Renowned climate change expert Bill McKibben brought a message about the dangers of continued reliance on fossil fuels to SUNY Canton.
More than 700 students, faculty and community members from throughout the North Country region packed the Convocation, Athletic and Recreation Center to hear McKibben discuss the alarming rate at which global warming is progressing.
“We’ve already raised the earth’s temperature one degree Celsius, which is the heat equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs – enough to melt the Arctic,” he said. “It’s enough heat that the world’s hydrological cycles are completely chaotic.”
According to McKibben, the increase is responsible for historic drought in areas like California, as well as extreme weather events, most notably in the Pacific Ocean, where there have been three consecutive super typhoons that have destroyed more than 80 percent of housing in Micronesia.
He quickly pointed out that some of the poorest areas in the world are hit hardest by violent weather patterns and sea level rise. And although scientists agree the earth’s temperature will increase even more, the fossil fuel industry continues to seek access to more coal, gas and oil.
McKibben’s grassroots environmental organization 350.org has become a voice of resistance to the fossil fuel industry. The group, which he founded with seven Middlebury College students in 2007, most notably led the charge against the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
This campaign, along with an initiative to encourage colleges and universities to divest their shares in fossil fuel companies, are ways 350.org is taking an offensive, rather than defensive, stance against the opposition.
It is with this strategy in mind that McKibben reminded attendees about the importance of cooperation across nations and generations to curb the progression of global warming.
He urged the entire audience to get involved and engaged in the movement, noting, “Young people are leading the fight against climate change.” He also made an appeal to his own generation, stressing the importance of their duty as elders to set a positive example in their communities.
“This crisis makes it clear we are all connected,” he said. “We’re all in this together, and I look forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all of you.”
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses, as well as ten exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The college’s 14 athletic teams compete as provisional members of the NCAA Division III and the USCAA.