Close your eyes and take yourself to the most beautiful landscape you have ever been to, whether that be the enormous mountain ranges of the Rocky’s or the vast desert in the Sahara.

Now ask yourself, if you could be there right now, would you?

As an American with a passion for the environment, I knew Norway was the logical choice to do my study abroad. Norway is known worldwide for its beautiful landscapes and unusual nature, an environment they are proud to protect at all costs. I stayed up until 5 a.m. with the Norwegians patiently watching as the votes kept rolling in; he won Florida and Ohio, major victories for a not-so-major candidate.

Being part of a culture that puts a price on carbon, powers the whole country on renewable energy, and sets strict oil drilling regulations has opened my eyes to where the U.S could be in several years. Days turned into weeks, and I quickly understood why the second question after “Where are you from?” was “and what do you think of this election?!” There is little more to say than “I sent in my absentee ballot,” sitting back and hoping for the best.

My biggest worry with a Trump presidency is not for you and me — we’ll live. My biggest concern is for the inhabitants of our planet who don't have a voice. It is for the whales in our blue oceans, for the wolves in our plains, and the beautiful oak trees of our forest's. We must use our voice, for our environment to be heard. It is more important than ever, to take climate change seriously. With climbing declines in staples of our ecosystem we may soon have a planet with billions of humans, but nothing wild. A growing threat of climate change deniers plan to take power in the White House, and not only stop funding climate change initiatives but also revoke our participation in the Paris Agreement*. It has become our responsibility not only as American citizens but as the human race to take our power in numbers and do the best to make the Planet you and I live on last for many generations to come.

Ways that you can help:

• Invest in renewable energy, to reduce the burning of coal and therefore CO2 emission being spewed out into our atmosphere. On average, 225 sq. feet of solar panels can create enough energy to power your home, with any extra energy being resold to the city.

• Stop eating red meat. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, and if that is not enough to stop you- One head of cattle can produce between 70 and 120 kg of Methane per year. The adverse effect on the climate of Methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2.

• Get involved in organizations that promote sustainability and environmental stewardship. Texas A&M has many that make a real difference not only for campus but to promote an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Some examples are the Aggie Green Fund, Office of Sustainability, and the Environmental Issues Committee.

• Last but not least, vote in local elections. Many regulations to invest in our environment are not done through the federal government but rather through the state legislature and it is paramount to vote for the representatives that will give voice to those unheard.page1image30184

 Gideon Kotkowski
Class of 2018 

*Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

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