By Laura Ramsey
It was standing room only on Oct. 2 at Kutztown Tavern when PennEnvironment, an environmental advocacy group, brought “Climate on Tap” to Kutztown.
The one-off event was intended to bring the community together with environmental groups, local elected officials, and Senator Judy Schwank to discuss the current impacts of climate change and to promote Pennsylvania transitioning to 100% renewable energy.
The event consisted of speeches given by various organization leaders and Senator Schwank followed by a community Q&A with Senator Schwank.
“This is an ideal opportunity to learn how folks feel about key environmental facts,” said Schwank. “Many of the people at these events have considerable knowledge, and I like to get their feedback.”
Organizations that attended the event include Citizens’ Climate Lobby, The Climate Reality Project, Conservation Voters of PA, the KU Geography Club, Mid Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (MAREA), Moms Clean Air Force, Reading for 100, the Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement.
Many KU students came out to show their support, as well. Olivia Storms, a KU student, said, “It is important to know what’s going on in the community. We all have a responsibility to do what we can on this planet to protect generations to come.”
The first speech of the night, given by Flora Cardoni, Climate Defender Campaign Director at PennEnvironment, shared the main aspects of climate change affecting Pennsylvania: increasing torrential downpours, rising temperatures and growing food insecurity.
“Climate on Tap” emphasized these points because crops, such as barley, which is used to make beer, are being affected by these changes as are cocoa and coffee.
“Climate change is the biggest existential threat facing us and we have the solutions; but what is missing is the political will, and events like this help create that will,” said Cardoni.
Following Cardoni, Schwank took the floor to speak on her recent actions to help the community fight against climate change. Schwank is currently working on passing legislation to improve air quality in the Commonwealth and bringing regenerative agriculture to Pennsylvania.
“All of [the issues] surrounding us become real when you see it happening right in front of you,” she said.
After Schwank, many of the organizations spoke including the KU Geography Club, where club President Celeste Pachella said, “Events like this help spread awareness and create a deeper connection with students who [climate change] will eventually fall upon.”