Climate Change: What Actually Is It and How Can I Help as a Student?

Climate Change is a huge global problem, but there are many personal actions you can take to help reduce carbon pollution or carbon emissions as a student.

There is no planet B sign

Your personal actions to help reduce carbon emissions can be things you do, simple habits you have in your daily life at home or at school or university, or involvements in climate change organisations and events.

Carbon pollution is considered by scientists to be one of the main causes of “Climate Change”. This used to be mostly called “global warming”, but as it is now known that there are many effects, or impacts of the warmer planet – not just hotter days – the term “Climate Change” is now used as the primary term.

Carbon emissions mainly come from the use of fossil fuels like coal and oil in electricity production, and manufacturing and travel (cars and aeroplanes in particular). Carbon emissions come from burning coal, oil, gas and wood and other substances which contain carbon. So, you can help make a difference by using renewable energy (energy from solar or wind power), and less energy and electricity overall.

Impact of climate change include:

  • Extreme weather conditions happening more often –typhoons/hurricanes/cyclones, very hot and dry conditions, and high winds and big rainstorms (causing floods).
  • Changes in rainfall patterns, with less rain in many areas and long periods of very low rain (causing droughts).
  • Warming oceans and rising sea levels.
  • Longer seasons for wildfires (or “bushfires” in Australia) and fires are often more severe and widespread fires .
  • More very hot days and record high temperatures.
  • Receding glaciers in high mountain regions (causing water shortages in lower areas).
  • Bleaching of coral in reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland.
Ice cap melting in the sea

So what are we doing to prevent climate change?

Many people and companies and education institutions such as universities in Australia are taking vital actions to reduce carbon emissions. These actions include installing solar power in home and buildings and in doing so switching from use of coal to renewable energy (wind, solar) to generate electricity; buying more electric cars; reducing their use of electricity; shopping more consciously; and taking action to persuade governments to have strong policies and commitments (including international agreements) to reduce carbon emissions.

But as a whole, Australia, and many countries in the world, need to take more action to reduce national and international carbon emission levels. Australia has the second highest level of carbon emissions per person (behind USA) – more than twice as much per person as China.

Every action, big or small, is needed.

There are so many ways in which you can reduce your carbon emissions and energy consumptions to become a greener student . All your actions will save you money too (because you’re using less electricity, so your power bills will be less) so it’s a win win situation!

If you pay your electricity bill where you live, ask to buy “green energy” (and check that there are LED light globes, and energy-efficient appliances). If you’re living in private student accommodation, your bills will already be included, but it’s always worth asking your accommodation provider who they’re with and encourage them to switch to a ‘greener’ company. All major electricity suppliers in Australia have a ‘green’ option, so you can buy power which is generated from solar panels and solar farms, or wind power or other non-polluting, renewable energy. 

girl standing on train platform

You can also help by:

  • Using public transport to travel to and from school or university.
  • And where possible, ‘Reduce your consumption, Reuse, Repair and Recycle.’
  • Shop consciously, ethically and locally.

You can also be actively involved at many Australian universities, as a member of a Climate Change Action group. Plus, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people and make new friends in Australia.

Here are a couple of examples you can join:

Or you can join a community environmental or climate change NGO or organisation such as the Australian Conservation Foundation – Australia’s national environmental organisation.

You can also measure your personal Carbon Footprint – the amount of carbon emissions your life produces. This makes you aware of the damage you might be doing to the environment and hopefully this post has given you some inspiration on how to fight climate change as a student and reduce your footprint on the planet.