It's 8 on Saturday morning, and the Ave. is still asleep, exhausted from its Friday-night revels. The caravan of trucks and sports-utility vehicles creep onto the parking lot of the University Heights Center, engines humming softly. They have come from all over the state, as far away as Walla Walla and Port Angeles. Some have been up all night packing for the opportunity, knowing others would take their places in an instant given the chance.
Hundreds of students turned out for the Earth Day rally held on the HUB lawn yesterday, which was the capstone event for the UW Earth Club's activities this week.
The club erected large displays in Red Square, the Quad and on the HUB lawn for the past three days with tables, signs and many volunteers from other clubs. Each year, the Earth Club's goals and focus change depending on relevant local issues.
"I've always kind of been a paper Nazi," said Ryan Jones, a UW junior in physics. "I do everything on recycled paper."
Jones is among those students who take recycling seriously. In fact, he's taken his doctrine of "waste not, want not" to a new level by becoming a member of Students Expressing Environmental Dedication (SEED), a student interest group committed to raising recycling awareness on campus, specifically in the residence halls.
According to Jones, SEED members would like to see the University provide better paper-recycling accessibility in the dorms.
When a fire set by eco-terrorists destroyed most of Merrill Hall in May of 2001, the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) lost essential lab and office space used by faculty, staff and more than 40 graduate students.
Since the fire, CUH has been conducting its research in trailers supplied by the University. However, Merrill Hall is under construction. When it is completed in September, CUH will be able to move into a new and improved facility.
If you happen to be jogging through the wetlands on any given afternoon, you might see some strange-looking activities occurring in the far northeast corner of campus. In a small, open-sided structure, a dedicated group of students are attempting to revolutionize the way we fill up our gas tanks.
It might sound funny, but it is possible to power a diesel engine with no petroleum products whatsoever. This is the direction that the Urban Sustainability Group (Ursus) would like to see society moving in.
It's Monday afternoon and there should be close to 120 students sitting in Anderson 223, listening to associate professor Charles Henry discuss the pros and cons of recycling in his "Introduction to Sustainable Resource Sciences" class (ESC 111).
Unfortunately, the room looks spacious, as there are only about two-thirds of the students present. According to Henry, this is just one more symptom of the apathy he finds among student populations.
We are completely dependent on energy -- to fuel our cars, to heat our homes, to power the industries that produce our goods. We can't live without it. At the same time, we are providing for our energy needs primarily by burning fossil fuels -- and herein lies the problem.
A group of students has started taking the same grease French fries are cooked in to create a cleaner fuel for diesel engines.
Diesel engines are built to last up to one million miles, so the students bringing biodiesel to the UW feel the fuel is the problem, said Wilhelm Welzenbach, a forestry graduate student.
Shoveler ducks in the gray dusk floated on a pond in the middle of the Union Bay wetlands. Their pond is seasonal and is created by the sinking of the ground and the collection of rainwater and runoff.
As the four ducks bobbed their heads in and out of the water, coming up from the bottom with mouthfuls of mud, a constant stream of bubbles joined them on the surface.
"That's methane escaping," Connie Sidles said, explaining that gasses continue to rise from the landfill underneath the pond.
Erin McKeown worries about what may be in the landfill underneath the Montlake parking lot and intramural sports fields, but she is more concerned that she does not know everything that was once dumped in the landfill.
According to the industrial hygienist from UW Environmental Health and Safety, the only way to be sure what is in the landfill is to dig it up. This, she said, is more of a health and ecological hazard than leaving the site alone.