Beyond the Bubble: Views on sustainability

In a sustainability-conscious community like Lawrence, it is easy to try and feel positive about the future of the environment that we are creating. But thinking about the world outside of a community where we frequently combat and discuss these issues, the feelings of Lawrence students become a lot more complex and considerably more cynical when they were asked about the future of our global environment.

The general consensus of students polled about climate change efforts, as articulated by sophomore AJ Williams, was “I think we’re fucked no matter what.”

Junior Gris Buenconsejo felt similarly, stating “If I were to see more effort outside of college communities, because college is where people are trying things out, if I were to see it more people doing it on their own, then I would definitely have a more positive outlook, but it doesn’t seem that way, unfortunately.”

Junior Ilan Blanck was even more specific with his concerns, saying “I think there’s going to be a radical shift in the way we live, especially in first world countries, in the next thirty or forty years, because we don’t seem to be going towards renewable energy quick enough, and I think we’re going to run out of water, as evidence by what is happening in California … People don’t seem to approach this with the same seriousness that they approach like economic issues or national security issues, but this is a global security issue”

Senior Annica Mandeltort elaborated, “if we’re not presented with a problem right in our faces, then we don’t like to approach it, and we’re like, oh we’ll get to that later, but with the environment you can’t really do that.”

That being said, students felt that one of the most important things we can do moving forward in our lives beyond college is to create a change in the negative way we think about these issues. “Things are not going to be the greatest, but we have to change our mindset. That’s going to be the biggest problem, is getting people to change the way they handle it, or else we’re going to be very freaked out,” said Mandeltort.

Williams expressed a similar desire to make “thinking green” more of a reality, but in a more economically minded way. “I think we actually are creating a more socially conscious world, but it’s about aesthetics, it’s all about marketing and economizing and it’s very fake, and it’s very much not the real world. But I think as long as we capitalize on these things, I think it’s the only real way to improve it. I think investing in green economies, investing in the aesthetics of being green, that’s where we need to be putting our emphasis because I think if it looks like we care about these things then we’ll actually start caring about them.”

Sophomore Elana Lambert felt she was already seeing some of these positive changes in outlook because of efforts like these. “There’s a movement, a big general concern for the environment, and I think it’s really hard to get a bunch of people together working on the same thing, so I think for this big of a problem the amount of communication over the world about things to do to improve our environment is impressive.”

It was apparent that, when really confronted with the reality of this issue, students were very disheartened about the world that we are graduating into when we leave the Lawrence community. But Lambert brought up her way to keep going forward and combat these cynical feelings “I don’t really know what to believe I guess, but I do believe in trying to control things around me to help, and doing things that I know are right.” At the end of the day, it seems that this is really all we can do.