Larry Schweiger, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, spoke Monday night to a full house at Quigley Auditorium about the disastrous effects of climate change from a conservationist’s perspective. The speech, titled “Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth,” was based off of Schweiger’s book of the same title.
Aside from a few subtle attacks during the question and answer period, Schweiger was met with general acceptance by his audience. The speech was accompanied by a presentation of facts, slides and other evidence to prove the existence of global climate change and to explain the possible results of it. Most of Schweiger’s ideas come from a conservationist perspective, which makes sense as he has been the CEO of the NWF since 2004.
Schweiger spent most of his speech describing the inevitability of temperature changes on our planet and the fact that, while there is global recognition of the problem, not many people are actually taking action to fight it.
“You would think that someone at home would turn the temperature down on a boiling kettle,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s not happening.”
Schweiger stated that the reason why we, as a nation, are not turning down the temperature is because we see too many obstacles in terms of money.
While energy companies are large employers and great contributers to our economy, Schweiger said that making our country energy independent and efficient will also create jobs and boost the nation’s economy.
“We have eyes, but we don’t see what’s happening to our world,” he added.
Schweiger worries that we know the facts but we choose not to look outside at nature, at the real–life evidence.
Despite the apathy that Schweiger perceives from the American public, he is hopeful for the future. He predicts the passing of a national climate policy bill shortly.
Richard Bowden, professor of environmental studies, agrees.
“National environmental policy will be a challenge but it will happen [with the support of voters],” Bowden explained.
Schweiger thinks this policy will not be effective without the support of American citizens, who need to regain respect for the environment and nature. He believes this can be solved by getting children, who spend on average seven hours a day in front of screens, outside, in nature. Of course, Schweiger also believes that nature needs to still be there for them when they get there.
“The best inheritance we can leave our children is a healthy planet,” he said.
Audience members, including students and general public, reacted positively to Schweiger’s presentation.
“Science vs. morals — that’s a good way to see it,” said one audience member as words of encouragement for Schweiger’s unique perspective towards climate change during the discussion following the lecture.
Simultaneously, some audience members were not so keen on giving Schweiger support.
“How is using cars and planes while arguing against oil effective at all?” one woman asked.
Schweiger responded that this is the very reason why we need a vast change in national climate and energy policies, so that fuel for transportation does not have to be an issue anymore.