WKU students join global effort to demand action on climate change

Published: Sep. 26, 2019 at 4:26 PM CDT
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Dozens of students and several faculty and staff members at WKU gathered on campus Thursday afternoon for a climate strike.

The event, which was organized by students, is part of the global climate strike (happening September 20-27) where people across the world are raising awareness of climate change and demanding action.

Students said one of the biggest and most known problems with climate change is global warming from greenhouse gases.

They explained a lot of human activities like the burning of fossil fuels contribute to the problem.

"So ultimately it means the average temperature of the Earth is warming up, said Elaine Losekamp, co-organizer of the WKU climate strike. "That isn't always the case in all places, but it does mean that weather events are getting more extreme. There is more drought in a lot of places, more flooding, more extreme catastrophic events."

There are several other strikes happening across the U.S., including Illinois, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and California.

These students are only dozens among a new generation of young activists around the world fighting to see a change.

"To see that people from all ages are recognizing that climate change is a problem and trying to work together to fix it, but it definitely is a very important issue for young people," said Losekamp.

Losekamp said one change she wants to see happen is a carbon tax that would incentivize people to use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin made news Wednesday by touting the reliability of fossil fuels and called teen climate activist Greta Thunberg "remarkably ill-informed" during a conference on energy.

Bevin said Thunberg was articulate and "very passionate, and she's remarkably ill-informed," a day after the teen gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations urging action on climate change.

Thunberg told world leaders that "we are in the beginning of a mass extinction ."

Bevin was asked about the 16-year-old Swedish activist after he gave a keynote address at the annual meeting of the Southern States Energy Board in Louisville.

Bevin said the U.S. shouldn't rush into replacing fossil fuels like coal and natural gas with renewable energy. He said activists like Thunberg lack historical and global perspective and have grown up in a world where electricity is affordable and on-demand.

A new international science assessment concludes that climate change is making the world's oceans warm, rise, lose oxygen and get more acidic at an ever-faster pace, while melting even more ice and snow.

But that's nothing compared to what Wednesday's special U.N.-affiliated oceans and ice report says is coming if global warming doesn't slow down. It projects three feet of rising seas by the end of the century, much fewer fish, weakening ocean currents, even less snow, and ice and nastier hurricanes.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says warming of oceans and ice will harm people, plants, animals, food and the world economy.

Report co-author Hans-Otto Portner says with sea level rise and all these changes, Earth is looking at a future completely different than it is now.