Oct. 31, 2007
By Michelle Davey
Thirty Ohio University students and Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus will travel to Washington, D.C., this weekend for Powershift, the first national youth summit to address the climate crisis.
Thousands of college students and young adults are expected to attend the summit, which will include more than 100 workshops and panel discussions. Goals of the gathering include encouraging the presidential candidates and Congress to take global warming seriously, empowering a diverse network of young leaders and achieving broad geographic diversity within the movement aimed at stemming climate change.
Instead of staying at a hotel, the Ohio University assemblage will share tent space at Greenbelt National Park, just outside of the city. "The first rule of resource conservation is to conserve money whenever possible," Marcus said in explaining the choice of accommodations. "The more money you save, the more money you have to invest in other programs."
Ohio University and other institutions are playing a significant role in the newest aspect of the climate movement, said Marcus, who will be a featured speaker in a panel discussion on the role college campuses can play in effecting change. The first wave of activity happened at colleges and universities traditionally known for their environmental activism, such as the University of California or Oberlin College. But as the movement matures, universities not previously involved in this kind of activism are becoming leaders and introducing enlightened ecological practices in new areas, she said.
"Ohio University is really emblematic of that next wave," Marcus said. "Universities like OU have a lot to contribute as far as mainstreaming this movement. I think that climate change is the most pressing issue facing this generation of college students."
Amanda Annis, a sophomore philosophy major who will attend the summit, agrees that students will play an important role in the discussion about global warming.
"It's really important for students, specifically, because we are the youth and climate change is going to affect us a lot more than older generations," she said. "We need to accept that it is real and that there will be repercussions in our lifetime."
Annis and others attending the summit have taken an active role in addressing climate change and energy issues through student organizations on campus, including the Sierra Student Coalition and the Green Network. Annis is a member of the Sustainable Living Organization, which advocates for economical, social and environmental responsibility.
"We become more aware of how the way we live impacts the environment and the people around us," she said. Attending this summit fits in with this mission. "Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity right now. I'm really excited to learn more about what we can do about it," Annis said.
Ohio University is a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The commitment is a pledge to address global warming through the completion of a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the creation of a comprehensive climate action plan, the establishment of target dates for climate neutrality, immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the integration of sustainability into the curriculum and conveyance of public communication regarding the commitment.