Happy Earth Day

Rachelle Peterson

Every day is Earth Day, the environmentalists teach, but today really is. In the forty-fourth celebration of Mother Nature’s globe and castigation of man’s footprint on it, cities, businesses, individuals, and universities are marking today’s date, April 22nd, when in 1970 20 million Americans marched through the streets and occupied parks and university lecture halls to rally for the environment.

The impetus for Earth Day in 1970 was largely the fear of pollution. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson organized the initial national Earth Day rally after witnessing the 1969 Santa Barbara, California, oil spill. Earth Day 2014, however, focuses less on pollution of resources and more on the dwindling of those resources. This year’s theme, “Green Cities,” asks participants to “invest in efficiency and renewable energy” and “begin to solve the climate crisis.” It elaborates that in order “to help cities become more sustainable, we need to redesign the current system, transition to renewable energy sources, and implement 21st century solutions.” The sustainability movement—propelled to national attention by the perceived threat of global warming and its accompanying droughts, famines, and other pestilences—fears that First World resources usage is not sustainable, that our Earth is wearing out on us, and that it’s up to us to tread more softly on it.

Eco-zeal is especially fervent at colleges and universities, where the energies of youth and the clout of their ivory tower institutions foster an environment conducive to ardent commitments. But sustainability becomes a catch-all for social, environmental, and economic grievances. And anthropogenic global warming, backed by a scientific “consensus” of individuals who share the same opinion and the same lack of hard evidence, becomes a dogma shielded from rational debate and forced on malleable students. How are our institutions of higher education celebrating Earth Day?

The University of North Carolina-Pembroke is signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment today, joining another 680 institutions that since 2006 have pledged to make their campuses more eco-friendly. It’s a big commitment. Signatories vow to eliminate or offset one hundred percent of their greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions from their students and faculty’s commutes to campus and administrative air travel. New campus buildings must meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver rating, and appliances should be ENERGY STAR certified.  “Climate neutrality,” as this campus purging regimen is called, is also to become a central feature of the college curriculum as students become disciples of the sustainability movement.

Villanova University, already a signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, is hosting a sustainability fair and farmers market to get students to buy local produce and consider more consciously their everyday lifestyles. A former Wall Street investor who left finance to farm organic crops will deliver a lecture meant to inspire these ambitious students to make Earth priority number one. As at many Earth Day celebrations, Villanova offers raffles, prizes, free food samples, and job displays to incentivize students—especially global warming skeptics—to participate.

Not content with a single day, Illinois State University celebrates Earth Month during the entirety of April. There are walking tours, health expos, lectures on corporate social responsibility, recycling fests, and attention-grabbing gimmicks such as scavenger hunts, a showcase of electric cars, fair trade coffee tastings, movie screenings, and a dinner speaker series.

At hundreds of other colleges and universities across the country, students and administrators are celebrating green and preaching environmental sustainability. It’s a sad testament to the politicization that dominates these institutions, where wholesome terms such as “responsibility” become fanatic rally cries for environmental zealots. Happy Global Warming Proselytizing Day! 

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