Students, Professors Voice Concern on Alarming Climate Change Report

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. -- Some colleges and universities in our area plan to use a new report on climate changes in their science classes.

The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the new report Monday that has some alarming details.

The report is more than 700 pages long, and nearly 100 authors from 40 countries contributed. The message is complex, but one thing we can take away from it is that anything we can do to protect the planet needs to be done now. And that has gotten local environmental science students and professors talking.

"The data is overwhelming in terms of support for humans being a very important factor in modern change," said Matthew Finkenbinder, assistant professor of geology at Wilkes University.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests what needs to be done to cap the earth's average surface temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius. The 700-page report is complex, but it does emphasize the need for people to change their lifestyles now.

"These predictions suggest that in our students' lifetimes, there might be observable and somewhat catastrophic impacts to sea level and coastal erosion," Finkenbinder said.

"It's something that's going to affect us in our lifetimes now, especially in our children and grandchildren's lifetime. I think it's a top issue that needs to be taken more seriously by the general public now," said Scott Moyer, a junior geology major at Keystone College.

The environmental science departments at both Wilkes University and Keystone College are highly respected programs here in northeastern Pennsylvania, and students here are talking about the report.

"It just reiterates what we study now. I think being that we have such a short time to do something about it, we should do everything we can," said Emily Sandly, president of the Ecology Club at Keystone College.

Keystone's Ecology Club is actually the oldest club on campus, and members promote living a sustainable life, something they say they'll do even more so now.

"We all live on the same planet. Maybe with this information out there, maybe we can broadcast it to the rest of the campus and hopefully inspire some people to take action," said Sandly.

The report says that every little bit of warming matters, even half a degree, and that we would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030, 12 years from now.

"What you'd rather deal with, the impacts of climate change where we do nothing or the disruption in the economy and people's way of life by doing something about it?" asked Keystone College professor Joe Janick.

The report suggests what consumers can do to meet that 1.5 degree Celsius goal including doing everything we can to remove carbon from the atmosphere and being more renewable. It calls on the government to take action as well.


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