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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Earth Day event to exhibit Biosphere 2’s year-long work

Proactive environmental action is the key to the mission of the UA Biosphere 2, said Biosphere Director Travis Huxman.

“”We want people to take action and to do the right thing, and not just because it’s the right thing to do,”” Huxman said. “”There is an industry behind all of this too, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that.””

The Biosphere 2 will host a series of events on Saturday to demonstrate that point.

The events are part of the Earth Day 2010: Now Generation Festival, being held this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the second year the Biosphere has hosted an Earth Day event of this magnitude.

UA students will indeed be heavily involved with the event. The director of external affairs at the Biosphere 2, Hassan Hijazi, estimated that as many as 100 students would volunteer for the six-hour event.

“”We want this to be more than participation for students,”” Huxman said. “”We want them to feel a sense of ownership in all of our Earth Day programs.””

Around 15 student volunteers will be members of Alpha Zeta, a coed fraternity based in the agricultural and life sciences. The group views Earth Day as a great chance for community service.

“”We’re always looking for service events, but sometimes we have a hard time finding events that excite people enough to participate,”” said environmental biology senior and current Alpha Zeta president Megan Schulte. “”As soon as our advisor (Assistant Dean of Agriculture Academic Programs Elaine Marchello) brought it up, you could see people were interested, and it just took off from there.””

Alpha Zeta will be doing a variety of things at the Earth Day event, namely helping out with booths and presentations such as the insect discovery and herpetological booths.

“”As a service-based group, we’re always looking to help out,”” Schulte said. “”Most of us have a scientific background and this sounded like something we’d be interested in.””

Other offered activities will include science and art exhibitions, including a science competition for children. There will also be thematic tours of new exhibits and a live sky feed from the Mount Lemmon Sky Center, all set to live music.

One featured exhibit will be a collection of roughly 100 solar panels recently constructed on-site at the Biosphere. The panels are part of an ongoing experiment to determine the feasibility of placing solar panels in areas where they would have the gentlest environmental impact without any loss in performance.

“”We look at Earth Day as an opportunity to celebrate the work we’ve done over the year,”” said Nathan Allen, an assistant staff scientist and sustainability coordinator at the Biosphere. “”The Biosphere does everything from cutting edge research to doing events like these.””

The new solar panels are mounted at a 50-degree angle on geomembranes, the kind that are usually utilized at landfills or mine tailings to prevent dust and water pollution.

“”One of the big reasons why we were interested in doing this project is because mines and landfills are areas that have been impacted by development already,”” Allen said. “”It is a more attractive option to be able to build panels in areas that have already been disturbed rather than disturbing virgin desert to do so.””

Approximately 2,000 people are expected to attend Saturday’s event, an increase from the 1,600 that attended last year. Pricing and ticket information for the event can be found on the Biosphere Web site.



Biosphere 2 Earth Day 2010:

Now Generation Festival

April 17, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

For more information,

call 838-6200,

or visit the Biosphere Web site


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