Renewable energy is focus of Earth Day

Fabiana Torreao

By making paper from old clothes and camping out on the St. Paul campus, University students will usher in the 30th annual worldwide Earth Day celebrations this week, the first with a global theme focusing on clean, renewable energy as the solution to global warming.
Leading up to Earth Day on April 22 is a series of speakers and workshops organized by the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group that kicked off Monday with a St. Paul campus cleanup.
Students will have a chance to learn about making paper from old clothes, living in an environmentally friendly house and using alternative forms of energy.
“This is one day of the year that you can be reminded of it,” said Anne Olson, chairwoman of the St. Paul MPIRG chapter. “Hopefully, you can carry out the things you’ve learned this week throughout the entire year.”
Earth Day was started in 1970 by former Sen. Gaylord Nelson and involved more than 20 million people in the United States. Today, it is celebrated by more than 180 countries and is considered one of the world’s largest peacetime celebrations.
With a slow start on campus — only 15 people attended Monday’s campus cleanup — one speaker was absent from a scheduled event, and today’s Eco-Fair was cancelled for lack of advanced interest. The weeklong celebration boasts four speakers presenting topics such as recycling and environmental justice.
Diana McKeown, from the Clean Water Action Alliance, will present alternative forms of energy today at Blegen Hall. McKeown will focus on alternatives to coal-generated energy and the effects of coal plants on water and air quality.
Coal is the primary form of energy in Minnesota, where in 1998, it generated 68 percent of the state’s energy consumption. The Center for Energy and Economic Development advocates the use of coal, assuring it is cleaner and more efficient than ever, with more than $60 billion invested nationally in new coal-plant technologies.
MPIRG, however, still aims to increase the use of alternative energy methods, such as wind and solar energy, Olson said.
“There are so many different aspects of the environment, and they all intertwine,” Olson said.
Organizers expect Wednesday’s “Learn How to Make Paper” workshop and the camp out on Friday evening to be the week’s highlights.
The celebrations will culminate in an Earth Day breakfast at the Center for Outdoor Adventure on the St. Paul campus. Afterward, organizers will send carpools of students to the state Capitol to attend an environmental-awards ceremony for Legislature and the state’s Earth Day events.

Fabiana Torreao covers St. Paul campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]