The Holy Cross Libraries have received a $500 stipend from Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA), that will help the libraries engage our communities in programs and conversations on climate change.
Resilient Communities strives to raise awareness and provide accurate information about climate change to all. The pilot project has been funded by a generous grant from Andrew and Carol Phelps, the parents of a public librarian and a library master’s student.
“The College on the Hill is no stranger to severe winter storms, dangerous wind chill, or challenging heat waves. As climate change worsens, Worcester anticipates even greater weather fluctuations and an increase in extreme temperature events.” – Eileen Cravedi, Head of Access and Discovery Services
Resilient Communities programming will kick off this winter with a non-fiction short story contest and continue through Purple Goes Green Week in April 2021. Stay tuned on the Libraries’ social media accounts for upcoming events, and check out Decoding the Weather Machine in the interim.
“The College’s Libraries look forward to supporting our community in accessing resources and information that fosters carbon mitigation and climate resilience.” – Eileen Cravedi
About the American Library Association:
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit the ALA.
Nature is the pathway we use to learn, create, bond, and develop as individuals. It is that dense yet solid foundation that supports our home. Therefore, we are as healthy and diverse as the environment that encompasses us! Today’s world has adapted modern needs and habits that are highly endorsed by entities for pure lucrative comfort and satisfaction who rarely think about the implications that industrious activities will cause on the cycles and patterns nature follows. This point is further argued by Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, who stated that, “people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.” People living in different geographical locations are all facing a major problem that threatens the core of their “natural neighborhood.” Nothing should make us become deterrent when forming concrete strategies in explicating the drastic reduction of climate change. It will take a consistent effort to see a positive outcome in our world, we just have to keep at it. The best way for us to fully understand the gravity of this dire situation? One must see the challenges others have faced and continue to endure so that a better future will be made. -Nichali Bogues, Kingston, Jamaica
The Philippines is a Southeast Asian country that is vulnerable to climate change effects, which makes it difficult for me to travel to and visit my relatives. When I lived in the Philippines, I developed asthma as a child due to the heavy carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020, the Philippines has one of the highest Climate Risk Index (CRI) in the world; this index refers to the level of vulnerability to weather-related events. Annually, the Philippines encounters an average of 20 typhoons in addition to other natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods that can all be exacerbated by climate change. Since most of my relatives and friends are still living in the Philippines, I am most worried about their overall health because climate change worsens air quality, which makes the population susceptible to developing cardiovascular diseases.
-Airam Viennelu Aliwalas, University of North Florida, FL, USA
Corvallis, Oregon, USA
As a native and lifelong Oregonian, I have seen the implications climate change has had on the Pacific wonderland. Since the first half of the 20th century, the Pacific Northwest has already seen a warming of a conservative 1.5 °F estimate; climate models project this number to rise 5-8.5 °F by the end of the century.
In many ways, climate change is regarded as the “threat multiplier” – and multiplied it has. This is because climate does not solely affect isolated issues, but compounds cascading elements; it becomes a determinant. Community health, economy, agriculture, various industries – nothing is left untouched, even if seemingly unrelated.
Through the lens of a future physician, climate change is an alarming disruptor in healthcare. I have witnessed this first hand as a caregiver during the wildfire season in Oregon, where high temperature and smoke aggravates and worsens health conditions, overwhelming the hospital system. On September 5th of 2017, the emergency department and urgent care observed 20% more visits statewide than expected due to respiratory issues following a wildfire.
Because I care about the health of Oregon’s people, I must also care about the health of Oregon’s environment.
–McKenzie Hughes, Corvallis, OR, USA
Climate change has recently begun having a larger impact on society as a whole. According to the Climate Reality Project, one of the results has been increased rainfall. As the world warms, the rate of the evaporation of the ocean increases, which contributes to more extreme precipitation. Likewise, as the atmosphere gets warmer, it can hold more moisture which is a factor in increased downpour intensity. This can have quite detrimental effects.
A few years ago, my family took a vacation to India to visit our relatives. Having not seen them for a couple of years, we were really enjoying our time. Vacation is an escape from reality. But that didn’t last long because one day, my mom checked the news back at home and our great vacation took a turn in the opposite direction.
It had been announced that there was very heavy rain for a couple of days and basements were flooding. We asked our friend to check on our basement, and just as we had feared, our basement was submerged under 2 feet of water.
When we got home, everything was destroyed – carpet, books, electronics. It was a costly and tiresome experience that is all too common nowadays. I fear that from here, unless we make more of an effort to slow climate change, only more and more unfortunate things like this will happen to more people.
-Joshua Mathews, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Houston, Texas, USA
I love Houston, Texas; it is my home. As a city near the Gulf of Mexico, Houston faces unique challenges due to climate change. You might have heard of Hurricane Harvey and the destruction it caused in Houston in 2017. As temperatures and sea levels rise, coastal cities face the risk of becoming a breeding ground for increasingly devastating hurricanes. According to c40.org, a network of cities dedicated to addressing climate change, Houston emits 14.9 tons of carbon dioxide per year per capita, a number that ranks among the highest carbon dioxide emissions in America.
The silver lining is that the city government recognizes the need for change and has created an ambitious climate action plan that aligns with the Paris Climate Agreement: to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the Earth’s temperature from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius and to become carbon neutral by 2050. According to the City of Houston, 45% of the city’s greenhouse gases come from transportation, so finding ways, such as walking short distances or taking the Metro instead of our cars, would be helpful in decreasing emissions.
I hope that by working together as communities and a city, we can reduce greenhouse emissions, prevent excessively destructive hurricanes from forming and protect our city for generations to come.
