Arts and Culture

Environmental Policy: An Earth Day Celebration

A small green tree sitting within a glass container
Source: Pixabay

At an Earth Day event at Wheaton College, students participated in a Q and A about the importance of staying active in environmental policymaking. The panel event featured guest speakers Professor Bradford Bishop of the Political Science department and Policy Director for the Trustees of Reservations, Linda Orel. Both the panelists spoke actively and shared their experiences in their respective environmental fields. 

The lead host of the event, Katherine Kjos said that she felt empowered after hearing from both the panelists about how students can participate in environmental policy change-making.

“We had some great guest speakers and Wheaton students learned a lot from them and left the event wanting to do more for Wheaton and the surrounding town of Norton. It was a great way to celebrate earth day and explore different ways to make a change!” said Kjos.

According to the hosts of ‘The Daily’ podcast by the New York Times, it’s too late to stop climate change, but we can still slow it down.

Bishop brought up the issue of government policy promoting more dense development, saying that our nation is not keeping up with the current population growth. “We have a housing problem in this country. It may sound like an oxymoron, but we need to build more to reduce our carbon emissions,” said Bishop. He also touched on how nuclear energy can replace the energy we get from coal and natural gas. 

“Nuclear energy can generate an enormous amount of power and does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. But there is a huge amount of waste generated by nuclear facilities. That is the major argument against nuclear energy. It seems to me to be one of the most plausible options for energy development,” said Bishop. 

Oral spoke about the positive changes that could be made in the future to protect the environment. She emphasized the benefits of policymaking as it creates the ability to make collaborative changes rather than trying to do it all alone. She explained that planting a forest can create more change than just planting one tree.

“You asked, what is the best way to make a difference. Well, it is to vote. Simple and easy! Just do it!” said Oral. 

It seemed like Wheaton students learned a lot from the panelists and they also asked many in-depth questions throughout the panel. The Sustainability Board, Wheaton Democrats, and the House of REPS are excited to support and host more student initiatives around environmental politics in the future.

Not only do Wheaton students have active professors and trustees to create connections into the field of environmental politics, but they also have political influencers posting all over social media.

A recent tweet posted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter account said, “Here’s a friendly reminder from this morning’s committee hearing that investing in sustainable energy sources now makes more financial sense than spending billions to repair fossil fuel infrastructure after each climate disaster.” 

College is a great place to start environmental policy initiatives. There are many opportunities for involvement as a student. Seeing as America is the second-largest contributor to carbon dioxide pollution in the world but accounts for only 4.4% of the global population, people in the U.S. can therefore make great strides in slowing climate change with the proper information and resources.