S-290 Cares a Whole Awful Lot!

February 1, 2020

Jacqueline O’Malley, Kenyon College

S-290 students take a break from academics with a little “puppy time;"

S-290 students take a break from academics with a little “puppy time;"

“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.” - Rachel Carson

As our time in Woods Hole is coming to a close, we have pondered our purpose for being here. What have we come to SEA to accomplish - both personally and on a broader scale? Discussions of climate change, ocean acidification, plastic pollution, and other seemingly insurmountable challenges have left us feeling drained and at times discouraged, and yet we persevere. We continue to seek out answers to these challenging dilemmas, undeterred by the immensity of a global environmental crisis. Nearly a century before us, renowned environmentalist Rachel Carson strolled the beaches of Falmouth pondering some of the same questions, namely: what can we do to change the way we treat our environment and ourselves? Carson was just one person who was deeply worried about what she saw, yet she started a chain of events that led to widespread awareness and tangible action. Suddenly the issues we face seem a little less intimidating, and our prospects for effecting change feel a lot more promising.

This past week we focused for our fourth and final theme week on climate change, and specifically climate action, in our classes and in our Friday workshop. For our Conservation and Management class, one of the project groups is revising and adding to SEA’s Sustainability Action Plan, and on Friday the entire S-290 community came together to brainstorm ways of reducing SEA’s emissions. The sustainability plan has four main stages: increase energy efficiency, transition to renewable energy sources, improve sustainability on the ships, and push for local and federal policy change.

Additionally, our class is looking into ways of reducing waste and educating future SEA students on sustainable choices they can make throughout SEA Semester and beyond. SEA has long been striving to be more environmentally friendly, as seen with the compost system, paperless course materials, and efforts to reduce plastic use. However, in the realm of sustainability, there is always more that can be done. Rather than viewing this as a daunting challenge, we have come to see it as a unique opportunity to do good at SEA and at our home institutions.

Although global issues such as climate change can be difficult to grapple with, they also offer a chance to get motivated and take action. This past week has been a step in the long process of learning to put aside fear and guilt surrounding environmental issues and recognize that we have the power to make a difference. As Dr. Suess wrote in The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” We, the class of S-290, really do care a whole awful lot, and with a little bit of determination, maybe we can help turn the tide on climate change.

- Jacqueline O’Malley, Kenyon College

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