April 23, 2007

Earth Day Brings Out C.U. Activism

Print More

As the remnants of last week’s nor’easter melted away, members of the Cornell community came out to Ho Plaza on Friday to celebrate Earth Day and enjoy the spring weather. The day’s festivities concluded Cornell’s First Annual Global Warming Awareness Initiative, a week of events promoting the University’s sustainability efforts that included community service projects, a panel discussion, a film screening, a lecture and a benefit concert.
Friday’s event brought out a broad array of about twenty organizations, from Cornell Students Against War to Tzedek: Jewish Social Justice.
KyotoNow!, a student group for environmental action, had a table at the event, informing attendees of the threat of global warming. Earlier this year, the group proposed the Referendum for Green Energy Purchases at Cornell, which was passed by the Student Assembly, and encouraged President David Skorton to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment agreement.
Amy Freitag ’08, president of KyotoNow!, acknowledged that the group has made great strides this year toward climate neutrality.
“KyotoNow! has reached out to both students and faculty. In the future we hope to further the group’s success by reaching out to stakeholders and gain recognition from the University’s investors,” Freitag said.
William Eden ’10, treasurer of KyotoNow!, emphasized the importance of a continuing pursuit of climate neutrality.
“As Cornellinas, we find ourselves in an incredibly advantaged situation. We really need to reflect upon how we use those resources and how our actions affect others around the world,” Eden said.
Another table that attracted a number of onlookers was organized by Cornell Dining, which is currently contributing to Cornell’s sustainability initiative in a number of ways.
Doug Lockwood, office manager for Cornell Dining, explained how his group will continue to contribute to the University’s sustainability efforts in the future.
“We are currently working with our supplier to increase the percentage of our food sourced by local farmers, which we define as within a 100 mile radius,” Lockwood said.
Additionally, Lockwood acknowledged that fair trade coffee is now available in all dining halls.
In the future, Lockwood hopes that Cornell Dining can expand its efforts to recycle and compost waste. He also acknowledged the importance of future efforts to moderate energy consumption.
A table set up by Engineers For a Sustainable World, a student group of engineers that seeks to improve economic, environmental and social sustainability, was another major draw at the event. Earth Day marked the end of ESW’s Drive Not to Drive, a weeklong challenge that encouraged the Cornell to rely on alternative forms of transportation instead of driving. On display at ESW’s table was a solar oven, which was used to cook food for hungry observers. Carmen Iao ’09, a member of ESW, explained that the solar oven was developed through a partnership with a team in Nicaragua, and is an example of one way to use renewable energy and contribute to energy sustainability.
Earth Day continued with a guided gorge walk and an outdoor movie screening.
Eden acknowledged the importance of celebrating Earth Day.
“We are a very busy society, and we rarely have time to enjoy the many wonderful aspects of nature,” said Eden. “We need one day to reflect upon how we interact with the natural world and its encompassing significance in our lives.”