Day spotlights improving quality of life

Kathleen Cunningham

Earth Day celebrations wrapped up last week with speeches, free mugs, T-shirts and a free computer game among the items given away by various organizations at different tables on the Oval on April 19-21.

“I think when students go by, they look at you and the projects you have out there,” said Dr. John Knapp, professor of geophysics.

“It kind of wakes them up to some things that they need to be thinking about.”

He said the day was more about focusing on improving the quality of life of the people and not just about animals or the earth.

“That’s our goal on Earth Day; it’s just kind of to let people know about things, issues like that,” Knapp said.

“That is another objective of Earth Day too – just to make people more aware we actually have more people dying of air pollution than from terrorism. But yet we spend billions on terrorism, we’re not too willing to spend a lot on air pollution.”

He said there are different ways for students to become involved in the protection of the earth through the use of alternative fuels, energies and changes in lifestyles.

For example, he said fluorescent lights help promote energy conservation over incandescent lights.

Students attending the various activities during the week, including student debates and lectures in Webster Hall auditorium, said the events were well received.

“It was interesting you get to learn about different things they are doing to help the environment,” said Amber Gauss, freshman undecided major. “I liked it. I think anyone likes anything free like the T-shirts, pencils and mugs and to look at the hybrid cars.”

Others thought the turnout could have gone better throughout the week.

“I thought it was a pretty good event; it was good even though it didn’t go over well,” said Tim Shelhamer, freshman environmental health major.

“It’s important for people to understand the relationship we have with the environment and you know how it affects us.”

Knapp said the event brought out different topics than the previous years.

“Last year I think they gave out the gruel that is like standard food for starving people,” he said.

“A lot of people, especially students, don’t have any real concept of what’s going on in other countries. You can be blinded by our lifestyle and have no way to relate to what other people are doing and so when a starving person thinks this is good food, and you see how awful it is, it puts things in kind of perspective.”

Knapp said the possible solutions to helping the turnout numbers could be moving the celebration to another date, but moving it could distract from the actual day.

However, the message of the day was clear to Knapp.

“You need to be more appreciative of what you really do have and then use what you have wisely,” he said.