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Roundtable panel discusses climate change

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In honor of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, WAMC Northeast Public Radio along with the New York State Writers Institute presented a special climate change Round Table panel at Page Hall at the University at Albany’s downtown campus.

The panel included Terry Tempest Williams, Elizabeth Kolbert, Judith Enck, Jeff Goodell, Dr. Alan Chartock, and Joe Donahue as the host.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness in the Albany area of the rate of climate change and local and national politics behind the steps taken toward climate change efforts.

“What in hell is motivating Trump to be on the other side of this? I mean it just seems so crazy and so illogical, what do you think is going on?” asked Chartock, the founder of WAMC.

“I don’t mean to be really blunt about it, I think its money, political corruption, I think it panderings,” responded Goodell, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone as well as the New York Times Magazine.

Goodell went on to explain the Trump administration’s policies on climate change are putting the planet at risk for short term political gains.

“America was the moral leader in this,” said Goodell on climate change. “They brought China in. Obama really used political muscle to get this agreement together and to bring everyone to the table and make it happen.”

Carbon emissions from trucks, cars, and fossil fuel power plants have long term ramifications that can last for decades, according to Enck, a former regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama.

“What we emit is out there,” said Enck who explained the level of carbon in the atmosphere is at an all time high.

Enck stressed schools like UAlbany can curtail emissions by recycling, composting and using recycled products.

With events like RecycleMania, clothing exchange, and the composting of food from the dining halls, UAlbany is taking charge in our own role in climate change efforts.

In 2017, UAlbany composted 670 tons of food waste from the dining halls.

In an effort to make recycling more understandable, the school implemented new and specific garbage disposal bins clarifying what goes where so that our trash is properly disposed of.

The panel offered their advice on how to move forward towards a healthier more prominent future for the planet and the generations to come.

“Know of your power,” said Williams, an American author, conservationist, and activist. “Power lies in numbers and lastly, you can choose not to look away.”

“There are viable solutions,” said Enck. “We can pass local plastic bans. We can get rid of polystyrene, and we can get rid of plastic straws. Those are the kinds of things that are gateways issues to bigger solutions.”

In a plea to fight for the sustainability of our earth, the panel strongly suggested that the biggest way for us to make a difference is to start change locally and to pay attention to our local government.

“We know this is a political issue. We know this is an ecological issue. But I think first and foremost this is a spiritual issue,” said Williams. “I think that’s what were in the service of. Of what it means to live on this beautiful, thriving, throbbing planet.”

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