As scientists continue to make dire predictions about the impacts of global warming, MSU students have been on the front lines of the corridors of power, demanding their leaders take action.
From Feb. 27 to March 2, over 12,000 climate activists rallied in the nation’s capitol in support of bold climate legislation to be passed by Congress. Powershift ‘09 brought together scores of college students, including over 400 students from Michigan. [EXPLAIN WHAT POWERSHIFT IS] Seventy-two MSU students made the 12-hour trip to Washington, D.C., being the 12th largest university group to attend.
The Spartan environmentalists went to workshops, discussed potential cap-and-trade bills that will be considered by their representatives, lobbied Congressional staff members and gathered in a large crowd in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Others participated in a spirited civil disobedience protest at the Capitol’s coal plant with the intentions to shut it down. The coal plant protest was also attended by actress Daryl Hannah, environmental author Bill McKibben, and climate scientist James Hansen.
“The youth came out in record numbers,” Bethany Lumbert said. “That’s part of the enthusiasm behind the youth climate movement!” Lambert is a participant from ECO, MSU’s campus sustainability group.
“There was so much positive energy,” ECO member Corrinne Thomas said. “I feel the relationships we made at the conference and the coalition building was really strong.”
Migonne Silva, co-president from ECO, thinks much of the student enthusiasm in regards to fighting global warming has spilled over from excitement that began with Obama’s presidential victory.
“I think Obama has given the youth more hope,” Silva said. “He actually wants to do something about this, and I think Powershift will add to the momentum with the U.S. moving toward more environmentally-conscious laws being passed.”
Chris Detjen, a committee member from the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, was pumped by the passion of the Michigan activists who were fighting to get Congress to make progress in regards to climate change.
“For Michigan’s schools to send so many people to this action is remarkable, and the real impact from this will emerge afterwards as we keep bird-dogging our members of Congress to get something passed,” Detjen said.
“Our chances of passing a strong climate bill is greater than ever and this year is our best shot.” [WHO SAID THIS?]
Lumbert was ecstatic by the turnout during the group’s lobbying efforts. “We stuffed 33 people into Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s office from the state of Michigan,” Lumbert said. “We told her staff that we as Michigan students are concerned about the climate and want to support green development in the state.” [WHAT WAS HER RESPONSE?]
Silva noted that another fellow ECO member was featured on CNN during the event. When Silva was taking a break from the conference at a coffee shop, she was surprised to see her fellow member on the television. “Seeing someone from our club being put in the national spotlight was energizing,” Silva said.
Silva attended the last Powershift, but was blown away by the attendance at this year’s conference.
“I think Powershift ’09 was definitely more exciting,” Silva said. “There was double the people, the conference ran way smoother and we rallied together for something we all cared about.”
Climate action will continue on MSU’s campus following Powershift as the college dims down its lights for Earth Hour and continues raising eco-awareness on Apr. 22 for Earth Day.


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