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ISSUE 120 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 4/27/2007

Earth Day motivates

By April Wright
Variety Editor

Friday, April 27, 2007

On this year’'s Earth Day, some are strongly tempted to remain complacent. This year has already seen some great victories for those concerned with environmental health. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published their fourth assessment on climate change, concluding that the world is indeed getting warmer and that humans are the most likely culprits. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was just handed, by the Supreme Court, the responsibility of regulating carbon dioxide emissions, giving them the power to minimize an important greenhouse gas.

The IPCC report is the synthesis of the work of many researchers across the world. The report states that the world is getting warmer, especially in the Arctic, and that this is most likely due to human activities. This confirms that this could have significant impacts on the natural landscape and weather patterns of the world.

It would be easy to rest on our laurels, and say that the IPCC has validated global warming, and the EPA can now fix it, so the burden is off of our shoulders as individuals. It would be easy to absolve ourselves of personal responsibility and to wait for new regulations to tell us what to do.

But that’'s a bad idea. A report just came out saying that global warming exists and there is 90 percent likelihood that humans influence the globe. When there’s a 90 percent chance of rain, you don't wait for the government to hand you an umbrella, do you? It will take the EPA a long time to jump through all the flaming hoops that will inevitably be put up by industry in order to regulate carbon dioxide. And even then, the regulations will probably be heavily watered down. We can’t afford to be complacent. We’re all still personally responsible for what happens to this planet. On this holiday, it’s important to remember that the little things we can all do to make our own lives greener add up to make a big difference.

As college students, we’re particularly lucky to be living in a situation that offers a lot of chances to conserve resources and help fight global warming. The IPCC report identified that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are important in global warming. You’ve all heard it before, but walking into town, unplugging unused electronics and bringing a hand towel with you when you wash your hands will all help minimize carbon dioxide emissions. We don’t need an EPA mandate to tell us that.

Other environmental prospects loom on the horizon as well. The 2007 Farm Bill has been shifting more towards conservation over the years, reflecting the public’s growing concern with environmental issues. The Farm Bill could be altered to better serve the environment by encouraging sustainable agriculture and making provisions for closer monitoring of the environmental impact of farming. At the risk of sounding cliché or naïve, it is important to participate in the government by being educated and writing to your local representatives about important legislation.

This Earth Day, we have plenty of reasons to celebrate. But a reason to celebrate isn't a reason to get soft. It’s not a reason to forget our personal responsibilities to be stewards of the environment and to ensure that our generation isn'’t the last to have a planet left to enjoy.

Variety Editor April Wright is a sophomore from Eagan, Minn. She majors in English and in biology.

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