Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
Over a Thousand College Campuses Trying to Turn the Tide on Climate Change
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
Jan 23, 2008
From Alternet.org

In Springfield, Mo., college students are about to see quite vividly how much energy they consume. Piles of coal will be on display in proportion to what's needed each day to power their dorms, computers, and dining halls.

At Radford University in Virginia, students may stumble upon a mock fight between a windmill and a smokestack (costumes courtesy of the campus Green Team).

At the University of Vermont in Burlington, audience members will be encouraged to bike or walk to a one-woman show in which the fictional first lady calls for a boycott against sex until the nation starts a serious dialogue about climate change.

The creative tactics are designed to draw students into a series of events this coming week known as Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America. Organizers bill the culminating day, Jan. 31, as the largest teach-in in the nation's history, drawing parallels to the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s and '70s. More than 1,500 institutions, most of them colleges and universities, will host classes, documentaries, performances, energy-saving competitions, and discussions with political leaders.

Eban Goodstein, the man behind the mission, speaks about it urgently: "What our kids have to do is truly heroic," he says. "If they're going to stabilize the climate for their children, they have to rewire the entire planet with clean-energy technology."

Mr. Goodstein is an economics professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., and an author on environmental issues. The pace needs to pick up in order to hold global warming to low levels before it is too late, he says. "We owe our young people some focused discussion about the critical importance of the choices that are going to get made over the next couple years."

The impact of Focus the Nation depends on whether it preaches to the choir or fulfills its potential to reach a broader audience and inspire long-term commitment. A key question is, "Will [the students] take the message to their parents and grandparents?... Will it move from the campus teach-ins to the backyard barbecues of early summer?" says Gordon Mitchell, a communication professor at the University of Pittsburgh who has studied rhetoric and social movements. "That will in large part determine if this is a wave, versus a ripple."

The Focus the Nation has offered templates for activities, but a decentralized network of faculty, students, and other volunteers has seized the opportunity to tailor events for local audiences. Professors in fields as diverse as astronomy, economics, and classics will use class time to link their subjects to climate change.

That's what appeals to Galen Brown, the 19-year-old student coordinator for events at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "It targets everybody," he says. "One of the biggest problems with the climate campaign over the past few years has been the negativity. ... I think it's best to harp on the positive -- how we can stop [global warming] and how businesses can be efficient and make money while being green."

For Paul Weihe, a biology professor at Central College in Pella, Iowa, the scope of the event is unprecedented in his 10 years there. "People understand that this is the issue of our time," he says. His campus is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, and the keynote speaker there will be Cal DeWitt, a minister and scientist who founded the Evangelical Environmental Network. "We've got so many different people from different backgrounds [participating]. In the past, this would be something the science geeks were into," Mr. Weihe says.

Alexander Wait, who teaches biology at Missouri State University in Springfield, will be heading to some local hangouts to help "break through the apathy." He'll give a talk at local bars during the "Save the Ales" pub crawl. With breweries facing a hops shortage, he says, "if you care about beer, you should care about climate change."

On the edge of Lake Champlain, the University of Vermont is hosting a week of events, which organizers hope will be just the start of continued action. They expect crowds at the Sustainable Burlington Design Charrette, a structured brainstorming session on ways the city can improve everything from transportation to energy usage. Local officials will be on hand to hear ideas, which will be archived for use by the mayor's recently created environmental council.

"It seems like climate change can just be overwhelming, [but these activities] show that we can actually do things personally and collectively to fight it," says Valerie Esposito, a PhD student and organizer at UVM. In April, the winner of a student sustainable-design contest will receive $3,000 to implement his or her idea on campus.

Timing Focus the Nation during the presidential primaries was deliberate, to encourage voters to press candidates on global warming. The related "Green Democracy" forums are designed to be nonpartisan, featuring groups and speakers of all political stripes, including governors and members of the US Congress.

There's much that adults can do to set the stage now, by investing in the creation of green technologies, Goodstein says, but only today's young people "have the moral authority to speak for the future.... So it's really important to engage [them] directly in dialogue with political leaders."

Outreach to established political leaders is one way in which these events differs from the Vietnam era teach-ins, Professor Mitchell says. Those were offered as the "more palatable carrots" paired with the "sticks" of sit-ins. But such pressure "is missing from this [Focus the Nation] exercise," he says. "People are not saying, we have to divest the university from stocks in Exxon, [for example].... It's all about 'Let's contact our congressional representatives.' It's very reformist, and in that sense it's a very sharp contrast with the message of the teach-ins from the Vietnam War era, that the establishment is corrupt.' "

Goodstein sees a different parallel: people feeling empowered to make change. Between 1960 and 1964, the American mood shifted from accepting segregation - even if most thought it was morally wrong - to a determination to end it, he says. By the same token, "The ultimate purpose of Focus the Nation ... is to move America by 2009 to the point where we say, 'Of course we can stop global warming. Of course we must.' "

If you want to get involved

At the Focus the Nation website you can:

* Click on a map of the United States to find locations of related events near you.

* Vote on priority environmental issues by clicking on the Choose Your Future link. Voting runs between Jan. 21 and Feb. 12. The resulting agenda will be delivered to members of Congress during the Presidents' Day recess.

* Find a link to a live, interactive webcast called "The 2% Solution," 8 p.m. Jan. 30, featuring actor and clean-energy advocate Edward Norton; Stanford climate scientist Stephen Schneider; green-jobs pioneer Van Jones; and sustainability expert Hunter Lovins.
0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 9,683 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
Baraka (1992)
97 min · 9,299 views today · Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes...
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 6,243 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 5,072 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
Why I Think This World Should End
4 min · 3,941 views today · Sorry if this offends you. - Prince Ea
The Myth of Romantic Love May Be Ruining Your Health
Susanne Vosmer · 3,233 views today · Romantic love in Western societies is often portrayed in a stereotypical way: two yearning halves, who search for each other to find their complete, original state. Few find...
Prophecy Delivered! Martin Luther King Jr. and the Death of Democracy
Reverend Osagyefo Sekou · 2,739 views today · “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Democracy is dead. It...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,721 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 2,268 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,692 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Union Co-Operatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them
Simon Taylor · 1,544 views today · Neoliberal policies contribute to alienation, disempowerment and non-unionised jobs, but a new model for unions could break the vicious circle, argues Simon Taylor.
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker, Corporate Agenda
Colin Jenkins · 1,488 views today · Rich people don’t have to have a life-and-death relationship with the truth and its questions; they can ignore the truth and still thrive materially. I am not surprised many...
What Is a Gift Economy? - Alex Gendler
4 min · 1,401 views today · What if, this holiday season, instead of saying "thank you" to your aunt for her gift of a knitted sweater, the polite response expected from you was to show up at her house in...
Something Better to Offer Trump Voters Tired of Waiting for Their Turn
David Korten · 1,192 views today · A world free of extremes of wealth and poverty in which no one needs to stand in line for a chance at a secure and fulfilling life.
Thoughts on the Eve of the Trump Regime
Mark Corske · 1,002 views today · A blend of dread, disgust, rage, and despair for the future, all in a state of shocked disbelief—if you feel something like this facing the Trump regime’s ascent to power...
Trump Is a Symptom of a Sickness That Is Raging All Across The World
1 min · 940 views today · This is why we are here. And this is what we need to remember. 
Living Through an Age of Unraveling: Reflections as We Enter 2017
Martin Winiecki · 638 views today · “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.” ― R. Buckminster Fuller
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 603 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 478 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 436 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Over a Thousand College Campuses Trying to Turn the Tide on Climate Change