Climate Change Survey Results Released

A Nov. 12 event entitled “Time to Act: L.A., Democracy and Climate Change” released some of the local and international results of World Wide Views, a global forum on climate change attended by citizens around the world in late September.Thirty-eight countries around the world took part, and approximately 4,000 citizens were enabled to “define and communicate their positions on issues central to the UN Climate Change negotiations (COP15) in Copenhagen December 7-18, 2009,” according to the World Wide Views Web site.The event was organized by Professor of Politics Rick Worthington and Grace Vermeer PO ’10, and was sponsored by Pomona College’s program in Public Policy Analysis, the Public Events Committee, the President’s Office, the Draper Center and Harvey Mudd College for Environmental Studies.The event began with a welcome and introduction from Vermeer, the emcee for the evening, followed by Worthington giving a brief recap of World Wide Views. Jim Sadd, a professor of Environmental Science at Occidental College, delivered the keynote address, and the evening concluded with a panel session designed to spark discussion about the event’s significance and strategies to move forward.Worthington began by presenting slides and explaining that, overall, 80 percent of World Wide Views participants were “very concerned” about climate change, 94 percent thought it was “urgent” that a climate deal be made, and 38 percent thought that countries that broke the rules set forth in such a climate deal should be “severely punished.”Similarly, 87 percent thought all but the lowest-income developing nations should have to deal with the costs of implementing those rules.Worthington then continued by trying to explain why World Wide Views had recommended action so strongly, and whether or not it was indicative of overall global opinions on climate change.He suggested that the real reason for the high levels of support for international action on climate change was most likely the way participants were informed and how they deliberated over the issue.“I think that World Wide Views is a good indicator of where public opinion will go—as more people learn about climate change and think about the consequences it will have, they most likely will become concerned,” Worthington said.Following Worthington’s presentation of World Wide Views’ results, Sadd gave a talk entitled “The Climate Gap,” in which he suggested that climate change will have disproportionate effects on the poor and on minorities. Not only are these groups more affected by pollution, which gets worse when temperatures increase, but a handful of studies have shown that heat waves in California kill mainly elderly, low-income, socially-isolated individuals who have no functional air conditioning. Furthermore, almost twice as many blacks die due to heat waves as whites.Sadd also mentioned that policy responses could make the inequality of the negative effects of air pollution worse by allowing certain heavily-polluting facilities in poorer areas to maintain or increase their levels of pollution even as overall pollution decreases.“Cap-and-trade could aggravate already existent health hazards,” he said.Two individuals from the Five County area who had taken part in Pomona’s World Wide Views event then gave an account of what they had learned and why the event had been significant for them.“I learned that we can empower community leaders and get involved ourselves,” Blanca Quintanilla said. “If we don’t voice our opinions, our air and water will all get worse. We will be poisoned by our own nature, and the consequences will be devastating…All countries need to take responsibility for the betterment of the climate.”Jose Diaz, a second participant who spoke in Spanish through a translator, then took the stage.“The governments are responsible—they need to do something positive,” he said. “We have to make change. We have to get united. We think we can continue to advance.”He finished by urging developed countries to “adopt mechanisms and technologies that do not poison our planet.”Pomona Environmental Analysis Professor Char Miller then gave a brief synopsis of the problem facing humanity as he sees it.“The problem we are facing as a species is, ‘How do we not kill ourselves?’” Miller said. “We must respond in a united fashion.”Miller mentioned that the topic is compelling to him as a historian.“How did previous generations unite, and what thoughts did they have to think to change the way they acted to create a better world for their children?” he asked.He cited the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, a period typically known as the “Progressive Era,” as an example of a time when significant progress on environmental issues was made.“With the perils of the Industrial Revolution in mind, they reinvented the way we related to nature and gave us the idea of wilderness as a construct,” Miller said. “Today, we’re drawing off of their energy and seeking to find a way to stop poisoning our world and ourselves. Scientifically and politically, how can we unite and put into place the recommendations of World Wide Views, and others?”His talk was followed by a question-and-answer session, in which students, facilitators, and members of local environmental organizations like the Energy Retrofit Group and Sustainable Claremont participated.Devon Hartman of the Energy Retrofit Group emphasized the importance of using science and generating political will, suggesting that there are enough bright and engaged minds in Claremont to make a difference. Worthington said that World Wide Views illustrated that people can have a voice and their opinions can be heard.In a final note, Diaz said, “It’s big—all of us have to work together. The government doesn’t care about the people. We are a majority, those of us who are suffering. We have to unite. We have to make a change.”

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply