Earth Day Apologia

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In its addled state, Bwog forgot that today was Earth Day, until Google reminded us (if you missed it, the logo is a half-submerged iceberg). Fortunately, lots of other people were out celebrating, taking advantage of opportunities that we wish we had brought to your attention. Feeling bad, we’d like to at least symbolically recognize the occasion, by pointing you towards a few things that Columbia–even though it’s a little behind–is actually doing to save Mom:

Go Columbia! Roar Lions Roar! Yay Earth Day! We love trees!


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  1. The Dink  

    Some environmental tips:

    -Use a totebag or a backpack instead of a plastic bag when shopping. Plastic bags take thousands of years to break down and cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to deal with. You can buy sweet totebags in JJ's place.

    -Unplug your cell phone chargers, etc. when not in use, they're still using energy.

    -Take shorter showers.

    -Turn off lights, and keep windows and doors closed when air conditioning or heating is on

    -Set your computer to energy-efficient modes and turn off when not in use (sleep mode doesn't save energy!)

    -Eat less meat, and buy LOCAL (or organic, but especially local) produce. Going from normal meat eater to vegan reduces your carbon output the same as if you went from an SUV driver to a hybrid driver.


  2. meat eater

    I output a lot of carbon after I eat meat. A LOT.

  3. Al Gore

    More ideas:

    - Don't take a stretch limo to your documentary premiere or oscar after party - ride your bicycle instead

    - Build a 4000sq foot compound for your family instead of a 10000sq foot one - it uses less energy

    - Try to 'planepool' make sure that you never fly a private jet with fewer than 5 passengers - even if it means having the help go with you instead of flying commercial

    - When staging an earth-day concert go acoustic - all those amplifiers are huge energy drains (same for the fancy lighting displays)

    - try to pay for your own guilty feelings by 'buying' carbon offsets, which don't decrease your personal consumption or output (but who's really counting?)

    • yo fuck off  

      it's real easy to go blaming Al Gore for some shit instead of addressing the real problem of global warming. quite your bitching and face up to the facts that despite whatever shit people dig up on the car he drove to whatever event he has done more to fight global warming and educate the public on this major issue than almost anyone. and if you believe that global warming must be stopped, why are you gettin down on Al Gore, someone who is actually trying to get things done, instead of the deceitful creationist oilmen in the white house who do nothing on this issue? quit playing the blame game and take some real action.


      • nice  

        Lighten up, Francis. You have no idea what #3 does tot stop global warming. I do my part, but I also have problems with Gore. It is easy to ask everyone to be carbon neutral. Unfortunately, low income and middle income people can not afford to simply buy carbon credits to offset their footprint as Gore so conveniently does.

        As for #6, do the calcs yourself. You know what wattage your bulbs are. Multiply that by the amount of bulbs per student. Multiply that by the number of people. Multiply that by the time one can reasonably turn the lights out, and calculate the total energy saved.

        Sometimes if you want to make a point, it is best to get your own numbers.

        • Calculation  

          I tried the calculation suggested.
          60 watt bulbs; 2 bulbs per student; 8,000 students; 2 hours a day turned off where they would have been turned on.

          That multiplication comes to 960kW, and with the 2 hours saved - 6.9 million kJ saved.

          Assuming a coal power plant, 1 mol of carbon burned produces ~400 kJ of energy. So we are saving ~17,000 moles of carbon. At 12 g/mol, that is 207,000 grams of carbon, or 456 pounds of carbon per day!

          Seems like a lot to me.

          • not really right?  

            i mean yes, that seems like a big heavy box of carbon but how does that compare to what we actually use in a day? i imagine we burn insane amounts of fuel daily

            though obviously, each gram of reduced use is awesome and necessary, its just the actual discussion here was centered on whether turning off lights alone by college kids would make a big dent or not, right?
            that said, if you guys leave your lights on unnecessarily im kicking your asses.

          • Absolutely  

            I agree. This is totally miniscule compared to total energy comsumption. Current global consumption of carbon is 7 billion tons per year.
            I wasn't saying that we could save the world with this, just trying to answer an earlier post.

            Also, I will provide support in said ass-kickings.

          • pshh  

            I'm Dan Okin.
            Dan Okin is a great fan of collaboration and team work, but seriously, do you think Dan Okin needs support to kick ass?
            Thanks anyway, bitch.

  4. ahead of the curve  

    On Wednesday, The Current will be coming out in print as Columbia's first 'green' publication.

  5. love  

    to see some numbers on what turning off lights does. Any numbers. I'm not criticizing. Just asking for some numbers. Make wild assumptions (EVERYONE TURNING OFF THEIR LIGHTS FOR TWO MORE HOURS A DAY). Just, for the love of God, something!
    My intuition says that compared to industrial use, college students' lighting needs are negligible. Prove me wrong. Please?

