The Convenience of Conserving

Although Andover students are “true blue” at heart, recently students have displayed a greener hue. No, Deerfield Academy students did not brainwash us, the Boston Red Sox’s Green Monster did not attack us, nor did everyone transform into the Incredible Hulk. Andover owes its green spirit to the excitement surrounding the Green Cup Challenge. For weeks, Andover students have strolled around in the mild, sunny weather wearing flip-flops, long sleeved t-shirts and light vests. Save the constant complaints of the Nordic team, Winter Term seems like a mild extension of Fall. The unseasonable weather and lack of snow reminded students of the impact of global warming. For the next month, Andover joins 15 other secondary schools in the Green Cup Challenge. Schools participating in this competition are competing to see who can conserve the most energy. Eco-Action, one of Andover’s student organizations, has led the way in educating their peers about helpful ways to conserve energy. The club’s president, Bethany Simard ’07, said, “I’m surprised how the Green Cup Challenge has really motivated students. The club’s done many projects to raise school-wide awareness about conserving energy, but I’ve already seen such drastic and positive changes.” Karen Schoenherr ’07 agreed, “Today in Commons I was really impressed when I saw a kid turn off the lights to the dining hall. Other kids didn’t complain at all, realizing that eating with the natural sunlight was good enough.” Alex Schwartz ’07 said, “I think students have really gotten in to conserving energy because there is the competition aspect to it. Andover kids love seeing their competitors, especially Exies, left in the dirt.” Rachel Renauier ’07 said, “Today was the first time I’ve ever walked up to the College Counseling Office. The sign reminding me to care about the polar bears made me think [twice] about taking the elevator.” However, some students worry that this enthusiasm for conserving energy is merely temporary. In order to preserve the momentum and students interest, Eco-Action will host many events for the rest of the month. For example, last Tuesday, hundreds of faculty members, staff, and students pledged their signatures and thumbprints to “lower [their] energy consumption for the duration of the Green Cup Challenge 2007 and beyond.” Proud pledges showed off their dedication to the cause by happily showing off their green stained thumbs. Sustainability Coordinator and Instructor in Biology, Rebecca Bogdanovitch said, “ Each week of the competition I want to focus on specific things. For example, one week could be the amount of water and light we can conserve. But this week, we want to focus on technology usage, such as turning off computers or by putting them on stand-by. People don’t realize the difference between turning a computer off for the night rather than keeping it on all day. Also, when the long weekend comes up it will be super important for kids to unplug all appliances if they’ll be away.” Last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Eco-Action showed the movie An Inconvenient Truth. In the film, former Vice-President Al Gore presents his Keynote presentation to many audiences around the country. Gore used informative graphs, striking images, satiric cartoons and a string of facts to convey his message. He said, “Global warming is real. It’s happening right now, and it must be dealt with immediately.” Gore believed many American citizens and political leaders are in denial about global warming because this “inconvenient truth” requires them to change their way of life. To prove that many people are unwilling to change their view about global warming, Gore presented audiences with a very interesting fact. Gore said, “There is as strong a consensus on this issue as science has ever had. A survey of more than 928 scientific papers in respected journals shows 100 percent agreement. But a database search of newspapers and magazines shows 57 percent of the articles question global warming, and 43 percent accept it. That’s disinformation at work.” Furthermore, Gore compared the inconvenient truth of smoking to global warming. He told his personal story of his sister’s death from lung cancer, influencing him to finally realize the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes. Before Americans realized that cigarettes were dangerous, the activity was very popular and socially accepted. However, in 1964, the release of the Surgeon General’s warning about the risks of smoking shocked people into banning smoking in public areas and raising the age for buying tobacco products. This comparison is easy for people to realize that the sooner an issue is addressed the sooner people, and our Earth will be saved. From the beginning of the movie, Gore said time after time, “This is not a political movie, but a moral one.” Even though Gore has retired from politics in Washington to pursue his passion in global warming, it’s hard to forget about Gore’s political past. The movie’s message is not directed towards a certain political party, but at some points of the movie, it does criticize certain presidential administrations. Atima Lui 08’ said, “I think global warming “is something we should take seriously. If Gore were president, our view on global warming would be completely different from what it is now.” Nonetheless, while “An Inconvenient Truth” appeared to be more for educational purposes rather than for leisure, it’s not something to miss. The film reflected Gore’s genuine concern for the Earth. Nicole Duddy ’08 said, “After watching the movie, I was inspired to do more for the environment. But at the same time, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough to prevent global warming. This movie, and everything our school has been doing to bring awareness about global warming has really changed my perspective.” Although attendance was around 15-20 students for each showing of “An Inconvenient Truth,” Simard did not seem discouraged. She said, “The one thing that can drive this awareness to success is the power of people. Even though the number of people who attended this movie was rather low, perhaps people who saw the movie will talk about it with their friends, and they in return will want to learn more.”