As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, warming the climate and changing major ecosystems, USC student Zach Manta wants his peers to know that they can make a difference to reverse the effects of climate change — but they need to act swiftly.
“We think of climate change as something affecting future generations or people on the other side of the world,” said Manta, a junior environmental studies major with a minor in psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “But we’re at something of a turning point, and it’s a question of whether or not we can band together and make a call for action to prevent a course we really don’t want to go down in 10, 20 or 50 years.”
On Oct. 2, USC students will join their peers from across the country to make the case for combating climate change. Know Tomorrow, a day-long event featuring climate scientists, musicians and environmental activists, will transform the McCarthy Quad into an “eco-hangout” where students can listen to a roster of speakers, participate in activities and learn how they can impact climate change policy and help generate solutions for a more sustainable future.
Manta was part of the team that organized the event, which will take place on more than 50 university campuses across the country.
At USC, students will hear from keynote speaker and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; Jet Propulsion Lab/NASA climate scientist Veronica Nieves; author and historian Erik Conway; poet and Grammy Award-winning musician Malik Yusef; science communicator and host of the Veritasium YouTube Channel Derek Muller; USC Dornsife’s first sustainability postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Lawhead; Will Berelson, professor of earth sciences and environmental studies; and Julien Emile-Geay, assistant professor of earth sciences.
Students will also get to play ElemenTerra, a virtual reality game designed by USC students; walk along a timeline to see how the effects of climate change will play out depending on whether there is aggressive action or a lack of action to reverse them; and learn about ongoing, university-wide and community-wide sustainability initiatives.
It’s inspiring to see so many young people champion this cause.
“It’s inspiring to see so many young people champion this cause and take ownership over the future of our planet,” said environmental activist Wendy Abrams, who founded Know Tomorrow.
Shawn Rhoads, a senior physics and psychology major at USC Dornsife, was also a part of the organizing committee. He and the other organizers see the event as an opportunity to build momentum ahead of the 2015 United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change, which will take place in December. The conference aims to create a legally binding and universal agreement for all parties involved with the goal of keeping global warming from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.
“Know Tomorrow is a catalyst for change,” Rhoads said. “Students have a voice. And as students, we know that climate change is something that impacts everyone. Although it may not seem urgent, it is an urgent matter and something that we need to act on now because it’s our future.”