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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

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Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
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lindsa57



Registered: September 2012
City/Town/Province: Commerce
Posts: 1
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I am a junior at Michigan State University majoring in history, philosophy, and sociology of science with a specialization in science technology, environment and public policy. I chose to do an Apprentice Ecologist project on behalf of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project because I want to do all I can to protect our planet. It has always been a dream of mine to save the rainforests but before college I wasn't really sure what I could do to make an impact. As soon as I came to college I joined my campus group, MSU Greenpeace to help fight the largest on-campus power plant in the nation and get our administration to commit to 100% renewable energy.
We have a large campus that consumes a lot of energy and it comes entirely from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. The power plant is situated on the south side of campus right near student dormitories, yet some students don't even know that it exists. This year was an important year in our campaign because our board of trustees was voting on an energy transition plan. After a year of working on the plan, all the university came up with was a goal to get 40% renewable energy by the year 2030. Not only is this goal completely unambitious, there was no plan for how we were to make the transition, and so this plan revealed itself as merely a PR statement. As a group committed to non-violent direct action we mobilized over 1200 students from at least six different universities from across the country to send e-mails and phone calls to our board of trustees. It was recognized to be the greatest mobilization on any issue that our board had seen in the past several years. These phone calls and e-mails were driven in during the two week period prior to the vote and was part of a national month of actions for 100% clean energy.
To kick-off this month of actions we dropped a 20 by 20 foot banner off of a parking garage right near the administration building that read “Spartan Green? I Wish!” with a picture of our Spartan logo and a coal plant. This is a tribute to our campus's recycling campaign named “Be Spartan Green” which is also our school color. This message was meant to dispel the myth that our campus is as environmentally friendly as it claims to be. Then, on the day of the vote, we flooded the board room with concerned students holding posters and hosted a rally with more students outside the building. Inside the board room, we waited for them to vote on the energy plan. When they unanimously approved this flawed plan, students stood up and performed a mic check which is a way to amplify sound using human voices in order to deliver our message of extreme disappointment to the board of trustees. This is what we said:
“Today the MSU Board of Trustees and President Simon have failed students and community members.&#8232;We will not accept an energy plan without a retirement date for the coal plant or a time line to switch to 100% clean energy.&#8232;Over 12,000 of us have voiced our concerns which have fallen upon deaf ears.&#8232;We need leaders who want progress for our school. Until we have a healthy and safe learning environment,&#8232;&#8232; We will not stop.”
Unfortunately there are no plans to revise this energy transition plan but more and more the university is claiming that our plan will get us to 100% renewable energy even though it sets no goal or timeline for doing so. I feel that this campaign project is so important because it is important for students to have a voice in their university. It seems like our administration is only concerned about the image of the university and not the health of the students, community, or planet. It is also important to speak up on this issue because our power plant supplies energy only to our campus, yet the surrounding communities are left to deal with the pollution while students are constantly graduating and moving away. This project has been going strong for three years now and it is crucial that it be maintained because coal is a dirty form of energy from extraction to disposal. It is the leading cause of climate change in the United States, from which we have already started to be affected. With climate change accelerating, we are experiencing more dramatic weather patterns, including droughts that dramatically affected crops in our country this year. It has also been proven that areas near coal-fired power plants show increased cases of lung disease, asthma, sinus infection, sudden infant death syndrome and more. When this campaign accomplishes its goal of transitioning our campus to 100% clean energy we will become leaders that will inspire change across the nation. We will also be ceasing to cause harm to our community through toxins released in the air and water. We will also be stopping the oppression of communities in Appalachia from which this coal comes. We will also be cutting demand for natural gas whose drilling is threatening water supplies across Michigan, New York, Ohio, etc. We'll be cutting our demand for coal whose companies oppress and exploit the people of Appalachia with dangerous and destructive extraction methods. Working with this group on projects like these have helped me find a sense of purpose in my life. I feel a responsibility to protect the planet and community that sustains me. Although it is discouraging to learn of all the destruction that is occurring, I am privileged to work with people who want to make a positive difference.
· Date: September 1, 2012 · Views: 2357 · File size: 18.4kb, 301.1kb · : 500 x 717 ·
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 30
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 17 to 21
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 100
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