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 My year as Environment Editor

By Katie McKay

A year’s research has taught me that we should all be environmentalists

Last August, I had a regular level of concern for the environment. Headlines of global warming and rising sea levels worried me, and I knew climate change was a major problem, but I would never have considered myself an environmentalist. Retrospectively, I was living a relatively environmentally friendly lifestyle; I hardly ever eat meat and I don’t drive. Although, this is much more so to do with an irrational phobia of food poisoning and the fact my driver instructor deemed that I would ‘never pass in a manual car’ when I was 18. My environmentally friendly lifestyle was more of an accident, something I had never really thought about. 

Then, I was given the position of Environment Editor with this newspaper. Throughout the past seven months, I have done an unholy amount of reading, writing and thinking about the planet. If I added it all up, I think I have genuinely spent more time researching the environment than on my History degree. I’ve come to learn that climate change is a bigger problem than the majority of people realise. We need to care – the environment is, increasingly, everyone’s problem. 

The planet is seen as a political issue – but that is nonsense. Climate change goes beyond the boundaries created by our society. But unfortunately, the not-so far Right have politicised global warming to the extent that climate activists are ridiculed, particularly in the media – seemingly always throwing things at paintings or glueing themselves to roads. While, in my opinion, this extreme type of activism is unhelpful and even harmful, we should all be climate activists, fighting for the change we so desperately need. 

When I was 16, I tried to be a full-time vegan. The reasoning was a combination of lockdown boredom, concerns for the climate, and predominantly, the love of my pet dog Holly. All in all, a naive but well-meaning attempt. This decision was met with laughter by my extended family. Perhaps this would have been more supported by others, but, nevertheless, it shows how ridiculed climate activism is by so many, and how normalised it is to not care. 

The denial narrative that exists around the planet is dangerous. Either that climate change does not exist at all, or that it is not really a big deal. Global warming is a problem for left-wing students and pensioners to deal with, something only the ‘woke’ bother themselves about. 

We need to care about the environment; making small lifestyle changes is helpful. But most importantly, being aware of what is happening around us, and fighting for the future. The General Election, probably happening this year, is not likely to bring about a difference. Both major parties have little plans for the environment, and the plans they do have are constantly being backtracked. In reality, it is hard to make a difference as an individual; but that doesn’t mean we are helpless. Buy more sustainably where possible, recycle, but most importantly, be aware of  global events and what this means for the planet. Our voice has and will always be our greatest weapon, and change can start from just one person. 

The environment is a bigger issue today than ever before – the United Nations has just issued a ‘Red Alert’ for climate change. Younger generations need to be aware. World leaders continue to fail the planet, and older generations are keen on the denial narrative.  Environmentalism has never been so important. We should all be environmentalists, because if we don’t fight for our future, there will be no future at all.


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