February 1, 2008

Activists Host Teach-Ins to Discuss Global Warming Threat

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“Focus the Nation,” organized by environmental action groups KyotoNOW! and the Sustainability Hub, concluded yesterday after two days of teach-ins and panel discussions about global warming. The event was an attempt to increase awareness and campus advocacy.
According to the University, the two-day event consisted of four parts. The first part involved a webcast, “The Two Percent Solution,” which educated the audience about the necessity of a reduction in carbon dioxide levels. Viewers of the webcast were then able to participate in the second part of the event, an online poll called “Choose Your Future,” which allowed participants to vote for the best solution to reduce emissions.
The final two parts took place yesterday in many schools across the nation. Professors from various departments within the University joined professors from other colleges and spent 10 minutes of class time discussing global warming and the issues surrounding it.
Finally, meetings were arranged with local lawmakers and government officials for the fourth part of the event called “Green Democracy.” Panel discussions “Global Warming Science and Technology” and “Effective Global Warming Policy” provided an opportunity for participants to discuss these environmental issues, to change local policy and to voice their concerns to Washington.
Among the legislators on campus were Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D), Tarah Rowse of the town of Caroline, Jennifer Dotson of the Ithaca Board of Public Works, Kathy Luz Herrera (D-5th District) and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd District), who participated via webcast.
“The panelists [discussed] their current science on global warming as well as the available technologies,” said Carlos Rymer ’08, president of the Sustainability Hub and a co-organizer of Focus the Nation. “The political leaders [discussed] their efforts on this issue and propose[d] policy options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All of the topics that were dealt with on Wednesday and Thursday were related to global warming. It is perhaps the most significant threat to humanity this century.”
Whitney Larsen ’10, another co-organizer of Focus the Nation, explained that one of the main purposes of the teach-in was to bring attention to the problem of global warming and to the fact that too few preventative steps are being taken to reduce its effects.
“One of the biggest problems facing global warming activism is apathy from the general population,” she said. “We are seeking to make global warming a central issue in the upcoming elections by educating people about the urgency of the issue and the variety of solutions that already exist. These include economic, technological, political and lifestyle changes that need to be seriously considered and implemented.”
According to Rymer, the goal of the event was to encourage Cornellians to get involved in the burgeoning movement.
“Through Focus the Nation we hope to reach out to thousands of members of the Cornell community with a strong message that says global warming can no longer be ignored by Washington,” Rymer said. “We want people to join a growing national climate movement that is demanding strong federal leadership to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Focus the Nation will help empower students to take real action, beyond just personal changes.”
Focus the Nation kicked off Cornell’s participation in the National Campus Energy Challenge, a competition for higher education institutions across the nation to lower their energy use by the greatest percentage.