From glaciers to Greencastle: talk on climate

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A screening of "Chasing Ice," a 2012 documentary about a man's mission to prove the effects of climate change, was held on Sunday night in Peeler Auditorium.
The film follows photographer James Balog as he executes his Extreme Ice Survey project on glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Montana. Over the course of three years, Balog and his team use time-lapse cameras in order to show how climate change has resulted in major glacier calving over time. Even after complications with both technology and his personal health throughout the multi-year process, Balog manages to capture incredible videos of how these mountains of ice have disappeared at an alarming rate and provides further evidence of the effects of global warming.
Sophomore Carlie Vaughn - currently in the climate change course and involved in sustainability groups on campus ­- called the film "devastating."
"It fills my heart with pain that the world is changing and is changing so fast, and it can't be related to anything but human behavior and greenhouse gases," Vaughn said.
Anthony Baratta, assistant director for sustainability, further notes how daily human habits even at DePauw can affect the world on such a large scale.
"The fact that the things that we do, such as leaving these lights on, could affect rain patterns in Africa thirty years from now [is] just bizarre," Baratta said.
Vaughn vocalizes that even if glacier calving is not visible in places such as Greencastle, it is still extremely important for DePauw to continue showing these types of films. She says there can often be a "lack of energy and effort from the student body" about climate change because they don't fully understand what is going on in the environment. However, she praises the recent development of sustainability clubs and events on campus for attempting to further spread environmental awareness.
Allison Orjala, a junior ITAP Intern for the Office of Sustainability, agrees that the student morale on such issues can be low.
"A lot of students will say 'I don't know what we're doing [for sustainability] at DePauw,' or 'I don't know how to be eco-friendly at DePauw,'" Orjala said. "You just have to look for it. Keep your eyes open for the small things."
And while DePauw has struggled with addressing these issues in the past, Orjala recognizes recent efforts from the students and the administration are changing how the community views sustainability.
"As students become more and more involved on campus, the university recognizes that and then steps up to make changes on the facilities level that are needed and that the students are asking for," Orjala said.
Baratta notes that after President Brian Casey signed off on the national President's Climate Commitment, agreeing that DePauw "will commit to becoming carbon neutral and change the way we do our education to prepare students for a world change by climate change," DePauw has taken the initiative to become a more environmentally friendly school. These efforts can be seen through the growth of the sustainability office, the success of Energy Wars, and the implementation of environmentally design in both Prindle and the Bartlett Reflection Center which became the first two LEED Gold (Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design) buildings in Indiana.
And this seems to be just the beginning: the campus farm burn, an effort to clear the area of brush, was completed on April 6 with hopes that harvesting will start this summer. Baratta hopes that renovations to the Lilly Recreational Center will be LEED Silver, as well. In the fall, there will also be a Green Greek Certification Program for fraternities and sororities to take a closer look at their houses' daily routines and see how they can work towards implementing a more sustainable lifestyle.
Baratta is thrilled that the DePauw community is working together towards creating a more environmentally friendly campus.
"It's an exciting time to be at DePauw," Baratta said. "The administration is behind this, the faculty is behind this, and a lot of students are behind this."
Orjala is excited to see how DePauw will continue to go green, particularly through the new Student Sustainability Fund, which student government allows students to submit ideas for sustainability changes. She believes it will directly change how the community views sustainability.
Baratta is hopeful that with all of these new projects, the environmental awareness and interest on campus will continue to grow.
"It's there, it's building," Baratta said. "But it can be better."