Power Shift ’09 has students seeing green

As the Earth’s population rapidly increases, its dwindling resources continue to take a hit. The U.S. census bureau estimates more than nine billion people will inhabit the Earth by 2050 – a projection that has some calling for action right here and now.

Several College students are promoting just that, attending Power Shift ’09, a climate change summit in Washington D.C. from Feb. 27 to March 2. Organized by the Energy Action Coalition, Power Shift ’09 compelled more than 12,000 people, 11 from the College, “to take a message of bold, comprehensive and immediate federal climate action to Capitol Hill,” according to its Web site.

The four-day conference was jam-packed with workshops and panels encouraging students to lead their school in reducing its carbon footprint.

“Ultimately, we want to have no green gas emissions produced by the College,” Meagan Terry, President of Water Watch, said.

More than a dozen government employees and environmental watch-group representatives reinforced the conference’s message with several presentations. Speaker Majora Carter, a South Bronx native, has made it her life mission to conquer the environmental challenges presented by urban communities. In 2003, she implemented a program offering “green collared jobs” to city residents.

“She was just so inspiring,” Terry said. “The places she’s working and the people she’s working with. It’s amazing.”

Terry, also a member of the College’s Climate Committee and one of five students to attend the conference in 2007, worked relentlessly to recruit more students for this year’s event. While Terry is graduating this year, she hopes the number of attendees from the College to the next conference will double.

The last day of the summit was deemed “Lobby Day.” Participants assembled on the lawn of the Capitol Building and marched on to Congress to speak with their state’s congressmen and push for effective climate legislation.

Close to 200 students from colleges throughout New Jersey attended the conference resolving to work together afterward and lobby for a greener Garden State.

“This is so important because those in N.J. have really ambitious plans for energy reduction,” Terry said.

Those attending from the College were aided financially by the School of Culture and Society, President’s Climate Control Committee and the Bonner Center, in addition to registration fees covered by the Student Finance Board.

“(Power Shift ’09) opened my eyes to just how many sustainability issues there are,” Julia Flagg, sophomore Water Watch secretary, said. “It’s a multi-faceted issue. Everyone can get behind the movement.”

Both Terry and Flagg are looking to gain more support from College students.

“We’re looking to expand to more than just the environmental organizations on campus. There really is strength in numbers,” Terry said. “It’s clichE but we only have one planet. We really need everyone.”