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VP Kamala Harris highlights climate initiatives by pushing UB students to change their world

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts Sept. 14, 2022.
Tom Dinki
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts Sept. 14, 2022.

Vice President Kamala Harris was at the University at Buffalo Wednesday, touring high-tech projects on campus, praising what the Biden administration is doing on economic development, and trying to inspire the next generation to continue the fight against climate change.

Her big push is campaign mode, saying the new Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Biden last month will pull down the rising rate of economic inflation while fighting climate change and its effects. Inflation is seen as a threat to Democratic control of Congress.

However, Harris mostly discussed what the $750 billion legislation will do to fight climate change. She noted young people have seen its effects throughout their lifetimes.

"Your generation has experienced every one of the 10 hottest summers on record. You have seen your communities decimated by wildfires, flooded by hurricanes, and choked by drought. Here in Buffalo, you have watched as toxic algae has spread through Lake Erie," she said. "Your generation knows the threat of the climate crisis because you have lived it. And for your entire lives thus far, you have seen our nation fail to act with the urgency this crisis demands."

She told an audience filled with university faculty and some students that education is the key to combating climate change, while bringing much more equity to society.

“It means connecting families in rural communities and Indian Country with affordable, reliable clean electricity, and it means holding polluters accountable when they poison our air, our water and our soil," she said.

Since so many of the sources of climate change involve technology and high tech, Harris said students and their future careers have a great opportunity to help turn around so many of today’s problems.

“You are chemical engineers working to make our solar panels more efficient. You are architects designing sustainable homes and communities. You are climate scientists modeling the impact of rising seas and warming temperatures," she said. "And you are public health experts providing hope and healing to so many.

“You are leading us forward as our nation, as our world," Harris told students. "And we are counting on you."

All of that work is important at UB, where the university leadership says it’s already combating those issues with its vast research and development in issues, from water pollution to finding ways to recycle plastics which are an increasingly serious form of pollution.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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