Students protest carbon emissions

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April 17, 2007

3:49 AM

The Student Environmental Action Coalition joined with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAM) and VIMS’s Green Team to organize Step It Up Williamsburg from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. last Saturday. Step It Up Williamsburg is part of a nationwide series of rallies with the purpose of urging Congress to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by the year 2050.

p. There were speakers and live music, and a group photo in front of the Wren building. Coordinators from the 1,500 rallies will send their group photos to national coordinators in Washington, D.C., who will digitally quilt the images together and present them to Congress.

p. “There will be pictures from the Golden Gate Bridge, Manhattan, coral reefs in Key West and the glaciers in Alaska,” Christine Llewellyn, chapter chair of the newly organized Williamsburg Chapter of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said.

p. Government Professor John McGlennon spoke in his role as James City county supervisor. NASA climate scientist Bruce Wielicki spoke about the rise in sea level, temperature projections, the need to reduce carbon emissions and the high amount of carbon generated by a single person.

p. Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler was presented with a “Cool Cities” certificate from the Sierra Club because she is one of 442 mayors in the United States to sign the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement.

p. “Signing was not a difficult decision for me because it is consistent with the goals of the city of Williamsburg,” Zeidler said. She also discussed Williamsburg’s recent progress in land use planning and transportation.

p. Attendees had the opportunity to sign a Congressional petition, take a free fluorescent light bulb, eat donated food and pick up information about ways to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle. Banners were displayed at the entrance to the Wren courtyard and attracted people from the Colonial Williamsburg farmer’s market.

p. “The U.S. Congress has not been doing anything on this issue, and we are the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world,” sophomore Jake Reeder, a member of SEAC, said. “Countries like China and India that we consider far less developed are the ones taking the lead on this issue. The United States needs to step up.”

p. Reeder said that SEAC helped with starting the Williamsburg chapter of the CCAN, and Step it Up Day is a good way to integrate the College with the new chapter of CCAN.

p. “It’s a bigger turnout than I would’ve expected, considering the weather,” freshman Caroline Cress, SEAC member, said. “It is a good demonstration of how the College and the community are coming together on this issue.”

p. The idea for a nation-wide Step It Up Day was conceived this year by a few graduate students at Middlebury College in Vermont who created an anti-global warming movement.

p. “They are overwhelmed with the response that has occurred. These are all grassroots, local events,” Llewellyn said.

p. Coordinators believe Williamsburg has special significance as it is where settlers first landed.

p. “We need to honor the Jamestown settlers by exercising our democratic rights and urging Congress to take bold and immediate action on climate change,” Llewellyn said.

p. Next weekend, SEAC’s Earth Day celebrations begin Saturday night in the Crim Dell meadow and continue with a fair Sunday in the Sunken Garden.

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