Following the excitement of the holiday weekend with Easter and Passover, we can’t forget the significance of Earth Day, which is held on April 22 every year. Yesterday, we talked about the history and cultural significance of the day and touched upon a few ways the campus is getting involved, but here are some reasons why you should care about the earth every day and some more ways you can increase your environmental efforts!
“When you have a Mother’s Day, it is about celebrating someone important to you, who does a lot for you,” Hope Dymond, a first-semester environmental and environmental health engineering major, said. “When you have a day like Presidents’ Day, you are looking into the history of how you got here and appreciating it. I think Earth Day is a combination of those.”
In recent years, climate change and the greenhouse effect have been a topic of concern, especially with its discussion in the political arena.
At the time of the holiday’s conception, the levels of carbon dioxide—which is considered the planet’s most important greenhouse gas—were measured around 325 million parts per million (ppm), according to a study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Today, the levels are almost 90 ppm higher, at around 412 ppm, which is unprecedented in our planet’s history. With the levels increasing at an almost exponential rate, the earth can’t properly absorb the excess carbon dioxide. According to a study by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ocean absorbs about 30 percent of the human-produced carbon dioxide, as well as 93 percent of the human-produced heat. Both increase the acidity and temperature of the earth, severely damaging the corals and oxygen levels of the wildlife of the ocean.
And the rest of the excess carbon dioxide becomes trapped by our atmosphere and essentially heats up the planet—which, despite inaccurate opinion, is not good. The United Nations has declared the importance of radically decarbonizing in order to protect the future from the disastrous impacts of climate change, as well as the importance of sustaining ecosystems to protect the wildlife that is becoming endangered by our actions every day. Citizens must not only hold their politicians accountable when addressing environmental policy, but also corporations, which must improve their efforts on sustainability and location affecting ecosystems and animals.
There have been a slew of events that were held in the past week in support of Earth Day, such as the campus clean-up events organized by the Alternative Break and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Student Associations, as well as the Earth Day Spring Fling last Tuesday, the latter being a festival featuring eco-friendly vendors, green companies and student groups. Other student groups, such as the Rainbow Center, UConn Metanoia and ConnPIRG hosted speakers, played movies and engaged with students on large-scale environmentalism, as well as little efforts that add up to make a difference. EcoQuest on Fairfield Way aimed to help students learn about the different environmental concepts found on our campus.
“On campus, take advantage of the meatless alternatives that the dining halls are putting so much effort into designing and providing for you,” Dymond said of what students can do to take part in environmental efforts. “There are also many environmental initiatives that most of UConn’s student body has never heard of, an example [being] the ECOCoin program at the bookstore—next time you are there, ask about it!”
Even after Earth Day, UConn students continue their efforts to sustain our wonderful planet, and you can join them. There are the little things that you can do, such as buying a reusable straw, stopping use of plastic bags and bottles and paying attention to your water use when showering and using the sink. For more, take part in ConnPIRG’s Zero Waste or 100% Renewable Energy campaigns, which both draw attention to the university’s use of resources. Join the Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) Sustainability Sub-Committee, which hosts events such as panels and art shows to provide accurate information to students about sustainability efforts. Keep educating yourself and staying engaged, because it’s our future that we’re looking after!
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.