Bill Mckibben and the reality of our actions

On September 30th, Bill McKibben, the founder of visited the SUNY Geneseo campus and spoke about the major problems and contributions of climate change. He spoke about how there has been immense changes with climate/weather in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, he spoke about the issues with climate change and how many people working within the political system will brush off these issues. Something that resonated with me was that he said “we have to take action now and do something about it now.” He said this because people are often uneducated about the growing problems with climate change. Once they learn about the harms, the next step it to work on fixing the problem and looking for solutions. Even though McKibben wants to educate others about the dangers and what contributes to climate change, people will refuse to believe this and turn their cheek the other way.

As I listened to his talk, I related this back to the course because we spoke about medical voluntourism being a major problem and the problems that come from participating in these types of programs. People need to be educated with the issues that can arise from medical voluntourism and how to actually help the communities that need the help. Like Bill McKibben stated in his presentation, people will brush off the harms of their actions and pretend like it’s not an existing problem. Although we don’t intentionally want to cause harm to our planet and who we interact with, ignoring such harm just makes the issue a whole lot bigger. Another thing that Bill McKibben displayed during his talk was several photos with protestors and kids in third world countries like Haiti holding up signs that said, “your actions affect me.” These photos were disheartening to see because we don’t realize that what we are doing here is affecting others. The United States in one of the top countries that contributes to global warming due to our increases in use of carbon, fossil fuels, and methane. Instead of trying to limit the use of these toxic resources, we gloss over it and avoid change. The same problem is seen with medical voluntourism. People will go on these trips and think that they are providing help, but in all reality their actions are hurting the people within the community. Such problems like climate change and medical voluntourism are having harmful effects. As Bill Mckibben had stated, “This is a now problem and we must take action. We can’t continue to procrastinate or else nothing will get done.”

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