Cheshire Academy celebrates Earth Day

April 23, 2020

While campus is closed and the remainder of the spring semester is being completed remotely, the Cheshire Academy community gathered virtually on April 22 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. 

 

This year’s theme, “Climate Action: Joining the Conversation,” included a keynote address by Daniel Esty, Hillhouse professor of Environmental Law and Policy, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and clinical professor of Environmental Law and Policy, Yale Law School. Esty is also former commissioner of the state of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (2011-2014), as well as author/editor of 12 books. Among his list of successes, Esty helped to negotiate the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

 

As part of his address, Esty reflected on the significant strides countries around the world have made over the past 50 years to improve the environment. He recalled the origin of Earth Day, which was launched in 1970 by a generation of people who were unsatisfied with the direction the world was heading. There was smog in many major cities, including Los Angeles  and Pittsburgh , and natural resources were being destroyed. 

 

“There were contaminated water supplies that were unfit for drinking,” recalled Esty. “I myself could smell the Naugatuck River next to my home, and we could see it on different days in different colors because the factories upstream were dumping chemicals into it, so there really was a terrible situation in the 1960s.” 

 

 

 

Progress has been made over the past half century, Esty continued. On a local scale, for example, residents now fish and swim in the Naugatuck RiverGlobally, countries around the world have entered into agreements with each other to do their part to find renewable energy sources, prevent climate change, and reduce their carbon footprint, to name a few measures. Businesses, once the enemy to the environment, are coming forward with innovative ideas to combat the issue of climate change.   

 

When asked what students can do to help on an individual basis, Esty urged them to register and to vote. By doing so, they can make an impactHe also suggested they educate and coach their families to get on the path of sustainability, and to continue recycling. 

 

“Recycling does matter. It’s actually a pretty big success,” he said. “The world has dramatically moved toward a much better use of products that can be recaptured and recycled, and every one of us can make that choice each and every day.” 

 

Following Esty’s address, students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff separated into different workshops covering various topics concerning sustainability. Workshops included: 

 

  • “The Nature of Literature” with Wendy Swift, director of the Center for Writing, and English Teacher Nicole Beaudwin 
  • “Little Actions with Big Rewards” with CA alumni and filmmaker PJ Yesawich ’01 
  • “Threatened Species and Human Interaction” with staff from the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy 
  • “Gardening in Small Spaces” with Science Teacher Caron Quantick 
  • “Climate Change and Human Health” with Susan Lonczak of the Chesprocott Health District and Dr. Goudarz Molaei from the Yale School of Public Health and Connecticut Center for Vector Biology and Zoonotic Diseases 
  • “The Politics of Green” with Connecticut state Representative Mary Mushinsky (D-85)