Ryan Chartrand

The year is 2050. The number of deaths per year has more than doubled within the last 44 years and more than a million species worldwide have been driven to extinction. The ice has completely melted in the Arctic Ocean and the world is engulfed in frequent heat waves, droughts and wildfires.

Sound like another sci-fi movie? Think again.

As it is in 2006, Earth has changed drastically within the last century alone. Glaciers are melting, natural disasters are becoming more frequent, plants and animals are struggling to survive. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there is only much more to come.

When I bought my ticket for “An Inconvenient Truth,” a movie featuring Al Gore’s presentation on global warming, I expected some Michael Moore-type propaganda from the former vice president. But the presentation, which Gore has been giving for the last two decades all over the world, was so much more. To put it simply, Gore knows what he’s talking about.

Everyone is familiar with the phrase “global warming,” but not everyone knows what that entails. Gore lays out the facts, which he has compiled after decades of work with scientists and researchers. The evidence is there; it’s up to us to do something about it.

Rather than ending the movie on a doomsday note, Gore provides the audience with a sense of hope and lists several solutions that Americans can act on. He adds that in utilizing solutions for global warming, jobs are created and money can be made – it might not be cheap at first, but the financial benefits are there.

As college students, it’s a bit more difficult. Most of us don’t have the money to buy an electric car (though with gas prices these days, I would hope most would want to) and we can’t afford to install solar panels on our roofs. But we are fortunate to go to a university that cares.

In June 2006 alone, Cal Poly was recognized several times for its contributions to the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranked Cal Poly as one of the best workplaces in the nation for commuters, based on the efforts to improve air quality, save energy and reduce traffic congestion in the community. Additionally, the university also received a 2005 Best Practices award for conserving energy, and by the end of the summer, the Engineering West building will boast a brand-new solar roof.

The issue of sustainability was of great importance to former ASI President Tylor Middlestadt, who even created a handbook on the subject. It will be interesting to see what the new president, Todd Maki, does to continue – or discontinue – Middlestadt’s environmental outreach.

As Gore pointed out in the movie, man is extremely motivated – when he wants to be. Throughout history, Americans have ended segregation, ended world wars, and even helped end the destruction to the ozone layer, which should be fully recovered by 2050. The battle against global warming isn’t all that different, but it requires that we each have the resolve to change our habits and have the mindset that something CAN be done. Even as a college student, how difficult is it to recycle, carpool and keep electricity use to a minimum? All three help to keep carbon dioxide to a minimum, not to mention the fact that you’ll be cutting back on gas/electricity costs.

Ending global warming is not a hopeless cause, but one that should be taken seriously. Our generation has the potential to leave this world a better place than it was when it was handed down to us – or things could get worse. But we are only destined for failure if we choose to be.

For more information on what you can do, check out www.climatecrisis.net or see “An Inconvenient Truth” for yourself.

Kristen Marschall is a journalism junior, news editor and Mustang Daily staff writer.

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