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May 6, 2013 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Editorial – Environment

Another year. Another week VUWSA Environment Week. Another Environment Issue of Salient. The week will come and go, you may attend some of the events hosted, meet someone cute who’s involved with GenZero, and get a fire in your loins for climate change. But that—just like your new-found love of a raw food diet—will pass.

It’s not that we don’t care. We genuinely want to live in a New Zealand that is better, brighter, and fairer than the one before. Look, for example, at the across the board youth support of the recently passed Marriage Equality Bill (again, we know). Extensive petitioning, social media campaigning, letter-writing, and lodging of submissions by youth went a long way in persuading Parliamentarians to vote in favour. But that battle, although valiantly fought, was relatively easily won. We could retweet or share statuses about the Bill, and it would actually make a difference by increasing visibility of public support for the Bill. We could follow and actively target the votes of MPs against or still undecided on the issue thanks to internet apps. And then, after all of our hard work, the Bill was passed into law on 17 April—less than a year after it was first drawn. It was about as close as you can get to instant gratification when it comes to influencing positive social change.

When it comes to the environment however, things start to get a bit tricky. The waters are seriously muddied, and herein lies the problem. There is not one problem, but many. Problems that are complicated, far-reaching, and will certainly take more (and a lot longer) than a piece of legislation to fix. But a piece or two of legislation certainly wouldn’t hurt.

The age-old trade-off of environment versus economy can’t continue for much longer, unless we want our economy to begin to decline in step with the environment. We may need to change how we live, and we will certainly have to change how we think. And, as much as we believe we can achieve with our reusable bags and KeepCups, a great deal of this change is going to have to come from the top.

We humans don’t always do what’s best for ourselves. Indeed, sometimes we actively seek to do things that we know are bad for us (Hello, entire block of Whittaker’s Peanut Butter chocolate). This is where our elected representatives come in. These 121 individuals have been selected to steer our country in a direction which is better, brighter, and fairer. Sometimes this will mean making decisions on our behalf, even though some of us might not like them.

When the Homosexual Reform Act passed in 1986, it is not clear that, put to the general public, the result of this vote would have been the same. In hindsight however, we can appreciate that the decriminalisation of homosexuality was an inherently good thing. Our attitudes needed changing, it was the time to act, and Parliament was there to steer us in the right direction.

Right now is the time to act for the environment. Even if we were to stop our carbon emissions entirely tomorrow, we would be stuck with current temperature increases for up to 1000 years. It’s easy to push environmental issues to the back of our minds because their effects aren’t staring us in the face. Yet.

It’s boring to harp on about and it’s scary to think about, but these issues aren’t going to go away simply because we stop talking about them. If we want a better tomorrow, we have to start pushing for it today. As homegrown oracle Rachel Hunter explained, ‘It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen’.

Finally, on a lighter note, fill out your student experience survey! It’s probably sitting in your inbox, courtesy of Victoria University, right now. You could win an iPad! And on another note, Salient‘s funding kind of depends on you telling the powers that be that we’re worth your money.


Molly & Stella


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