OpinionsEnvironment ConnectionBeyond mere awareness

Beyond mere awareness

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The rhetoric on climate change must now move forward to specific strategies and actions. This is especially true of university campuses, where students, as future leaders of the country, should be given opportunities to demonstrate ways to mitigate or minimize specific impacts of climate change through simple, feasible and replicable interventions and at the same time provide benefits to local human communities.

This is a significant departure from what has been usually done on university campuses. Extra-curricular activities of students have traditionally dealt with practical training in areas of governance and politics through the organization of student governments. This could have sharpened the students’ desire to become politicians or to place a premium on political positions as a way of rendering public service. But I suggest that universities consider other ways of using student extra-curricular interests to the solution of important, urgent issues, such as those relating to climate change.

One significant action program on university campuses in the Visayas has been initiated jointly by The World Bank and SMART Communications. It supports student projects that address climate change in three universities in the Visayas, Silliman University, University of San Carlos and Central Philippine University under the leadership of Mark Garcia. The project challenges college students to propose innovative, feasible and replicable interventions that can be implemented in local communities requiring little financial support as their responses to the projected or the already occurring impacts of climate change. These interventions should be student projects without faculty involvement in the conceptualization and planning phases.

The student project proposals should be a refection of how the faculty members of a university have taught their students about the impending environmental crisis, which is climate change. Climate change as a curricular subject is probably not taught in most Philippine universities today, but certainly the subject is well discussed in various natural and social science subjects as well as in scientific meetings involving the research faculty.

Students who are well read should have a certain amount of understanding of the science behind climate change, which is essential in fully grasping the primary and secondary effects of climate change. They should be knowledgeable about climate change, a subject that is being talked and written about in the media and in many publications, scientific and popular.

There should, therefore, be no excuse for ignorance about climate change, whether one is a student or teacher in a university. The implication of not knowing what the impacts of climate change are should be obvious, considering that the bulk of the Filipino people know very little about it, as our initial survey indicates. One of our responsibilities as part of the educated people of this country is to make the phenomenon of climate change understood by people in all walks of life.

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