How the Pandemic shifted my Perspective on Environmental Activism

The year 2020 has been an unpleasant learning experience for us all. The onset of a lethal pandemic made the world witness situations that are only dystopian-fiction material. The fact that we are living through these troubled times is still difficult to comprehend. A pandemic is one of those things that you read about in history books but never think would actually happen in your lifetime; but it did happen, and very unexpectedly so.

Though the pandemic struck us unexpectedly, some intellectuals had dropped occasional hints about its possibility and how grossly underprepared the world’s healthcare system was, should such a situation present itself. Such articles and documentaries only surfaced and were popularized after the pandemic hit us, therefore completely defeating the purpose of raising awareness before it was too late.

And this begged the question: If a pandemic, with so little awareness about its possibility, can become our reality and change the course of our lives, how far away are we from the much spoken about environmental doom? The pandemic is indeed a wake-up call to realize that, without immediate measures, the irreversible effects of climate change disaster could not be far away.

Before the pandemic, “environmental activism” was a term that I surely understood the importance of, but never felt the need to actively participate in. I thought that an environmental doomsday is still a distant possibility and that there were enough people to take care of it. But the pandemic made me aware that situations can flip and go out of control before you realize. And hence “environmental protection” and “climate change” no longer became terms that I casually read in an interesting article in a glossy magazine. These terms invoked a sense of alarm and urgency to take action.

 Environmental activism and awareness are our best bets to let the world know that, much like the pandemic, climate change can be the next big catastrophe that the world will have to face collectively. We do not want to learn the hard way that scientists and environmentalists warning people about the detrimental effects of climate change were right all along. And so, I have decided to contribute in any little way I can towards the protection and replenishment of the environment, and I urge you do the same before it is too late.

Aakanksha Kirtane is a junior at Stony Brook University, majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Math and minoring in Women and Gender Studies. She is an international student from India who has recently started volunteering with the Ashley Schiff Preserve to raise awareness about sustainability and environmental activism and learn new things along the way.

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