Freshman Amelia Gant and seniors Devin Day, Sara Milner, and Rachel Bernkopf took part in the Peoria Area World Affairs Council’s 38th Annual Central Illinois World Affairs Conference on Saturday, February 16th through Amnesty International. The Peoria Area World Affairs Council (PAWAC) is a non-profit, open organization primarily made up of Peoria area business leaders. The goal of the organization is to encourage a “better understanding of world affairs among people of Central Illinois by sponsoring public programs and fostering a cooperative educational approach to world problems.”
The theme for this year’s conference was “The Geopolitics of Climate Change: Competition for Limited Resources.”
“It was really just informative for me personally, because they talked about how world resources affect everything, including third world countries and world health,” said freshman Amelia Gant.
“Initially there were three panelists. Two came from the same ideology, but the third was a big business guy. He gave a talk on how to deal with climate change in a capitalist system. Surprisingly all three agreed on a lot of measures. A lot of their talk was on criticizing the ‘Cap and Trade’ policy three major presidential candidates want to implement,” explains senior Devin Day.
In the “Cap and Trade” policy the government would establish a “cap” that limits the pollutant emissions of a designated group of industry. The emissions that are allowed under the cap are then divided into shares that stand for the right to emit a certain amount of pollution.
As this would constrict the economy of our capitalist system and favor big businesses that could simply buy up these shares, the speakers at the PAWAC panel discussion, “Much More than Global Warming,” were in favor of a policy that put the impetus on individual consumers. This kind of system would give consumers incentives, like tax rebates, to do such things as buy electric cars or save certain amounts on gas and electric bills.
“One of the speakers was trying to be more motivational; he wanted people to not just care but do something. He tied environmental issues to all issues. I think it was interesting to look at the standpoint of how it would benefit the global environment for activists to market [these issues] in a way that appeals to those not thinking about the environment,” says Gant.
“One thing we can do, and not just students, is demand more of our public servants, especially with elections coming up,” said Day.
“I thought it was really good for Knox students to go; it shows Knox students are concerned. It cost $25 for each student to attend. If Knox were to become a sponsoring institution [of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council] for only $300, then Knox students could attend for free,” said Gant.
Amnesty International plans to bring a speaker to Knox in the spring to talk about world water rights.