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by Andrea Telenko, student writer

 

In the past 100 years, the world population has gone from more than one billion people to a whopping six billion. All the additional people and all the additional human activity have contributed to the growing warmth of the planet, but only recently has global warming been considered a threat to human life. The year 2005 was the hottest on record, and 2006 was the hottest year ever recorded in the continental United States. Scientists at the British Meteorological Office project that 2007 will beat both records.

The Oct. 26 Global Citizenship Student Symposium, “Global Climate Change – What can I do?” brought two experts on global warming to HPU’s windward campus. Stuart Scott and Rob Kinslow trained with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to present “The Climate Crisis.” Scott is a self-proclaimed “first environmentalist stockbroker” and the founder of Energy Associates, Inc. Kinslow is a 13-year aerospace engineering specialist and conservation enthusiast. Their presentations, based on and updating Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, explained the science behind the facts of global warming and provided suggestions to students on ways they could become more environmentally conscious.

According to Scott, countries all over the world are experiencing the effects of the global climate change, one of which is rising ocean levels. Tuvalu, an island in the Pacific Ocean, has had to make some serious changes because of this. Some houses are now built on stilts and have boats instead of cars in their driveways.

Scott added that just one meter of ocean rise would erase all the beaches in Hawai‘i except one on Kaua‘i and one on Moloka‘i.

Scientists at Glacier National Park in Montana carefully measure the effects of climate change on the size of the glaciers that give the park its name. They are receding.

“ Sometime soon,” Scott said, “the park will probably have to be renamed.”

Scott spoke about the “paradigm shift” that must take place if we are to arrest global warming. We must change our everyday habits. Little things such as changing from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs will help, but it’s not enough, and it’s not all we can do. After the presentations, students gathered into groups to discuss their own ideas for helping to preserve our spaceship Earth.

For example:

· Hawai’i depends heavily on its aquifer. We can reduce everyday water usage by only taking what we need. Overwatering the lawn, or doing it in the heat of the day; taking long showers or leaving the faucet running while we’re brushing our teeth: all these could endanger our natural water supply. Eliminating that danger takes a small change in our daily habits.

· Elevators use a lot of electricity, so taking the stairs for one or two floors could be beneficial in several ways: we get more exercise, and we decrease our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of electricity we use.

· We can drink more tap or filtered water: Drinking less bottled water reduces the carbon necessary to make the plastic bottles.

At lunch, students posed questions to the presenters about “How do we move a nation” to change its habits. Kinslow said we need to “replicate” in the same fashion as a virus. Each of us needs to educate more people about the issue and get them to follow suit by educating the people they know.
“ The greatest thing you can do is believe that you have an effect,” said Kinslow. Apathy is no excuse. The environment, as Scott puts it, is a “long-term goal.”

There is no way to stop global warming, but we do have the very real power to slow the process. Scott reminded us that “Even if we don’t get a bill in the mail, there is still a price for everyone to pay later on.”

For more ideas for making a difference, visit Scott’s climatecorps.org, and for information on Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, visit climatecrisis.net.

 

 

 

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