Taking the Temperature on Climate Change: ECOPC and BOP Co-Host Climate Crisis Discussion

by The Cowl Editor on November 21, 2019


photo courtesy of pixaby.com

by Julia Acquavita ’22

News Staff

This past Thursday, November 14, the Environmental Club of Providence College and Board of Programmers joined forces to host the first ever “Climate Crisis: Let’s Talk” event. This much anticipated event took place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Fiondella Great Room, filled with about 150 students and delicious Knead donuts. 

Co-organized by Julia Murphy  ’21 and Kelly Martin  ’20, the event was a huge success, bringing together students from different majors and faculty from different departments to discuss the importance of climate change.

The event featured four sustainability speakers who each talked about their role in addressing the climate crisis and informed how the audience can help. 

Kicking the night off was Dr. Thea Riofrancos, assistant professor of political science at PC and author of the newly released book A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal. Dr. Riofrancos spoke about the Green New Deal and why we need a strong piece of environmentally-centered legislation with policies regarding climate change such as cutting carbon emissions.

The next speaker, Rachel Calabro, directed the discussion of climate change to a more local level, such as how these changes are affecting Rhode Island and its residents.

Calabro, the climate change outreach program director at the Rhode Island Department of Health, brought up how certain health-related effects, such as higher levels of asthma among children, has been one impact of the climate crisis on the people of Rhode Island.

Nicole DiPaolo, environmental organizer, activist, and poet, was another guest at the event. DiPaolo spoke about the importance of awareness regarding the role that big corporations play in the climate crisis. 

She also focused the audience’s attention on the importance of activism and imposing political pressure on elected officials, even reading a poem that she wrote that expressed the need for taking a stand against the climate change plaguing the earth.

Alex Duryea ‘17 finished up the speaker portion of the event. Duryea is currently working towards her masters degree in environmental science and management at the University of Rhode Island. 

She touched on ways to get involved at PC and the importance of connecting with outside groups to make a stand for the planet. As a PC graduate, Duryea was a great resource for students to ask any questions and to raise concerns they felt needed to be addressed.

Following the event, Murphy reflected on the night as a whole: “The turnout for this event was absolutely incredible. We are able to bring in people with ties to PC as well as people in the greater Providence areas to speak, engage with, and discuss an extremely important issue.” 

By holding this event at PC, Murphy, BOP, and ECOPC, were able to bring much-needed attention to the current climate crisis to students who may not have been as informed as they would like to be. 

Having attended the event, students now have a better grasp on what is going on in their home of Rhode Island, and through the rest of the world, and how they can help lessen its dangerous impacts.

Murphy went on to say, “Being able to co-sponsor with ECOPC was an awesome opportunity as well, and I hope that events like these can continue to raise awareness about this topic and inspire people to take action.”

Among the 150 students that attended this event was Madison Cohen ‘22, a global studies and sociology double major. Cohen attended the Climate Crisis Talk because she was eager to learn whatever she could about the climate changes occurring throughout the world. 

After attending the event, Cohen said, “Each speaker told me something I didn’t know before. I wasn’t aware of the Green New Deal, or even that fact that in Rhode Island asthma rates among children is higher than it’s ever been because of climate change. I’m happy I went because now I can spread the word and hopefully help make a difference.”

The “Climate Crisis: Let’s Talk” event was definitely a hit here at PC. With various sustainability speakers coming to speak, and a wide variety of students and faculty attending the event, ECOPC and BOP certainly reached their goals of informing the PC community on what is going on around the world regarding climate change and how we can each take steps to fix this vicious cycle.