Sunday, August 9, 2020

Campus group talks climate change, demands MSU take action

September 25, 2016

The group is an individual chapter group of the greater Climate Reality Project, an initiative coined by former vice president Al Gore in 2006. Its first goal is to get MSU’s campus to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

“This particular goal is really urgent,” Natalie Smith, international relations sophomore and president of the chapter, said. “I mean, this is something that can definitely happen in 50 or 60 years, but this is a huge portion of what the campus uses, and it is actually feasible to get it forward mobility.”

The Climate Reality Project Campus, Corps, started in 2015 with some general marketing campaigns for sustainability. Now it plans on doing the same, but with a greater force to push MSU administration to make decisions for seeking a healthier, or more “green,” future, Smith said.

This specific goal was chosen, Smith said, in collaboration with Wolfgang Bauer, a university distinguished professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Bauer was the expert who initially told the group this specific goal was attainable.

“You have to think, ‘what actually consumes energy on campus?’” Bauer said. “Two-thirds of it goes into heating the buildings. The other third is electricity. With electricity, we have fans and motors and elevators and research labs and internet routers and all that. Lighting is really a very small percent of all that.”

The Climate Reality Project Campus Corps has been handing out petitions to aid its goal since the start of the fall semester, and plans on handing some to MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon once the group meets its goal of 6,000 petitions. Right now, they fall approximately at the 2,300 range, and have more “petition blitzes” in the works.

“What we’ve seen from students is a lot of support,” organizer Laura De Palma said. “Students are excited to be part of working on something very specific and concrete.”

The project team has been presenting to different classes on campus since the start of the academic year.

De Palma said the biggest question she gets from students is, “What’s the plan?”

“A lot of students want to see how this is going to happen,” De Palma said. “But our job as an organization is to build will, not write policy. ... We know that there are models out there, we know that there are templates and we know that we have all the resources we need at MSU to put this in motion.”

The Climate Reality Project Campus Corps will kickoff on Sept. 27. Smith and her team challenge students to come and check the group out, because this goal is just the beginning for their group. Their focus is changing the world, one action-based step at a time, Smith said. 

“The one thing we really want students to know is that the problem we’re dealing with isn’t a problem that other people are solving,” Smith said. “It’s a problem that we’re solving ourselves. We’re part of the solution. ... Change doesn’t come from the top down. It comes from the bottom up. And every single person at MSU should want to get involved in that effort.”

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