RSO offers education, seeks signatures on climate change


Olivia Swenson-Hulz

Chelsea Picken, an english grad student, and Doris Nordin watch as Marissa Damore, a junior family and consumer sciences major signs a letter to Donald Trump, asking him to consider the importance of climate change awareness. “Alot of people don’t think climate change is a big issue but there’s lots of evidence that it’s destroying the planet. Donald Trump needs to be aware that his actions are affecting the planet” say Damore.

Leon Mire, Associate News Editor

Members of Students for Peace and Justice set up a table in the Library Quad Monday to educate students on climate change and gather signatures for a petition to President Donald Trump.

The petition calls for Trump to honor the Paris Agreement, which sets international standards for greenhouse gas emissions; to support the Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer countries adjust to the effects of climate change and to implement the Clean Power Plan, which encourages states to transition to wind and solar power.

“I am Climate Change” was the first activity for the group’s Global Justice Week. Members of the organization will be in the Library Quad again Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sell fair trade crafts benefiting poor communities around the world.

Doris Nordin, adviser of Students for Peace and Justice and a campus minister at the Newman Catholic Center, said people have many misconceptions about climate change. The most common is that climate change is out of humanity’s control.

“People seem to think the climate does what it wants,” she said. “But we are the direct cause of it.”

Another misconception, Nordin said, is that cold weather and snowfall during the winter are evidence against climate change.

“Yes, it still snows,” she said. “But we have had record hot years, and every year has gotten considerably warmer.”

Nordin said people in Illinois are usually shielded from the effects of climate change, so they are not as concerned with it.

“We don’t see the consequences here, so we think it’s not happening,” she said.

Graduate student Chelsea Picken, a member of Students for Peace and Justice, said climate change fits in with the week’s theme of global justice.

“We don’t think as much about how climate change affects people. We usually think about how it affects animals and the environment,” she said.

She said people living in poorer nations are hit hardest by climate change, as their governments do not have the financial means to help their citizens deal with drought or rising sea levels.

Students at Eastern can take many different steps to minimize their impact on climate change, Picken said.

These steps include recycling and trying not to drive cars unnecessarily. They can also support eco-friendly companies and ask other companies to back off on fuel emissions, Picken said.

Picken stressed political action, such as sending letters and calling local representatives, when dealing with climate change.

She said this petition was sent to Trump rather than local representatives because it would be too much of a hassle to send out letters to each student’s local representative back home.

Picken pointed out that U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin already support efforts to reverse climate change, so the group thought the petition should be directed to the president instead.

Kaila Alvarado, a sophomore communication disorders and sciences major, said she signed the petition because not enough people are aware of climate change.

“And not enough people help them become aware,” she added.

Alvarado said she had not previously taken political action for climate change, but she thinks it is important to do so, even though it may not affect people directly.

“We have to pay attention to (climate change) because it affects the next generation,” she said.

Marissa Damore, a junior family and consumer sciences major, said she signed the petition because climate change affects the whole Earth.

“There’s a lot of evidence that it’s destroying the planet,” she said.

Although climate change often gets a lot of attention, Damore said all environmental issues are important because they are interconnected.

Damore said she believes Trump’s presidency has not been good for the environment. She cited the fact that some of Trump’s advisers do not believe climate change is man-made.

“His actions affect our Earth,” she said.

Leon Mire can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].