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September 9, 2016

Responding To: The Challenge of Climate Change

Climate Change: A Looming Threat

Daniela Fernandez

I strongly believe that climate change has to become a mainstream concern if we are to reduce the severity of climate-related effects that threaten our environment, health, and way of life. Unless individuals infuse a sense of urgency within their communities and educational institutions empower next generation environmental advocates—the looming climate threats will continue to intensify.

As students, faculty, government officials, and business executives, we should consider the following questions as part of the broader climate change conversation:
  • How do we instill a comprehensive understanding of climate change into our social culture? What communication platforms can we utilize to make climate change a mainstream concern?
  • What resources and tools can empower civil society to have an impact within their local communities?
  • In what ways can we encourage behavioral change with the ends of fostering a second nature consideration for the environment?
In seeking answers to these questions, we must call on educational institutions to further develop environmental curriculum, provide funding to student-led initiatives and facilitate access to environmental-related career opportunities. As the founder of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance, a national student organization committed to empowering the next generation of leaders in preserving the health and sustainability of the world’s oceans, I can attest that without the support from the Georgetown community, our impact would not have been possible. From developing a new “Ocean and Law Policy” course within the STIA department, to hosting two global summits attracting over 2,000 participants, to co-hosting Secretary Kerry’s Our Ocean Leadership Summit—Georgetown administrators, professors and alumni have been a critical support system from the very beginning.

The deep-rooted commitment that my generation has towards protecting our environment, gives me hope. I am confident that we will use our global connectivity to transcend geographic boundaries and magnify the urgency of climate change. However, as passionate and driven as we are, we also depend on global leaders and institutions to give us a seat at the table. If our goal is to procure tangible, lasting impact, we must drastically change the relationship between society and the environment.

Daniela Fernandez (COL '16) is the founder and chair of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance.

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