Eco-Action Hosts Discussion

A Parents’ Weekend forum on climate change sponsored by Eco-Action and ERAC provided an outlet for students and parents interested in environmental issues to voice their concerns. The forum, which was held on Saturday, October 30, was a question and answer discussion, which touched on many different aspects of environmental issues. Teddy Smyth ’11, Co-President of Eco-Action, said,“Climate change is the broadest and most important eco-issue facing the world today. We didn’t want to make the topic of the forum something more specific, because if you picked just one thing, it would limit the discussion.” Patricia Russell, Instructor in Biology and Sustainability Coordinator, helped to facilitate the event. Russell said, “We wanted to give students an opportunity to network with parents who are working on a variety of fields related to climate change. A number of the folks who were there were very willing to become resources to students, and offered to provide potential internships and things like that. We want to continue to develop those relationships.” Russell considered the forum a success. The various attendees included students as well as a nuclear power plant designer, a transportation economics expert, a labor union leader, a businessman who worked with scientists on solar energy and a construction worker who works to ensure building efficiency for the city of Lowell. Dr. Bruce Anderson ’90, a climate scientist, attended the forum as well. Later this year, he plans on returning again to be a part of a larger presentation on a similar topic. Anna Milkowski, Instructor in Biology and House Counselor of Alumni House, said, “It was interesting that the people who came were from such different professions, yet they all had an intense connection to the issue. Climate change affects everyone. It involves politics, energy policy, teaching, labor unions, and the working class. At the forum, we had all these different constituents together in a single room.” Turner Shaw ’11 said, “I went to the forum to meet people. I got to talk to professionals who are interested in the same issues that I am.” “It was fabulous. The discussions were very high level and extremely entertaining. I learned a lot of new things and I wanted to stay longer and talk to some of the individual people,” said Smyth. Russell said, “The common theme of the discussion was that there is no single solution to climate change. A lot of different measures in energy, transportation, daily life and government will have to take place in order for climate change to be properly addressed.” “The solution to climate change will involve many different components and in the process of solving it, there will have to be a lot of value judgments and hard choices. Even among people who are working towards protecting the environment as allies, there still exist disagreements,” said Milkowski. Smyth said, “Everyone knows about climate change on a broader level. At Andover, I don’t think a lack of general awareness is prevalent or even on the horizon. But although we are aware, the motivation for actually being green isn’t as hard pressed.” Russell said that the idea for the climate change forum was adapted from an event hosted several years ago by the Science Club. Originally, the Science Club had held a forum for students and parents who had an interest in the sciences, and was a huge success. For Eco-Action, the Green Cup Challenge will be their next big undertaking. Smyth said, “Eco-Action has been thinking of ways to make the competition more personal, so students can really see the individual impact they have on how much energy Andover spends or saves. For example, by putting in electricity meters in some of the dorms, we can have inter-dorm competitions to see who can save the most.”