With respect to climate change and the environment, 2015 was an interesting year to say the least. Last year was the warmest on record and by an incredibly wide margin at that, not to mention unprecedented weather events globally. Despite all the negatives, there is no doubt that history was made in Paris last month for the better. Nations from around the world, international corporations, NGOs, and people interested in much needed change met in Paris for COP21 to discuss climate change and how to mitigate its effects.
I was offered the chance to go to Paris with the Second Nature delegation, and what intern in their right mind would turn down this once in a lifetime opportunity? Needless to say, it was an incredible learning experience, and without a doubt one of the most important moments of my life. For the first time, I got to actually see people who cared about the planet as much as I do outside of the United States. I got the chance to network with people from all over the world, allowing for personal and professional growth.
There were a few things that did stick out to me at COP21, however: one being the lack of young people, and the other the lack of people of color. Environmental issues affect all people around the world, especially those in developing regions, and as a 26-year-old African-American man I was really hoping to see more people who looked like me around my general age. It is we young people, especially those of color, who bear the brunt of this unfortunate burden left upon us. Having the opportunity to go to Paris was humbling in the sense that it allowed me to understand there is still work to be done in diversifying our battle. The world is changing, and with that change needs to come a renewed sense of responsibility. Diversifying and expanding our spheres of influence will allow us to better tackle the issues we all face as humans and hopefully reverse our past actions before it is too late.