Las Vegas Sun

January 30, 2023

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WHERE I STAND:

No time to waste tackling complex challenges

Editor’s note: About 450 Clark County high school students participated in the annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 8 at Liberty High School. The students were divided into groups to discuss several topics. A spokesperson was chosen from each discussion group to write a column about the students’ findings. Today, Brian Greenspun turns over his “Where I Stand” space to Mithran Mathiraj, a senior at Green Valley High School, who tells of the students’ opinions in the session entitled “Around the World.”

“There’s a lot going on,” remarked a peer at the 2022 Sun Youth Forum. I chuckled. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Student representative Mithran Mathiraj, of Green Valley High School, poses during the 64th annual Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum at Liberty High School in Henderson, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Student representative Mithran Mathiraj, of Green Valley High School, poses during the 64th annual Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum at Liberty High School in Henderson, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

There is indeed a lot going on. The youth forum provided an opportunity for high school students from across Southern Nevada to come together and discuss a plethora of issues affecting the world. From the appropriate roles and responsibilities of the United States in enforcing democracy and human rights in foreign nations to figuring out a way to send effective aid to developing countries, the discussions were extremely nuanced, with each perspective inviting every student to add onto their own.

How we could come together to solve climate change stood out to me as particularly complex.

Climate change is an issue affecting the entire world. And it is not a future problem; it’s happening right now. The average global temperature is increasing at a rate faster than at any other time in the past 2 million years. While reversing global temperatures is unlikely, there are actions we can take, like limiting carbon emissions, that can keep our planet healthy longer.

Recent events and climate science have made it clear that the solution is more complex than simply “recycling more.” Local action will not be enough and global agreement and compliance seems unlikely, yet the United States can act on a national scale. We can ensure action is not only being taken but given the size and scale of the U.S. economy, it might just be enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including severe droughts and heat waves that threaten us in Nevada.

To create change on a national scale, Americans must work with interest groups to pressure elected leaders to create change now. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the Sierra Club and the Alliance for Climate Education are all interest groups that petition and lobby the government to make change happen and help reach the Paris Agreement plan to limit global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius. They are also all interest groups looking for volunteers and people to help their cause.

We must also use our voices and vote for candidates who believe climate change is real and are committed to taking meaningful action to address it. Candidates spent more than $17 billion on the 2022 midterm elections, much of it on smear campaigns and attacks on political opponents. Imagine if even a small portion of that money was spent in substantive discussions about the future of our planet and the world we’re leaving to the next generation. Keeping yourself educated is something our discussion group stressed, as being an informed voter is the first step to creating a tomorrow we can be proud of.

It’s difficult to give a final consensus on solving climate change. Scientists have put forward proposals for decades, to no avail. But after the Sun Youth Forum, I have little doubt that we are in store for a better tomorrow. An educated youth is the first step in addressing the issues of the present. Climate change can be addressed through education and involvement in civil society. The youth yorum promotes both, and I was proud to participate in it.