Vocal appeals for climate change action filled the lawn outside the Science Center yesterday as Massachusetts Power Shift, a statewide network of students dedicated to environmental issues, sought to build enthusiasm for their cause by representing the impact global warming has had on real people.
“Think of every high school cross-country teenager in Alaska who has to wait until December for the October snow,” said Timothy L.H. Treuer ’10, an Alaska native who was asked to speak at the event.
Mass. Power Shift Coordinator and founder Craig S. Altemose, who started the group with three others in 2007 after attending a national climate change conference in Washington, D.C., spoke at the event. Power Shift currently has chapters at 14 colleges across Massachusetts.
Yesterday’s event was part of a larger Power Shift campaign encouraging Massachusetts to lead the nation with a bill for 100 percent clean energy by 2020. The rally featured speeches from members of the group and was intended to raise Power Shift’s profile on campus.
“I have a story to tell about a planet in peril and your role in saving it,” said Altemose, speaking first.
For the next 20 minutes, Power Shift members tried to give what Treuer called a “human face to climate change.”
Treuer explained how global warming has affected every Alaskan—from the villagers whose homes are being destroyed by storm surges to suburban teenagers.
The rally was Mass. Power Shift’s first official event held at Harvard. “It’s good that we’re now established as a campaign here,” said event organizer Sophia Wen ’12, who is also a Crimson photography editor. “We can start being talked about.”
One of the primary aims of yesterday’s rally was to build attendance for Mass. Power Shift’s organizational meeting today in the Ticknor Lounge at 3:50 p.m. The time for the event is a reference to the figure 350 parts per million, which scientists have identified as the upper threshold of safe carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.
To publicize the rally and the Ticknor event, Power Shift members presented at a meeting of the Environmental Action Committee and sent out group e-mails.
Despite these efforts, all of the participants at yesterday’s rally were already involved with Power Shift.
“Obviously, we would have preferred a larger turnout, but I’ve been at rallies with 200 people and then you never see them again,” Altemose said.
Wen said that she thought the rally achieved its goal of publicizing today’s meeting.
Seven students who were not previously involved in the group signed up for more information, Wen said.
John E. Beatty ’11, who also spoke at the event, said the rally “cast a wide net,” adding that it “was the opening step to what will be a super successful fall campaign.”
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