November 21, 2019

Water You Doing?

Arwen Struthers '21 - Contributor

Two weeks in a row, students have gathered around the Clarendon Bell after Convocation for climate change rallies. The effects of climate change are vast, from increasing global temperatures to more frequent hurricane season, and as our planet’s climate changes younger generations have demonstrated a genuine concern for the future of the planet they will be living on. Climate change impacts every part of our planet, especially one part that is fundamental to life: water.

This summer I traveled with a group of journalists from around the world to study water security. They came from various countries that struggle with drought, flooding, or a lack of access to clean water. For many of them, climate change combined with poor government regulation or limited access to the appropriate resources have made water a life-changing topic. As we traveled throughout the United States, the journalists learned about water issues in America, as well as the technologies and structures used by the government and nonprofits.

      While the journalists were all from different cultures and countries, they were united by one thing: water. They understood that water is a universal need and that climate change’s effects on water, whether it be temperature or irregular weather patterns, create a universal problem. Despite their differences, this group was passionate about learning all they could about water security. They reported to their home countries about new technologies and ideas, and problem-solving water issues faced around the world together. I was inspired by their efforts and since the trip ended, I have been encouraged about the future of our planet

      While these journalists and this trip highlighted the necessity to address global water issues, I couldn’t help but feel powerless. After all, I’m just a college student. I’m not a reporter with a nation-wide audience, I’m not an environmental scientist, and I’m definitely not a corporate CEO with the ability to completely change how a company impacts the environment. There are lots of big solutions, from city-wide flooding plans to water recycling facilities, but these programs and companies may seem like unapproachable tasks. After all, what impact can a college student like me make?

         Despite how overwhelming global environmental problems like a decrease in water security may feel, there are actually concrete things students can do to make an impact. Primarily, limit what you use. It’s an easy argument to get behind and champion, but often it can be difficult to follow through on. After all, I’m paying for room and board. Why shouldn’t I take a hot shower for half an hour every day? Limiting your water is a lot harder than it may seem. Try timing your showers or turning off the water so it isn’t running the entire time you are washing your dishes. These little habits we develop that feel like “not a big deal” add up after a lifetime. By limiting the resources you use to a healthy amount, we can protect our environment one drop at a time and intentionally preserve resources for the people around us and those who will come after us.

  In addition to limiting your resources, I encourage you to actively learn about water and other environmental issues. As a college student, you don’t have corporate power or a nonprofit’s resources, but you do have your brain. By learning about water issues you can be a more engaged citizen.

  Climate change is a problem. The increase of water security issues around the planet is a problem. The environmental problems our planet faces are big deals and can often feel overwhelming. As college students, it might feel like there is nothing we can do. However, I encourage you to fight the hopeless mentality that can creep into our minds when we think about climate change and instead, fight for the water you want your children to drink one day.

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