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College students travel through region discussing climate change

Date: 7/26/2010

July 26, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- A group of college students have spent most of their summer biking around the state to meet with people to discuss how they can organize to take steps to address climate change.

The five students, members of "Climate Summer," conducted a public meeting on July 22 at the Forest Park Branch Library.

Soon after pedaling into the city on July 20, they met with Reminder Publications at Christ Church Cathedral on Chestnut Street where they were staying while here.

Eric Feltham of Shrewsbury, Tali Smookler of Boston, Katie McGonagle of Billerica, Caroline Wooten of Winchester and Kara Kaufman of Chevy Chase, Md. explained the program was part of the organization Students for a Just and Stable Future.

There was another group of students driving and speaking through the eastern part of the state, they said. They started in Worcester, then traveled to Amherst, Lenox, Williamstown, and Greenfield before coming to Springfield. Their next destination will be Brockton and then a week in Brookline.

Kaufman said the goal was to engage people who are already involved in environmental issues. Wooten added the group has found they have connected interested citizens in one town with those in adjoining communities through this program.

Concerning the on-going debate in some quarters on the legitimacy of climate change, McGonagle said the disbelievers are "in the vast minority."

According to a report released July 16 by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), "Last month's combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record and the warmest on record averaged for any April - June and January - June periods. Worldwide average land surface temperature was the warmest on record for June and the April - June period, and the second warmest on record for the year-to-date (January - June) period, behind 2007."

Wooten said there is "burnout" on the issue among some people.

"But that's why we're here," she added.

Feltham said a consistent theme among people discussing the issue was the economy.

"People are worried about jobs," he said. "Climate change is linked to the economy."

He added that government policies dictate how people react to sustainability issues. Changing policies should be a goal.

The group is hoping other Massachusetts communities will join Cambridge in passing a resolution on climate change. In 2009, Cambridge declared a "climate emergency" and took steps to reduce its contributions to global warming.

For more information on Climate Summer, go to