WMU Joins the Fight to Save the Planet

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Ginny Creamer looks on as Nicholas Miller answers a question from the audience. Photo Credit / Isaac Rubin

“There just isn’t any natural way possible that could explain this [global] warming,” explained Western Michigan University (WMU) professor David Karowe to a full and attentive audience last Wednesday night.  

Regardless of what political leaders in the United States want us to believe, with approximately 97.5% of climate scientists in agreement when it comes to whether or not climate change is real and who it is caused by, there is no longer a true debate. Climate change is real, and it is caused by humans.

On Wednesday, March 22nd at the Bernhard Center, WMU students and staff educated on the topic of climate change, as well as guest speaker Shannon Sykes, regional coordinator for the league of conservation voters and Kalamazoo City Commissioner, gathered to present and have open discussion with concerned members of the community. They called the event “The Climate Crisis: Trump vs. Truth.” Presenters included WMU professors Ron Kramer, David Karowe and Shannon Sykes and WMU students Nicholas Miller, Allie Spring, Abbie Bristol and Loy Norrix alumni Ginny Creamer.

Students and professionals presented in intervals of 20 minutes. Students focused primarily on why climate change matters to them personally while the other speakers focused on the bigger picture and providing information on the subject.

“We went to the highest point in Australia and there were these signs for bushfires. I went to the Great Barrier reef and it’s bleached. Half of it is just dead. I want to be able

to take my kids to someplace beautiful,” said a passionate Miller on why climate change is an important issue to him.

After each 20 minute session, the room was opened up to event attendees to ask questions and spark open discussions with the presenters and others in attendance.

There were four main topics covered at the event:

  • Recent facts that have surfaced on climate change and the “alternative facts” coming from Washington D.C.
  • The people who will make climate policy decisions under President Donald Trump’s administration.
  • How their decisions will affect WMU students, Kalamazoo residents and others around the world.
  • The voices of WMU students concerned about climate change.

With President Trump himself having recently said that he is “not a big believer in man-made climate change,” the topics covered at the event came as no surprise.

Not only is President Trump a climate change denier, but many of his cabinet members are as well. To name just two, Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations, and Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, have both publicly spoken about the environment being low on their list of priorities.  

In President Trump’s short time in office he has already threatened to reduce the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) Standards, abandon Obama’s Clean Power Plan, pull out of the Paris Agreement, withdraw support from the Green Climate Fund, increase support for extraction of fossil fuels and overturn the Cali Tailpipe Greenhouse Gas Emissions Law.

It’s looking pretty unlikely that President Trump will be able to stay true to his word, but the fact that these are changes he would support shows exactly where he and his cabinet stand on environmental issues.

At “Trump Vs. Truth” the message was clear: if the United States government isn’t going to save the planet, people are going to have to take matters into their own hands. As people educate themselves as well as others and begin taking action, attendees at the event still have hope for the planet.

During his talk, Kramer emphasized the importance of developing a “unified progressive social movement” by supporting and joining national and local organizations, showing up at protests and demonstrations, countering denial and taking direct action through nonviolent civil disobedience.

Want to join the movement? Now is the time. There are plenty of ways to get involved in the Kalamazoo Community, from The Climate Change Coalition, who frequently host meetings open to anyone in the community, to Western’s new Recognized Student Organization (RSO) “CHANGE”. Be sure to watch out for another “Climate Crisis” meeting sometime in the near future.

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