Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

"Climate Emergency Month" kicks off Wednesday in Kalamazoo, with a virtual talk by Bill McKibben

A worker in a blue hard hat walks in front of a chain link fence. Behind it there are what appear to be dozens of black oil pumpjacks in operation.
Jae C. Hong/AP
A worker walks near pumpjacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, Calif., Jan. 16, 2015. The oil and gas industry’s emissions are a main cause of climate change.

But that's only the beginning; activists have nearly 40 events planned.

Earth Day is in April. But Kalamazoo climate activists aren’t waiting for it to talk about their cause. They’ve declared March Climate Emergency Monthand they have dozens of events planned.

The first is a keynote address Wednesday with author and environmental leader Bill McKibben. Other offerings include a talk on links between the climate crisis and the threat of nuclear war, an electric car show and a student sustainability summit.

Steven Bertman teaches at Western Michigan University’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

"We need to grow this movement," he said at a recent virtual meeting of the Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition. "There is some momentum that we’re starting to feel, locally, nationally and internationally and this we see as an effort to really help push that forward and keep the momentum going."

WMU Political Science Professor Paul Clements echoed that. He's also helping to organize Climate Emergency Month.

The Inflation Reduction Act — President Biden's big climate bill from the summer — is a great first step, Clements said in interview with WMUK. But he emphasized it was only a first step.

Clements said the U.S. is still short of setting a truly effective climate policy. And he said it needs to plan to help climate migrants down the road.

"We're probably going to have something like maybe 400 million climate migrants, people who lose their homes by 2050. And the United States, we bear particular responsibility for that, because of our historic carbon emissions and our current carbon emissions," he said.

Clements said students are driving climate activism at Western, where many of the events will take place.

"Students are more aware and concerned than ever, and I think partly just because they see that you know, what's being done is too little too late."

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.