Campus News

Students and faculty weigh in on climate change

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Climate change and, by extension, global warming, have become prioritized in almost all forms of social media and the public eye. Still, it’s hard, as an individual, to tell how most students and/or faculty feel about the topic of climate change and global warming. Therefore, as part of our National Consumer Rights Day series, we asked around campus to get a feel for the overall mindset towards the topic. World Consumer Rights Day Campus is full of diverse individuals with differing opinions, and we found that there was a vast array of ideas people had concerning the idea of climate change. Cristian Mihut, associate professor of philosophy, shared his ideas on climate change. “Is global warming real? As I see it, climate change is as real as homemade apple pie,” he said. “Oceans are getting warmer, high sea levels inching higher, glaciers are retreating faster, arctic ice thinning out and weather patterns are becoming more and more extreme. This should be common knowledge,” Mihut stated. He went on to add, “Individuals and communities should aim to reduce their ecological footprint for several reasons. First, 97% of the experts believe that global warming is probably caused by us. If we’ve made this mess, it’s on us to fix it. Second, even if not primarily responsible, we can reverse the alarming trends. And if we can, we should. Christians have special obligations to protect the most vulnerable. And natural disasters always slam hardest the underdeveloped and developing countries. Simplifying our lives is a practical way to love the global poor. Third, we believe we’re entrusted with care of creation. Psalm 8 claims that the beauty of God is revealed in the way humans care for all living creatures. Ask the heifer, ask the trout, ask the African bush elephant, how hideous or beautiful is the God we are showing them through our actions? Lastly, we have obligations to future persons.” Another individual who shared their opinion on this topic was Barb Bellefeuille, vice president for academic services. “Since it seems there was an Ice Age at some point and a flood, it’s clear that severe weather fluctuations have existed before. I wonder if there will always be weather fluctuations, but we are currently more apt to identify and track them these days, and so they are getting more attention? Also, is this year’s warm winter indicative of global warming? No, those who are (global warming) experts say the temperature shift would take decades to notice and be around 1 degree a year or two. So, this year’s warm winter is a ‘La Nina’ or ‘El Nino’ system that comes through periodically. At least that is what the meteorologist I heard last week said. And finally, I am confident God still controls the wind and the waves,” Bellefeuille shared. We also looked to gain opinions from students on Bethel’s campus. Alaina Williams, a music education-instrumental major at Bethel stated, “I think that climate change is definitely an issue, but I don’t think they have enough evidence to prove it,” Williams shared. Meagan Fisher, a senior at Bethel college shared her views: “In my limited knowledge, humanity, especially heavily populated cities, produce a lot of pollution. The fact that the climates all around the world are changing is evident. It seems like a logical conclusion that the pollution would be a substantial cause, however it also has been pointed out that the climate of the world has undergone massive shifts over the course of history. So, human pollution may be speeding up a natural process, but I believe it isn't the sole cause of global warming,” Fisher shared. Megan Elbin, also a senior at Bethel college stated, “I firmly believe that global warming is a reality that we are living in, I think that there is evidence that humans have and still are doing a lot to destroy our environment and earth,” she said. “I think we also have a responsibility to do our part to at least slow down the process, if not to reverse it, largely because we were tasked by God with the job of caring for His creation, and also partially because we should maintain this earth for future generations.” Bekah Rhoda, a senior at Bethel College stated, "I think that problems in our environment are important, and that includes global warming and climate change,” she said. “It's important to notice that there are changes happening in this world that may not be a big deal for us now, but it will be for our future families.” Jamie Rayburn, a sophomore math education major, said, “I’ve never done any formal research on (climate change,) but, I don’t know…I kind of think it’s a hoax, but it’s more of like ‘hey, if you’ve got science behind it, fine with me.’ So, it’s one of those things where I don’t know a whole lot about it.” Grace Hilty, a sophomore psychology major, said, “I don’t feel like I’m educated enough make a bold statement, but to be honest I kind of just think the weather’s always going to be kind of crazy.” When asked if she thought climate change was an issue Bethel needed to address specifically, Hilty said, “I don’t want to say it’s not an issue, but if it was, how would Bethel address it? We’re like a tiny college, what can we do?” Denise Penrod, a sophomore intercultural studies major, said this: “I believe that it (climate change) is an issue,” she said, “I trust what the scientists are saying that there are signs that our climate is changing. And I think that we have a responsibility to do something about it. I don’t know that we necessarily know how greatly the effects are of climate change, but I think that if you have an idea of, might as well be safe than sorry kind of a thing, and trying to at least implement some things that could help.” She went on to say, “I would kind of assume that most people here (at Bethel) probably don’t have strong opinions about climate change being an issue, and so in that way I think maybe we could do a better job of making people aware and then what our responsibilities are, as Christians, but also as human beings living on this earth.” Penrod mentioned not leaving lights on when not in dorm rooms or not using as many bags at institutions like the Acorn as small ways to have an impact on the environment. Hilty said, “I would just say, I don’t know how you fix global warming, if that’s an issue, but…climate change has affected how we live as humans, so just creating healthy habits in how we take care of the environment.” She concluded by saying, “I would like to add that I do wish that there…was more of a discussion between the students and staff about (climate change) and about what we can do to help, I guess. I would like to see that here.” For a topic that has such varying opinions nationwide, it is no surprise that it is the same here at Bethel. It is a large topic surrounded by several bouts of media coverage and political awareness. Keep an ear out for more information on this topic as the subject continues to be researched.
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