Ten Grambling State University students and Dr. Frances Staten participated in the first Power Shift Conference, convened earlier this month to discuss issues related to global warming. Held at the University of Maryland, the conference brought together about 6,000 students from across the nation to learn more about the effects of global warming, gain skills to fight global warming and lobby to Congress to support initiatives to stop global warming.
“The first time that I saw a flier about Power Shift 2007, I had no idea that it was actually a movement of active young college students in search of a less harmful environment,” said Icerine Wyngarde, a senior sociology major from Beaumont, Texas.
“The five days spent enhancing our knowledge of global warming proves that we are a generation that is interested in more than just instant gratification.”
One big initiative undertaken by Power Shift Conference participants is the 1 Sky campaign. Key parts of the campaign are to mobilize America for solutions to create five million new jobs and conserve 20 percent of the country’s energy use by 2015 and to cut global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050.
The GSU students attended workshops throughout the Nov. 2-5 weekend ranging across numerous topics. They also mingled and made connections with many different participants from schools like Tulane, Loyola, Southern University and Xavier University.
In meeting with fellow Louisianans, they adopted the motto “Go Green or Go Home,” which is related to adopting behaviors that are more conducive to a healthier environment, like recycling, using energy-efficient light bulbs and car-pooling.
“I realize that if we as a people do not adopt more environment-conscious behaviors soon, there will be no home for later generations to go home to,” Wyngarde said. “What will you do to ensure a home for them?”
Grambling State University students met with students from other HBCUs – including Morgan State, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Texas Southern – to discuss spreading awareness of global warming in the Black community.
Perlum Clark Toombs of GSU said the most intriguing session was environmental racism, which gave light to the placing of industrial and hazardous waste sites in low-income, Black and other minority communities. It also brought to light how the issue of global warming isn’t championed in the Black community.
Wyngarde said her interest was piqued by the session on environmental justice. She noted that mountaintop removal, dumping of waste and the rise of prisons in low-income neighborhoods are some of the factors that contribute to environmental injustice.
“When these issues are highlighted, it is then when global warming becomes a monochromatic concern,” she said.
“We understand that this issue of global warming cannot be solved in just a year or even a decade,” Wyngarde said. “But time must be allotted to fix what has been in the process of being destroyed over the past years.”
The Grambling students plan to form an intercollegiate alliance with Tulane, Loyola, Southern, Xavier, Louisiana Tech and the University of Louisiana-Monroe to fight global warming, starting on a state level. But the GSU contingent said their actions would start with informing the Black community about the effects of global warming.
To get involved with the “Go Green or Go Home” campaign, contact Dr. Frances Staten at (318) 274-2803.