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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Here’s how five UC Davis students are fighting climate change through daily actions

Amid climate crisis, UC Davis students do their part to lessen their ecological footprints

In an article published by the Wall Street Journal from Jan. 15, 2020, scientists from NASA and the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that 2019 was the second warmest year to date, and the 2010s was the warmest decade in history. 

These increasing global temperatures, in conjunction with intensifying wildfires and natural disasters throughout the world, are indicative of the very real and imminent effects of the global climate crisis. Despite the bleak context climate change is often presented in in the news, there are huge strides being made — ranging from actions by huge corporations to individuals all aiming to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

It was recently announced that UC Davis had, for the third year in a row, ranked as the No. 1 “most sustainable” university in the country. The university emphasizes sustainability, and places huge value on reducing waste in the dining commons across campus, decreasing the ecological footprints of its buildings through LEED certification and providing education and resources for diverting waste on campus and in the community. This drive for sustainability has had an impact on students, who are also trying to make a difference both on campus and in the world.

One resource that helps fellow climate change abolitionists connect is the UC Davis Strategies for Ecology, Education, Diversity and Sustainability (S.E.E.D.S.). According to Gautam Mathur, a fourth-year environmental science and management major and co-president of S.E.E.D.S., the club tries to promote ecological science, especially within marginalized communities. Mathur and Shona Paterson, third-year environmental science and management major and S.E.E.D.S. grant writer, believe the Davis community is economically aware and aims to be sustainable.

“I do think there is a lot of awareness [among] students,” Gautam says. “I would also say that people are in Davis for around four years and the cool thing is that [students] get to learn about [the ecological awareness] in Davis and when they graduate, they can implement all of the things that happen in Davis [elsewhere]. As an Aggie, it is our responsibility to learn more about what has happened to make Davis so sustainable, so when we move to other communities, we can make sure that those changes occur.”

Many feel that attending a globally-leading university in sustainability rubs off on their tendencies and outlooks as students. Some of their practices include the following: 

Grethe Steensgaard, second-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major

Q: What actions should people implement to protect the planet?

A: The number one thing is simple awareness. I feel like people need to get more in touch with the ‘reuse, reduce, recycle’ idea and breaking away from that consumerism mindset.

Q: What are a few things that you do to help the planet?

A: I am the recycling stickler in my apartment, so I’ll often go through and resort the recycling, and I bought about 70% of my Christmas gifts in a sustainable, ethical fashion last year.

Alex Jackson, first-year biology and international relations double major

Q: What actions should people implement to protect the planet?

A: I don’t believe in individual social responsibility when it comes to climate change. It’s virtually impossible as individuals to make an impact. What I think is possible is working for system shifts. Vote to elect leaders who are talking about climate change and American policies that are dealing with human climate change and global warming […] and you can also support campaigns on social media by raising awareness.

Q: What are a few things that you do to help the planet?

A: I am getting an education in international relations and what I want to go into is natural resource management, environmental policy and working on protecting biodiversity. I will also use my vote in the 2020 election by only voting for a candidate who will make us a signatory on the Paris Climate Agreement.

Lauren Remish, first-year psychology major

Q: What are a few things that you do to help the planet?

A: I think that recycling and bringing your own water bottle everywhere and not buying plastic water bottles can help. I carry my own shopping bags when I grocery shop, and since I’m a college student, I do bike everywhere which is really good for the environment.

Ella Sands, first-year political science-public service major

Q: What actions should people implement to protect the planet?

A: Day to day, I think conserving energy and making eco-friendly choices but also taking political actions and encouraging our political leaders to make structural change, because as individuals we don’t have as much power as the system does.

Q: What are a few things that you do to help the planet?

I try to use my bike and public transportation instead of cars, […] turning off the lights, using cold water for laundry and dishes, and I use a reusable water bottle.

Guatam Mathur, fourth-year environmental science and management major

Q: What are a few things that you do to help the planet?

A: I focus a lot on food, personally, because there are a lot of emissions related to food going on in the background. Researching where your food comes from, talking to farmers, going towards local products, cutting down on your meat [intake] can really reduce your carbon footprint, and if all of us do it I think it can have a large effect.

Written by: Katie DeBenedetti — features@theaggie.com


  1. “Climate crisis” is an ideologically-loaded term that scientists tend to avoid. If you want to be taken seriously as a journalist, you should avoid such ideologically-loaded terms as well, otherwise you’ll be a “pundit” and the world already has too many of those.

  2. To Guatam, Ella, Lauren, Alex and Grethe:
    I grew up on an island, never felt hot playing outside – I loved nature. I’m 54 now, and have fond memories of the beautiful island breeze. I lived stateside since I was 19. I returned home many times through out the years, then realized how extremely hot it got, every day on island. I recall thinking I never felt so hot just sitting outside, even in the shade. Then, I noticed, so many islanders, including a relative of mine, would pave their entire property and poured concrete to eliminate the work of bush cutting (the land had lots of coral rocks, not thick grass). Islanders would also cut most trees to get rid of leaves, and pour concrete all over. In addition, many commercial and residential buildings were built, and raw lands destroyed. Years ago, I told people that I personally feel part of the heat increase on island came from heat radiating off all the concrete from buildings and man made ground cover. I’m no biologist, but it’s common sense that heat radiates off concrete, pavements, etc. Here in CA, no matter what county you go to, there are an overwhelming amount of residential buildings going up, as well as commercial buildings, while farm lands are being sold and trees are being cut down for these buildings. Soon, if not already, we’ll have more buildings than farms. Farmers DO feed America! I hope your cause to help educate people, can also bring more attention to what I’m commenting about. Perhaps, your organization can focus on reaching out to law makers, nationwide as well,
    to limit buildings overtaking our environment and causing our planet much harm. Thank you all, for your efforts in saving our planet.


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