stop thinking as far as very profit-driven, and they start thinking environmentally driven”

Gabi Medina

Overall the climate strike was a great demonstration where people of all facets came to protest something that they hold very dear to their hearts. The climate may not be fixed by tomorrow, but by judging of the amount of support SDSU has shown for their cause, as well as the support worldwide on this issue, it appears that the future of our climate is in good hands.

The origin of this strike was centered around the efforts of a 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. Thunberg started this movement by going to her parliament each week and protesting by herself, her efforts have helped kickstart climate protests in over 100 cities worldwide. Thunberg made headlines when she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a carbon-neutral ship to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York. 

Written by: Tom Derig