ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. - Students from the St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) will jump into the cold water of the St. Mary's River on Friday, Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. They're not trying to avoid class or get out of final exams. They're doing it to draw attention to the urgent issues of climate change and to demand immediate action to end our addiction to fossil fuels. The "Polar Bear Splash" scheduled for St. Mary's City is designed to draw attention to the plight of all species threatened by global warming.
The St. Mary's City students are joining students on over 575 college and high school campuses across the United States and Canada in urging their campus administrators to enact clean energy policies as a key solution to the impending climate crisis. The student actions are part of Rising to the Climate Challenge: Visions of Our Future, a week-long series of actions coordinated by the Campus Climate Challenge. "The Challenge" seeks to unite young people to bring about 100% clean energy policies at their respective schools.
Organizers are calling this event "the largest mobilization in the history of the youth global warming movement."
Anchoring the week of action are hundreds of screenings of the Oscar-nominated documentary An Inconvenient Truth. In partnership with The 11th Hour Project and Truth on Campus, the Challenge is making copies of the DVD and public screening licenses available to college and high school campuses across the U.S. and Canada. The viewing of the film, and a subsequent discussion lead by Dr. Bill Williams of SMCM, will be held on Wed. Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. in Cole Cinema on the campus grounds.
In addition to the film screenings, students are organizing rallies, educational forums and requesting meetings with members of Congress to urge that the U. S. take a leading role in reducing greenhouses gases. Events are planned in 49 states and 8 Canadian provinces.
Scheduled events at other schools include:
Students at Rutgers University have collected 200 invitations sent to Rep. Frank Pallone D-NJ to at a screening and discussion of An Inconvenient Truth. The screening will also kick-off a campus-wide dorm competition to save energy.
Students from Ivy League universities are joining together to call for their campuses to go climate neutral.
January 30: Billionaires for Coal will be rallying outside the New York headquarters of Merrill Lynch to protest its investment in TXU, a company proposing to build 11 new coal power plants in Texas.
January 31: West Virginia elementary school students will be presenting letters to Governor Manchin urging him to build them a new school away from the coal silo that sits 150 feet from their current school.
For a complete list of events during the week, you can visit http://www.climatechallenge.org/woa/ .
Students recognize that climate change is the most critical issue facing their generation, said Michael Crawford, communications director for the Campus Climate Challenge. Throughout the Week of Action they are demanding less talk and more action to end our addiction to fossil fuels. Beginning with their college campuses and extending to the halls of Congress, young people are sounding the alarm about global warming and providing real solutions that move us towards a clean energy future.
"At American University, we have already held a successful student referendum to move the university towards wind-generated energy," said student Claire Roby. "But that's not enough. We are joining with students from around the country during the week of action to demand real solutions to stop global warming."
"There is a growing sense of urgency about global warming among young people because we are the generation that will be most affected," said Andrew Nazdin, a freshman at the University of Maryland. "The week of action is a way for students to demand real solutions to end our addiction to fossil fuels."
The Campus Climate Challenge, a project of the Energy Action Coalition, unites young people to organize on college campuses and high schools to win 100% clean energy policies at their schools. Energy Action Coalition is a network of 41 organizations from across the United States and Canada, founded and led by youth to help support and strengthen the student and youth clean energy movement in the United States and Canada.
Energy Action Coalition partners are: Americans for Informed Democracy, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Brower New Leaders Initiative, California Student Sustainability Coalition, Campus Progress, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Clean Air Cool Planet, Climate Crisis Coalition, ConnPIRG, CoPIRG, Dakota Resource Council, Earth Day Network, Energy Justice Network, Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, Global Exchange, Greenpeace Student Network, Indigenous Environmental Network, INPIRG, Kids Against Pollution, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: Project Democracy, League of Young Voters, MarylandPIRG, MASSPIRG, MoPIRG, National Association of Environmental Law Societies, National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Program, NJPIRG, OhioPIRG, OSPIRG, Rainforest Action Network, Restoring Eden, Sierra Student Coalition, Sierra Youth Coalition, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Students United for a Responsible Global Environment, Sustainable Endowments Institute, SustainUS, Utah Clean Energy, WashPIRG, WISPIRG, Young People For and Youth Environmental Network.
Truthoncampus.org is helping colleges, universities and high schools across the country increase the positive outcomes from their screenings of An inconvenient Truth. Coordination is being led by Better Days Alliance, a Connecticut-based 501(c)(3) organization with support from Aveda, Annies Homegrown, Ben & Jerrys Homemade, Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farm and the 11th Hour Project.