Our alumni after graduation from CAC always make us proud as they try to change the world for the better.
Our CAC alumna Zeinab El Gammal’19 has been advocating taking action against the impending horrors of climate change. Zeinab joined thousands in protests alongside Greta Thunberg and sent us the following article about her thoughts and experience in her own words.
“This Was Written to Scare You
As I march on the streets of Montreal, 500,000 people surrounding me, I know I am witnessing history. On September 27th, 2019 I joined this massive crowd in protesting for the climate alongside Greta Thunberg who I would peg the voice of our frustrations, the voice of our urgency, the voice of our generation. Across the world, millions of people participated to urge their governments to take action against the impending horrors of climate change, many of which we are already beginning to experience. If that doesn’t scare you, the overwhelming amount of science, which some choose to deny despite it not being a matter of opinion or politics, should. The worst impacts of climate change could be irreversible by 2030, including intensified natural disasters, higher ocean levels and temperatures, shifting seasons, and an overall drop in the quality of life we lead. Not only that, but the five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010 and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Humans aren’t the only ones affected by climate change, more than one million species are at risk of extinction which will have detrimental effects on ecosystem resilience, affecting entire communities. This suggests that we are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction, fueled by, you guessed it, human activity.
Now that you are, I hope, worried about your future, you may be itching to take action. I am fortunate enough to have many accessible ways to take part in the fight against climate change, but I understand that living in Egypt, it is not as easy to do the same. But, as they say, “Think globally, act locally.” You don’t necessarily have to try and do whatever will cause a ripple across the world, you need to consider what you can do as an individual and as a member of your own community. There are the obvious steps like taking shorter showers, unplugging anything you are not using and recycling, but how do you go beyond that?
The first step would be to educate. You would probably be amazed at how many people lack any knowledge on the matter at hand because not everyone is fortunate enough to receive that kind of education, even at prestigious institutions. Even my roommate in university knows close to nothing about the climate’s situation and I can guarantee that many organizations are trying to change just that. Within our CAC community, you can get involved with the Global Issues Service Club which I was lucky enough to be a part of throughout High School. This is a group of eager students and faculty who are willing to better their community in any way they can and if you approach them with a goal of your own, such as educating others on climate change, they will be happy to help. There are also many others popping up on the scene which you can find in this article by Egyptian Streets.
Another plan of action I would suggest also happens to be the least favored by most people; cutting out meat and dairy or at least significantly reducing your consumption of it. Aside from the increased risks of obesity, heart disease and cancer, the level to which we consume meat generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and automobiles combined. On top of that, the amount of land that needs to be cleared for significantly reduces the size of our “carbon sinks” which are extremely important in reducing the greenhouse effect. Industrial livestock production is a front runner in the list of the biggest contributors to climate change and by avoiding meat and dairy, farmland use could go down by 75%. According to Joseph Poore’s study, “meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.” Therefore, a vegan diet is the single biggest way you can reduce your impact on our planet. You can always start small, I myself have adopted a pescatarian diet as of the day of the Climate March and am aiming to gradually achieve a full vegan diet.
You should also look into reducing your plastic consumption. I was very pleased to hear that CAC is going green and will eliminate all single use plastic from campus. This is a great first step. It is not easy to completely avoid plastic, but by actively thinking about your level of use, you will easily be able to make a change. For example, taking your own grocery bags to the supermarket or buying the products with less packaging. There are always small steps that can lead to a positive lifestyle change. As we saw with CAC, you can always pressure your institutions into reform. Concordia University was successful in getting its administration to divest from fossil fuels and I am active in Divest McGill’s efforts to do the same. Getting involved is where it all starts.
This is not the time to give up and feel helpless. I am sure that many of you have the “there’s nothing we can do now to change it” mentality, but that is our biggest enemy, perpetuating what is still not inevitable. Do it for your future, your children’s future and the planet’s future. Whether you follow the steps above or start small in your own way. This is a rare time where you are allowed to be selfish, allowed to try and save yourself and if you are reading this, you have the means to make even the slightest changes that will significantly reduce your impact on our planet”.
“5 Terrifying Climate Change Facts to Scare You into Action This Halloween.” Earth Day Network, 30 Oct. 2019, www.earthday.org/2019/10/29/5-terrifying-climate-change-facts-scare-halloween/.
“Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?” NASA, NASA, 30 Sept. 2019, climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.
“Eating Less Meat, More Plants Helps the Environment.” Greenpeace USA, www.greenpeace.org/usa/sustainable-agriculture/eco-farming/eat-more-plants/.
Carrington, Damian. “Avoiding Meat and Dairy Is ‘Single Biggest Way’ to Reduce Your Impact on Earth.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 May 2018, www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way -to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth.