Cal Poly students are rising to the climate challenge during a national week of action currently underway to demand solutions that will end our addiction to fossil fuels and build towards a clean energy future.
The week of action was organized by the Campus Climate Challenge, and includes more than 570 events covering 49 states and eight Canadian provinces. The theme for the week of action is Visions for our Future, which hopes to inspire students and administrators across the country to create bold visions for a sustainable future that are relevant to their local community.
Empower Poly Coalition, a student club focused on establishing Cal Poly as a university leader in sustainability, will participate in the week of action by hosting a number of events and activities throughout the week. Coincidentally during the same week, Associated Students Inc. will hold their second quarterly event CP NEXT: Generating Sustainable Generations, which will focus on raising students’ awareness about cultural dynamics and sustainability. Together, ASI and Empower Poly intend to shape the debate around critical issues of our time, specifically global warming and the impending damage that will ensue if its effects are not curbed.
To kickoff the week of action, Empower Poly Coalition is co-sponsoring a public screening of the film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” the acclaimed documentary featuring former vice president Al Gore crossing the country educating Americans about the climate crisis. The movie will begin at 7 p.m. Monday night in Chumash Auditorium. Following the movie will be a discussion of the issues raised in the film and direct opportunities for attendees to take action on campus and in the local community to advance clean energy policies and practices.
Cal Poly already has an impressive track record in implementing sustainability. A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified student housing project is under construction; President Warren Baker is one of more than 300 university leader signatories of the Talloires Declaration which commits Cal Poly to the principles of sustainability, facilities services recently installed a 135 kilowatt solar electricity system on building 21, and the campus’ capital planning division, responsible for all new construction, has adopted a procedure by which all new projects are evaluated based on their energy efficiency and overall sustainability. Lastly, thanks in large part to the efforts of many Cal Poly students, staff and faculty, the California State University system now operates under one of the strongest and most forward thinking energy and environmental policies of any university in the nation.
That being said, our campus still has a long way to go, and that is why Empower Poly continues to educate our peers, and advocate to our administration, of the importance in understanding and addressing the climate crisis. When it comes to the environment, the key ingredient to creating change is to be aware of how our choices and actions affect the larger world. Some might not think a single person can make a difference, but in reality it is the only thing that can. Consider this, if every person who owns a car in the United States turned off their motor for one minute when they otherwise would be driving, it would eliminate nearly 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals from our air supply. What we do in our everyday life has an enormous impact on our planet. It’s time to begin leveraging our collective efforts to address the imminent crisis of global warming. Empower Poly and ASI Student Government will be all over campus and at Farmers’ Market this week to get out a very important message about our future. We hope that you’ll join us in the discussion and that you’ll begin to see yourself as part of the solution.
Tylor Middlestadt is a sixth year Architectural Engineering student and vice president of Empower Poly Coalition, to contact Empower Poly, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.