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Semana Verde en la UC3M

Semana Verde en la UC3M

Climate change examined at the University

Verde que te quiero verde. Verde viento. Verdes ramas. El barco sobre el mar y el caballo en la montaña”. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid has taken these lines from Lorca’s somnambulant ballad and updated them to the sound of global warming, climate summits, environmental refugees and the impact of oil companies. These are some of the issues that were debated at the 5th edition of Green Week, held at the University from the 20th to the 24th of October.

“Climate change: Are We Ready?” was the leitmotiv of these conferences and the question that dozens of experts invited by the organizers attempted to answer. The organizers of Green Week were Students Space, the Office of University Cooperation in Development and the UC3M Environment Unit, three services from the Vice-chancellor’s Offices of Students and University Life, Equality and Cooperation, and Infrastructures and Environment, which are united by a phenomenon that affects the whole planet but which begins with all of us. Every gesture, all behavior contributes to fighting climate change, just as this phenomenon has different repercussions on our life. This and much more was discussed in the 43 activities held on the Getafe, Leganés and Colmenarejo campuses with the cooperation of more than a dozen professors from the University and different companies, NGOs and student associations.

The thawing of the poles, the millions of environmental refugees that exist, the impact of oil companies on the environment, the problem of universal access to energy, waste management policies, the effect of farming practices, the evolution of tourism and the changes in the landscape that can be seen upon visiting the environs of the university are all related to climate change and were discussed at the conferences. There were also practical workshops on how to plant a small urban vegetable garden (see photo) to cultivate ecological produce. These workshops were held under the tutelage of environmental officials from the Comunidad de Madrid Red Cross.

This edition of Green Week focused on climate change because of concern with the consequences the present concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has on the climate, how humans have contributed to this concentration and how we can mitigate it. This was explained by Fernando López, Deputy Vice-chancellor of Infrastructures and Environment, during the opening ceremony.  López reiterated the commitment that the UC3M has to the environment and to conferences such as this one: “It is not a formal commitment, but rather a commitment to create forums where one can think, with the tools that study and science provide, about current environmental problems and their solutions as a basis for action.”  It is, in short, an attempt to get students involved in the matter. Furthermore, the 300 students that attended the event this year, according to the organizers, learned how to integrate these types of things into their personal and academic lives.

Scientific reports, the recent United Nations summit, the increase in meteorological extremes—everything indicates that now is the time to take climate change seriously. This is what the president of the Spanish Research Committee on Global Change, Mercedes Prado, affirmed. Prado is a professor in the UC3M Department of Social Analysis and was the featured speaker of Green Week’s inaugural video conference. “And taking it seriously,” she said, “means making significant changes in societies: from a dirty system of production to a clean one; from a wasteful system of consumption to a sustainable one; from a dirty system of transportation to a clean one; from a dirty energy system to a clean one; and so on. Insofar as climate change is caused mainly by human activity, it is a social problem that requires social changes that are more radical and faster than the ones taking place,” explained Prado, who is a specialist on the sociology of climate change. That is, moreover, the fundamental conclusion of the recent scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization.

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