An assortment of student organizations and
faculty members recently participated in the nationwide Focus
the Nation initiative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit event that
aims to engage students in addressing problems caused by climate
As part of the initiative, professors from all areas of study
were asked to participate in a campus wide teach-in by allocating
a portion of class to discuss the climate change and what to
do about it.
HPU’s participation was organized by the Vegetarian Club
and the Sustainability Club.
Basically, what we wanted to do is encourage all fields of study
at the University to be included in discussing global warming
in their lectures through this program,” said Lorenzo Nava,
Vegetarian Club president.
This event was a great opportunity for students to gain a clear
understanding of how global warming will affect their lives.”
In addition to the teach-in, a viewing of the Focus the Nation
live national Webcast and a voter registration drive were held
Unique to the national initiative was the number of student-led
groups that organized local teach-ins, Webcast viewings, and
voter registration drives. Such widespread organization reveals
young people’s support for finding ways to address global
warming; college students, a national age demographic usually
considered disinterested in current events, appears to have taken
on a new purpose in the 21st century.
If the widespread outpouring of student effort and attention
is any indication, the need to stop global warming, a challenge
unknown to former generations, has enlisted the support of countless
young people, not just environmentalists, across the country.
So why the Vegetarian Club?
Vegetarianism is sustainable by definition,” Nava explained. “Our
food choices have significant consequences on the environment.”
According to the New York Times, the increasing global demand
for meat products by industrial countries has led to surging
amounts of energy consumption for feed, transportation, and cattle
themselves “generate significant greenhouse gases.”
From the article, beef requires nearly 16 times more fossil fuel
energy to raise than the amount needed for vegetables and rice.
Further, the amount of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas,
emitted in the process of raising beef is 24 times greater than
that of rice and vegetables.
The amount of energy used to raise animals for human consumption
is only one of the myriad of ways human activity has an impact
on the environment.
Just changing the way people shop for groceries,” said
Nava, “might have a bigger impact without making a huge
dent in people’s bank account or their lifestyle. One of
the easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without major
changes in the way [people] live is to simply change what they
have for dinner. That doesn’t involve buying a new car
or putting up solar panels.”
Why did Nava, a New Mexico native and graduate nursing student,
take up the cause of global warming?
It was a desire, he said, to be “treating others how I
would like to be treated and giving this generation and the next
an environment that is better than the one we have now.
As leader of the club,” Nava said, “there was an
opportunity to inform and organize large numbers of people to
help with the initiative.”
HPU’s teach-in was one of more than 1,900 Focus the Nation
teach-ins held across the United States in universities, colleges,
high school, faith organizations, and civic groups, according
to the Focus the Nation Web site.
First conceived in 2006 by a professor at Lewis and Clark University,
Focus the Nation has received wide-support from a variety of
nonprofit, for-profit, religious groups, academic institutions,
notable politicians, and celebrities.
Government officials, including Senator Barack Obama and California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and celebrities such as Edward
Norton and Woody Harrelson have pledged their support of the
Organizations such as Think MTV and the National Wildlife Federation
have sponsored this national effort. Major businesses such as
Cliff Bar and Nike have provided financial support and faith
organizations such as the United Church of Christ and The Foundation
for Jewish Campus Life have helped to promote the event.