Written and submitted by Michelle Isaacson, Southern YES! Coordinator
On the blustery morning of February 1, 2018, twenty-three students filled in the meeting room at Gustavus Adolphus College (https://gustavus.edu) to spend the day learning more about Energy Conservation and Climate Change. Our speaker for the day, Jenna Totz from Climate Generation, (https://www.climategen.org) started by explaining what she does and what her organization is all about. She then launched into activities to get the students thinking about their relationship with climate change. Jenna talked about the causes of climate change, such as how we now have an altered greenhouse effect, and provided evidence on how we know climate change is happening.
Sprinkled into the presentation were various videos including one that explains what our future look like (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YQIaOldDU8) and one relating baseball and steroids to greenhouse gasses and climate change. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW3b8jSX7ec)
to give additional explanation and an alternative way to think about the issue. Jenna explained how energy can be part of or solution whereas it is typically seen as the problem. There are already cities using 100% renewable energy and this is even creating job opportunities. A wind turbine technician is forecasted to be the fastest growing job category through 2024 and solar related jobs out number coal mining jobs in the US.
Even though Jenna prefaced her presentation with the warning that this would be a heavy topic, there are plenty of solutions to implement. In the book Drawdown, by Paul Hawken, reducing food waste is number three on the list of ways to deal with the problem. Switching to LED lights makes the list as well and solar energy is a great way to help the environment while saving money as a Farmington school discovered with their projected $7 million saved with the installation of their solar panels.
Jenna wrapped up her presentation with a challenge to the students to reduce the amount of items used each day that require energy, and to think about what actions they will take to be part of the solution.
After lunch, YES! teams journeyed across campus to hear from Gustavus students on various energy topics. The groups presented on wind energy, solar electric, solar thermal, and energy conservation. The Gustavus students did a great job with providing information to the YES! students on their topics and having models of the processes to better demonstrate how each piece of equipment works. This was a great collaboration to give the Gustavus students the opportunity to present their work and passion to younger students, and for the YES! teams to get a taste for what they could do in their future. We ended the day with a trip to the roof to see the solar panels stationed there as well as the solar panels and solar thermal on the building across the lot.