Student Campaign Helps Convince University to Cancel Construction of Gas Plant
Mat Roberts was the editor-in-chief of College Green Magazine. If he’s not lost in a good book (“Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn) or a good vegetarian meal, then Mat enjoys writing or tending to his lush garden. Gracie Umana was the multimedia editor for College Green Magazine. Gracie graduated from Ohio University this past May with a B.S. in Visual Communications and is currently living in Athens, OH. She loves warm puppies and great local food.
Small victories may be small, but they sure are sweet.
A little over a month ago, I walked across the stage wearing a red patch across my chest that symbolizes a movement for student power. My last year of college was not spent plastered to the awe of graduation, but rather spent fighting a systematic force of higher education that is connected to economic and environmental hardship. In that same breath I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, was blinded by a bright flash initiated from a camera, and was handed a warm note welcoming me into a prestigious clan of Ohio University alumni. I was relieved to be done, but not proud to be a Bobcat.
The only reason I had my qualms was the lack of effort I saw coming from the administration to address climate change and provide positive learning experiences for students as they enter a world in which we all must understand and be able to apply sustainability and climate resilience for the rest of our lives. It was not fair for a handful of dedicated souls to step up to the plate, yet the only thing that has ever made great change in the face of adversity is just that.
With the added efforts of Ohio University environmentalists pushing for clean energy and a new progressive Student Senate taking the helm next fall semester, the Ohio University Board of Trustees have decided to discontinue the construction of a $75-100,000,000 gas plant on the Athens Main Campus. This co-generational gas plant would have locked the school into a 50-year contract with the gas industry, ensuring our dependence on fossil fuels and combustive energy all the way up until 2075.
Maybe our collective activism only helped the decision a little, but the front-line people I know in this rowdy group made sure their peers and colleagues were aware of the consequences of fossil-fuel infrastructure as it relates to larger social issues. I'm proud to say the spark of these efforts started in Columbus, OH, during Bill McKibben's "Do The Math" tour in November, 2012.
Since then, the wave of passionate students and community members pushing a progressive stance to address global issues and environmental awareness in Athens, OH, and at Ohio University is gaining power. The moments I was proud to be a Bobcat were seeing passionate students stand up to raise awareness on fossil-fuel divestment, rape culture, tuition hikes and unraveling a complex landscape of interconnected inequalities:
In our first talks with Ohio University administration, we tried to explain why the shale gas boom will be short-lived and unpredictable in price (remember your gas bill this winter?), how renewable investments now will work towards Ohio University’s Climate Action Plan and save money long-term, and how dedication to diversifying the energy portfolio of the university, by investing in geothermal or solar-thermal for the heating and cooling needs, can be a great opportunity to be known for educational heroism. (We were told the construction of the gas plant was set in stone).
There were many students, teachers and community members behind the opposition of the gas plant. Each individual played a key role in sparking this paradigm shift. Caitlyn McDaniel, recently elected VP of Student Senate and former president of Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition, stated in her "official message" that the Bobcats Beyond Gas community will continue leading the conversation and begin working with the University to move off all fossil fuel energy sources in the future:
While the Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition and its affiliate organizations within the Athens community are proud of the decision that our university has made in regards to this investment, we must continue to maintain our position on methane gas: as we face the dire results of climate change, we cannot approve any combustive energy source, especially one that is only slightly less pollutive than coal.
As long as we are dependent on fossil fuels, methane gas will be a mere band-aid on an open wound. Despite all of the best intentions and warmest wishes, it is a product that will continue to contribute to the death of entire ecosystems, the permanent extinction of species and their habitats, and an ever-changing landscape that will forever alter our social and economic ways of life.
The late nights preparing for presentations and class raps, long rides on the bus to protest the Keystone XL pipeline (twice!), making new relationships and taking new power on student government, educating our peers about critical environmental issues, and staying humble enough to listen to our elders have all been worth the victory.
I believe I speak for all who have been a part of this revolutionary initiative when I say the real change is just beginning. The opportunity to create a sustainable future, without compromising the Bobcat experience, is far from unrealistic. We are proud to see our Ohio University leaders make the right choice. Sure we will be running on gas for a little while, but at least we have some flexibility to explore clean energy options right here on campus ... Our door is always open when you are ready to talk.
"It’s time to take off our shackles and break free from this system that stifles our voice and our power," said Gracie Umana. “We outnumber the administration by a crazy amount. We give way more money to this institution than one donor could possibly amount for. Students eager to learn are what make higher education possible, not the amount of money flowing into [OU President Rodrick] McDavis’ pockets, and I want that eagerness back."
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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