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Groups demand climate change action on Earth Day at State Capitol rally

A Float Beyond Coal event was held in Muskogee, OK in front of the OG&E Muskogee Generating Station to highlight coal water pollution. Photo provided
A Float Beyond Coal event was held in Muskogee, OK in front of the OG&E Muskogee Generating Station to highlight coal water pollution. Photo provided

By Darla Shelden

City Sentinel Reporter

On Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, several organizations will express their concerns about the state of the planet. A “Rally for Climate Change Action” will be held at the Oklahoma State Capitol South Plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Event organizers say to the world: “Atmospheric Warming/Climate Change is real, man-made, and only humanity can stop it and reverse it. The cost of doing nothing far exceeds the cost of fixing it.”

The rally is co-sponsored by The Peace House Oklahoma City, Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign, Citizens Climate Lobby, Norman, and the Peace Education Institute.

“When Earth Day was founded in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, I was a Biology student at Oklahoma City University, helping to manage a campus recycling center,” said Peace House director, Nathaniel Batchelder.

“I marched that day with others, and celebrated consciousness of challenges to Nature and earth’s complex ecosystems. It seemed natural to hold our rally on Earth Day, April 22, 2014.”

Whitney Pearson, Associate Organizer, Sierra Club, “Beyond Coal” campaign said, “Our intention for the Earth Day rally is to bring together people who want to show their support for climate action.”

The “Beyond Coal” campaign strives to retire a third of the nation’s more than 500 coal plants by 2020 and replace the majority of them with clean energy solutions like wind, solar and geothermal.

Pearson said, “Here in Oklahoma, we’ve had a lot of success so far. Instead of investing in infrastructure for aging coal plants, some of our utilities are opting to phase them out and replace them with cleaner energy sources. A transition to clean energy is a sensible solution that will create more jobs and healthier families.”

Coal burning is responsible for one third of U.S. carbon emissions. It makes people sick, leading to as many as 13,000 premature deaths every year and over $100 billion in annual health costs.

“In June the Environmental Protection Agency will propose the first ever national limits carbon pollution from existing power plants,” Pearson said. “Over the next year, Sierra Club will encourage people to express their support for EPA and finalizing strong standards that will hold polluters accountable, modernize the way we power our country and minimize the effects of climate disruption.”

Kathy Rand, a co-leader of Citizens Climate Lobby – Norman, and a scientist with a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences said, “Climate change is the most serious challenge that the world is likely to face in our lifetimes.

“We now have an opportunity and moral obligation to act and create the political will to shift from polluting energy to clean energy. Citizens Climate Lobby – Norman is participating to help create that political will to empower people to engage with politicians, the media, and their neighbors.

“We are calling for a free market solution. A revenue-neutral fee on carbon emissions with 100 percent of the revenue rebated back evenly to households. This will provide a free market incentive for all of us to shift to clean energy.”

The Peace Education Institute (PEI), located near Spencer, OK, is a non-profit which teaches personal spiritual discipline, nonviolence and reconnecting with nature as elements of a peaceful existence.

Conna Wilkinson, PEI founding member said, “Peace cannot be achieved in a world where people and nations are constantly competing for resources like land and water. We are squandering those resources on unnecessary products, designed to meet invented needs. They wear out, get thrown away, and repurchased. Earth Day observances call us to rethink our way of living.”

For more information on the rally, call 405-524-5577.

Oklahoma City University will celebrate Earth Day with two free events on April 22 held in the McDaniel University Center near Florida Avenue and N.W. 26 St.

Professor of Biology Adam K. Ryburn, Ph.D., said, “This year’s Earth Day at OCU is all about water awareness. The slate of exhibitors and speakers lined up will highlight the need for water conservation and provide sound solutions to help ease Oklahoma’s water concerns.”

Al Sutherland, the OK Mesonet agriculture coordinator for Oklahoma State University’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering will give the keynote presentation, “Drought Decisions and Mesonet Drought Tools,” at 7:30 p.m.

Sutherland will also participate in a preceding panel discussion at 6 p.m. titled “Watering Oklahoma.” For more information, contact Adam Ryburn at [email protected]

OSU-OKC will host its 5th Annual Earth Day Fair, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on April 22. Go Green will host the event at 900 N. Portland, north of the Student Center. Free burgers/veggie burgers, chips and soda, prizes, music and a bike raffle will all be available along with information booths of sponsoring organizations.

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