Students for Environmental Action is trying to lower Temple’s carbon emissions one student at a time.
Next month, SEA will be competing in the National Campus Energy Challenge. The group will be organizing events all throughout the semester to make students more aware of the growing dangers of carbon emissions.
Created by the Sierra Student Coalition, the challenge has different colleges competing against one another to see who can raise the most awareness and lower the most carbon emissions. The goal of the challenge is to inform students about and decrease the output of emissions.
“We’re raising issues about global warning issues and what anybody else can do on an individual level to give back to Mother Nature and not emit as much carbon as we’ve been doing,” said SEA President Mathew Himmelein.
SEA’s climate challenge events come in a great variety, from educational public speeches to field trips. Their kickoff event on Jan. 30, “Focus the Nation on the Two Percent Solution,” is about how mountaintop removal for coal is ruining the planet. SEA also will organize a trip to New Orleans to plant trees over spring break and work with the program board to create a green spring fling.
SEA officials said they understand students who live on campus do not always have the power over carbon emissions when it comes to utilities in their residence halls, from the light in the hallways to heat in their rooms. The group is working with facilities manager Kurt Bresser and administration from the dean’s and provost’s offices to help create environmentally conscious policies.
“We’re the student grassroots organization on campus,” said Himmelein, a senior environmental policy major. “If we want something done, our voice has to be loud enough, and we have to have a good relationship with Kurt Bresser and [the administration] for them to want to save energy and make a conscious effort to have the students involved.”
SEA members will try hard to win the challenge but their biggest hope is to get President Ann Weaver Hart to sign the President’s Climate Commitment, which would make the whole administration working to make Temple “carbon neutral.”
“We expect her to sign it this semester,” Himmelein said. “If she does, it will be a huge victory for SEA.”
Himmelein and the rest of SEA are not only trying to lower carbon emissions at Temple, but they are trying to get the rest of Philadelphia on board, working with City Council.
“The Campus Climate Challenge is basically a template for expanding outside the campus,” Himmelein said.
One of SEA’s goals is to lobby City Council and get city officials involved in environmental action. SEA wants to make sure newly-elected Mayor Michael Nutter doesn’t go back on his promise to make Philadelphia a greener city.
“If [City Council] knows there are students in the youth movement backing all this green stuff,” Himmelein said, “it will be that much easier for Philly to become sustainable.”
Cassandra Clair can be reached at