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Penn State students rally for action on climate change

An inflatable globe is kicked around before the rally begins. A Know Tomorrow rally was held on the Old Main steps and surrounding area on the Penn State campus October 2, 2015. Know Tomorrow is a nationwide effort across campuses to address climate issues.
An inflatable globe is kicked around before the rally begins. A Know Tomorrow rally was held on the Old Main steps and surrounding area on the Penn State campus October 2, 2015. Know Tomorrow is a nationwide effort across campuses to address climate issues. CDT Photo

Mother Earth is taking a beating.

That’s the core message of Know Tomorrow, a student-led campaign that was observed at more than 50 university campuses across the country on Friday to facilitate action on climate change.

It was also quite literally what was happening on the lawn in front of Old Main early that evening. Students were kicking a large inflatable globe back and forth — not as any kind of an environmental statement, mind you — it’s just that it was a giant ball and thus to be played with.

The real environmental statements were plastered across posters and cardboard signs, messages that ranged from the philosophical (“our choices have consequences”) to the direct (“climate change = bad”).

Most of them had been temporarily discarded in favor of pizza or a selection of burritos from Chipotle, nourishment after a roughly 45-minute walk through campus and down College Avenue spreading the good word about the environment and chanting about the United Nations climate change conference that is being held in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

“The whole idea is to build support for Paris and show President Obama that millennials care about climate action,” said Sean Davenport, an organizer with Climate Reality Project.

Davenport helped to organize the Know Tomorrow demonstration at Penn State — recruiting interns, speaking in classes and leading the student walk through campus early Friday evening.

One of his recruits was Michael Lock, an earth science and policy major preparing to graduate in December. Lock has always had a strong interest in protecting the environment and is looking to build a career in the renewable energy sector or other eco-friendly endeavors.

“Not enough people know the consequences of climate change and what they do,” Lock said.

He was hoping that Know Tomorrow could help fill some of those gaps. Speakers from three student organizations — Fossil Free PSU, Engineers for a Sustainable World and the Student Society for Indigenous Knowledge — stood on the steps of Old Main and delivered impassioned arguments for climate action.

For senior Samuel Samon Thompson, the issue hits close to home.

Thompson is from the Bahamas, and he said that if the water level rises by another 3 feet they will lose 80 percent of their land.

“We are approaching a point of irreversibility,” Thompson said.

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