To act or not to act?

In the face of climate change, junior Matthew Lewicki believes every little thing counts, but senior Hirsh Kabaria is among those who doesn’t think solving climate change is up to him

He started an environmental protection club in elementary school. 

As a child in Canada, junior Matthew Lewicki was already an environmental advocate. Now, he no longer eats beef or pork for both health and environmental reasons and brings his own bags to stores. For Lewicki, addressing climate change is about individual choices. 

Part of his efforts have included incorporating sustainable, reusable materials in his everyday life. When he goes to restaurants, he tries to bring his own metal straw. At grocery stores, he has reusable cloth bags and he even brings a reusable water bottle with him everyday to avoid purchasing single use plastic. According to Lewicki, the only way to make a difference is to start small. 

Taking small steps

“I do make more environmentally conscious choice, such as I don’t eat any beef, or bringing cloth bags into the grocery store, or using my reusable water bottle, but I don’t let climate change weigh me down because at the end of the day I want to be happy,” Lewicki said.  “If the world begins to end but I’m happy, that’s a win.”

He also participates in yearly clean-ups in Tampa Bay. Despite his volunteering, Lewicki doesn’t actively participate in protests. “I mean theoretically to get to a protest I’d have to use my gas operated vehicle which would cause pollution anyways, so that wouldn’t really be helping anything,” he explained.

He just doesn’t think protesting is the most necessary thing to do. He does, however, believe that addressing the youth mindset surrounding climate change is crucial. With the impending threat of climate disaster and conflicting reports about when it’s too late to make a change, nihilism has been on the rise, especially in the younger generation. 

High schoolers have taken to social media to vocalize their despair and to tout a nihilistic view. Nihilism, the recently popularized outlook, is centered around the idea that no individual can really make a difference, and therefore not much matters. Lewicki says that this kind of outlook is what is setting addressing climate change back. 

“If people realized that anything helps, they’d do more to help, but if climate change seems like an ominous store that’s looming, everyone will freak out, but nobody would know what they can do to help,” Lewicki said. “If you follow that concept, you will make a few choices that can help the environment instead of panicking and doing nothing.”

Nihilism is on the rise

Senior Hirsh Kabaria disagrees. Kabaria also tries to make environmentally conscious choices, but he believes that corporations and the government are the ones who have a role to play in combatting the issue. 

“The threat of climate change has definitely made me more aware of how my actions influence the planet,” he  said. 

“However, it also made me realize that a lot of the change has to come from a corporate or government level, and that personally, I can’t do much about it. I do think about it a lot, and I try to make changes if I can, but my day to day life has stayed pretty much the same.”

He does think that the recent interest in the environment is beneficial. However, he argues that the push towards doing small things, like using metal straws, is misplaced energy. “I think it’s good that people are thinking critically about their impact on the world,” Kabaria said. “I just feel that sometimes, things like the plastic straw controversy create a feeling that we did something when we really didn’t. It makes people feel like they don’t need to act when in reality, they were advocating for banning something that was a drop in the bucket compared to pollution issues like fishing waste or even just the rest of that cup they were drinking from.”

Everything helps

However, even though actions may be small, Lewicki believes that everything not only counts, but is necessary. 

“I think if climate change is promoted as an accessible issue, one that can be solved, then people will try to solve it. If climate change is promoted as a monstrous beast that cannot be contained, nobody will care because if you’re going to die anyways, you might as well use the rest of your life the best way possible, even if that means excessive carbon emissions along the way,” he said. “Everyone can help by doing little things and more people supporting the issue is more support the issue is getting period. If you don’t think small things can help, you’re the problem.”