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“But Climate Change Isn’t Real”

Students respond to the naysayers

Who worries the most about the environmental future? Gen Zers. According to a recent Pew Institute study, a higher percentage of people born between 1997 and 2012 are concerned about climate change issues than any older generation.

The study’s results shouldn’t be a surprise since Gen Zers—and the groups following them—will experience more of the effects of climate change over their lifetimes than older groups. What do they think of the charges of climate change deniers? Participant asked three current environmental analysis majors to respond to some of the typical climate denial statements one hears today.

Argument: “OK, even if climate change is real, there’s nothing to be done about it—it’s too late. The level of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that are needed is on a scale that’s just too large.”

Argument: “OK, even if climate change is real, there’s nothing to be done about it—it’s too late. The level of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that are needed is on a scale that’s just too large.”

Argument: “People are already developing new, green technology right now, so there’s nothing to be done until it’s ready. We just need to wait for it.”

Argument: “Plants and animals are able to adapt to climate change. We can too. What’s the big deal?”

Portrait of Sia WereWhen Sia Were ’25 hears this, she shakes her head. “I believe it is honestly the bare minimum to focus on the environment in my collegiate pursuit because I value being here—on this planet,” she said. “Living sustainably is a form of actively loving this planet. I believe cultivating a healthy connection with the Earth propels a better well-being.” In response to the argument that it’s too late, she said there is always something that can be done.

“As epidemiologist Nancy Krieger once said, ‘Ignorance forestalls action.’ What I take from this is that the minute someone exhibits resignation or palatability to climate change it usually means they are not being directly impacted by it,” she explained. “What is more, if they do not see the harm or feel the harm they usually have no incentive to change. I would simply ask them a question about where the metals for their technological devices are sourced from and see what they say. It affects all of us, whether we’re aware of it or not.”

Argument: “People are already developing new, green technology right now, so there’s nothing to be done until it’s ready. We just need to wait for it.”

sophie lederHow long can we wait? Sofie Ledor ’26 doesn’t think we can. “Waiting for technology is a counterproductive use of time and hinders our ability to mitigate the ongoing impacts of climate change right now,” she said. “As I look at my generation, we must advocate for and implement holistic solutions that address the immediate challenges while paving the way for a sustainable future.”

For her, the argument that green technologies are already in development produces a false sense of security. “Climate change is an urgent and global challenge demanding immediate action,” she said. “Waiting for future technologies leaves us vulnerable to the current consequences of climate change. Green technologies already exist that can reduce emissions. The current barriers to implementing them and curbing emissions are largely linked to policy issues. The key lies in assessing the economic viability of these options and fostering the political will of individuals, organizations, and corporations to embrace green change.”

Argument: “Plants and animals are able to adapt to climate change. We can too. What’s the big deal?”

ben shostakBen Shostak ’24 said adaptation is possible, but this argument oversimplifies the issue. “I do think humans can adapt to climate change,” he said. “But I think the big deal here is that if humans are going to successfully adapt to a changing climate, we still need to end the use of fossil fuels. That doesn’t seem likely right now. It doesn’t seem like fossil fuel companies are going to stop before 2050.”

What he believes is necessary are more economic incentives. “I think if humans continue down a capitalistic and materialistic path, the sustainable option must be an economically incentivized option as well. Otherwise, humans will just continue to consume the land and its resources while giving nothing in return,” he said. “Anthropogenic climate change is the most important problem my generation is going to face. Everyone will be impacted by the climate changes that humans are creating. That is why building a sustainable economy powered by renewable energy sources is so crucial for us. It’s the only way I see to have any hope of limiting the planet’s warming in the future.”