By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
Environmentally conscious members of the university will aim to foster discussion and awareness on campus during Climate Week 2008, joining more than 1,000 campuses across the country in the Focus the Nation initiative.
Climate Week, Jan. 28 to Feb. 1, will challenge students, staff and faculty to examine their lifestyles and change behaviors that do not promote sustainability.
“We have a God-given responsibility of stewardship for the earth,” Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, told the community at Monday’s Chapel as he launched Climate Week. “To do less would be less than Christian.”
At a university where 2,020 plastic bottles are daily used and an estimated four percent are recycled, green supporters like Dr. Monty Lynn, professor of management sciences, hope the community will re-examine its lifestyle this week.
“It’s really a call to love people,” Lynn said. “It’s not about a political party or being socially liberal. It’s about following Jesus’ calling.”
Climate Week garnered attention from other green initiatives, with Restoring Eden, a Christian environmental stewardship activist group, mentioning the university’s efforts on its Web site.
“In the next few years, we as a nation will make, or fail to make, critical decisions regarding global warming pollution and clean technology investments,” The Focus the Nation Web site says. “Our intent is to move America beyond fatalism to a determination to face up to this civilizational challenge, the challenge of our generation.”
The challenge, according to green advocates like Lynn, is lifestyle change.
Lifestyle choices carry implications that affect people across the globe, Lynn says, and a community that demonstrates the social compassion ACU does should connect its environmental impact with its heart for social justice.
“This sort-of quiet movement to green ACU probably began 15 years ago,” Lynn said. With Climate Week, Lynn said he hopes the quiet sustainability projects the university participates in – such as recycling water – will become just a part of a larger conversation.
While some students arrive at ACU with a recycling tradition in their states, Lynn said for many in Texas, its not something people think about.
“We do draw from a lot of parts of the U.S. and the
World,” Lynn said, and many students from other places are shocked at our cavalier recycling attempts.
Or, Lynn said, students say: “That’s a Democratic idea; I’m a Republican.”
Although Lynn emphatically says a green lifestyle isn’t about political affiliation, he also emphasizes it’s not a “race to the bottom” for the darkest, coldest lifestyle possible.
“You don’t have to chose misery,” he said. “You just have to chose thoughtful consumption.”
Such consumption, he says, includes small lifestyle changes like turning off the light. Lynn said some weekends, he has been to meetings in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building or
the Mabee Business Building and found all lights, in all classrooms, still on.
ACU Unplugged, a 10-day competition between residence halls to cut energy use, aims at not only bringing awareness, but also inspiring action.
Other events during Climate Week, like planting a tree behind Sikes Residence Hall, also seek to encourage action along with conversation, Lynn said.
Lynn said the week, which is sponsored by Clif Bar & Company and ACU energy provider Reliant Energy, will end with what he called the most controversial component: a viewing of recent Nobel Prize winner Al Gore’s, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Climate Week supporters, including Dr. Mimi Barnard, Kevan Watson, Beth McElwainand Dr. Jim Cooke, have set up a week they hope launches discussion and change. One change Lynn said he hopes for on the horizon is an organized recycling system, which requires receptacles and a coordinated system – most likely by volunteers – to pick up the materials.
And despite the fact that “sustainability” isn’t mentioned in the 21st Century Vision, Lynn says its progress that can’t be done without attention to being green and promoting sustainability.
“If we’re the last to come around that’s not leadership,” he said.
-CLIMATE WEEK 2008-
* “Extinction is forever,” Adams Center Faculty Luncheon, 11:40 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
* ACU Unplugged Plant a Tree, Sikes Residence Hall, 3:15-4 p.m.
*The 2% Solution, 201 Mabee Business Building, 7-8 p.m.
* ACU Unplugged Going Solar,” Adams Center Faculty Luncheon, 11:40 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
* “An Inconvenient Truth, Mabee Library Auditorium, 8 p.m.