Devin Ferri ‘21

No matter where I was in the world, citizen and state responses to climate change were grim. In each place, there was always something else that seemed to take precedent over the concerns for climate change. Or in the case of Cape Town, they were entirely focused on rebounding from an assault by climate change that they hardly seemed concerned with protection in the future. In Hanoi, I walked through a flurry of plastic. A cup of tea? It came in a plastic cup, with a plastic lid and straw and a small plastic cup carrying bag. Any food taken to go was a plastic box inside a bag inside a bag. This being said, I do need to acknowledge that most people ate on the streets and they would sit down on plastic furniture and eat from reusable bowls. Concerns for the environment whether in terms of climate change or sheer air pollution seemed to pale in comparison to individuals who need to focus on their current economic security. In Cape Town, I was permitted a 3-minute shower, washed dishes purely by dunking in a sink of old water and drank water from giant plastic jugs. They have experienced extreme drought and last year ran out of water. Their climate is becoming erratic and a looming concern. Finally, there is Buenos Aires where things felt too eerily similar to the US. Did they recycle? Sure. Was there a ton of plastic use? No. Did there seem to be major activism for change? Also no. They had their priorities elsewhere and concerns about climate felt like they were taking a back seat. While I can't claim surprise for any of these experience, they were undeniably sobering