A Plan for Tomorrow

USC Dornsife students help lead efforts to bring climate scientists, musicians and environmental activists, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to USC as part of Know Tomorrow’s Oct. 2 national day of action on climate change.

As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, warming the climate and changing major ecosystems, USC Dornsife student Zach Manta wants his peers at USC to know that they can make a difference to reverse the effects of climate change — but they need to act swiftly.

“We think of climate change as something affecting future generations or people on the other side of the world,” said Manta, a junior environmental studies major with a minor in psychology. “But we’re at something of a turning point, and it’s a question of whether or not we can band together and make a call for action to prevent a course we really don’t want to go down in 10, 20 or 50 years.”

On Oct. 2, USC students will be joining a chorus of their peers from across the country to make the case for combating climate change. Know Tomorrow, a day-long event featuring climate scientists, musicians and environmental activists, will transform the McCarthy Quad into an “eco-hangout” where students can listen to an impressive roster of speakers, participate in activities and learn about how they can impact climate change policy and help generate solutions for a more sustainable future.

Manta was part of the team that organized the event, which will take place on more than 50 university campuses across the country.

Image DescriptionEnvironmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who was named one ofTime magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet,” will present the keynote address at Know Tomorrow at USC. Photo courtesy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

At USC, students will hear from keynote speaker environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; JPL/NASA climate scientist Veronica Nieves; author of Merchants of Doubt and The Collapse of Western Civilization Erik Conway, historian at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; poet and Grammy Award winning musician Malik Yusef Jones; environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez; science communicator and host of the Veritasium YouTube Channel Derek Muller; USC Dornsife’s first sustainability postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Lawhead; Will Berelson, professor of earth sciences and environmental studies at USC Dornsife; and Julien Emile-Geay, assistant professor of earth sciences USC Dornsife.

Students will also get to play ElemenTerra, a virtual reality nature adventure game designed by students in the USC advanced games class; walk along a timeline to see how the effects of climate change will play out depending on whether there is aggressive action or a lack of action to reverse them; and learn about ongoing university-wide and communitywide sustainability initiatives.

“It’s inspiring to see so many young people champion this cause and take ownership over the future of our planet,” said environmental activist Wendy Abrams, who founded Know Tomorrow.

Shawn Rhoads, a senior physics and psychology major at USC Dornsife was also a part of the Know Tomorrow organizing committee. He and the other organizers see the event as an opportunity to build momentum ahead of the 2015 United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change, which will take place in Paris this December. The conference aims to create a legally binding and universal agreement for all parties involved with the goal of keeping global warming from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.

“Know Tomorrow is a catalyst for change,” Rhoads said. “Students have a voice. And as students, we know that climate change is something that impacts everyone. Although it may not seem urgent, it is an urgent matter and something that we need to act on now because it’s our future.”