Iowa Wesleyan University will have a free screening of the National Geographic film “Paris to Pittsburgh,” with Kalona-based farmer Warren McKenna available afterward to lead a discussion on climate change in honor of Earth Day on Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m.
The screening is being organized by students in classes taught by Joy Lapp, associate professor of religion, and Cyndi Walljasper, professor of psychology and assistant dean for Wesleyan studies. Students in these classes have also organized a campuswide recycling initiative this year, placing recycling bins for paper and pop bottles in various buildings.
Gabrielle Kemper, an IW student from Mt. Pleasant who helped launch the recycling program, said recycling is an easy thing every American can do.
“I thought it would be a great idea for Wesleyan to start their own paper and pop bottle recycling program,” Kemper said. “So far, our class has been monitoring them, emptying them once a week and recording how many pounds we recycle.”
Over 75 pounds of recyclable paper products have been collected at IW. After only two weeks of the recycling initiative, enough had been recycled to save half a tree, Walljasper said.
“I’m sure we’ve saved a few trees by now,” Walljasper said.
Musawenkosi Dlamini, an IW student from South Africa, said that recycling is important because it benefits everything in the environment from the water people drink to the air they breathe.
Hosting a showing of “Paris to Pittsburgh” is another way IW students are trying to make a positive change for the environment.
“There’s a lot of education that needs to be done,” said Hannah Geer, an IW student from Cedar Rapids. “Natural disasters are causing people their homes, their lives and are destroying animal habitats that are already close to extinction. “
Kemper said “Paris to Pittsburg” highlights the history of climate change while featuring a lot of “Iowa pride.”
“I think a lot of Iowans will be proud,” Kemper said. “In the film, they show a lot of Iowa and what Iowa is doing to (counteract) climate change.”
Lapp said that the film talks a lot about wind and solar power in Iowa, specifically the Farmers Electric Cooperative in Kalona.
Kemper said the effects of climate change can be seen right here in Iowa.
“We had the polar vortex last winter, and that was one of the coldest days in a long time,” Kemper said. “Iowa has always had very different weather. I’ve seen it snow and rain in the same day. This winter was particularly rough, though, and a few Iowans did lose their lives in the polar vortex.”
“Paris to Pittsburgh is a “positive” film that highlights people making the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy, Lapp said. A vast knowledge of climate change is not needed to appreciate the film, Walljasper added.
“One thing I thought was interesting was how they dramatize the sea rise and show the water coming up on Florida and into New York City,” Lapp said. “In Miami, they’re already fighting sea level rise and having to raise streets and pump out water and spending millions. They’re worried their fresh water will be infiltrated by salt water soon.”
“This is going to happen this century,” Walljasper said.
The viewing of the documentary is free to the public, and snacks will be available.