Laurie David and Sheryl Crow were at the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday spreading the love about Global Warming. Part of the Stop Global Warming College Tour, Laurie talked about the reality of global warming, showing excerpts from An Inconvenient Truth, and spouted stats and importance of making small changes like a seasoned tree hugging granola eating hippie (but probably without the hairy legs and lacking the tie-dyed clothes).
Sheryl Crow followed Laurie with a few songs… OK, by a few, I really mean four songs. Starting with A Change would do you Good, then Winding Road, and then a Beatles song. It was just her and her buddy on the guitar and some really fun graphics up on the dual screen behind them. The picture above was of an animated George Washington with wind turbines in front of the White House. Just a suble political message – do you think the current resident of that house will figure it out?
During the Beatles song, Sheryl asked an innocent enough question – “Is there a music major out in the audience?” At any other campus, this question would not have garnered much in response, but here at TAMU, there was a bit of a guffaw. Why? We are one of the few (I’m guessing here, I hope that there aren’t many like this) major universities without an art or music department! Of course, we do have a truly amazing marching band… but apparently, none of the band members were sitting close enough to the front for Sheryl to see them. So, a brave student by the name of Misty Pascual (Misty, I’m sorry if I butchered your name, if you by chance read this, please send me the correction.) stepped up to the stage and bravely tried to play the tambourine. It was fun and I’m very glad that there is at least one extrovert out there willing to get on stage (that definitely wouldn’t be me).
After the songs, Sheryl and Laurie returned to the stage to answer a few questions from the students in the audience. Before taking any questions, Laurie called both of the “Bitches for the Environment” – which really isn’t a bad thing to be called. I kinda like it really…
One question from a student was, “How, as a student on a limited budget, am I supposed to make environmentally responsible choices when so many items, (like the hybrid car that Sheryl drives) are priced so much higher than regular items?” A valid question for students and anyone on a budget, it does seem to me that many manufacturers are taking advantage of a “green” status and jacking the rates. But, as pointed out in the answers, there are compromises all the way around. Compact Fluorescent Light-bulbs (CFLs) cost more initially, but in the end, use up to 2/3 less energy (saving many times the cost of the cfl bulb) and last 10 times longer, which saves even more by not having to replace them nearly as often. Philips Light Bulbs donated bulbs to the tour and every person who attended received a CFL bulb after the concert! Because, every little change, if done by a great number of people, can make a significant change. Pretty cool (and bright).
Lots of the simple things that everyone can do that Laurie mentioned were really great ideas. However, there was one really obvious thing missing on all of the lists and all of the easy ways that normal folks can make a change. Bikes. What gives with dissing the bike? Not only does it have a minimal carbon footprint, but it is healthy, non-polluting, quieter and on a college campus, has much easier parking and no parking fees! OK, with the exception of tonight, it is easier to park – tonight, we had to stand our bikes without a bike rack and hope no one would carry our locked together bikes off…
The other great hazard with biking, at least at TAMU, is the occasional misappropriation of biking lanes for emergency parking.
You might not be able to tell it from this view, but these are the tour buses (using bio-diesel) of the event parked – wait for it now – in a BIKE LANE!
As a person who biked to the event and actually uses the space between the white line on the right and the curb for actual transportational activities, I have to say that it is incredibly difficult to bike through a bus. But, to give Sheryl and Laurie credit – theirs was not the only vehicle parked in the bike lane that we encountered in our 1 mile ride to campus. However, they were the only ones promoting environmental awareness… Oh, the irony. Ok, to give them even more credit – there probably isn’t any other space available close to the stage that wasn’t in a parking lot – and anyone who is or ever has been on the TAMU campus can only guess at what the ticket writing parking employees would do to a “liberal” bus like this that doesn’t have a parking permit. =)
And, for other bike riding wierdos out there on the TAMU campus, let us not forget the great bike supporter – Freebirds! “Bike to Work and School Day is April 27th and the City of College Station is teaming up with Freebirds World Burrito to make this event great. On that day, between 11am and 2pm, Freebirds (Northgate location) will be giving anyone that arrives on bike a free burrito.” This is excerpted from the email I received forwarded from a city official – though I couldn’t find the info either on the Freebirds site or the city site… That said, I’ve gotten a free burrito in years past, so know that this is the real deal… so make sure to start biking to work. At the very least, if you bike to campus, it is much harder to get a parking ticket. And,Freebirds is interested in your opinion – so if you care, take their survey and tell them what you think about the tour (I think that this is mainly for folks who were actually there).
The other major thing that they left out of the “easy” things that one can do to save the world is to… BUY LESS! Less stuff purchased means less stuff made which means lower polution levels and less stuff in the landfill. Buying used is a great option, as is repurposing items for a different use than originally intended. There’s a growing number of folks out there who are doing this all on their own. The Compact people vow to not buy anything new for one year (though there are exceptions for medical things…). And then, there is a guy in New York City, the No Impact Man, who is trying to see how low he and his family can go on the ol’ carbon footprint while still living in a small apartment. Interesting stuff and it definitly motivates a person into reconsidering the need for the cute little bag that they fell in love with at the store.
Finally, after all of this, Sheryl closed with the song, Circle the Sun… an appropriate song to be sure. It was a great event with a good number of folks in attendance (maybe 600?) which is all of about 1% of the student population. Giving the fact that a good number of us were post-docs, staff, grad students and faculty, the actual number of “real” students was probably a bit lower. But, there is change in the wind and the students who organized the “Clean Energy Now” group even managed to give Sheryl and Laurie t-shirts (organic cotton I’m sure)… The campus newspaper wrote a story about it, though I havn’t found it referenced on the city paper or TV news site yet… And, the tour website also mentions a recent victory on the TAMU campus in regards to using bio-diesel with oil from the dining facilities.
Of course, this IS TAMU, and with the emerging environmental awareness, comes the backlash to the caveman era and a protest next to the MSC (the TAMU version of a student union) by folks who think that this global warming stuff is all crazy hippie dippie stuff.
I took pictures of this just so that I could prove to my environmental buddies out there that there are actually people on a university campus, where one is supposed to open the mind and learn things that they have not ever even considered prior to stepping onto such sacred hallowed grounds… And yet, they are practising their right to free speech… Eh, maybe they’ll move to the beach and the rising sea levels from the global warming that they don’t believe in will impart a bit of Darwinian education upon them?
In the end, it was a fun filled night with good music and even a few friends. Many thanks to Sheryl and Laurie for making the trek to our hard to get to town and trying to stir the environmental pot… and hay, I for one am glad that you were here, even if you did park in my bike lane.