Environmental Almanac | Time to tune in to the campus climate

Environmental Almanac | Time to tune in to the campus climate

I had intended last week to write a column encouraging readers to pay more attention to the damage being done by Scott Pruitt in his role as head of the federal EPA than his apparent lack of personal or professional ethics.

But as it turns out, that job had already been done by Justin Gillis, a writer whom I greatly admire, in an opinion piece that ran in the New York Times titled "Scott Pruitt's Civilization-Threatening Lie."

So let me offer the following instead. After all, there's no better antidote to the funk that can be induced by too much thinking globally than acting locally. And this week, being Earth Week, offers many, many opportunities for action.

On the University of Illinois campus, Students for Environmental Concerns is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding with a fabulous array of activities. Some of these are, naturally, student-oriented and not of particular interest to others, such as a talk about being environmentally sustainable in the dorms.

But most of them hold appeal for the broader community.

SECS-sponsored public events this week include a sustainable business expo that will run from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today in the Illini Union and a series of three, 20-minute lecture/discussions with Herman Sievering on Saturday morning.

Sievering is now retired from a professorship in environmental science at the University of Colorado, but he is active nationally in efforts to communicate climate science with the public, and he is one of the founders of SECS from back when.

At noon on Saturday, you're invited to join a "Rally for Divestment" at the Alma Mater, which is sponsored by the Beyond Coal Campaign within SECS.

And, if you're up for more, the YMCA's annual dinner and auction on Saturday evening will celebrate SECS' 50 years of action. Tickets are required for the dinner, which will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign. (We're getting late on reservations for this event, so don't delay if you want to attend.)

You can see a full schedule of SECS-sponsored Earth Week events via their Facebook page.

Also in celebration of Earth Week, on Saturday afternoon, the Urbana Park District, Faith in Place and C/U Interfaith Alliance are collaborating to host activities at the Anita Purves Nature Center in Urbana. These will include a nature hike, displays from local Faith in Place partners and screenings of short films.

Two activities sponsored by the Champaign County Forest Preserve District on Saturday may also be of interest. A session on planting your own monarch butterfly garden (all ages, registration required) will be held at the Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., and an event called "Celebrate the Night Sky" will be held at the activity center at the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

On Sunday at 11 a.m., the EarthCare Team of the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana invites you to a public lecture on environmental and social issues associated with plans for development in Champaign County by Frank DiNovo. DiNovo is the retired director of planning and community development with the Champaign Regional Planning Commission and currently a member of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals.

On April 26, Faith in Place, in cooperation with the Illinois Environmental Council and the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, will be heading to Springfield for Environmental Lobby Day. If you're frustrated with inaction (and worse) at the state level, here's a great opportunity to amplify your voice by joining together with other people and speaking directly with elected officials. Details on lobby day can be found at faithinplace.org/our-programs/springfield-advocacy-day.

Rob Kanter is a clinical associate professor with the UI School of Earth, Society and Environment. You can reach him via email at rkanter@illinois.edu.