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Archive for April, 2011

Earth Day, 2011

Another year, another pollen storm, (some tornados in NC!), another Earth Day!

Unfortunately, from my little perch on the branch of sustainability awareness, there isn’t a whole lot of Earth Day going on in my usual publication, The Chronicle. That’s pretty disappointing, especially considering the amount of stuff that’s going on campus, both in and out of the classrooms, and the importance of the issue generally in the wider world. Instead of touching on the BP oil spill, the national and local political dialogue, or the groups holding events all month, the paper is in full senior mode, celebrating four years at Duke, getting nostalgic, and even a little hard hitting of campus culture issues – but more the kind that are undergraduate centered. While equally important, sometimes it’s a good time to look outside ourselves and our bubble.

Yesterday I attended an Earth Day celebration organized primarily by graduate student groups and likely largely attended by the same. It wasn’t on the Plaza or the main quad, it was down near the LSRC and the Nicholas School. I did the ceremonial bike ride, and hung out, watching Nic School professors get dunked in the dunk tank, eating earth friendly food, and getting a little sun to brighten my mood and complexion. Hard not to be a happy earth optimist under the circumstances!

So, while I don’t recommend The Chronicle for Earth Day coverage, there are plenty of publications to get your inspiration fix. From the Huffington Post green page, with their startlingly huge fonts imploring you to ‘Get Involved’, to Duke’s Sustainability Page, which has a full listing of Earth Month events, there’s lots to go around. It’s also an important time in our political dialogue to be educated on these issues and vocal about the impacts of compromising on our shared natural resources.

Happy Birthday Earth! Here’s to many more!

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By Liz Bloomhardt
Published April 8, 2011

The sitting U.S. president was too busy launching a reelection campaign to meet for this column, but I did stop by the Allen Building where the president of Duke University, Richard Brodhead, agreed to let me into his office. What follows is an account of our conversation, edited for clarity and brevity.

Green Devil: Can you describe the process you went through in deciding to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment [in 2007, also signed by nearly 300 other colleges and universities, that set in motion the drafting of Duke’s Climate Action Plan and the commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by 2024]?

Richard Brodhead: You start by asking the question, does this university believe in sustainability? Yes. Do we believe that humans have an impact on the environment? Yes. Do we believe, therefore, that over time humans should alter their behavior so as to show greater respect for the environment? Yes.

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