November 6, 2010

A Pivotal Moment for the Environment and Population

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On Nov. 4, Roots and Shoots – a student group that centered on environmental education – hosted a lecture on the interconnections between climate change, women’s rights and political issues as part of their Environmental Justice and Film Speaker Series.

The lecture featured Laurie Mazur, editor of “A Pivotal Moment,” Martha Farnsworth Riche, former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and Michelle Orzech, former director of the Izaak Walton League of America.

Laurie Mazur, editor of “A Pivotal Moment,” introduced the problem of population growth, stating that the education and empowerment of women along with reproductive health and family planning services could help to combat the issue.  She presented some interesting climate change statistics, one of which stated that in twenty eight hours, the average American produces the same amount of carbon emissions as a Tanzanian produces in one year.

She also acknowledged the different initiatives the U.S. has put into place, like US Agency for International Development (USAID), which assists in international development; such programs could be used to combat large global issues.

Martha Farnsworth Riche, former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, spoke about the media’s presentation of impending population growth. Farnsworth emphasized that population control can be a sensitive topic, and people are sometimes offended by certain views.  She stressed that all solutions must be practical in that they could be accepted in a culture’s customs.

Michelle Orzech, former director of the Izaak Walton League of America, discussed some individual actions that can present these problems as a priority to politicians. She pointed out that the duty of citizens does not end at voting: “Tell your senators and representatives that you support these issues and that they are important to you.”

When asked what her message to young people would be, Orzech responded, “Understand how powerful you are.  Being part of even a small group can make a big difference.  Sometimes we feel disconnected, but young people actually have a great deal of power and shouldn’t be afraid to really jump in and take action.”

After the presentation, Laurie Mazur said, “A great thing I found working with young people is that they understand the connections within these issues.  Living in the US, we have a huge advantage because we have organizations already in place to make these programs happen – we just need to use our leverage as citizens.  It’s simply a pivotal moment for the environment and population, politically.”

Original Author: Katerina Athanasiou