Monday, January 29, 2007

News: Global Cooling Project

A New School Messenger for Al Gore Insists That it's Not Too Late to Save the World.

By Julia Schweizer

Now that even President Bush is beginning to address “global climate change,” it’s high time that The New School find a representative to educate faculty, students and staff about global warming.

Recent Oscar nominee and former Vice President Al Gore has given us just that: Katie Scheidt, a New School MA candidate who studies writing and, as one of 1,000 selected trainees, is an authorized messenger for Gore’s Climate Project.

Trained in Nashville over the first weekend of December, Scheidt learned to present a slideshow, made by Gore and his team, that introduces a three-point plan on how to halt global warming for New York and New Jersey residents.

The plan is blunt: point one acknowledges that global warming is, in fact, real; point two admits that we, as a global community, are causing it.

“America is the number one offender when it comes to CO^2 emissions,” Sheidt, a New Jersey resident, notes.

But, that brings her to the third point: “We can fix it,” she says, with a smile.

As one of Gore's representatives, she plans to host as many New School events as possible this year, in addition to making presentations for other New York and New Jersey communities.

“We need a dialogue at The New School,” she says. “People only bring on change when they feel empowered to do things.”

Nevertheless, she also notes that reform can begin at home. At her own place, she makes a concerted effort to reduce her ecological footprint, replacing bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (or CFLs) and getting carbon offsets for when she has to drive her car--which is not often.

Some environmental advocates blame excessive CO^2 emissions on America's fondness for automobiles. In that aspect, Scheidt stresses the advantages of new alternative energy technologies. For her part, she recently switched to green power and says “it was really easy through www.njcleanpower.com,” which is the Web site for a statewide program that supports technology like wind and solar power.

Scheidt's interest in environmental reform blossomed after she saw Gore’s Oscar-nominated film An Inconvenient Truth The film compelled her to e-mail everyone she knew to get them involved in improving the environment.

This is just the kind of enthusiasm the Climate Project was looking for in its trainees, and when an old friend referred Sheidt to the initiative, the rest was history. She applied with a recommendation from New School President Bob Kerrey and was accepted to the program.

Scheidt hopes that more people will be inspired by the film, which will be showed at the New School this coming Valentine's Day. She will speak on a panel after the screening.

According to her, the Climate Project allows their trainees a good deal of independence—even relying on them to set up their own screenings. Since her training, Scheidt has sent out multiple press releases and has been somewhat of a model steward of the environment, a trait she says “all of us should have.”

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