December 11, 2009
During this week's world-wide summit on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, several developing nations are asking the United States to cut down on their carbon emissions. In Charlottesville, one group is holding a vigil to support climate change.
Despite the frigid temperatures, global warming is a hot topic that ignites powerful feelings on both sides of the argument. At the Rotunda, the symbolic centerpiece of the University of Virginia, community members and students gathered Friday to light candles.
Protests across the country have a similar message to Friday's vigil at UVa. They say that 350 parts per million is the highest safe amount of carbon dioxide the atmosphere can handle.
Organizers and protesters alike want to see the U.S. strike a deal during the difficult negotiations in Copenhagen.
"I grew up in the mountains of Virginia, and in one of the most unspoiled regions," said Jessica Chapin, who organized Friday's vigil.
Today, Chapin's office in near Route 29, a road replete with CO2 emissions. However, pushing for climate reform is Chapin's calling. Despite undergoing neck surgery on Thursday, Chapin was at the forefront of Friday's vigil.
"This is our point of action that we stand up as a community in Charlottesville," said Chapin.
Chapin organized a similar vigil in October, and calls it one of the best days of her life. Friday's vigil was held at The Rotunda with the hope of attracting more students. She hopes Friday's vigil spread the message of climate change to more people.
"People have gotten very discouraged. They say 'I'm only one person, and my elected leader don't seem to care, and it just doesn't matter.' But it really does, especially if every person stepped forward and took action," said Chapin.
As world leaders disagree on how to draft a climate change document in Copenhagen, Chapin hopes her peaceful protest, orchestrated with thousands of others around the world, will make a difference.