October 26, 2009
Students join International Day of Climate Action
SUNY Cortland, TC3 students and others join movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
A gathering of a few SUNY Cortland students coincided with more than 5,000 other events held around the world Saturday in an effort to spur lawmakers to take stronger action to improve the climate.
Various volunteer groups around the world participated in International Day of Climate Action on Saturday to lobby for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The group 350.org organized the event. Its name is taken from the amount of parts per million scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.
People from 181 countries participated Saturday, according to the Web site.
Three volunteers from the SUNY Cortland chapter of New York Public Interest Research Group, or NYPIRG, did their part by setting up a booth next-door to the Main Street farmers market and handed out various information about the climate problems and what people can do to improve it.
While the goal requires support from many people and lawmakers, NYPIRG Project Coordinator Chris Bottini said he thinks the worldwide event shows leaders there is some measure of united support for improving the environment.
He said the event offered an opportunity to participate in an environmental effort with others around the world.
Cleaning up the environment and improving the global climate can only be accomplished if everyone stands behind it, Bottini said.
“We need strong legislation and international agreement,” he said.
Everyday activities grouped together also stand to make a difference, said Mary Panebianco, a NYPIRG intern and senior at the college.
“If everyone did something small on their part, it would implement change in the long run,” Panebianco said. “It’s not just a hot topic you hear about in the news.”
Efforts like the international campaign are helpful, but there is a lot of work to be done before real climate change can take effect, she said.
“We could be more on course, more could always be done,” Panebianco said.
Among the efforts the group encouraged people to take at home were buying in bulk, which was estimated to reduce garbage by about 10 percent, consuming less and using items until they wear out and reusing grocery bags or starting a compost pile in the backyard.
Panebianco said they have called U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer and asked them to support legislation for climate change.
“We need to put pressure on the politicians,” she said.
Similar events were held from 11 a.m. through 2 p.m. Saturday at Tompkins Cortland Community College and Ithaca College.
Saturday was selected as an appropriate time to hold the campaign because of an international climate meeting involving government officials that will be held in December, according to the 350.org Web site.
The worldwide campaign began in 2007 and was started by Bill McKibben, an author of several books about global warming. The first campaign in 2007 had over 2,000 rallies across the country, according to the Web site.
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