ESD students crusade for climate

by Kathleen McDermott | 2/4/00 6:00am

While some Dartmouth students took little interest in the New Hampshire primary this last week, many of the DOC's Environmental Studies Division members have been actively protesting to bring the issue of global warming to the candidates' attention.

These campus environmental activists -- brought together by Matt Stembridge '99, as part of his job at the non-profit organization Ozone Action -- feel the presidential hopefuls need to address what they consider to be an important issue, something that no candidate had done so far in the campaign.

According to Jesse Foote '01 students are "basically trying to let the candidates know that there are people out there who care and that they can't simply ignore the issue."

While these students have had only modest success, they are continuing their efforts to publicize the issue.

Following them around

Determined to make their point clear, ESD students have been following the candidates all over New Hampshire this primary season.

At Senator John McCain's speech on January 24 at Alumni Hall, students clad in bright colors tried to make their presence felt. Stembridge, dressed up as "Captain Climate," wearing a cape and sunglasses, even shared the stage with McCain before the speech.

"We ... ran into Alumni Hall and created a ruckus," Oliver Bernstein '03 said.

Last Friday, students followed Democratic Presidential hopeful Bill Bradley around in Lebanon, while on Saturday, Dartmouth students traveled to Manchester to follow the candidates. They were joined by approximately 60 other college environmental activists from other parts of the state.

According to Deborah Schwartz, an exchange student at Dartmouth, the students chanted, "We care, we vote, we demand a plan about global warming," at other campaigning events at the Manchester.

Mixed success

The ESD students have received some mixed success at the hands of the Presidential hopefuls.

At an campaigning event by Texas Governor George W. Bush at a Manchester area country club last Saturday, the environmental activists were asked to leave. However, they were allowed in at a Bush event later in the day, but according to Schwartz, the governor never acknowledged them.

At a McCain event the same day, the Arizona Senator noticed them and said, "You're dedicated enough to dress like that, let's talk." He said his environmental action plan was "to get more smart people working on the issue."

Many students believe their actions have proved fruitful because of their teamwork.

"The candidates have heard us. Global warming and climate change are becoming buzz words again, and voters are going to make it an issue in the general election," Bernstein said.

Efforts continue

Even with the New Hampshire primary over, the ESD students are continuing their efforts to bring the global warming issue to people's attention.

According to Bernstein, "We are going to keep promoting issues that affect us, especially local ones or universal ones."

Yesterday Foote coordinated a teleconference among a group of high school and college students, who are demanding political action from all presidential candidates to combat global warming across the country.

The environmental activists on campus are planning to bring speakers to Dartmouth to help inspire students. They also expect the EarthWeek2000 celebration in April to be the pinnacle of their environmental campaign.

Schwartz told The Dartmouth that she also expects greater political activity near November, when the election heats up again.