April 23, 2003

University Celebrates Earth Day

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Students gathered yesterday to promote the environment for this year’s Earth Day, an international holiday held annually to draw attention to challenges facing the natural world. Students marked the event with lectures, campaigns, and entertainment.

Outside of Willard Straight Hall, the Cornell Vegetarians served pasta salad, burritos and grilled vegetarian hot dogs for passers-by. “You’d be surprised at how good they taste,” said Cornell Vegetarian Clair Whittet ’04. “[Vegetarianism] is quite a progressive step towards a healthy environment, because it takes a lot less energy and water to make soy products and vegetables than it does to make meat.”

The vegetarians were joined on Ho Plaza by the Society for Natural Resource Conservation (SNRC) and a display featuring solar panels and a wind generator. Visitors were given free packets of recycled paper and encouraged to sign a petition that would require all University departments to use environment-friendly paper.

Earth Day organizers also set up inside the Memorial room of the Straight, with a stage, informational tables and an art show featuring paintings and photographs of nature.

Abigail Krich ’04 and Nicholas Lange grad managed a table for the Cornell University Renewable Energy Society, a student group that seeks to “educate people about advancements in renewable energy technology,” according to Krich. A nearby display provided information on Dilmun Farm, an environmental learning center, and summer classes in organic gardening.

The Cornell chapter of Amnesty International was also on hand for Earth Day, promoting their Just Earth campaign, a joint effort of Amnesty International and the Sierra Club.

“The main focus of the campaign is … helping environmental activists, and so we [look at] the human rights side, the human rights violations that are occurring to people because of environmental issues.” said Andrea Hamilton ’05.

Seniors visiting the Earth Day displays were able to sign a pledge promising that they would take environmental consequences into account in regard to any job decisions they made in the future.

“Seniors [affirm] that they plan to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job they consider,” said Nicholas Rosenstock ’03. “And in any job they accept, they’ll try to improve those aspects of their organization.”

Rounding out the array of tables was a Kyoto Now! display, providing information on the national movement which urges U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. The protocol includes regulations that would seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The local band Purple Grip took the Memorial Room stage at noon, followed by two lectures exploring environmental issues. Landscape architecture lecturer Jamie Lynn Vanucchi-Hartung’s talk, entitled “A Green Dream: Designing for Wild, Wonder, and Home,” examined ways in which human constructions could become more aesthetic and efficient by incorporating the natural environment. Prof. Kate Whitlock, molecular biology and genetics, struck a cautionary note as she touched on issues such as species extinction, climate change, and the ecological effect of world conflicts.

Even though Earth Day comes to a close on Tuesday, environmental events will continue throughout the week. Gregory Kiss, of Kiss And Cathcart Architects, will give a talk on ecological design tomorrow at 6 p.m. in Olin Hall 255. Ray Anderson, the CEO of Interface Corporation, will present a lecture entitled “The Dawn of Sustainable Enterprises: Green Businesses in the 21st Century” at 2 p.m. on Friday in Uris Auditorium.

“I think earth day is a chance for people who aren’t necessarily environmental activists to really become aware of certain issues,” said organizer Kamille Barcher ’06, “We try to make it really fun so that everyone wants to get involved, and I think that’s the biggest part of it, awareness.”

Archived article by Jeff Sickelco