Bowling Green area environmental activists celebrated Earth Day Thursday night with a rally and march from the campus of Western Kentucky University to the Warren County Justice Center.
The Sunrise Movement-organized event called for collective action against climate change in the form of policy changes, increased recyling, and decreased reliance on fossil fuels, among other steps.
Co-organizer De'inara Carter said she's encouraged by the Biden Adminstration's move to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, but wants more steps taken on the local level.
"I would like to see more recycling away from WKU," Carter said. "We do need to start mandating things within the city. Going green, solar panels...really getting our rural community together, getting them in on the conversation."
The event comes as President Joe Biden held a virtual summit with other world leaders about setting new climate goals. This week, Biden unveiled his administration's goal of slashing the country's greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
That may be difficult for Kentucky, where the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates coal accounted for over 70% of the commonwealth's electricity in 2019.
Prof. Michael May teaches geology at WKU and hasexperience working in the fossil fuel industry. He said there are several options currently available for making the commonwealth's energy portfolio more sustainable, like geothermal technology.
"We have thousands of wells in Kentucky that we could use to make geothermal systems, and it kind of works like a thermos bottle. If we put heated material down there, we could keep it in the ground in these wells, and all we need is a heat exchanger to move it out by wind or by solar, so we have non-carbon based fuels as a supplement to our geothermal systems," May said.
He also pointed out WKU and the Tennessee Valley Authority have already moved away from full coal dependency.