Global warming topic of cold night

Rachel Abbey

Ken Riley, a science teacher at Waterloo High School, speaks to the Kent Environmental Council at the Presbyterian Church of Kent yesterday evening. The council gathered to discuss issues of global warming and its increasively damaging effects on our pla

Credit: Ron Soltys

When Ken Riley saw the global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, last July with his wife, he was shocked.

“We’re both science teachers and feel like we’re in the know on these kinds of things,” Riley said, “and it was news to us.”

Riley, a teacher at Waterloo High School, presented the slide show given by Al Gore in the film to the Kent Environmental Council last night. Riley is one of 16 people in Ohio who has been trained by the organization behind the movie to give this particular presentation. He received his training in Nashville, Tenn., and even ate dinner at the Gore household.

Each trainee has to give at least 10 presentations each year, Riley said. Since September, he has given 13, and doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“I feel like this is allowing me to sleep at night, knowing I’m doing all I can,” he said.

The presentation featured photos of glacial melting and rising tide levels, as well as statistics about carbon dioxide emissions and increasing average temperatures — July 2005 to July 2006 was the warmest year on record for the United States, Riley said.

These changes can have “catastrophic” effects, Riley said. Warmer oceans lead to more destructive storms, and mild winters allow invasive species to spread.

The event, coupled with the council’s annual potluck dinner and business meeting, drew a crowd of about 30. Ann Ward, council chair, said most of the members have been involved for a long time, but the group’s current focus is bringing in new, younger members.

After Riley’s presentation, that very concern was brought up by the audience, who wanted to see more young people getting involved with the cause. Advisers of the Zoology and Environmental clubs at Theodore Roosevelt High School addressed the council, updating them on what area students have been doing.

While the Environmental Club has a membership of only four students, those involved have been active. Eric Stein, a senior at Roosevelt and member of the Environmental Club, shared some of the energy efficiency measures he’s been taking in the community and his home. He helped create a coupon good for a 10 percent discount on compact fluorescent lightbulbs purchased from Kent Hardware, which are more environmentally friendly than traditional incandescent bulbs.

This kind of action was encouraged by Riley during his presentation, as he referred to the increased use of hybrid cars and solar and wind energy.

“We have the technology right now to start making a dent in this problem,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].