Wrapping up!

The Eco-Reps term is coming to a close for the year. The Energy Challenge is over and so are all of our events. At this point, we are wrapping up the semester and finishing up some last minute things. One of these things is a tour of the biodiesel shop! A number of Eco-Reps expressed that they had never been before. The shop is a really cool project that I think a lot of people know we have, but don’t know anything about! So we are going to clear that up starting with the Eco-Reps.

Two of the shop interns will give us the the lowdown and show us what they do! I have been to the shop a few times, but even I have never gotten a full tour before so this is very exciting. We have invited the Athletic Eco-Reps and next year’s Eco-Reps as well! I think it will be a great way to end the semester.

Then all that’s left is our end of year party! ahhh It’s crazy to think how the time flies.

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Eco-Reps Events

The Eco-Reps have been cruising on their events over the past few weeks. They have all been Energy Challenge related and we have had some serious successes.

The Adams event had over 60 people and the Drayer event had over 50!

The Eco-Reps have gotten super creative. One event involved making icecream by hand and another involved using the energy free- bike blender to make a smoothie!

Thanks for doing such a great job guys! In addition, the Energy Challenge winners will be announced at Relay for Life on Friday!! Get pumped.

Check out the photos page for pics from our events.

 

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Tidal Power in Puget Sound

By Jaime Rogers ’14
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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved a pilot tidal project in Puget Sound, Washington. Tidal power harnesses the power produced in the regular tidal periods with turbines sitting in the water and turning as the tide comes in or goes out. The turbines then run generators that produce electricity.

Only two turbines would be installed in this pilot project, which is investigating the viability of tidal power for the Puget Sound area. This is by no means the first tidal power test area worldwide. In Maine on the Bay of Fundy, which famously has extremely large tidal ranges (50 feet or more!), turbines are being installed to provide a clean source of energy for the Town of Lubec and the City of Eastport. These tidal projects in the United States follow other tidal projects in European countries like Ireland.

There are potential drawbacks for tidal power, however. Many are afraid that the turbines will interfere with the migration of anadromous fish. There is also the fear that tidal ranges will be altered in some way, as well as the issue surrounding the depletion of fresh water access to the ocean, altering the salinity in the estuary.

When it all comes down to it, there are pros and cons to tidal energy just like there are for every other type of energy. There is no such thing as a free lunch and we’re going to have to pick and choose what we’re willing to sacrifice in order to provide energy for our ever-increasing demand.

Energy Challenge- Week 1

We are in the middle of the second week of the Energy Challenge and the results are out!

Congratulations to McKenny and Conway for taking an early and substantial lead!! You guys are doing a great job!

Everyone else: You still have time to catch up and win the $200 prize!

Other prizes you can win….Change your profile picture to match the CSE one, and tag yourself in it for a chance to win $25 gift certificate.

This challenge only works if we all take it on.  We have a chance to reduce our impact on the earth and we should take it.  If you are interested in the real time standings of your dorm check out the Lucid Dashboard.

We want to hear that your committed! Join us for the second half of the challenge!

This weekend we will be hosting a bonfire for Earth hour out on Morgan field! The a cappella groups will be there, the Peddler will be there, and we will have smore and good campfire fun! Looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday from 8:00-9:30!

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Join Us!!

CSE has put out applications to join the Eco-Reps for the Fall 2014 school year!

If you passionate about about working with others or about sustainability then considering joining the Eco-Reps team! We are a group of enthusiastic Dickinson students working hard to peer educate and inform students living in the residence halls about how to live more sustainably.  You will meet new people and develop leadership skills which are a great networking tool as well as an awesome addition  to your resume!

You would be in charge of attending bi-weekly meetings, maintaining residence hall compost, hosting sustainability- related programming, and acting as liaison between the residents and CSE.

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Training is provided, so no experience necessary!

Check us out online to find out more about CSE student opportunities. To apply, submit your application and a copy of your resume to  sustainability at dickinson.edu by 5:00 pm on April 7th. 

If you have any questions about the program feel free to email the program supervisor, Lindsey Lyons at  lyonsli at dickinson.edu

We would love to have you!

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Rain in California

By Annie Dyroff

The article in the New York Times, “Rain in California Brings Relief, and New Problems,” from February 28th, describes the benefits and problems associated with the recent rain in California.  If you have read the blog post from about a month ago, you may be aware that California has been experiencing a terrible drought.  Meteorologists are describing California’s drought as the worst drought the state has experienced in over 100 years.

Fortunately, in late February, California received some much needed rain.  Meteorologists predicted as much as 10 inches of rain in some parts of the state.  The rain is a good occurance, however, the amount is not nearly enough to make up for the amount lost.  California needs approximately 20X the amount of rain they have just received in order to replenish water levels.

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While the rain is a much needed resource for California, it is also causing many problems throughout the state.  Because the soil is extremely dry, it is less able to absorb water.  This reduced ability to absorb water has caused flash floods throughout California.  In addition to the flash floods, many areas are experiencing mud slides due to the lack of water and vegetation as a result of drought and forest fires.

I think that an important thing to keep in mind is that relief from one problem such as drought can also add problems in other environmental areas.  Due to the severely dry soil, the solution to the problem is much more complicated.  This rain gives the state hope, but it will be a long and complex journey to recovery.

Athletic Eco-Reps

One of our Eco-Reps, Juno, wrote an awesome piece for the Dickinsonian about the new athletic Eco-Reps program that is just getting started.

Essentially the program came from student athletes who were interested in sustainability and wanted to green the athletic programs.  CSE agreed to help get them started and a few months later they are taking on the Kline.

Way to go athletic Eco-Reps and nice work on that Dickinsonian piece, Juno.

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New approaches to the climate change issue

I live in the sustainable living community, also known as the Treehouse, on campus.  Each week, one of our housemates gives us an update on environmental news.  These updates range news articles on the Keystone XL updates to the California drought.

steyerThis week, two of the articles really caught my eye.  The first article took an economic approach to tackling climate change.  Retired investor and billionaire, Tom Steyer, is forming an environmental SuperPAC in the hopes of bringing climate change to the fore-front of politics.  Mr. Steyer intends to use this superPAC to put politicians in office (regardless of affiliation) who are willing to take strong action on climate change.

Personally, I’m  not really sure how I feel about the idea.  I understand that “everyone is doing it” and that this could be a way to finally enact meaningful climate policy, but it doesn’t necessarily sit right with me either.

The second article was written by a photographer who decided to take pictures of the industry which drives her profession.  She took pictures late at night using long exposure giving her photographs an eerie beauty symbolizing how scary the impacts of these images are.
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I both love and hate this idea.  I think that pictures like these have the potential to make climate change more accessible to a broader audience, but they are also kind of beautiful and I fear that they don’t make me want to get rid of those industries.

These are two very different approaches to the climate change issue.  One is taking it on from the economic side and the other is using art.  Ultimately, I think both are important tools which have their place in climate change.

New Advancements in Sustainable Energy

By: Max Rubinstein

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A capsule containing the Hydrogen isotopes that briefly achieved fusion.

For years scientists have strived to achieve the theoretical goal of achieving nuclear fusion, and until recently this aim has seemed impossible. Nuclear fusion, the process that occurs in the sun where two nuclei combine has been achieved in small amounts, but until now it has produced less energy than was put into it. At The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, 500 megajoules of energy were focused through lasers, onto a target millimeters thick. Not all the 500 megajoules were actually absorbed into the target, and the energy released was only marginally more than was used. However this represents a step in the right direction for nuclear fusion, and the other technological advances that could arise from research into it. In theory, a super efficient fusion generator would be a self-sustaining, infinite energy source, which would make fossil fuels obsolete and release no harmful byproducts. This is still an improbable dream, but other sustainable energy sources are becoming more prominent. Super efficient fission reactors, are already being planned, and these produce more energy that conventional nuclear reactors, release less radioactive waste, and have little to no chance of

 One of the three massive solar arrays that are now functional.

One of the three massive solar arrays that are now functional.

of melting down. Combined with the recent opening of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the largest solar plant in the world, things are looking better for renewable energy sources.  Perhaps someday soon Dickinson will be able to purchase its energy from a sustainable fusion or fission generator.

Olympians Call for Climate Change Action

Over 100 Olympic athletes have signed a pledge encouraging world leaders to take up the climate change issue.  If anyone can see climate change happening right before there eyes, its the winter athletes.  ”Only 11 of the previous 19 Winter Olympic host cities will be cold enough to reliably host the Games by mid-century and only six will be viable sites by 2100 if global warming projections prove accurate.” The athletes are feeling it in Sochi right now as the weather warms up into the 60s.

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Climate change touches everyone everywhere.  Last week I discussed the drought in California, and this week we see Olympians representing our countries asking our leaders to take the climate change issue seriously. I think its a great first step and I appreciate all of these inspirational people coming out and saying the places “I love to ski or hike ect are changing and I’m mad about it.”