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The best from Europe and America

| Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This morning I read Mr. Easley’s Climate Change letter (“Global warming skeptic,” Dec. 7). I am a GreeND member studying in Notre Dame’s Rome Architecture Program. His assertion about Europe’s worry about climate change is correct; people here are indeed worried about global warming. It greatly saddens me that back at home this is not the case.

Here “being green” is just daily life; the Romans live in apartments that are hundreds of years old. These buildings rely on natural ventilation for heating and cooling eight months out of the year. They have been around for so long that their carbon footprints are essentially neutral by now. People here live close together, and walk everywhere. Since they are in such close quarters, they plant rooftop gardens, cutting down on the urban heat island effect. When they do travel long distances, fast trains are used. In Italy, even the diet is greener; Italian food has less meat and ingredients are more local and seasonally varied than in the states. The government encourages people not to drive cars, without any political debate; it is simply “the right thing to do.”

At Notre Dame, while some naysayers create debate where there should be none, other students get very passionate about recycling and other environmental issues, demonizing bottled water and publicly pushing people to take short showers.

When the American Congress set new lightbulb efficiency standards, people mourned the impending death of incandescent lightbulbs. Lo and behold though, scientists have found ways to make incandesents that use the requisite 30 percent less energy.

Interestingly, in Italy, with all of its worry and acceptance about Climate Change, I see none of this impassioned grassroots action. If Americans can unite — as Europeans have — behind a firm conviction that something must be done, this uniquely American determination and innovativeness will bring forth a set of solutions that will avert catastrophe.

Jackson Bangs
off campus
Dec. 8