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April 16, 2007

Smith College to Host Summit on Sustainable Energy

"Global warming…is the biggest moral challenge facing our global civilization."— Former Vice President Al Gore in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The Wind. Sun. Ocean tides. Hydropower. Geothermal heat. Each of these naturally occurring phenomena is a renewable source of energy that does not pollute the atmosphere with the greenhouses gases that contribute to global warming.

Such clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels will be the focus of the daylong Sustainable Energy Summit 2007 at Smith College on Saturday, April 28. The summit, which is open to the public and requires registration, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts at Smith.

As part of the summit, Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s foremost authorities on peak oil and author of “The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies,” will discuss “Community Solutions to Peak Oil.” Gus Newport, former mayor of Berkeley, Calif., and a leader on building resources in communities, will explore “Understanding Race, Class and Energy.” And Siegfried Finser, an expert on the impacts of money as a mobilizing force, will speak on “Money as a Transformative Agent in Society.”

“What changed in the U.S. after Katrina was a feeling that we have entered a period of consequences,” former Vice President Al Gore said in his blockbuster documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” “We can no longer afford to view global warming as a political issue – rather, it is the biggest moral challenge facing our global civilization.”

Through talks by the keynote speakers, open discussion, workshops throughout the day and roundtable sessions, the Sustainable Energy Summit 2007 will offer suggestions about steps all citizens can take to assist the world’s transition away from fossil fuels to using renewable sources of energy.

With workshop titles such as “Sustainable Energy Options for You Today,” “The Renewable Energy Imperative” and “Environmental Justice: Building a Multi-Class, Multi-Racial Movement for a Just and Sustainable Energy Future,” the summit aims to empower attendees with a range of practical knowledge on renewable energy options.

An ample supply of biomass — biological material that can be used as fuel — in this region can assist the transition off of fossil fuels, stall climate change and revive local economies, according to Lynn Benander, manager of Co-op Power, a consumer-owned energy cooperative in Greenfield, Mass., which is hosting the Sustainable Energy Summit.

“Even if you’ve been studying these issues for years, you’ll gather new insights into how we can address these challenges in our community,” says Benander. “And if climate change and peak oil are new to you, you’ll find a friendly place to learn about these issues and figure out what you’d like to do about it.”

The summit is sponsored by a host of municipal, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses.

Smith College is a fitting location for the Sustainable Energy Summit. The college is committed to advancing sustainability in many ways, including the recent installation of a co-generation power plant that accentuates the efficiency of its heating system, an ongoing effort to replace the campus’ incandescent light bulbs with low-wattage florescent bulbs, and an ambitious effort to minimize the environmental impact of its new science center complex, now under construction.

Register for the summit online. For more details, consult


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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