The Chilling Reality of Global Warming

Despite the frigid water and nearly freezing air temperatures, St. Mary’s College students and faculty congregated at the school’s waterfront for a Polar Bear Splash February 2nd as part of the Campus Climate Challenge Week of Action. About sixty-five students in all, and one brave professor, plunged into the 39F water with more than one hundred dry supporters looking on.

Taking the plunge at St. Mary's waterfront
SEAC, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, sponsored the event as part of a joint effort with over 580 schools across the United States and Canada. This student initiative was to raise awareness and promote environmental action among youth to combat the effects of global warming. Each school organized their own methods but with the same meaning. SEAC officer Meredith Epstein, junior and organizer of the Polar Bear Splash event, said, “The time is now. The economic, political, social, and, of course, environmental incentives are there - it is time to take the plunge and set an example that challenges this country's decision makers to follow our lead.”

Setting that example were 101 students who signed petition letters to House Majority Leader and Southern Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer thanking him for supporting H.R. 6, a measure that promotes clean and sustainable energy. Furthermore, students, in addition to college President Dr. Maggie O’Brien, had their picture taken with a polar bear for a the Week of Action Congressional Photo Petition. These pictures will augment the pictures and letters from schools across the nation to put pressure on Congress to reduce the carbon emissions, the cause of global warming.

“The U.S. consumes 25% of all energy used worldwide. We are acting to challenge this country's decision-makers to follow our lead by being part of the solution. We need to build a renewable energy infrastructure while working towards environmental sustainability in cooperation with the rest of the world,” said Epstein.


The Bay Net Photos by Christopher Rodkey
In the mean time, SEAC is focused on the impact it can have on campus. SEAC member Erin McDermott said, “I think our mission was definitely accomplished.” She felt there was a sense of unity among the student body and a sincere interest in the environment. Several faculty members even came to the waterfront to take part in the event. Additionally, students acted upon the message by signing personal environmental pledges to do anything from drive less to save electricity.

Other events of the week included a showing of the powerful documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” narrated by Al Gore. The movie presents scientific evidence that Global Warming is a serious, urgent issue. In an open discussion following the movie, college Biology professor Dr. Bill Williams admitted scientists are hesitant to take any single event as a sure indicator of global warming. However, Dr. Williams explained “one cold winter does not mean an end to global warming,” but when eleven of the hottest years ever recorded occurred in the past fifteen years, “that probably means something.”

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