Last semester, first year students in the Introduction to College Writing Course, taught by Judit Barta were required to write their final persuasive essays on the issue of global warming addressing their fellow students at McDaniel College. They could take any angle that they chose. It was a challenging task as the issue is everywhere
and nowhere. Here follow two of the best essays. It would be great to trigger a debate here on the Messenger, so feel free to comment!
Eszter Révész ponders thesocietal neglect of Climate Change and the governmental response.
Among the news on terrorist attacks and cases of corruption it is easy to miss an often-repeated issue, which might be more dangerous to our humanity and it is climate change. Recently the meaning of climate change has become hazy. I think it is due to the fact that this is a very new finding of the modern science, which means that the elderly do not care about it anymore and the young do not care about it yet. Then who is left to care? Politicians and governments. We place the responsibility on the governments to find solutions and bring about a magical solution instead of us, by making small changes in our lives, such as using public transportation or changing our consumption habits.
In this case I feel the need to clarify that our governments do much more than you would have thought. In 2001 the Commission of the EU made up the Sustainable Development Strategy to solve the environmental problems and create a healthier planet. This document includes numerous improvements including environmental-friendly transportation, cutting the emission of factories and improving environmental education. The representatives decided to rewrite this strategy again after they see how it works and implicate the necessary changes. In 2018 more than 37% of the EU’s budget (59,285.32 million euros) was spent on sustainable growth. The Parisian Agreement is also one of the most significant documents that deals with this global issue, and it was signed by 174 states and by the European Union. Moreover, the countries have their own regulations to protect their nations from climate change just as the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Act, which plans to decrease the six Kyoto greenhouse gases with 80% by 2050. From these numbers, we can see that the European Union does deal with this issue daily and take climate change and other environmental problems extremely seriously.
However, it is impossible to make a drastic change without financial support. The European Union includes rich and poor countries as well. While Germany or France can afford to spend billions on new public transportations and factory regulations, the poorer countries might have more significant problems to solve. As an example, in Hungary right now the most urgent issue would be to develop the train services, because it has been neglected for decades. In Ukraine, the roads are in terribly bad conditions, the schools are not heated enough and in a situation like this, the government cannot have the luxury to spend billions on sustainable development. Here comes the assumption that the European Union may not give enough funds to its countries. Well, actually it gives a huge amount of money but it is not enough to solve all the difficulties of a region.
We humans, often make the mistake to think that one person is not enough to make a change, but thousand people, who think like this could make an enormous one. As I have already mentioned, climate change is an often-heard but not a well-known issue for many of us. We either believe in it or not or just simply neglect this issue.
Climate change is caused by greenhouse gases, which we made to become dangerous to the Earth. There are hundreds, if not thousands of alternative ways to help our planet to heal or just not get any sicker. For example: by not using plastic bags. Actually, referring back to politics, there are countries, that try to decrease the usage of plastic bags by putting high taxes on it, such as Australia, England, Germany and many others, but they realized that these bags cannot be banned yet. Even high fashion brands, most recently the H & M decided to replace its plastic bags by paper bags and even ask money for it to raise consciousness for our environment and support WWF financially.
Transportation is always one of the most important issues almost all over the world. On the one hand, I am proud that many people choose hybrids thus decreasing the fuel emission. The producers and states give financial support or discount to hybrid shoppers, because they try to help people get involved with an environmental consciousness. It is also true, that hybrids still count as luxury cars, as they are really expensive and overpriced. So, people may not be blamed for not buying them. On the other hand, public transportation is still a good choice. Many of the governments of capital cities hold a “green day” several times a year, when cars are banned from the streets of the city.
Last but not least, we have to mention those amazing organizations, which work hard each and every day to raise consciousness on climate change. The London Accords is the largest cooperation project between banks, academics, research groups working on climate change. Global Climate network is a similar one, a little less professional but have many members worldwide. The G8 Climate Change has a lot of connections with politics, because one of the most important members is Tony Blair, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom earlier. Organizations are able to make remarkable changes and in many cases they are driven by civil persons. Although it always makes organizations more successful if they have a strong governmental support.
In conclusion, it is important to ensure a tight cooperation between the government and the people. When talking about a global concern, we cannot lay the responsibility only on the people in leading positions, but everyone, i.e. all humans who are involved in this issue should work together to solve it. The governments are powerful forces in every country and their unity is indispensable, but they need the support of the people. Environmental issues, especially climate change is always a risky ground as most people even doubt its existence, but I firmly believe that in the next few years we will earn success in raising awareness by even more powerful climate change campaigns, thus earning the support of the people as this global concern can only be solved by the cooperation of the citizens and the governments.
