April 19, 2016
Community warms to focus on climate during Earth Week
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Pat Sewell speaks Monday afternoon on “How a Carbon Fee Can Save The Environment, Stop Terrorism, and Grow Our Economy” at Tompkins Cortland Community College. The presentation was the first of weeklong Earth Week activities at the Dryden college.
DRYDEN — From talks on reducing climate change to a film on the creation of urban gardens, Tompkins Cortland Community College is trying to promote awareness about conserving natural resources through a weeklong celebration of Earth Day.
TC3’s Earth Week began Monday with about 20 people — students and local residents — gathering to hear Pat Sewell, a TC3 adjunct instructor in environmental studies, talk about the world’s dependence on oil and what can be done about it.
Sewell’s talk, titled “How a Carbon Fee Can Save the Environment, Stop Terrorism, and Grow Our Economy,” centered on how the world’s use of carbon for energy is a growing problem, in many ways, and how one group has come up with a possible solution. That solution is to implement a carbon tax.
“I’ve given a lot of talks about climate change and it is always like, here is what you can do. Contact your legislator and say, ‘Do something.’ But here is a specific solution that can be done,” Sewell said.
He began his lecture citing the negative effects of burning fossil fuels such as how it pollutes the air, creates climate change, funds terrorist and creates unpredictable prices — for example, gas prices.
Sewell’s main concern focused on what is called the carbon cycle, in which he says that the burning of fossil fuels ultimately results in the loss of species through climate change and habitat loss.
He cited a 52 percent overall decline in wildlife populations between 1970 to 2010.
Sewell backs implementing a carbon tax on all products created using energy from fossil fuels. This would mean taxing imported goods, such as those coming from China.
He says over time the tax would make businesses look at alternative options for using energy, therefore slowly eliminating the need for carbon-based energy.
One of the main reasons Sewell said he supports the carbon tax is because it is one Republicans and Democrats have supported. And that aspect of the solution was not lost on some audience members, too.
“I was really interested in how they proposed the bipartisan solution, because so much of climate change seems to focus on the liberal side of the political spectrum and the presenter did a great job of showing why this is a global issue,” said Christian Schonherr, a pre-engineering student at TC3.
Schonherr attended the event as a requirement for one of his classes, but said he chose this talk specifically because he wanted to learn more about the solution that was being presented.
“I was interested in the economic and global ramifications they (the lobbyists) say it (their solution) would have, because usually you just hear about loss of species and loss of habitats,” Schonherr said. “But bringing this topic to different fields such as economics and biology and sociology as whole, I believe, is a great way to increase its awareness.”
The opportunity for students, and the community, to broaden their knowledge of environmental topics will continue with a different event each day until Saturday. Today the film “Can You Dig This?” will be screened at 4 p.m. at the TC3 campus in Room 204. On Wednesday there will be a student panel from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 210.
“Students get to ask questions about things that they have interests in, or their experiences, or why Earth Day matters to them,” Sewell said about the student panel.
Guest speaker Debra Efroymson will give a speech Thursday titled, “Wealth, Money and the Environment: Towards a Brighter Future.”
Then on Friday, Earth Day, the Sustainable Growers Garden Club will be working on one of the courtyards on campus, transforming the space into a garden. The week of events will culminate on Saturday with a road cleanup on Dryden’s Irish Settlement Road, conducted by the College Sustainability Council and Students Acting for a Greener Earth group.
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