I Guess it’s Time to Make Some Lists…

Well, it’s official. Though it may be the second week of July already, I finally have a clear direction in which I want to take this project. I set out earlier in the summer thinking its direction had already been predetermined. Though it had been somewhat, I underestimated the amount of control I would have in choosing exactly how the project functioned.

Last week I had a conversation with Jenny, my advisor, about the different ways people approach problems. We used climate change as an example given its direct relation to my project. So, let’s do the same thing here. Why not.

One way to approach rapid climate change is by means similar to actions Clark took years ago by taking preventive measures and planning for the future. Actions like these are taken because whoever is involved is, or was, solidly invested in preventing possible consequences from occurring. In the case of climate change, these consequences include things like frequent storms and rapid fluctuations in temperatures. An example of this might be Clark’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2020. Actions that fall into this category are often bigger picture goals. Take the suggested, and scientifically supported, 350 ppm of carbon dioxide we should limit ourselves to putting out. At this point, we’re surging above 400 ppm and the trend is only going up. As a result, many believe that it is time for a different approach. Long-term planning didn’t work, so, for some, it’s time to look out for a new solution.

Atmospheric CO2 Graph

Atmospheric CO2 Graph

This second approach towards tackling climate change, or any problem, is rooted in resiliency. X is already happening, so let’s build Y to stop it. In a very simple way those who adhere to this approach act out of fear and take preventive measures. We know that sea levels will rise, so why not build walls? We know that storms will likely persist, so why not build dams and come up with measures by which to protect ourselves.

One group acts out of fear, and the other out of careful and long-term planning. That said, it’s hard to know if one method is better than the other. Some might argue that the first has failed us to it must be time to move on. Fear can be a strong motivator. Just last night I went and saw the new Planet of the Apes movie with some friends. Without giving much of the film away, I can safely say that the notion of fear being a motivator comes out strong.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s get back to the project at hand. I set out this summer with the goal of having an impact on how energy efficient we are here at Clark. What I did not know was exactly how I would reach my goal. Now I know. I want to impact efficiency by bridging middle ground between the two methods described above.

I met with our director of Student Leadership and Programming last week and discussed drafting up checklists to be used by clubs after they put on an event. My checklist would include things like making sure all the tech is unplugged and turned off and that all lights have been turned off. If heating or cooling was used, there may be a box to turn the thermostat back. A list of simple things like this would not hamper or get in the way of putting on an event. Rather, it would seek to streamline the process while simultaneously enhancing energy efficiency.

I want to do the same thing for the dorms, too. During the final weeks of class leading up towards breaks, RA’s do their best to inform students how they ought to power down and prepare their dorm rooms for the duration of the break. Yet somethings get glossed over. What if our custodial team was given a checklist of things to look out for? What if University Police (UP) were given a similar checklist to look out for while they do their rounds? Things like lowering the thermostat, closing windows/shades, and shutting of lights. Simple things. UP likely already does some of these strictly for safety measures. Simple things that might add up to make a large difference.

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