As we celebrate Earth Day 2022 on our “Pale Blue Dot”, as Carl Sagan would say, it is a time to reflect on many of the environmental challenges happening in our state, country, and across the world. The two most dramatic and dangerous challenges that are foremost in my mind are (1) Global Warming and (2) The Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the heart of both of these disasters is a greenwashing Fossil Fuel industry pushing our global addiction to fossil fuels of all forms while encouraging energy consumption. These intertwined issues are a eco-geo-political Gordian knot we must slice through.
At this moment, the fracking fossil gas industry poses itself as a hero for our times to provide countries relief from Russian fossil fuel dependence. As the Russian Invasion moves on, cries for Climate Change action have been erased and ignored. These crises, together with the Pandemic, provide us with an historic moment to self-evaluate, imagine a better world, and work for it. We must recognize and seize this opportunity.
Antioch College has a long history of working for social justice and environmental sustainability. And we also have a complicated past, with a major benefactor whose inventions helped accelerate automobile usage in the 20th century. Where are we now? Since re-opening, our campus has been re-developed as a showplace for renewable energy, with 2 LEED-certified buildings (North Hall, and the Arts and Sciences building). We have multiple forms of renewable energy on our campus (solar, geothermal fields), and we purchase electricity from Yellow Springs, a town committed to providing 100% renewable energy. This and many more of our accomplishments have been nationally recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and our track record has been inventoried here in our STARS report, where we earned “silver” level recognition for our accomplishments. On account of this we are recognized in the Princeton Green Guide, and also Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools”.
Our College curriculum has many courses that connect to environmental science, sustainability, political ecology, environmental justice, and more. All Antioch students are required to take at least one sustainability-tagged course in their self-designed majors, and many of our faculty teach these courses across many disciplines. There are a plethora of co-op opportunities that students can pursue that allow them to live and work in ecology- and sustainability-related jobs. Two academic focus programs are under development this spring: one in Sustainability and another in Sustainable Food Systems. Our Antioch Farm has new leadership under Farm Manager Bruce Linebaugh. The Farm has renewed energy with generous donations of funds and volunteer time. Our farm infrastructure is being updated (hoop houses, greenhouse, and more), and we aim to greatly increase our food production and our already nationally recognized Farm-to-Table food program.
Where do we go from here? Antioch College isn’t resting on its laurels. As our campus engages in a strategic planning process with new campus leadership, we have an opportunity to raise the bar further and envision sustainability and environmental leadership as increasingly important campus values. And we can all engage more, use less, contact our elected leadership, and continue to fight like hell for peace, justice, and Mother Earth. There is no “silver bullet” for climate change action; we must do what we can, where we can, and not give up.
– Kim Landsbergen Ph.D., Certified Senior Ecologist**
Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science
Science Division Chair
1 Morgan Place, Yellow Springs OH 45387
** and sometimes seen as “Count Frackula” at protests
Additional reading and resources:
Project Drawdown – https://drawdown.org/solutions
Take on climate change at home and cut carbon emissions – https://www.npr.org/2021/04/
Images courtesy of Dr. Kim Landsbergen and Bruce Linebaugh