Earth Day, every day
April 19, 2017
“I just can’t imagine a lake you can’t see across.” That was the comment from my daughter’s boyfriend while we were visiting her in New York City and talking about their upcoming trip to Michigan. He has grown up in Brooklyn and has been to the ocean, but never one of the Great Lakes. I’ve heard that from plenty of people who have never been to the Mitten State. For me, I never even thought about it before – the Great Lakes have always just been a part of home. They were beautiful, cold and fun to swim in, but I never fully appreciated them until I saw a lot more of the world.
Just a few weekends ago I got my Great Lakes fix when I visited my sister in Frankfort, Michigan. There’s simply something magical about digging your feet into the sand and watching the waves crash into shore. I could feel my stress and worries washing out with the spray as the tides rolled back into the deep water. For all the material things I own, there is nothing that beats Mother Nature for raising the spirits and calming the soul.
I’ve been helping my daughter and her boyfriend plan their upcoming trip. I practically insisted that they visit Sleeping Bear Dunes. It didn’t take much to convince them. Like I said, he’s been in the Big Apple his whole life and is ready to see some Michigan nature at its best. For anyone who hasn’t been here, I highly recommend it. However, when you see this sign, you should probably abide by it. Take my word for it. For real. (My heart is pounding just thinking about the crawl – and I mean crawl – back up.) Or if you can’t get there, just get out in nature. Enjoy the coolest parts about this Earth and be grateful for its beauty.
This weekend we celebrate Earth Day – though here at MSU, Earth Day really is every day. Every single day here on campus and all across the globe, Spartans are finding ways to have a cleaner, more sustainable future for all of us. Spartans are persistently working toward cleaner water, healthier crops, better air, sustainable products and alternative energy. And yes, they’re working on protecting our lakes.
Just last week, we released an MSUToday story about a study that shows North America's freshwater lakes are getting saltier due to growing development and exposure to road salt. Yeah, I’m not down with salty lakes so I’m glad Spartans are on top of the issue.
Guess what? Not only do green spaces contribute to less stress and depression, they can even reduce crime. An MSU urban geographer recently published a study that showed that maintaining green spaces of vacant properties actually help reduce crime rates. Pretty cool that a little bit of managed nature can do that. Read more in the MSUToday story.
Dong Zhao, is another researcher who makes Earth Day every day. He’s an assistant professor of construction management in the School of Planning, Design and Construction and specializes in energy efficiency. Check out his FACULTY VOICE: Saving energy in homes, to learn about this self-proclaimed “tech geek” and how his neighbor’s question prompted a change in his research.
Anna Herzberger, an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student, is headed back to her home in Illinois this summer to do research. After studying soybean production in the Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China the past two summers, she’s returning to her family farm to study environmental impacts of U.S. cultivation practices. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Another summer, another field season, to learn more about this dedicated Spartan (and see a super cute photo of her as a kid on the farm).
I might not be able to look across one of the spectacular Great Lakes today, but I do have a pretty awesome view of the Red Cedar River out my office window. This school that’s known to all that sits on its banks takes “Go Green” very seriously. For Spartans, it’s a way of life. Who will work tirelessly to protect this Earth? Spartans Will.
Photo of Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan