In Orbit

The purpose of Earth Day is to create and spread awareness of an appreciation for the environment, therefore showing how important the environment is. It is, in the “Earth Day Network’s” own words, about “uniting voices around the globe in support of a healthy planet.” And this year, contrary to what The Phillipian’s editorial on April 18, “Out of Orbit ” stated, Andover’s community celebrated Earth Day in the most effective way possible. Sunita Williams, a former American astronaut, talked about her experiences in space at All-School Meeting (ASM) two weeks ago for our celebration of Earth Day. She holds the record for the longest, single space ?ight by a woman. As re?ected in “Out of Orbit,” Williams was entertaining and motivating when she detailed her space expedition. The editorial continued that, while being entertaining, many students and faculty were left confused as to how her presentation related to Earth Day, as it was about her time in space. Although the student body was lucky to host “such an engaging orator,” our Earth Day meeting “did not address many of the goals and values associated with Earth Day.” I disagree with this, as I saw this year’s Earth Day presentation as relevant and spot-on in celebrating the holiday. The editorial stated that we did not “use Earth Day as an opportunity to educate the student body” about environmental issues. But in fact, I believe it was effective not to place the focus of the ASM on the “problems” of the environment. Unlike the board of The Phillipian, I do not believe having an ASM on the problems of the environment is going to necessarily motivate anyone to help the environment. The conventional approach to an Earth-Day celebration is to have an educational meeting on the negative effects of pollution, climate change and global warming and on how we can stop these factors from destroying the environment. During Fall Term, it was proven how ineffective educational presentations are. From talking to numerous students about the ASMs by Bruce Anderson and Noelle Eckley Selin that, as part of the Kaleidoscope Series, focused on environmental issues, it seems that such a format is widely agreed upon as dull and lackluster. Although the content was relevant, many stated that they did not enjoy or learn from the meetings. Rather than lecturing us on how terrible the state of the environment is, Williams gave a candid, motivating speech, characterized solely by her love for our planet. Yes, it is imperative to increase awareness of the negative effects of climate change; however, we have many opportunities to learn about such topics. This comes up time and time again, such as in biology classes and documentaries. We even have clubs that are completely devoted to education on environmental problems and the conservation of the earth. I remember very clearly when Williams described the first time she “gazed at Earth from space,” calling it “overwhelming.” We all listened closely as she described the Earth as she saw it from space. And by doing so, she was able to inspire students to help conserve the world by reminding us about how wonderful and amazing our Earth really is. Instead of lecturing us about the environmental problems of the world, Williams pushed us to remember how precious and perfect our world is and realize how important it is to conserve it.