Anticipated speaker Dr. Eban Goodstein of Bard College found himself travel-locked in D.C. on November 10, unable to make his long-awaited appearance at Wake Forest.
The upshot? Goodstein still managed to deliver his message to students loud and clear: it’s now or never for college students to stake their claim in the national climate change conversation.
Two hours before the Republican debate kicked off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Goodstein settled in at Wake Forest via webcam to stress students’ role in mobilizing climate change initiatives despite the politicized efforts to keep the conversation off the table. Spearheading a new campaign called the Power Dialog, Goodstein is calling for students to engage in face-to-face discourse with climate legislators in all fifty states.
“There are lots of ways for students to offer their perspective on this,” said Goodstein. “And by sparking this discussion in all fifty states collectively, we’ll create a media platform. Presidential candidates will see that students want to have a voice in the matter.”
State-level climate change conversations were forced after President Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan in August 2015. With the goal of reducing national carbon emissions from power plants by 32% by 2030, the Clean Power Plan requires each state to come up with an implementation program to meet specific emission reduction targets within fifteen years.
As the EPA’s pressure on states to enact policy changes reached beyond partisan tensions, Goodstein sought the opportunity to recruit educated young people who will witness the long-term impacts of today’s decisions.
“While countless industries weigh in on these matters, lawmakers aren’t connecting with students,” said Goodstein. “You’re the ones who will be alive to feel the effects of these measures in 2050, and your children will the ones reaping the consequences of our action or inaction in 2100.”
In creating the Power Dialog, Goodstein provides students with a voice in measures that will not only determine their future, but the future of the planet.
The Dialog is working now to organize a meeting with five hundred college students in every state capital during the week of April 4, 2016. These students will get a policy-making update from their state legislators and will be able to give input in the process.
In Raleigh, Governor McCroy and his advisors are currently devising a strategy to cut its emission rate from the power sector by at least 40% in the next fifteen years. While this conversation ensues, students from North Carolina have yet to join the 23 states already on board with the Dialog.
“It’s not an ordinary day out there and it’s not going to be an ordinary day for the rest of your lives,” said Goodstein. “You’re either going to change the future or you’re not.”
–By Taylor Olson, ’16