(published in the campus newspaper)
Indulge me if you can, and think back to before Turkey Day. I realize that the mass
amounts of stuffing and few precious days spent pondering about a stress-free Christmas break have most likely clouded most memories of the days leading up to
Thanksgiving. Unless you walk with your face straight towards the ground, you may remember something peculiar about the campus on the Monday before break. For all those of you who noticed the number 350 written into the snow all around campus and thought that perhaps Meadville has a violent new chain gain who felt the need to mark their “territory” all over campus, I am hear to put you at ease.
The number 350 actually represented an Environmental Science project of significant importance to those of us attending this school. The ingenious students who completed this project were trying to raise awareness about climate change not in some third world country somewhere, not in some American city you have never been to but
right here in Meadville, PA. Currently, paleo-climate evidence shows that CO2 levels in our atmosphere are at a staggering 387 parts per million. (CO2/atmospheric molecules) The website 350.org is initiating a campaign of awareness and action with the goal of bringing that number down to 350 ppm. The website states: “Unless we can reduce Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere to 350ppm, it will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth and its people.” People around the world are using the number 350 to raise awareness of this pressing issue.
As part of an environmental science project the group of students decided to
motivate our campus to do their part in reducing carbon emissions from the vehicles
they drive. For those of you who don't know, President Mullen has made the commitment to walk to work as much as possible in order reduce his own carbon footprint. On the morning of November 17, the aforementioned exemplary students walked with President Mullen from his home to Bentley Hall, a distance of ¾ mile.
Next, the students calculated exactly how much carbon he prevented from
being released into the atmosphere in one day. (to work and back) This number was
4x10-4 tons of carbon emissions each day. Doesn't sound like much you say? How about 0.14 tons? This is the amount President Mullen saves by walking to work in one year. Still not sound like a big deal? This campus has 655 registered student vehicles, and 450 registered faculty vehicles. That equates to 0.442 tons of carbon emissions daily, or
almost 1,000 pounds. While individual efforts may seem trivial, clearly a collective effort
can make a significant difference and jump-start Allegheny's contribution to a healthier earth.
So next time you get in the car to drive to McDonalds with your fellow gator, think twice and put on your walking shoes. We really can make a big difference. The everyday choices that we make do have an adverse effect on our environment. We have the power to decide what kind of world we want to live in and leave for future generations. If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem!