The Earth week, as one of the most meaningful annual events at Loomis, advocates the sustainability on campus and reminds us of the importance of environmental friendliness. On Earth Day, April 26th, Loomis Chaffee invited Pete Dominick as a guest speaker for the convocation to talk about his opinions on environmental issues by answering the questions of E-proctors and Ag-proctors of Loomis (similar to his radio talk show Stand Up!). The convocation greatly encouraged students to protect the environment, and also brought up many conflicts that we do not have a solution for and inspired deeper thinking.
As the E-proctor representatives address, many people were reluctant to use sustainable energy such as solar energy and wind power. They failed to realize that the sustainable energy facilities not only benefit the environmental, but also profit the owners financially because of the cheaper resources. “Why wouldn’t people invest in something right now that will pay you back year after year?” Mr. Dominick claimed when Jason Liu’17 mentioned the ongoing setup of solar panels at Loomis, “as that is absolutely true with solar panels, I think that people are afraid of trying new things.”
If the use of solar energy and other sustainable energy can completely replace the traditional energy sources that cause pollution, reduce people’s daily costs, and benefit the environment so significantly, why are people reluctant to take benefits of them? Is it just fear of innovation?
Advertising. Awareness. Actions.
Spreading information about pollutions raises greater awareness of the importance of sustainable energy. Plenty of people understand the benefits of solar panels, but many people resist taking actions. People need millions of persuasive reasons to accept a significant innovation, while one simple challenge or excuse is strong enough to crush their motivations. Mr. Dominick criticized President Trump for refusing to install windmills on Trump International Golf Links, a golf course owned by President Trump in Scotland, because the windmills looks ugly, “so people always think that way.” They don’t want the windmills or solar panels to block their views.”
Although whether applying sustainable energy in one’s home is a choice of free will, we should aim to give a push to people who values their views more than the environment, since gathering more people to actually take action protect environment is a main step to open market to sustainable energy.
The technological innovations of sustainable energy are going on in the world. The global solar energy generation capacity increases by an average about 40 percent every year from 2000 to 2001. As the researches of solar vehicles become more mature, the adoption of solar vehicles is promoted all over the world. In Shenzhen, China, about half of the oil-consuming taxi had been replaced with solar-electrical taxi, which results less polluting gases.
Without question, driven by the numerous technological breakthroughs, the sustainable energy will eventually become the main energy to support our lives one day; however, we hope the day can come earlier, before we ruin the Earth.
Politics vs. Environment
Political problems were brought up many political and economic problems that relate to environment. Nuclear power plant, for example, is one of the most popular new ways to generate energy. When most people see the word “nuclear,” the first idea that pops out in their minds would be danger, bomb, and destruction. Indeed, whether people have the technology to control such powerful a source of energy remains as a problem. What can we do to the fatal nuclear waste? Is nuclear energy sustainable? How can we protect the nuclear plant station in a natural disaster? How do we prevent the tragedy in Fukushima from happening again? SInce the nuclear plant station might be a major target of terrorists for its horrible power of destruction, how can we protect the nuclear plant station well?
“[Considering] the cost of nuclear power plant, the potential danger of an accident or terrorist attack, and the nuclear waste, not to mention the cost to maintain that facility are all really expensive,” Mr. Dominick summarizes, “I don’t think it is a reliable source for the future.” As long as people do not have a solution to these issues, people should not risk our life and rush to adopt a new energy.
The conflicts between jobs and sustainable energy were also discussed at the convocation. Coal industry, creating numerous jobs for workers, gradually becomes less welcomed by the world due to its vast pollution and the discovery of natural gases. The decline of coal industry has resulted in the loss of jobs and the obstacle to economic development while alleviating the air pollution. “The argument that you hear is that government regulations have punished the industry and put the industry out of business,” declared Mr. Dominick, “while the answer is actually a free market answer: the main reason is actually because there is a cheaper better source of energy called natural gas.” After all, people prefer cheaper, more efficient energy sources. Although the existence of coal industry provides many jobs for people, but supporting the coal industry is never a long-term solution if we have to sacrifice the environment. The “free market answer” mentioned by Mr. Dominick echoes with an idea claimed by EPA in an interview, “Environmental protection is not a burden, but an opportunity for innovation. If you’re merely trying to protect your losses, you will not be able to innovate. Government’s role is to set the standard and a level playing field. If you create competition, it will win the market.”
As long as people refuses the dirty energy sources, we create market for cleaner energies and gradually eliminate the unnecessary pollution caused by the outdated industries. The unemployment caused by died industry is another social problem needs to be considered, but definitely not by rejecting clear energy, because, as Mr. Dominick declared, “the future depends on clean energy.”
Facing the complicated political and social conflicts, we, as individuals, seem insignificant and powerless to change the environment. However, Mr. Dominick proposes a slogan at the end of the convocation “be the change that you want to see in the world.” The government’s investment, policies, and laws do play an important role in protecting environment and promoting sustainable energy, but the changes start with individuals. Do not use the word “insignificance” as an excuse for not taking actions, because there are things that we can do at Loomis: actively participate in the Green Cup Challenge, apply for E-proctors or Ag-proctors, support the building of solar panels on campus. The environmental issues cannot be solved in one day, but if every one of us understands the importance of sustainability, if every one of us cares about the pollutions, and if every one of us takes actions to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, one day the lack of energies and the negative impact to the environment will no longer bother us.