Aspiring to a Global Consciousness in the Face of Climate Change

December 12, 2019 by Hyein Ahn


While we often go no further than thinking of the Anthropocene as something that has happened to the environment, climate change has progressed to the point that we can no longer avoid considering the repercussions of our environmental pollution. The Anthropocene requires nations to begin working together to achieve the common goal of environmental conservation. This new epoch in the history of the Earth has brought about major disruptions to the planet’s ecosystem in the form of chronic climate change, escalating rates of carbon dioxide concentration, and environmental degradation. Humanity, more than ever before, stands as the primary cause of environmental change due to its relentless and unbridled drive for industrial and technological development. The inverse of this reality is that all of humanity now finds itself inescapably at the mercy of an environment which has begun an equally relentless and unbridled pushback in the form of natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Because we are experiencing climate change as the collapse of an environmental state that we did not construct ourselves and therefore do not know how to repair, it will take a sustained and concerted effort on a global scale to even begin to address the ongoing catastrophes of the Anthropocene. As climate change constitutes one of the greatest threats to our livelihood and continued existence, this creates a strong argument for collaboration between nations to that effect. 

Recently, the iconic Victoria Falls has experienced one of the worst droughts in its history. Officials have reported that the waterfall is a shadow of its former self due to unprecedented decline in water levels. “In previous years, when it gets dry, it’s not to this extent,” Dominic Nyambe, a handicrafts seller in Zambia, told Reuters. “This [is] our first experience of seeing it like this. It affects us because ... clients ... can see on the internet [that the falls are low] ... We don’t have so many tourists.” According to reports from The Guardian, as world leaders gather in Madrid for the COP25 Climate Change Conference to discuss ways to halt catastrophic warming caused by human-driven greenhouse gas emissions, southern Africa is already suffering some of its worst effects, with taps running dry and about 45 million people in need of food aid amid crop failures. Data from the Zambezi River Authority shows water flow at its lowest since 1995, and well under the long-term average. The Zambian president, Edgar Lungu, has called it “a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment.”

When it comes to such environmental issues, individuals are oriented towards shallow compliance which requires no more than the bare minimum, largely due to the prevailing conception that confronting climate change on the other side of the globe does not directly fall upon one individual’s responsibility. This presents us with the necessity to redefine the notion of a global community. The term “global community” has been associated with a positive meaning for a long time. When one thinks of a global community, what first comes to mind tends to be cultural exchange or experiencing new places and meeting new people. However, if we are to take the privileges that come with the concept of a global community, we also need to be globally aware of what is happening to the environment and how people within the global ecosystem are dealing with it. As students at Underwood International College, we are the generation which must be prepared in both mind and body to assume the responsibility of participating in creating a better and brighter future for the global community and its ecosystem.

The UIC Scribe was founded in 2006 as the official student-run newsmagazine of Underwood International College. It celebrates diversity of thinking, excellence in writing, and the freedom of self-expression.