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.

What is Climate Change?

Climate change refers to the long-term shifts in global or regional climate patterns. These changes are mainly caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, leading to an increase in greenhouse gases. The result of this is rising temperatures, altered weather patterns, and environmental disruptions.

Impacts 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

Carbon Emissions as a cause

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.

What is being done?

Many people, companies, and education institutions such as universities in Australia are taking vital actions to reduce carbon emissions. These actions include installing solar power in homes and buildings.

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.

We need to put pressure on the government to switch from the use of coal to renewable energy (wind, solar) to generate electricity. Our governments need to have strong policies and commitments (including international agreements) to reduce carbon emissions. And we can help by the way we vote and how we display our concerns, for example in climate marches.

Every action, big or small, is needed.

Actions you can do as a student

There are many ways to reduce your carbon emissions and energy consumption 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!

Green Energy

If you pay your electricity bill where you live, ask to buy “green energy”. Check that there are LED light globes, and energy-efficient appliances in your house!

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 that is generated from solar panels and solar farms, wind power, or other renewable energy. 

girl standing on train platform

Other ways to help

Climate Change Action Groups

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. Hopefully this post has given you some inspiration on how to fight climate change as a student.

Educate yourself

Want to learn more about Climate Change? Here is a guide to the best Environmental Documentaries in 2024. The Switch is also trying to help fight climate change through various charity involvement.

Let’s work together for a better future!