BY IZAAC COLE
This month we had Green week and no, it wasn’t about eating broccoli. It was about students and staff from across UCLan coming together to target the issue of ‘sustainability’.
Sustainability is all about our use of energy and the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) that we put into our atmosphere and what our planet can endure. However, as volunteer Vanessa Silva reminded PLUTO, it also refers to the idea of living in a way which may be sustained, such as living healthily, supporting local food suppliers.
Five main aspects dominated the weeks sustainability agenda: Food, travel, waste, water-and-resources and use of fossil fuels.
Green week, which took over the Atrium of the SU, Green Week appeared to be about meeting people face to face, to talk about the positive impact students could be making on a day-to-day basis. Leading by example on Food Monday were students like Naomi McLellan (Community and Social Care third year), used locally sourced ingredients to make a delicious soup; classic, easy to cook, student friendly. These recipes and other helpful tips about eating sustainably were available on the day.
Also quite noticeable were the eye grabbing props, including an enormous toilet, positioned in the SU to raise awareness of water consumption and Lee Macneall’s train ticket eye-catching dress reminding passers about the sustainability of public transport.
Particular events also stood out during the week, including Re-Cycle, a gig night at Source bar where the crowd powered the gig – yes, no kidding – they used their feet to power the band’s equipment, including amplifiers, stage lights and of course, the singers microphone. This attracted a lot of attention (despite competing with the rugby) with Preston locals dropping in as well as students.
At the heart of Green week though was UCLan’s ‘Fracking Debate’.
The shale gas drilling technique has controversially made the national news in recent weeks, with several drilling sites planned across Lancashire. It was made clear at the debate that it has been on the minds of many UCLan students too.
The panel consisted of the debate UCLan Education Officer, Stevie Seymour and Green Fund Assistant Samuel Johnson taking the position for fracking whilst Labour MP John Hodson and Green Candidate Bob Dennett argued against it. Media Officer, Matt Murphy, chairing the debate.
The result was a light hearted and amusing event with the debate taking on a humorous atmosphere, despite its serious undertone. A clear argument from the “against” side launched the debate after winning the coin flip.
Mr Dennett dismissed the argument that without frack gas as an interim between coal and renewable energy, “light will go out”, saying that there was sufficient gas offshore to “last 50-80 years” inferring an element of scaremongering surrounding the debate.
“I’m not saying that we should burn the fossil fuels we’ve got because we need to leave at least 80% of the known fossil fuels in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change” he said.
Mr Johnson reported however that the European Commission says that 2-10% decrease in carbon emissions if Britain did not import gas. He added that there research suggested a 7% decrease if Fracking took place and gas produced within the UK.
Some points worth thinking over (for obvious reasons I can’t list all the debating points).
Student views were also a major part of the debate. Phil Norris an English and Language 3rd year student argued that “geologic formations” cannot be controlled, sitting water contamination as a result of fracking at specific sites in the US; whilst Emili Peake, SU Women’s Officer voiced her opinion that “jobs would be made” around renewable technology, adding: “why are we putting our time and research into fracking”.
The general consensus was that not enough information was being given for students to make their own decision on whether Fracking should be allowed to take place at the nearby sites of Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. Those considering voicing opinions should consider Lancashire County Council’s deadline to come to a decision is April 30th.
We may take little away from Green Week but while the fracking debate rages on there’s a little something you can do that’s far less controversial. All week volunteers have been trying to get students to make a ‘pledge’. This consisted of an agreement to act sustainably for 2 months in one of several suggested ways, from opting for the stairs instead of the lift, to boiling just the water you need in the kettle. I for one am happy to say I plan to take the stairs for once.