The massive protest that occurred in D.C. this past week has added global warming into my long list of fears lately. The protest, which was reported to have had between 35,000 and 50,000 people, was in response to the proposal of the Keystone XL pipeline. If passed by President Obama, the pipeline would shoot processed tar sands from Canada to oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Friends of mine, who created the web sketch comedy Temple Horses, were at the protest in D.C.
What also thrust my attention to this issue was a pro-Keystone argument in the New York Times this past Monday. Joe Nocera, who called the activists’ opposition to the pipeline “utterly boneheaded,” used a free market argument that is likely to send environmentalists’ through the roof of their hybrids.
Nocera argued that our problem is not the pipeline but our enormous consumption of oil in the United States. If we didn’t use so much energy, Nocera argues, we wouldn’t need Canada’s tar sands in the first place. “The emphasis should be on demand, not supply,” Nocera writes.
While I don’t find his argument convincing in support for the pipeline, he brought up a good point. Most of my Keene State College friends consider our planet to be in a crisis. I do as well. But we really don’t do anything about it. Beer bottles get thrown in our trash, plastic bags are used wastefully, and no one really thinks about the lights left on to waste electricity.
The point is, when it comes to going green, I fall short. If you ask me if global warming is real I’ll say yes. If you ask me if pollution is a problem I’ll say yes. If you ask me what I’ve done to curb emissions … then you’ll hear more silence than in one of my comedy stand-up shows.
I believe I’m speaking for the majority of KSC students, if not the majority of moderate Americans. Most people want to have a clean planet to live in, but we don’t make any lifestyle changes to do so. Between homework, student clubs, and partying, who has time to care about the ozone layer?
One solution I believe would help has always been on my mind but it came up again this week when I saw this: ROCKS, the recycling group on campus, held a station in the student center this past week for any unwanted electronics. Dropping off my broken Dre Beats headphones, I couldn’t help remember the giant TV that sits on my porch downstairs. It was left in the apartment I used to live in and was brought out by my landlord after renovations. I thought it would be perfect to recycle, yet its size made it almost impossible to bring it to the L.P. Young Student Center.
Once again laziness prevailed.
Or could we do something different? Moreover could we and the school do something different? I asked one of my friends about off-campus recycling and she said they used to have it but now it’s gone. The budget cuts the state passed last year might have something to do with it.
I believe there should be a system worked out again with off-campus recycling. As someone who lives in a house where there’s no recycling, it would be a big help. There should also be a system where I can trade in bottles and others recyclables for five cents.
Some might say that you can bring your recyclables on campus to any one of the stations. If you look on the ROCKS mission page there are a lot of valuable tips and a list of all the places you can recycle. I do it with paper a lot. But that’s not enough.
I’m not saying that the school should fund door-to-door off-campus recycling. Although that would be great, I can see the cost and consequences. But if there was an ability to meet the students half way, then we could save a lot more resources. I’m not saying don’t go above and beyond. If you do, that’s great, but realistically many off campus students aren’t going to take time to bring their bottles to the recycling bin in, say, Carle. So this is a plea for the school to reinstate an off-campus recycling program. This is also a plea, to my own laziness included, that we support a type a program and become more active in a healthy planet. After all we’re the ones who could lose. As George Carlin said, “The planet’s fine. The people are…”
Brian Rabadeau can be contacted at