University News

Students rally for climate change action

By
Staff Writer
Monday, October 26, 2009

A group of Brown students joined members of the Providence community Saturday at Waterplace Park to participate in the International Day of Climate Action.

The event was organized in cities across the world by 350.org, an international campaign devoted to publicizing the dangers of climate change and advocating for policy reform. The group organized over 5,200 events in 181 countries, including Egypt, India, Australia and Brazil, according to its Web site.

At many of the events, including the one in Providence, participants took photos in the shape of the number 350 and submitted their photos to the 350.org Web site. According to some scientists, 350 is the maximum number of parts per million of carbon dioxide that should safely be in the atmosphere. Currently, that number stands above 380 parts per million, according to Greg Gerritt, the primary event coordinator in Providence.

A group of students, organized by the campus environmentalist group emPower, gathered in Sayles Hall to form the number “350” for a photo and then marched down to Waterplace Park for the main event.

“I think it’s really important that individuals band together to vocalize support about the issue,” said Kara Kaufman ’12.

Several Watson International Scholars of the Environment from Africa joined students in Sayles in attending the Waterplace Park event.

“We are here to network with our peers in the developed world,” said Visiting Scholar Joachim Ezeji, who is conducting water research at Brown this semester. “Africa is very vulnerable to rising temperatures.”

At the Waterplace Park rally, speakers addressed the crowd, a local church group provided music and a few local organizations set up informational tables. The Environment Council of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light, a religious group dedicated to climate change, organized the event, which attracted a crowd of more than 60 students and community members despite rainy weather.

“We have CO2 emissions off the chart, and it’s time to do something about it,” Gerritt said.. He opened the event by stressing that changes need to be made in people’s lifestyles in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

A main focus of the event was the rising global sea level, which is expected to go up by at least five feet in the next 80 to 100 years, according to Gerritt. “What’s high tide now will be low tide in the future,” he said, adding that a five-foot rise in sea level would mean that the Waterplace Plaza would often be completely underwater.

“We need to start being really vocal,” said Paul Beaudette, president of the Environment Council of Rhode Island. “We need to put limits on how we use carbon.”

Beaudette also emphasized the need for new modes of transportation in Rhode Island, such as electric cars, that reduce carbon emissions.

 

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