Column: In light of hopelessness


Reena Alsakaji, Editor-in-Chief

As I sat in the newsroom, discussing ideas with fellow staffers, the issue of climate change was brought up. With the recent protests displayed on both the van Gogh and Monet paintings, climate change was again a prevalent issue in the news—but this time, it was not just about a hurricane or drought.

 A feeling of unease fell upon staffers and I as we ultimately decided not to cover the topic. At the time, I thought there was nothing worse than sounding like a broken record.

It was not until our adviser pointed out how sad she felt that our staff, poised to change the world for the better, felt so hopeless that we didn’t want to cover it. It was then that I realized we could not neglect the issue because it was not “anything new.” 

According to the World Resources Institute, humans are now producing more greenhouse gasses than ever before. Ecotricity finds that the impacts of climate change could be irreversible by 2030. But these facts no longer elicit a reaction—for many, they are not enough.  

The United States, in particular, is a “hotbed of climate change deniers,” according to the Guardian. But there is a stark difference between those who do not seem to “believe” in the issue (you do not need to believe in science for it to be true), versus the younger generations who, like my staff and I that day, accept defeat due to hopelessness rather than ignorance. 

Why is there this level of desensitization when it comes to climate change? When did the prospect of future devastation become normalized? Perhaps, it is due to the notion that climate change is a future problem, rather than something affecting us today. This idea has long been debunked.

But to acknowledge that our generation is defeated regarding climate change without acknowledging politicians does the story an injustice. Our failure to solve this issue is a symbol of every other flaw in the United States, and across the world—that these issues are important enough to be used as leverage, but not as important as money in the back of one’s pocket. 

In an essay called “Hope in the Dark,”  Rebecca Solnit discusses the idea of hope in relation to the devastating circumstances that have marred our world for the last few years—these circumstances bring about feelings of uncertainty and hopelessness. Climate change cannot continue to be swept under the rug as a ticking time bomb. This is not a rally cry to “just vote harder,” nor is it a sweet sentiment about how everything will be fine. But if we neglect the act of trying, we have already lost the fight against climate change.