Last winter seniors in Environmental Studies 400 set out to map the College's carbon footprint. Their goal was to quantify greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by the institution and develop a plan to neutralize them.
The green revolution
What has come to be called a green revolution is spreading across the country, from higher education to big business, health care, and government. New York City, for example, is saving 134 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year by replacing the lights on the Brooklyn Bridge with LED bulbs. The famous necklace of lights across the East River will continue to shine brightly and help turn the Big Apple green.
For New York City, that one change may just be a drop in the conservation bucket, but every little bit helps in the fight against global warming as the seniors in ES 400 learned in their inventory of the College's energy use. In 2007 Gettysburg College signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and pledged to make operations carbon neutral by 2050.
More than 600 schools, representing more than 30 percent of the higher-education student population, have joined the Climate Commitment project. To track their progress, participating colleges and universities have established baseline data. At Gettysburg Marissa Mizeski '08 began collecting data last year, which students in ES 400 used as a foundation for their capstone project to complete a current GHG inventory.
Signing the ACUPCC document committed the College to eliminate or offset all greenhouse gas emissions ranging from electricity used to light our buildings, car trips and airline flights, heating and cooling - every operation that consumes energy and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
ES 400 professor Sarah Principato created a list of 14 descriptions for job that were needed to complete the campus greenhouse gas inven¬tory. "Carbon neutrality manager and calculator master were among the most popular," Principato said. The 14 ES 400 students then submitted cover letters and resumes to apply for the positions. In addition to individual job responsibilities, each student was assigned to one of five teams.
"I'm planning on including my job responsibilities in this class on my resume," said Jackie Powell '09, a member of the mitigation team. More companies have incorporated green goals into their business plans, moving environmental career paths into the mainstream of jobs in business, nonprofits, and govern¬ment. In fact, alumnus Will Agate '80, who works for Princeton Energy Systems, which specializes in advanced conservation technology, came to campus to talk with class members about opportunities in green jobs. And Mark Rostafin '98 and Mike Bitting '07 of the Stone House Group, an energy consulting firm, also met informally with class members during visits to campus as part of the Center for Athletic, Fitness, and Recreation's LEED certification process.
Several class members plan to study environment studies in graduate school. Tom Merce '09, who also served on the mitigation team, is attending Ohio State University this fall to pursue a master's degree in City and Regional Planning, a popular field for those interested in energy conservation. Merce found the class work on transportation and energy most interesting. "This is an area where progress can readily be achieved to curb our global dependence on GHG-emitting energy sources," he said.
Prof. Sarah Principato (right), in the lab with Julie Markus '09. Principato teaches a variety of courses on environmental science, including earth system science, natural catastrophes and geologic hazards, glacial geology and records of climate change, and a first-year seminar on the geology of national parks. Her research focuses on glacial geology and climate change during the late Pleistocene and Holocene.
Principato often uses Gettysburg students as research assistants. "Undergraduate students participate in all aspects of my research from working in the field and lab to presenting and publishing co-authored papers," she said.
Principato received a bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College, a master's degree in geology from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Colorado. She speaks about glacial geology.
Jennifer Lazuta '07 never expected to become a media star. She simply thought it would be "cool to run a marathon in Africa."
Lazuta is a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country on the cusp of the Sahara that is one of the poorest in the world. It's also culturally conservative and maintains extremely traditional gender roles - which meant that when Lazuta heard about the 2009 Ouaga-Laye Marathon and went to sign up, she was at first told she couldn't participate.
"The reason: I was white. I was American. I was a girl," Lazuta said. Only after much checking around did the officials decide she could compete.
Although Lazuta had never run a race longer than 10 km, she managed the first half without too much difficulty. "But then the heat and the fatigue and the pain started to kick in," she said.
Lazuta persevered, however, inspired by the enthusiastic calls of "nasara" ("white girl") and a running buddy she picked up along the way who urged her to cross the finish line together with him - which they did, after four hours.
The finish was a "bit hazy" for Lazuta. "I remember lots of cheering," she said, "and I know some army guys escorted me through the crowd since I could barely stand. Then all of the sudden there were microphones and cameras in my face. I thought all the hype was because I was the white girl, but then I realized they were asking what it was like to be the 2009 female champion."
That night Lazuta was featured as headline news on multiple TV stations, and on Monday morning she was on the front page of all the local papers.
Lazuta can be reached at email@example.com.