Those who have not attended the minimally publicized meetings regarding the administration’s plans to build a new natural gas power plant on campus—it is time you paid attention.
After the Snowpocalyspe of last October, President Rothmandated that the University strive to reduce the risk of losing schooldays in the event of a similar weather emergency in the future. Some administrators and Physical Plant staff developed a plan to construct a natural gas co-generation power plant near Freeman Athletic Center to supplement a similar plant that Wesleyan built in 2008 on the corner of Williams and High Streets. This new plant, they claim, is necessary to allow us to go into “island mode” and avoid a blackout during the increasinglycommon extreme weather events. For a combination of logistical, budgetary, and moral reasons, I argue otherwise.
First, some background. The plan was set on trajectory behind closed doors, without input of the community or students, until Evan Weber ’13 gleaned through a comment made in passing at a sustainability meeting that this was being proposed. In fact, Wesleyan’s new Sustainability Coordinator, Jen Kleindienst, hadn’t heard of it either until about a week before Weber. By the time Weber organized an emergency organizing meeting, Wesleyan had already hired a firm to site and start designing the plant. As Weber told the Argus, “I want to start a conversation about the power plant with all constituents because students, professors, and other members of the community have been largely left out of the discussion.”
So why not have that discussion now?
There are many problems with the proposed plant, which are laid out in a recent Wespeak written by a few concerned students, including Weber and myself. These are what I believe to be some of the most compelling issues at hand:
What we have been experiencing recently is only the harbinger of a future that will be punctuated by more severe weather extremes and increasing damage.—Gary Yohe, Professor of Economics
Wesleyan’s celebrity economics professor Gary Yohe has received much media coverage after releasing a rather troublesome report on Tuesday about Superstorm Sandy and climate change. Yohe, a senior member of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore), starts his report off with a laundry list of crazy climate events that have taken place globally in the past couple of years. He then claims that this isn’t “the new normal,” but rather “only the harbinger of a future that will be punctuated by more severe weather extremes and increasing damage—all driven as the future unfolds by past and future emissions of heat-trapping gases.” Yohe elaborates:
the changes in the current climate that have been observed across the planet are the products of only about 50 percent of the warming to which we have already committed ourselves with our past emissions. This means that the planet would warm another 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit through the middle of this century even if concentrations of heat-trapping gases were to achieve their maximum tomorrow — not likely, since sustaining a specific concentration starting tomorrow would require an 80 percent reduction in emissions overnight.
“I mean, think about it, the earth rotates very quickly…”
As recovery efforts continue in Sandy’s wake, here’s something to lighten the mood: a Brown student who has finally realized the truth about the government conspiracy we’ve been calling Hurricane Sandy.
Meet “Daniel,” identified as a student at Brown University. In one of the noblest trolling endeavors since the Wesleyan Class of 2005 hijacked the Class of 2000’s Twitter account, Daniel was interviewed on NBC 10 and bravely expressed skepticism over the hurricane’s existence. “I mean, I don’t really believe that there’s a hurricane,” he tells the reporter in an amazing video clip that has made the rounds onNew York Mag and Buzzfeed. “I know the government wants us to think that. But, I mean, think about it—the earth rotates very quickly.”
When the reporter impatiently interjects to ask whether or not class is cancelled at Brown, Daniel replies: “Well, the government definitely wants you to think classes have been cancelled. I’m not so sure.”
Hoping to celebrate the end of Hurricane Sandy with Bradford Cox in the Chapel Thursday night? Bad news. The Atlas Sound show is postponed because of Sandy, but Dylan Bostick ’13 will be on hand in Usdan tomorrow to refund your ticket:
WAIT NEVERMIND. The show is being postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. He will not be able to make it up for the show. Instead, bring me your ticket tomorrow at Usdan and I will give you your $5 back. So sorry everyone, look for the show in December or January…
Date: Thursday, November 1 Time: 10 pm Place: Memorial Chapel Cost: $5
Got photos of the storm? Email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
And just like that, it was over. After being told the worst of the storm would arrive past midnight, I woke up this morning expecting to see downed trees, flooded streets, mass devastation. Instead, besides the handful of loose power lines, scattered leaves, and downed trees we reported on yesterday, campus looks pretty much back to normal. As a few friends have noted on Facebook, it’s even strangely sunny outside:
Despite freaking out in our liveblog coverage, it’s official: Middletown was spared the worst of the storm. The head of emergency operations says Middletown “suffered light to moderate damage,” especially compared to towns nearer to the coast, which are still dealing with flooding and massive outages. (That’s not to mention the devastation and flooding in New York right now, which has killed at least 24 and been declared a major disaster by Obama.)
After days of unholy darkness pretty normal nighttime hours marked by horrible, house-shredding winds and apocalyptic torrents of rain some brisk winds and light rain, the sun, against all odds as expected, has arisen once again in the east.
It seems that Sandy has finally released us from her grip decided to go right on around us.
I just wandered around Main Street for a bit, and boy is it deserted. I mean, like, the desert deserted. Sorry for the shakiness of the photos; it is kinda windy.
In the 30 minute tour I just took of Main Street, ‘twixt rain and wind and leaves hitting me in the goddam face, I met not a single soul. Oh sure, there were a few lonely vehicles cautiously crawling hither and thither, but not one other deigned to trod gingerly down the dreary lane on foot like myself.
I have decided to rename Main Street, if only temporarily, as Desolation Aisle. Much like the oft-neglected pet-product aisle at the grocery store, Desolation Aisle seemed to offer delights on every side, but instead greeted me with harsh, unappetizing dimmed lights and locked doors.
Haaavvveee you met Sandy? You might have realized by now that you’re not in class. Congrats. While you all get to sleep in and catch up on your reading/get crunk/whatever, we here at Wesleying are working hard to capture the magic of this here hurricane through the power of liveblog. So for the next few hours (or, more realistically, until power or Internet goes out), stay tuned for intermittent updates of how we’re surviving.
Submit photos of your hurricane survival experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org (or just tweet them at @wesleying).
Here’s a quick summary of what’s open right now:
According to an all-campus email, “The Usdan Center is open until 7 pm tonight and is providing meals. We expect it to be open tomorrow from 9 am to 7 pm.”
WesWings claims to be open for lunch. (Can anyone verify?)
WeShop is open from noon until 5 pm today, but their inventory is pretty raided.
“Libraries and other offices, including Freeman Athletic Center, are closed today and tomorrow.”
Star & Crescent closed, obviously.
All liveblog content past the jump. When the content stops, you’ll know Wes has lost the Internets, God save us.
I ventured outside (stupidly) and grabbed some photos of the storm as it grows. Winds are still barreling between 40 and 60 miles per hour. The rain is picking up steadily. You can’t really see it from your window; it’s different when you’re outside and the fierce rain/wind combination is stinging your face and your hair is soaked. I went to Weshop. I ran into my esteemed colleague A-Batte. He showed me a cell phone pic of the tree that fell on the zip cars (above). (Or maybe that’s this guy’s Prius?) Weshop seems to have re-stocked up, except for the chips and snack section, which has been raided bare.
I braved the wind from Weshop to the Church Street lot to investigate the fallen tree. There’s caution tape around the scene now, and it looks like P-Safe or some other authority is parked nearby. Another tree is down near the Butts. I haven’t spotted any other fallen trees, but it seems imminent over the next few hours. Keep us posted in the comments (or tweet at us) (or email us).
I headed back up Church Street. Campus is empty. Foss seems to be abandoned. The roads are barren except for the spare service vehicle. I spotted a friendly couple waltzing around like it’s WesFest. “You’re a fucking trooper, man!” the guy exclaimed to me.