Resistance against Earth apathy is key

Ask most anyone if they favor environmental protection and most will answer “yes.” And attendance at an environmental talk may be an indicator the University supports environmental causes in principle, but will the students and faculty donate their time and money?

Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, spoke on campus yesterday to help celebrate Earth Week. He talked of the assault on rivers and what positive actions people have done to help the rivers.

“Purchases in energy, transportation and food send a decisive signal to the market,” Blackwelder said. “Put these in action at the local, state and federal level.”

He gave various examples of how people can take charge – some as simple as making smarter food selections.

“Look at the food choices you make. There is organic food at the markets or go to farmers markets,” he said. “Half of the states exempt fertilizer from taxes. Why reward someone for using poison?”

Blackwelder also encouraged people to start asking questions of candidates, even at the local government level, such as council commissioners.

“Call them on it. I think that’s what needs to be done,” he said.

In the Ohio Basin there is legislation to meet water quality standards by lowering the standards, Blackwelder said.

Friends of the Earth, which is an environmental activist group, has stopped over 200 bad dams and water projects from being built. This has at times saved areas and lives from flooding, along with taxpayer money and local ecosystems.

Blackwelder explained that dams displace the people living in the area. The dams pollute the water, lower the oxygen content and release major greenhouse gases due to vegetation jamming up and decaying.

“I saw a engineering threat with all the damming and dredging and that moved me to start American Rivers to conserve these beautiful rivers. Today 33 states have Scenic Rivers programs in place,” Blackwelder said.

Sylvia Lindinger-Sternart, grad student, was at the talk because she “has a heart for environmental issues.”

She is also an international student from Austria and said attitudes toward the environment in her home country are different then in the U.S.

“Austria really take care of the environment with a lot of programs to promote the environment such as alternate energy programs,” she said.

The difference between Austria and the United States was evident in attitudes during talks for the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol was a agreement between industrialized nations to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I was disappointed the U.S. did not sign the Kyoto Agreement,” Lindinger-Sternart said.

Lindinger-Sternart said the U.S. government should support environmental programs such as the wind energy program here in Bowling Green.

“Students are wanting to take advantage of wind power but do not have enough money,” she said. “I would like to see assistance to afford it.”

She explained that in Austria if people take advantage of an alternative energy, such as solar or wind power, they get an incentive from the government to help offset the cost.

Janet Richards, an University alumni with a degree in environmental studies, feels Bowling Green prepared her very well for her jobs.

“I transferred in from Ohio State University, at that time they did not have a program I wanted. BGSU had a program already established concerning environmental studies,” Richards said. “I come back to take advantage of the lecture series. Bowling Green is progressive and proactive.”

At the talk Blackwelder also stated his vision of the future of environmentalism in the U.S.

“I have four major visions for clean water in the U.S. One is a clean energy future. Two is a clean green chemistry future that takes us away from chemicals,” he said. “The third is the undoing of the wrongs of the Army Corps of Engineers. Four is a new vision for agriculture.”