Friday, April 22, marked the 41st celebration of Earth Day. Students and faculty at Mercyhurst College have created a special way of celebrating by participating in a weeklong celebration and also by taking part in green initiatives throughout the entire year.
This year’s Earth Day celebration focused on reducing our impact on the planet with the slogan “Lose Your Footprint.” Events included a showing of the movie “No Impact Man” in the PAC on April 13, a Local Products Fair on April 15 and culminated with the 2011 Sister Maura Smith Earth Day Lecture.
This year’s lecture guest was Edith Widder, Ph.D., the chief executive, president and senior scientist of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) in Fort Pierce, Fla. Widder gave a lecture titled “Exploring and Protecting Planet Ocean,” in which she discussed her work to fight pollution and learn more about the deep oceans.
“Ninety-nine percent of the available living space on our planet is water, and yet we know so little about the deep oceans because we rarely see them with our own eyes,” she said.
Widder is a specialist in the phenomenon of bioluminescence. Her presentation shared highlights of her oceanographic research and deep sea discoveries, including the discovery of a new species of squid with her “Eye-in-the-Sea” (EITS). She also discussed ORCA’s work to create technology to map pollution in the waters of our planet.
The college’s Sustainability Award was also presented before the lecture. This year’s recipient was Michael Campbell, Ph.D., professor of biology.
For those who missed out on this year’s Earth Day events, there are still two chances to get involved. On Saturday, there will be a Hike for Haiku, a guided hike which will feature wildflowers, edible plants and writing your own haiku poetry. In addition, the Pedal for the Planet Duathlon will take place on May 7 at Presque Isle.
And Mercyhurst remains focused on becoming greener year-round.
The Mercyhurst Green Team commits itself to projects and activities that it says are intended to “envision a sustainable future-that is, one in which all human societies can live healthy and productive lives without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.”
Recent projects have included installing two Earth Tubs for composting, a 100 percent update of all light bulbs and lighting systems in residence halls and apartments, as well as a 95 percent update of all lighting systems throughout campus. In addition, all electricity used on campus comes from wind-powered turbines, a renewable energy source.