The entire week is focused on bringing awareness to campus and educating the student body about various environmental issues and providing opportunities to become involved.
"It seems like a lot of groups on campus have been planning separate events; it will be a multi-faceted approach," said Kelsey Bauer '09, Environmental Coalition member. "There's a lot of enthusiasm that is cropping up from all these different sources."
The week will begin on Monday with a chapel talk given by professor Jim Farrell's Campus Ecology class. On Earth Day, which falls on the Tuesday of Earth Week, Stav Hall will hold a Low Carbon Diet Day. The purpose of the Low Carbon Diet Day is to educate students about the amount of carbon that is emitted by producing and shipping food. All the food on Earth Day will be "low carbon" food.
"Bon Appetit is working on improving the personal health of the students," Bauer said, "and on being socially responsible as well." A release from Bon Appetit stated that "the food system is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions" and that "dietary choices can equal the difference between driving an efficient sedan versus a large SUV."
Outside of the cafeteria, there will also be students with a computer program that will help students to design their meal and to will show how much carbon their meal will cause. On Earth Day, Farrell will have a follow up discussion in Viking Theater about the Bon Appetite's Low Carbon Day.
The Environmental Coalition will also be promoting a "Climate: Call the Capitol Switchboard." The EC is encouraging students to call their representative and senators to lobby for "a moratorium on new coal-burning plants, renewable energy, carbon-neutral buildings, protection for the poor and middle class in the new green economy."
This year's Earth Day speaker will be Eric Larsen '93, a biology and environmental studies major. He will be talking about his 2006 expedition paddling through shifting sea ice to the North Pole. The purpose of the expedition was to bring attention to the issue of global warming and the affect it is having on the polar ice caps. Lonnie Dupre received 1,000 million media impressions worldwide, appeared on the Tonight Show and had interviews on National Public Radio.
Larsen's presentation will be about their experiences, including polar bear encounters. Beginning in 2005 with training, he recalls the entire trip through to the end of the expedition. "A special emphasis is placed on our efforts to bring attention to global warming and the plight of the polar bear," Larsen said in an e-mail. Larsen is also planning on talking about his upcoming North Pole, South Pole and Mt. Everest "Save the Poles" expedition beginning in 2009.
There will be a tree-planting event with Gene Bakko, biology professor and curator of natural lands. "The tree-planting will be a great way to bring students and community members together," Bauer said. Fighting the invasive buckthorn plant, the Northfield group is going to spend time removing the plant from Hauber Woods. They will meet at Thye Parkway and Lockwood Drive.
In addition to events on campus that the Environmental Coalition is helping to organize, there are other Earth Day events going on at Carleton and in Northfield. Carleton will be hosting a contra dance, and the Northfield Environmental Quality Commission will be encouraging residents and businesses to participate in the MN Energy Challenge. The contra dance will be on Apr. 26 at Sayles-Hill at Carleton, It will be free, but a $5 donation is requested. All the money will be put to an environmental charity.
Suzie Nakasian, co-chair of the Northfield Environmental Quality Commission, encouraged St. Olaf students to participate in the Minnesota Energy Challenge. The Minnesota Energy Challenge is an effort in Minnesota to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
On Harriet Island from 11 -- 4 p.m. on Apr. 20, a environmentally-focused public art event called "Wishes for the Sky" will take place. At the event, participants will write a wish, put it on a Chinese kite and fly it. Last year, 1800 people attended.