    • The Dink  

      You're right. Just turning off lights will never be enough without major shifts in policy and industry to regulate how we get and use our energy.

      Whether or not you turn your lights off probably doesn't matter compared to all of industry. But, whether or not ALL college students do so does matter. It's just like voting.

      On Feb 1, France had a big campaign to have everyone turn off their lights for 5 minutes at the same time. The result was an over 1% reduction in the country's energy output for that day. So it does make a difference whether or not each individual turns off their lights. Furthermore, it's not just 5 minutes that lights would be left on...it's hours when you're away from your place.

      More importantly, though, if we as a generation/humankind are really going to stop climate change and other just as frightening environmental problems (mass extinction, for example) we must start to think about the environmental impact of all our actions, starting small with turning off lights, using power strips and turning them off, recycling properly, not using plastic bags, etc. Only when we truly commit to powering, eating, purchasing, traveling, and living in a sustainable fashion will we also be able to demand and make the fullest commitments in policy and industry towards sustainability.

      I'll keep looking for more specific numbers, though.

      • 1% reduction?  

        that can't be right. 5 minutes is only 0.35 percent of a day [5 / (60 * 24)]. So how can turning them off get rid of 1.0% of a day's energy use? Even if it was a usually particularly lighted time of day, the vast majority of energy use is not for lights. Do you mean 1% during that five minutes? That's maybe low but seems at least possible.

  6. pink  

    What, google couldn't think up a logo that illustrated the Chinese government's censure laws? oh wait..

  7. yellow  

    i don't understand the insistence about locally grown vegetables. why is it that so many "environmentally aware" people (who are moslty liberal and obviously care about human welfare) take a protectionist stand when it comes to produce?

    when you want "locally grown" produce, does that mean you hate agrobusiness or Brazilian sugar canes? If it's the former, is there any evidence that traditional/local farming is better for the environment than bigger, more efficient farms? If it's the latter, why would anyone who cares about welfare be against free trade?

    Someone, please explain. (Ok I am obviously an econ major, but you don't have to be an econ major to know that trade is awesome.)

    • The Dink  

      The reason you want local food is because it travels a shorter distance to get to you, reducing emissions. Getting organic apples from New Zealand here in New York does a lot more harm to the earth than buying conventional apples grown 3 hours upstate simply because New Zealand apples have to travel around the world.

      What's labeled "organic" in stores may not actually be as organic as you think. The USDA classification of organic is pretty lenient compared to what most people imagine organic really is.

      Brazilian sugar cane is probably not good for the environment because rainforest is cut down to grow it.

      While perhaps more efficient in growing more food per acre, larger "corporate" farms (whatever that means) are worse for the environment than smaller farms because they are growing the same crop over much larger areas of land, which depletes soil quality, needs much more intensive use of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. and probably also uses and/or pollutes more water. It also creates an "ecosystem" of almost no biodiversity, leading to (along with poor management of pesticide use) very specialized and powerful pests. This also leads to overall depletion of native species and destruction of natural processes that greatly benefit people like water purification, erosion protection, etc.

      Smaller multi-crop farming systems allow for greater natural biodiversity to live in the area whereas large mono-crop farms simply take over everything.

      Another problem: Imagine a pig farm with 2000 pigs. This is a huge waste problem--the shit of 2000 pigs. But, spread those 2000 pigs over 500 smaller farms and the waste is now great natural fertilizer. Smaller, more diverse farms require less chemical/synthetic input, save water, and reduce waste.

      Of course, small farms can't produce food on the scale of larger farms, though they are more sustainable. So we really just need less people. And less people eating meat. Producing meat uses a lot more land, water, chemicals, etc. than producing plants.

      I'm not sure of your point with the free trade issue. I agree that free trade is ultimately good for human welfare, though I don't think it is always good for the environment. There's no perfect way to buy food...always there are competing issues. It's a complicated issue. That is a major cop-out on my part.

  8. ouch playa!  

    you just got called out on your b/s statistics. what chu gonnna do? take it like a biatch? mothatrucka nah! show his ass what 5 minutes a day can do.

  9. Biodiesel  

    The video on the homepage of the Environmental Stewardship website is titled "Earth and Environmental Engineering: Biodiesel Project". However, there is no biodiesel in that video... just vegetable oil. There is a big difference between the two. Why can't our own environmental stewardship group get that right?

  10. Sad

    After reading these comments, I can come to only one conclusion...

    I'm not smart.

  11. Another  

    way would be to switch from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which save hundreds of pounds of coal per year.

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