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Villeage Voices: On Environmental Sustainability
By Andrew Noviello '23
Welcome to Villeage Voices, where community members are invited to share their thoughts each month on a variety of topics relevant to life at Lawrenceville and beyond. In this edition, Andrew Noviello ’23 discusses the environment, including Earth Day and Lawrenceville’s role in the global fight against anthropogenic global warming. Outside of school, Noviello is the co-founder and president of both GrassRoots Conservation (501c3) and the National High School Climate Forum, working with thousands of students across the U.S. Noviello is also a published research author with the American Meteorological Society, the lead mobile developer of Earthlytics (App and Play Stores), and a volunteer artificial intelligence consultant for Game Rangers International in Kafue National Park, Zambia. On campus, Noviello loves playing the cello, teaching programming, and serving on the Sustainability Council Leadership Team.
In the spring of 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson established Earth Day as a means of pushing environmental issues into the spotlight of national discussion and politics. The creation of Earth Day soon led to the December 1970 formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ever since, Earth Day has rallied billions of people and countless communities towards conservation and sustainability. One such community is that of The Lawrenceville School. For the last several years, the Lawrenceville Sustainability Council has focused on bringing Earth Day programming opportunities to the student body. Some such activities include the Earth Day Fair, speaker events, games, documentary viewings, and more.
Earth Day has always been immensely meaningful to me. I first celebrated Earth Day in early elementary school, planting bulb flowers with my friends in the community garden. Furthermore, I began my journey into environmental protection with physical conservation work: cutting down invasive trees, cleaning up parks, building erosion control docks/bridges, and more. Thus, I have always found particular solace in Earth Day’s emphasis on this action-based conservation work. However, Earth Day goes even beyond environmental efforts to focus on fostering a connection between humanity and nature, crucial to making lasting change. In his “A Sand County Almanac,” Aldo Leopold, Lawrenceville Class of 1905 and one of the originators of the modern conservation movement, wrote: “All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts.The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively the land.” Leopold favors an understanding of nature as a vital part of our community, much like other people in society. If we can change the way we think about the outdoors through this “land ethic", we will each be better equipped and far more motivated to act against anthropogenic global warming and other environmental threats.
I am often asked what individuals can do to mitigate the effects of climate change. Short answer: use less energy! Given that the vast majority of electricity in the United States is produced via the combustion of fossil fuels (which emits carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming via the enhanced greenhouse effect), anything that saves energy represents a small step towards emission reduction. Simple steps include washing your clothes with cold water, changing the thermostat settings, carpooling with friends, reducing your beef consumption, and more. There are countless resources online regarding the best ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint. On Earth Day 2023, I encourage everyone to not only voice support for climate action, but take at least one small, actionable step, towards personal carbon footprint reduction. Climate change is not a distant, future threat. It is happening right now, and, if we fail to act, we risk causing irreversible damage to the ecosystems and cycles of the Earth.
For additional information, please contact Lisa Gillard H’17, director of public relations, at email@example.com.