Sarah Rainey Headshot

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for checking out our environment and sustainability special edition of the Beacon. While I believe that every edition we publish is important, this one is especially crucial. One thing that we all have in common is that we are living on the lovely planet Earth, and she is not doing so well these days.

Although I am not actively studying the environment or sustainability through either of my majors, I have always been fascinated by the evolution of our planet and how the human race has altered it. It’s very possible my fascination stems from watching the film “The Day After Tomorrow” when I was in seventh grade and first learning about climate change — although an extreme depiction — but my interest had been piqued nonetheless.

It is an unarguable fact that climate change exists. The earth is dying and, if we as a species do not do anything to help prevent this death, it will come much sooner than anyone would like, and “The Day After Tomorrow” may not seem so far fetched in the near future.

While other doomsday and intergalactic films give their own takes on climate change, such as the recent “Don’t Look Up” with its relating the phenomenon to a meteor destroying Earth and “Interstellar” where a severe drought leads Matthew McConaughey to the stars in search of a better planet, we need to become alert to the fact that climate change is serious.

It is not just a plot point in movies to entertain us — these movies are meant to terrify us to our core and to show us that, for the sake of future generations of human beings, we have to do something to help our planet now.

As of today, we do not have another planet that we can fly over to while in Cryosleep — we have to focus on bettering Earth because it is the only home we’ve got right now.

This edition includes numerous resources for students to partake in helping to save our Earth little by little, such as joining or checking out the Compost Coalition or the Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville (SPEAK), becoming aware of local pollinators, changing our eating habits and more. While mitigating climate change is largely in the hands of those with a bit more resources than we college students, every little bit helps. No action is too small.

For any students looking to gain information on what is happening to our planet or how to help it, I not only suggest checking out the pieces in this edition, but also taking a look at the courses offered at UT for next semester when making their fall 2022 class schedule.

I learned a ton about climate change through my Geography 131 class entitled “Weather, Climate, and Climate Change” — which, along with Geography 132, fulfilled my natural science class credits through the College of Arts and Sciences — and also Geography 331, called “Natural Hazards,” which helped fill my global challenges requirement.

While I completed my class requirements through these courses, I also gained even more perspective on climate change and what is at stake with the future of our planet. The geography department at UT has several classes on climate change and the environment, and there is even a sustainability major and minor offered for those who are especially interested.

Climate change is something that everyone should take an interest in. Whether that looks like reading the pieces in this edition, watching documentaries, taking classes at UT, joining an organization like SPEAK or simply doing a quick Google search, I highly suggest looking into it. While the problem on a larger scale is somewhat out of our hands, it is still important to stay informed and do whatever we can to help. The future of the human race depends on us.

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