Posted on: May 12, 2022 Posted by: Lily Ligeska Comments: 0

Graphic by Sarah Schudt

By Lily Ligeska, JRN 111 Student

In the next century, the world can expect to see a rise of 40 degrees Fahrenheit on average, with some temperatures reaching 140 degrees. Moraine Valley students 100 years from now, instead of walking around campus in a comfortable 80 degrees, will experience an unbearable 120 degrees. 

With the climate crisis edging toward a point of no return, scientists and activists around the world are trying to create a sense of urgency for change. We don’t think of scientists as emotional enough to become desperate, but they’re now to the point of staging stunts to get the message across.

According to Nature, despite the pandemic temporarily minimizing carbon emissions, the use of cheap fossil fuels resulted in a post-pandemic where “carbon emissions soared and temperatures followed, setting the stage for 5 °C of warming by the end of the century.” 

In a world 100 years from now, masks won’t be used just to prevent illness but to keep polluted air from entering the lungs. The ocean will have risen a harrowing seven feet, fully submerging parts of Florida. Australia-type forest fires will be the new normal for states like California and Texas, and the species people visit at the zoo today will be no more than a fairytale told for future generations.

“I look to the future in terms of my kids,” said Jana Svec, a Moraine Valley environmental science professor. “I care about the climate because I want them to have good health.”

Peter Calmus and one of his colleagues, chained to Chase on April 6.

On April 6, Peter Calmus, a NASA scientist, and three of his colleagues chained themselves to the doors of a JP Morgan Chase bank in Los Angeles to protest the funding of fossil fuel projects.

That same morning in London, a group of scientists took to Shell’s UK headquarters to spray biodegradable fake oil onto the building, alongside several papers referencing the climate crisis. In Berlin, fifteen climate activists glued themselves to a busy street. In Madrid, protestors poured red paint on the stairs leading to the Spanish Parliament. In Washington, protestors chained themselves to the fence surrounding the White House.

This past Earth Day, Wynn Bruce, a 50-year-old climate activist, set fire to himself in the Supreme Court plaza. Bruce foreshadowed his death by posting a cryptic Facebook message to a post he uploaded a year ago, including the day of his death and the fire emoji.

At Moraine Valley, the sustainability manager position, a position that ensures the college is on track to achieve President Sylvia Jenkins’ pledge to be carbon neutral by 2042, has been vacant since late June of 2021. 

Filling the position is not on the agenda due to a lack of funding since the pandemic, according to Richard Henricks, vice president of Administrative Services.

”On a day-to-day basis, it’s not a priority for the administration,” said Hendricks. “I can’t think of any particular [sustainability] advancement we’ve made in the past nine months.” 

I can’t think of any particular [sustainability] advancement we’ve made in the past nine months.”

Richard Hendricks, VP of Administrative Services

As a result, there is no way to say whether the college’s pledge will be achieved. Moraine Valley’s website does offer a sustainability timeline representing progress made towards the pledge, but it has not been updated since 2016. 

“There’s no way to speculate if Moraine valley will meet its pledge by 2042. The only way in my mind to improve coming forwards is upgraded technologies,” said Hendricks. “Development in technology will make improvements in processes, and all sorts of things I don’t really understand.”

With funding from the Illinois Green Economy Network, Moraine Valley has updated lighting fixtures throughout a select few buildings on the main campus, and plans are in place to install solar panels, though that project has been delayed before.

I think Moraine, because of its place in the community, we have a lot that we could do to promote green pathways, new ways of building sustainable futures,” said Tish Hayes, adviser for Moraine Valley’s Go Green! club. “I think there’s a ton we can do, and if we really want all that to happen, we have to push to make it happen.” 

According to Svec, for a lot of people, this is a “life or death” situation, and it is the future. She said many people around the world feel the needed sense of urgency is missing.

“I mean no one is taking this seriously,” said Svec. “It results in these elaborate stunts.” 

After the United Nations summit on climate change in Glasgow last November, some people were optimistic that momentum for real change had been building. Others had doubts that countries and world business leaders would follow through on their promises, according to The New York Times:

“The pessimistic outlook? Gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. The Swedish activist Greta Thunberg accused the conference of consisting of a lot of ‘blah, blah, blah.'”

Environmentalists say there is power in numbers, and people can no longer wait for others to take action.

“At a certain point, we do need to protest, we do need to come together as staff and faculty who care about our environment, who care about this space, to let people in leadership know that change is needed to be made,” said Hayes. 

This spring, the Go Green! club has been meeting on Mondays at 1 p.m. For more information about how to get involved in the fall, contact Tish Hayes at hayesl45@morainevalley.edu.

Moraine Valley