Helia Shahmohammadi asks whether artists are doing enough in order to end global warming.
Most of us have seen videos of starving polar bears and melting icebergs on TV. Also, we might have seen many artworks and pictures with the message of “climate change is here and it is ruining the world”. But how many of us have actually taken responsibility for it? Most of us just shrug it off and blame other people and organizations for it. Climate change is being ignored everyday by all of us, specially the artistic community.
Yes. Artists may have helped to raise awareness about global warming, but attention will not stop the sea levels from rising. As the people with the given gift of creativity, artists owe the nature and they are responsible for the forces that are destructing it. I, as an artist, believe that although we have done a lot, it is still not enough. We should stop witnessing and start fighting.
Currently, the artist community as a whole, visual artists, Hollywood actors, singers, do not do enough for ending climate change. It seems to me that even if they raise awareness by creating art with the content of global warming, they are doing it for gaining money rather than for helping nature. I propose that artists donate the money they earn from their participation in any art works that deal with climate change to organizations which are fighting against global warming and also use their platform to have an impact on the governors and activists, who have the power to act against climate change.
We see that the media, cinema and the artist community make tons of money by just mentioning and even sometimes exaggerating the catastrophic effects of climate change. For example, sci-fi movies like “The Thaw” are coming out every year. How many movies have we seen that say that climate change is ending the world with only some people surviving in a heroic way, who then rebuild it? But climate change is not dramatic. It is not something that you can get away from on a fancy spaceship. It is ugly and destructive and the media is changing its ugly face in order to sell more products. In addition, movies that actually present the real and scientific effects of climate change are being pushed aside and are never advertised by the media, because it is known that these kind of movies and documentaries do not sell as much as sci-fi movies.
The art industry no longer cares for the cause, but will do anything for the money that comes because of it. For example, the Hollywood movie “The Day After Tomorrow” ‘s box office is 544.3 million dollars and its budget was 175 million dollars. All this money is gone for just a movie when it could be used as a crucial source of income for fighting against global warming. I think if the artists truly want to make a difference, they should not “raise awareness” and make money and fame out of it and leave the problem unsolved with their pockets full. Instead, they should use the public attention and money to fight against global warming. They should use their talent and platform.
Now the question is “how can they fight against global warming?” The answer is by the money they made from the issue. Mostly, an artist gets huge amounts of dollars after selling an artwork such as a painting, a movie or a photo, so massive that most of it will be even superfluous for the artist. For example, a painting entitled “Snow Drop” by Kimberly Santini, costs 4,500 dollars. Instead of buying a new Gucci dress with that money, the artist can invest it in an organization that is fighting against climate change, such as Greenpeace. Greenpeace, we all heard of, is an international nonprofit and independent organization based on donation that is fighting against pollution and natural disasters caused by climate change by making investigations and taking actions such as sourcing sustainable food and clothing. The artists own the money they made by their creativity but is it ethical to just take profit from an issue and then leave it on the ground and letting it destroy the planet?
In addition, many artists, especially artists such as actors and singers, not only gain money but gain fame and most importantly respect. These celebrities have fans even amongst politicians and activists and can make a huge impact on everything they put their fingers on. A very positive example of this case is Leonardo DiCaprio, a wealthy Oscar winning actor who instead of living the “American dream”, decided to invest his money and his time to travel all across the world and talk with activists, scientists and world leaders about the possible solutions for the climate change. On the other hand, a singer named Kanye West has a quite big influence on Donald Trump, the person who thinks climate change is not real. Instead of using his influence on Trump to convince him to go back to the Paris climate deal he actually supports him in his climate denial. He could have used his influence on convincing Trump or his close governors to go back to the deal but he is not responsible enough or simply doesn’t care enough.
Consequently, although artists around the world are raising awareness on global warming, it is not the art community’s only responsibility on the issue of climate change. Artists should stop thinking just about their own benefits and use their given gifts for a good cause. Plus, they should use the money they gain from raising awareness to actually end the catastrophe of global warming. Also, they should use their platform and fame to make an actual change. In other words, they should create a path that leads to saving mother nature. It is hard but is also possible because the gift of creativity is a divine thing and if it is used correctly it can stop the oceans from rising and glaciers from melting.