Climate Action Club Takes Action Toward Change

When passionate people get together they can make some pretty rad things happen. 

A new club on campus called the Climate Action Club isn’t lacking in passion, and making rad things happen is exactly what they plan to do. 

President Nicholas Leone, third-year sociology major, and co-president Isabelle Hayes, third-year political science and communications major, created the club in hopes of not only educating people on climate change, but also giving them opportunities to join the fight against it.

“We like talking about these issues, raising awareness and informing each other but then going the extra step and saying, ‘Okay, we see it’s here, what can we do?’” Hayes said. “Then making an impact on campus and making our voice heard.”

Despite being slightly over three weeks old, the club has already taken strides to live up to its name by taking action. It co-sponsored the screening of Al Gore’s climate change-based documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and live-streamed a Q&A with Gore on Oct. 26. 

It also co-sponsored the New York Public Interest Research Group’s (NYPIRG) march on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) on Oct 28. 

The march came in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s five year anniversary. Marchers organized in front of the Student Union Building’s atrium and proceeded to NYSDEC, where various speakers rallied and called for elected officials to do more to protect their constituents from the effects of climate change.

Wanting not to rest on their laurels, the Climate Action Club has actions in the works. On Monday, Nov. 13 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., it will present a visual representation of what is happening as a result of climate change and will continue to happen if it is not combatted. 

Students will lie in partially opened body bags in front of Humanities, surrounded by images and various bits of data surrounding the casualties climate change has caused. Leone explained that by getting people to acknowledge and accept that climate change is killing people, steps can be taken to fight it. 

“We want to tug on their heartstrings a little bit,” he said. “Putting a face to an issue really helps human beings empathize.” 

Hayes and Leone spoke of how the inspiration for the club stemmed from a lifelong interest in the environment and a lack of anything like it on campus.

Leone explained that while there are other clubs and organizations that deal with the environment and topics approaching climate change, like Students for Sustainable Agriculture, no other club focuses on it singularly. 

Hayes’ mother instilled a deep caring for the planet in her. For her, no issue can be as pressing as climate change, given that it deals with the preservation of all life from which other problems originate. She interned with the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition during her second semester as a student, calling it an amazing experience. The notion of prioritizing taking action stuck with her.

Leone recalled when he worked as a trash collector on the beaches of Long Island. Looking down the shore, he was taken aback by all the garbage littering the sand. He described the idea of doing nothing in response as “wildly selfish,” and something he was unable to do.

They proceeded to join several climate focused organizations together, such as NYPIRG, and the idea for Climate Action Club took shape more until it became manifest.

Meetings have seen an average of more than 20 attendees. Hayes expects this number to rise after receiving emails during their tabling at Fall Fest from those interested in joining the club, including Sodexo General Manager Ryan Goodwin.

On who he wants to join, Leone said he wants people who want to learn about the issue and help, regardless of major or knowledge about it.

“It’s really easy to care about this issue,” he said. “I just want people to join who are curious and want to do something about this crazy, pressing, striking issue that’s affecting us everyday.” 

The Climate Action Club meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Honors Center.