Environmental issues do not distinguish between borders, so it is only natural that an international perspective is brought into the discussion. That is exactly what the Temple Office of Sustainability and International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) hosted; a dialogue about Climate Action and Global Citizenship. In which four international students from around the world were able to share their views that, while as diverse as the students themselves, were united by the common theme of environmental concern.
Environmental Education & Mainstream Media.
The event began with a discussion about environmental education and the role these issues had in mainstream media around the world. It was soon evident that different countries could have drastically different attitudes on the environment which were reflected in their educational policy and the presence of these topics held in the media.
In China, one student relates, he was made aware of environmental issues from a very young age, and that the country experiences a great deal of action when it comes to addressing environmental issues.
On the other hand, a student recounts that Mexico holds no such emphasis on the environment and instead focuses on other domestic issues.
Extreme Weather & Climate Change.
The discussion then shifted to how extreme weather events are dealt with around the world, and how they are connected to climate change. And, since greenhouse gases from transportation emissions are heavily linked to the warming climate, this was also a point of discussion. In a country like Brazil, which has been in the spotlight in connection to the wildfires in the Amazon forest, it is difficult not to take into account extreme weather events, especially after having experienced a devastating drought. Similarly, cities like New Dehli in India, which experience oppressive amounts of pollution, have had to resort to policies that attempt to grapple with the environment, such as restrictions on driving depending on the day and license plate number.
Another extremely important environmental aspect to discuss was the impact the U.S has on other countries, whether it be through travel or the consumption of goods. For example, Mexico takes many queues from its northern neighbor, so it is not misleading to say that U.S tourists hold a lot of sways when it comes to where they spend their money.
Furthermore, one student from India began to question the status quo of plastic use that is so prevalent around the world, but especially in the U.S. “I love to travel,” said Moumita, from India, but the way my consumption pattern, or that of the people around me, is based on using a lot of plastic every day, then how can I say I am able to visit places that are beautiful? Because I am spoiling the natural resources, I am spoiling everything.”
When it comes to discussing issues in the U.S, whether it be environmental or otherwise, hearing an international perspective has the effect of jolting Americans out of the perspective they find normal. When it comes to human-induced climate change, this is very much the desired effect– we must realize that this is not normal, and it cannot remain so.