Our friends in the West are on fire. The Atlantic is raging and ripping through its neighboring states down south. Wisconsin communities across the state are coal-congested by air-polluting power plants powered by fossil fuels. And in recent years, our state has suffered from record flooding due to rapid climate change. The effects of climate change are much too real. And our energy dependence on fossil fuels continues to make matters even worse. By refusing to switch to 100% clean energy, we are refusing to put out these fires, stop these floods, and save our own people from long-lasting illness. 2020 has told us we are too late. Time is ticking and it’s only getting worse. It’s time to do what we can to prevent our home from a further hell. It’s time to commit to 100% clean energy
Although the University has taken steps to reduce its ecological footprint —i ncluding the implementation of a 2006 We Conserve program, and the establishment of The Office of Sustainability — Not nearly enough has been done to curb the threat of climate change. Science is telling us that we cannot simply reduce fossil fuel usage—we must eliminate it. Unfortunately for Science, UW-Madison has refused to do so. And despite their claims that “No other university has its roots more deeply embedded in an ethos of conservation and stewardship," the UW is still a major contributor to the energy problem. All of the following are true:
1. The Vision of UW’s 2010 Sustainability Initiative Task Force is to “be a living model for sustainability” and to exemplify “values and actions that demonstrate its commitment to stewardship of resources … and the health and well-being of the broader community."
2. However, UW-Madison ranked dead last among Big Ten schools for sustainability in a 2019 report by STARS (The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System).
3. I’m no English major, but based on the first two facts, the phrases “UW-Madison” and “Sustainability” seem pretty oxymoronic to me.
Over the years, student org group Campus Leaders for Energy Action Now (CLEAN) has found through meetings with administrators that the UW is unwilling to commit to clean energy in part because there is too much “legislative red tape” around the issue. AKA nobody wants to put in the work. Perhaps they see it as too hard of a process to be prioritized. But when Mother Nature is so sick that she sets our country on fire and unleashes hurricanes and floods like never before, it is mandatory that the work be put in and that clean energy is prioritized. Maybe the administration doesn’t think it can afford to spend so much time cutting through that red tape. But if that’s the case, here’s something else we simply cannot afford: Sick children plagued by respiratory issues onset by air pollution and wildfires that burn down their schools, playgrounds, and homes.
What can be done right here at the University to ensure generational prosperity? What can be done to ensure the health of our children? What can be done to protect the lives of future badgers? The UW can and must commit to 100% clean energy now. We must demand it. You must demand it. Sign the petition to encourage Chancellor Blank to commit to a clean energy transition.
It’s time to truly live up to our claims of environmental stewardship. After all, environmental stewardship is community stewardship. It's stewardship to the Badger community, to the Wisconsin community, to the Nation, and to the World. Isn’t that what the Wisconsin idea is all about?