Speaker launches campaign to fight climate change

Mercyhurst’s Repower America initiative, a nonpartisan campaign to combat climate change, kicked off Wednesday, Dec. 2, by hosting climate control expert Lance Simmens.

The Mercyhurst Repower America initiative is led by the Mercyhurst Green Team. Climate change “is the issue of our time,” Green Team Chair Dr. Chris Magoc said.

According to Magoc, Mercyhurst has committed to using renewable green energy by utilizing a combination of geothermal buildings, solar panels and wind energy. In addition, Mercyhurst has a recycling rate of 52 percent.

Simmens serves as an adviser to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on clean energy policies. He has presented over 80 lectures in the past three years on climate change, hoping to win supporters by taking a factual approach to the issue.

“It’s a fact that the ice caps are melting, not scientists’ opinion,” Simmens said.

He then presented several statistics. For example, the 10 hottest years on record all occur in 1998 or later, and current carbon dioxide levels exceed any concentration ever seen on this planet.

Simmens stated he believes the Earth would survive any climate change “in some form or another,” but Simmens asked, “What about humans?”

Simmens ran through a few possible scenarios which would harm humans. A rising sea level would displace millions of people and melt the glaciers, which among other things, would cause widespread drought in some areas of the world.

“Everything is connected to everything else,” Simmens said. “If you put up pollution in Erie, it doesn’t stay in Erie. It makes its way around the world.”

Simmens said he believes economics plays an important role in the public’s approach to climate change. While coal and oil companies resist the movement to curb global warming because they profit from the status quo, ultimately economics may stimulate green policies by providing profitable opportunities in the field of green energy.

Some audience members remained unconvinced. Junior Cassandra Dinko said the presentation was “biased,” and she questioned Simmens’ “scientific” facts.

Freshman Kaitlyn Farrell, on the other hand, said she expected an excellent lecture, “but it was better than I thought it would be,” she said. “We can do more than we think we can.”

Magoc encouraged students to continue with this effort by lending their voices, quite literally, to the video wall at repoweramerica.org or by writing letters to Congress about climate change and clean energy policies.