Students speak out across nation
All across the country, students will be speaking out about global warming and pressing politicians for change today, as part of Focus the Nation, a day of discussion about sustainability.
By Christina Brown
This article orginally appeared in the UCLA Daily Bruin on January 31, 2008
At UCLA, the day’s events will include several speakers and discussion panels. Professors, staff and community members prominent in the sustainability movement, including Chancellor Gene Block and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), will be speaking about their perspectives on the issue, and more than 30 vendors will be in Bruin Plaza all day.
The goal for the day is not a lecture, though, Cochair Marissa Levi said. Instead, she said she hopes that students will participate in the forums going on throughout the day.
“We want to have a dialogue and find tangible solutions. It is a very interactive day,” Levi said.
Block and Napolitano will be speaking during the opening ceremony at noon, and it will be the first time a UCLA chancellor has ever made a public statement about sustainability.
There will also be a screening of Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie, “The 11th Hour,” and a panel containing experts from the movie will follow.
Approximately 1,400 other colleges and community centers are also hosting events today to inform their communities and get the attention of politicians to show that people care about finding solutions, Levi said.
“We want politicians to see this is an important issue for our demographic,” Levi said. “We really do want change.”
Some campuses will even have Webcams set up send messages to Washington, D.C.
Discussions will take place in Kerckhoff Hall and Ackerman Union about the science, politics, economy and environmental justice of global warming.
Atmospheric and oceanic sciences Professor Alex Hall, along with several other professors from other departments, will be part of the “Science of Global Warming” panel.
He will be speaking about his research regarding the role of snow on the effects of greenhouse gases and will also discuss the scientific community’s consensus on global warming.
“This is a great opportunity for people to educate themselves (about global warming),” Hall said.
The event was originally created by economics Professor Eban Goodstein, from Lewis and Clark College, last year at the University of California Sustainability Conference as a way to show that students want solutions to global warming.
Many student groups and organizations have been involved in planning the event.
Jesse Rogel, a part of the external vice president’s office and a student representative to the Associated Students of UCLA Board of Directors, has been involved in helping to publicize the event as a part of these groups. He said he hopes students take advantage of the day’s events because they are supposed to be interactive.
“We want to be informed about the subject and let people know that they can help contribute to the fight against global warming,” Rogel said.
Kim Sanders, a cochair for Focus the Nation, said she hopes students become educated about global warming and then use that information to inform their communities.
“The experts are educating us so we can take a stance about policy initiatives about global warming and inform others,” Sanders said. “This is one of the most innovative ideas to come around, bridging the gap between students and professors and the community to fight what has been called ‘the greatest challenge of our generation.’”
Sanders stressed that the issue of global warming is one of justice.
“People have equated the environment movement to (the) civil rights movement of the ’60s,” Sanders said.
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008