Student, professor panel discuss climate change

From left to right: Elosie Stevens, Blaine Sorrick, Alexandra Marzouca, Noah Steiner, Alana Moberg, Kerri Duerr, Natalie Horstman, Alison Tinker, Rene Pico and Marcella Dias.

Westminster College hosted a Climate Teach-In featuring professor-led lectures and a panel featuring students and faculty who spoke about their views on climate ahead of Friday's Global Climate Strike. 

"When I think about some of the big issues that are facing this country facing the world, this (climate change) is among the top three," said Westminster College President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson.

The panel, which was made up of seven students and two professors, discussed economic and social issues surrounding climate change as well as actions the current administration has done regarding the environment.

"(Within) the past few years, the United States has been rather embarrassing on rolling back regulations," said Alana Moberg, a senior studying environmental science. "Our government should reinstate all (regulations to protect the environment)."

President Donald J. Trump's most recent roll back included a regulation regarding clean water.

"When we talk about social economics, 60 percent of our country ... believe that we must do something about climate change, but we don't see that reflected in our elected officials," said education professor Rene Pico.

When asked about what Westminster could do better in regard to climate change, Natalie Horstman, a senior molecular biology major, said the school's recycling procedures need improvements.

Moberg agreed.

The panelist discussed the ways the help in combating climate change like Marzouca has recently begun to lead a waste-free lifestyle, which means she works to avoid products that damage the environment.

"Rather than trying to act as a hero by oneself, because there is no here in this situation," said Noah Steiner, a junior studying history. "There is no Captain Planet who will swoop in and save the day. We all have to combine to act as Captain Planet."

Pico said American's need to come together as a country, "not because of geopolitical reasons, but because of our survival."

Other panelists spoke about how climate change has effected their lives personally. Pico, a farmer, said over the past 10 years, he's lost 20 feet of his shore due to "historical amounts of water."

Student-driven "alternative strikes" will occur today, including walking to class instead of driving and eating low carbon foods, such as locally grown vegetables.

The event was headed by Eloise Stevens, assistant professor and instruction and outreach librarian, and sponsored by the Westminster College Center for the Environment.

Other sessions throughout the day included, “The Climate Crisis and the Liberal Arts,” presented by Dr. Helen Boylan, director of the Center for the Environmental and chemistry professor, and “Environmental Policy and the Tragedy of the Commons,” presented by Dr. Shannon Smithey, a political science professor.

"I think it's fair to sacrifice a little help save the world," Moberg said.

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