The photo I have shared shows rain falling and creating puddles in my backyard. I am thankful for the rain that comes with living in a coastal city, but with temperatures and sea levels on the rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, gentle showers can take a more destructive form, which is why it is so important for us to act on climate change now.
–Pragya Mishra, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
In my home town of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, mortality due to water-borne diseases, heat waves, and respiratory diseases, caused by air pollution, is on the rise. In a country where there are little resources for mitigation, these effects of climate change are extremely alarming. When I visited Ethiopia in the summer of 2019, I was shocked to see how dark and grey the sky was. The streets were filled with large and old vehicles that contributed greatly to the emissions causing the dark grey skies. There was not a day where I saw a clear sky in the city. When I was living there, I did not realize how horrible the smog was, as that was considered the norm. However, now having lived 7 years in the suburbs of Texas, I had something to compare Addis Ababa to, which opened my eyes to the dangerous path my country is heading down on. It makes it more heartbreaking knowing that access to healthcare is considered a privilege in Ethiopia, contributing to even more lives lost as a result of climate change.
-Hermella Merso, University of Texas at Dallas, Texas, USA
Each individual and major enterprise has a responsibility to be more efficient in the ways they use products that are not beneficial to the environment. It is evident that over time we will face more floods, air pollution, droughts, extreme heating, and other horrible consequences if we do not step up and do what is right. Some of the ways to make our environment less intensely concentrated are: invest in energy-efficient appliances, reduce water waste, and manage our carbon profile in a better manner. Also, another key role to play is to become an advocate for climate change, simply speak up. Now is the time that we must come together as a united force with one prime objective; making the world a better place to live. The by-product of this goal is making it safer to raise our families and giving the next generation a better place to grow and interact with. As stated by David Suzuki, “ in a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any buckets.”
Each Thursday in July, 60 plus students from across the United States, Canada, and England explored the connection between healthcare, sustainability, and equity in a web series called Healthcare Goes Green. Students learned from practitioners and scholars who have successfully integrated sustainability into their own work. The series first reviewed contextual knowledge about how climate change impacts health, especially within vulnerable communities. Then, the group examined different change frameworks, particularly incremental change and transformational change. The third session analyzed how energy conservation and green infrastructure at Mass General Brigham, a Massachusetts based hospital network, contributes to environmentally-friendly healthcare. The series concluded by discussing the social barriers to sustainable equitable health, using the Southern Africa region as a focal point.
Watch all four of the recorded presentations.
Climate Science: Its Impact on Health & Vulnerable Populations with Paul Dellaripa MD (1985 Holy Cross alum), Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Changing Mindsets: Incremental Change to Transformational Change with Sarah Fackler, Mass General Brigham
A Green Environment: Creating Green Infrastructure Through Energy Conservation with John Messervy, Mass General Brigham
Breaking Barriers: A Global Look at Sustainable, Equitable Health with Tsitsi Masvawure DPhil, College of the Holy Cross
Emma Powell ’20 describes her community organizing experience as a way to live the College’s value of ‘For and With Others.’
My name is Emma Powell. I’m from Haverhill, Massachusetts. I’m class of 2020. I’m a history and classics double major and my major involvements at Holy Cross were the Student Government Association, Eco-Action, and HC Fossil Free, which is the divestment campaign on campus.
So I think sort of that the common idea behind ‘for and with others’ is direct service, which of course is a huge component. But for me, I kind of gone towards my ‘for and with others’ values in a different way in terms of community organizing.
Specifically this year, it was sort of a catalyst for my environmental change that I did on campus. And I really believe that policy change and advocacy work is a huge part of living out your values and how you can do that in a community organizing setting. And there was a few things that we did that I think that really kind of highlight how we were able to get our campus and our institution to really care about environmental awareness.
The first thing would be the youth climate strike which happened at the beginning of the year in conjunction with the Chaplains’ Office. And it was the first time I seen a large scale show up for the environment on campus in a way like that and we all gathered on the Dinand steps and then joined Worcester community organizers who were also setting out goals for climate justice, things like that. And then the green fund is a fund that we passed this year that’s $30,000 worth of grant money for students to apply for environmental projects. I really really recommend incoming first years to look into how they can get a project funded through that because it was a lofty policy goal that we had and were finally able to pass it so that was something that was really great. And then we hired a sustainability director this year which is going to be great and I recommend reaching out to her to first years. And then Purple Goes Green week is something that we do every year and we were able to keep doing that amidst virtual learning.
So all of these things I think really show sort of ‘for and with others’ through policy and education that sometimes you neglect as part of that statement and I think it is a really important thing.
In 1997, the Grounds Management Society and Grounds Maintenance Magazine named the College of the Holy Cross as the best maintained university grounds in the United States. Today, the Holy Cross community continues to take pride in its beautiful campus, including its Campus Arboretum.
As visitors and community members roam the campus, trees and shrubs will greet them at most turns. Arboretums offer a research, educational, and decorative space to celebrate diverse trees and shrubs. Holy Cross’ Campus Arboretum stretches across the 174 acre Worcester campus. There are over 115 varieties of trees and shrubs, many of which are commemorative plantings. Explore the Campus Arboretum booklet to review some of the commemorative plants.
Madeline Peplinski ’22 shares her experience living and learning within an arboretum. “I appreciate having an arboretum on campus because I remain amazed by some of the pieces of nature we have. I’ll never forget when the campus Gingko tree covered the ground with its bright yellow leaves. It was like entering a different world for a moment. There are so many different types of trees and spaces on campus it really is a gift. It is important to highlight green spaces so moments like this can continue to happen. So when you unexpectedly come down a staircase on campus and see a piece of nature you’ve never seen before.”