Two Georgia College faculty members attended a three-day “Climate Reality Leadership Corps” training in Atlanta recently to update their knowledge about sustainability and become climate leaders on campus.
Georgia College Physics Professor Dr. Hasitha Mahabaduge and Philosophy, Religion and Liberal Studies Lecturer Dr. Mark Causey attended the Climate Reality Project, started by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in 2011. Gore spoke at the session about giving urgency to communications about the climate crisis. He also gave a slide show, like he does in his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth."
During the event, participants learned to combine science and solutions when engaging audiences.
“I wanted to attend this training,” Causey said, “because I truly believe that climate change is the greatest existential threat humanity has ever faced, yet so many of us carry on as if its business as usual.”
When reflecting about the training and putting it into academic context, Mahabaduge said it felt like a large group project.
“We were from all age groups, different education levels, different nationalities and occupations—yet trying to understand the impacts of climate change first and then learning how to convey this message to others,” he said.
Mahabaduge offers a course in renewable energy and is a board member of Georgia College’s “Shades of Green” program, which creates awareness for environmental challenges. Causey helps coordinate Georgia College’s sustainability certificate program and is a member of the sustainability council.
Causey was excited to hear the Rev. Dr. William Barber II speak at the conference. Barber leads the Poor People's Campaign in North Carolina. Because of the Atlanta setting, Causey said the training was intertwined with the rich history of Civil Rights. There was a particular focus on climate justice and environmental racism, he said, and how climate change and environmental challenges disproportionately affect people of color and the socially and economically disadvantaged.
One of Causey’s favorite events was a multi-faith service held at historic Ebeneezer Baptist Church with leaders from Native American, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian faiths. The service was called “A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis.” Causey intends to use new materials and what he learned in his classes on environmental ethics and sustainability.
Mahabaduge also plans to utilize what he learned at climate training.
“With my educational training in solar energy,” he said, “it is important for me to learn how to share these important ideas with my students and the general public. As educators, we always need to brush up and update ourselves on what’s happening to this earth.”
Getting access to carefully-prepared PowerPoint slides will help Mahabaduge when teaching renewable energy courses. This fall, he plans to offer “Physical Principles of Renewable Energy” and host a renewable energy day for Baldwin County elementary students. He’s also offering a science cafe at Blackbird’s this week on “Solar as a weapon in the war against climate change.”
The time to act is now, Causey said. He repeated the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) warning that the Earth has about 12 years to avert the worst effects of climate change and keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“I will continue to bring awareness of these issues to our campus and community,” Causey said. “At Georgia College, we pride ourselves in preparing students for the world of the future. But unless we prepare them for the new realities they will face due to climate change, we are doing them a disservice.”