The average UR student, the politically-minded conservationist, is now witness to a new movement. Nils Kilkenberg has launched an innovative strategy to conserve energy on campus, thereby saving money. However, although I applaud Kilkenberg for his efforts and though I believe in energy conservation, I feel the competition may backfire. Actually, there might not be much conservation at all.

Most students’ behaviors would not change. Think about it – what is the effect of leaving your light on to the energy consumption of the building? It’s probably negligible. No one would feel a high cost in leaving their light on when they run an errand. As a matter of fact, one may find it nice to see their room brightly lightened upon returning home. If everyone has this mentality, no one would follow the advice to conserve energy to win the ResLife prize money.

Another point to think about are the types of students at UR. Many come from affluent neighborhoods like Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT. Most students would not see receiving $2 as a huge prize for their piggy banks in a world of $8 Chinese food and $60 to fill up your gas tank.

There is also a big disincentive to participate in the competition. Most students have already paid their room and board, so why not use as much energy as possible to maximize their happiness? Here, I am assuming students are happier when they purchase pretty bright lights that create an atmosphere for attracting guests.

I personally disagree with turning off one’s computer overnight. Computers are made to be left on for extended periods of time. Constantly turning off your computer shortens the life or decreases the performance ability of the computer. I believe that it is much more worthwhile to leave your computer on, rather than off, to conserve energy.

The sad thing is that most students would think this way-that is, they find themselves happier by continuing their energy consumption behavior as before – causing little effect on energy consumption on the whole. Despite their “liberal” views, they would feel that it is better for them to continue to purchase regular light bulbs rather than fluorescent ones. Come on liberals, you can’t argue against this – I still find many of you crumbling pages and pages of paper and tossing them into the trash can instead of the blue bin.

I admit it – my prediction is flawed. In theory, no one would choose to reduce their energy consumption. Fortunately, there are bound to be hardcore environmentalists who feel the social benefits exceed the cost in their contribution. However, how most people would react is a different matter.

Although we may not see extraordinary results, it’s a good step in the right direction. Let’s hope that the program evolves such that it would provide effective incentives to engage all UR students to conserve energy.

Lee can be reached atalee@campustimes.org.



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