BGSU puts environmental concerns into action

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The University will mark Earth Week 2014 (April 21-26) with activities and films designed to raise awareness of environmental issues and provide opportunities to help reduce the University’s carbon footprint.

In 2012, President Mary Ellen Mazey signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (PCC). An added benefit of BGSU’s conservation efforts is that they have also reduced costs, said Dr. Nicholas Hennessy, campus sustainability director.

“The PCC is a year-round commitment by us as an institution to reduce our emissions and protect the environment,” Hennessy said. “So Earth Day is really every day, but the annual event is an opportunity to celebrate, spotlight our achievements and collaborate with the city. It’s like a New Year’s resolution in that it gives us a chance to step back and renew our commitment.”

Earth Week on campus begins April 21 with a talk by Dr. Mark Lung, executive director of Eco2Librium, a nonprofit organization that organizes and implements carbon projects worldwide that provide funds for clean development while reducing global atmospheric carbon dioxide. He will speak at 7 p.m. in 201 Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Lung has two advanced degrees and 20 years’ experience related to natural resource and energy use, carbon management, and carbon offset project development. He has helped develop action plans for U.S. colleges, cities and counties, and designed super energy efficient buildings and homes. He has worked in Kenya for the last eight years with community-based organizations to conserve forests through sustainable use research and livelihood development. Current carbon projects in Kenya create hundreds of jobs while restoring and conserving the last remaining lowland rainforest there.

Also on April 21, the annual campus When You Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out collection begins. Students and employees can deposit unwanted but usable clothing, furniture and nonperishable food items in collection bins in all residence hall lobbies, Greek houses, and the Bowen-Thompson Student Union lobby. They will be distributed to nonprofit agencies in the area, thus reducing what goes into the landfill while saving BGSU disposal costs.

A highlight of the week is the annual Eco-Fair, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 23 in the Union Oval. The fair is an educational event featuring organizations and initiatives, both on campus and within the community, that deal with the environment and sustainability.

On April 26, the Outdoor Program will sponsor an Eco Scavenger Hunt across campus from 1-3 p.m., beginning at the Perry Field House. Participants will search for clues that answer questions about environmental issues and Earth Day.

Three movies with environmental themes are slated, all at 7 p.m. in the Union Theater. They are sponsored by the Student Green Fund and the Department of Environment and Sustainability.

  • “Chasing Ice,” on April 22, is the story of photographer James Balog’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet with the Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, he began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Balog’s videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.
  • “If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)” on April 23. In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front, a group the FBI has called America's "number one domestic terrorism threat." The ELF had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado. A 2011 Sundance Film Festival winner and Academy Award nominee, the film is part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller that asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.
  • “Dirt! The Movie” on April 24, is the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet. Inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book “Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth,” the film takes a humorous and substantial look into the history and current state of the living organic matter that we come from and will later return to.

In addition, BGSU groups and individuals will join the city’s Earth Day Celebration, from 2-4 p.m. April 27 at the Bowling Green Montessori School on Sand Ridge Road. The family event will feature nature walks, stories, art projects and other activities. Take home a live sapling.

A number of service projects are available for classes and individuals, viewable on the community Earth Day site.