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
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.
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,