Climate Action Coalition Talks Environmental Improvements

The New Paltz Climate Action Coalition (NPCAC), an organization dedicated to making a difference in the way environmental issues are heard and handled, met on Thursday at New Paltz Village Hall to discuss issues concerning the environment.

Present at the meeting on Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. were participants Holly Shyder, Jo Gangemi, Anne Guenther, Miriam Stroust, Anna Ray Budding, Dan Guenther, Andrew Dalton, Orelle Feher, Marie Young, Joe Barbarito and Megan Spoth.

“I think a lot of people seem to think environmental concerns are out of our hands, but every person has the passion to have the ability to help make a change,” Budding said.

According to Budding, little participation of the general public stems from a hopeless mindset many have. This mindset is that people have no power in making legitimate changes in the way environmental issues are being handled in government. Part of the NPCAC mission is to inspire people to stand up and be confident about their ability to make a change, Budding said.

Raising awareness for organizations like the NPCAC is important to inspire the masses, Stroust said. As the support from the community grows, more people are aware that there is a group looking to make a change and anyone who does not wish to stand alone in the fight against climate change can join in she said. “Make A Difference Day” was also discussed at the meeting. It will bring a hands-on experience for participants in making differences in the community, Stroust said. The event will be held at SUNY New Paltz on Oct. 18, 2014.

Also discussed at the meeting was the growing issue of local farming and the sustaining of locally grown food. According to attendees, local farming is not only beneficial to the community’s economy, but also the environment. The discussion then turned to the issue of fossil fuels and the hope for corporations to divest from fossil fuels.

“We wrestle with [the question of] how do you stop things that we consider bad for the environment, when we all wake up to the fact that money is what everyone is dependent on,” Guenther said “Corporations look to make money off the necessities.”

A realistic approach is always present in the meetings at the NPCAC and issues as big as fossil fuel burning can be helped by small changes, Stroust said. Attendees brainstormed suggestions such as turning down the heat in the winter and switching to indoor hats to conserve energy. Attendees even discussed creating a project that inspires and encourages knit hats and other warm accessories being worn indoors for purposes of conserving energy while still being comfortable and stylish. This continues to be the spirit of NPCAC. Creativity and determination lead them to create new ways of encouraging the general public to make small changes to help the environment, Stroust said.

“Here comes war, what makes you think its going to work better than the others?” Dalton said, referring to the fact that wars are the culprit for the most detrimental fossil fuel burning, and that peace goes hand in hand with helping the environment. “A lot of people are so horrified by the state of the environment, I think there is a paralysis of what to do.”

According to Feher, basic necessities of life will soon be unavailable to us and people from all walks of life, whether they enjoy the outdoors or not, should be concerned about the well being of our environment.

“Biodiversity climate is plummeting,” Shyder said. “If we want to remain on this planet, something has to happen now.”