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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Letter to the Editor: Understand the History of Climate Change, Don’t Forget It

Aidan Muller ’27 responds to calls to move on from the past in addressing climate change.

Re: We Need to Stop Focusing on the Past to Save the Climate

A recent column argues that to effectively address today’s climate crisis, we should focus not on history but on successful instances of adaptation and mitigation in today’s society. She asserts that “dwelling on the past and ignoring the changes we’re already making and still have to make to protect our climate is not only inefficient, but also a convenient excuse to not take any action.” I agree with her claim that we cannot abandon all hope and that preserving optimism is vital to our future, but to move past our history is to move past the historical roots of our current problems.

The U.S. is founded on a capitalist, industrial economy powered by fossil fuels. Nearly every institution that ensures the functioning of our country contributes, in some form, to carbon emissions, pollution and general environmental degradation. Climate change is baked into our institutions; we cannot effectively remedy our past mistakes and create a green future without analyzing our political, economic and social structures. Furthermore, historical biases and power imbalances built into the frameworks of these institutions disproportionately expose marginalized communities to climate-related health risks and hazards. Addressing these structural power imbalances is the only effective means of achieving environmental justice. To address the climate crisis, we must dwell on the past, but with an eye to the future.

Aidan Muller ’27 is a contributing columnist at The Dartmouth. Letters to the Editor represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.