While you were gone

| Niels ter Meer

With a long and well deserved vacation behind you, you are probably wondering what happened in the meantime in Enschede now that you’re coming back. Student columnist Niels ter Meer (23) wrote a little update for you.

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK

With the academic year over, a lot of us run for far-flung destinations for their vacations. It’s part of the bi-yearly student exodus. A couple of months ago it was skiing, now it is sunbathing on white beaches. This column is an update from those who stayed behind.

While you were gone, the now deserted desert called Enschede battled uncountable heat-waves (seriously, I lost count). While you were soaring through the skies towards a pretty island, our asphalt/concrete/tiled heat island made temperatures soar sky high. While you were poodling in a comfortable ocean, I saw grass turn brown and raspberries shrivel.

I know that airplanes don’t have rear-view mirrors, but you might want to look into one. While ‘Earth BV’ doesn’t have its transport network sorted, you can’t hide from the excess CO2 you cause to exhaust on your way to your gratuitous destination vacations.

So instead, for next year, you might want to consider alternative destinations. For one, I invite everyone to stay here, in Enschede. There are many fun things to do here, such as breathing hot moist air day in, day out; attempting to cook eggs on the pavement; pouring water over your plants in an almost futile attempt to keep them alive — you name it. Going on vacation should not be considered the default.

We, as students and employees of a technical university, focused on sustainability, are better than, for example, incoherent art-is-bad climate schwalbes. Of course a truck lugged a multi-ton object across the country is not conducive to our environment, but it is merely incidental and serves a greater purpose. Having yourself lugged by a many-ton machine far from our countries borders burning multiple tons of fuel, or lugging a disappointingly bad mini-house across a continent — both by the thousands — serves neither a greater purpose, nor is it incidental. So regular, in fact, you could set an academic year circle to it (or was it the other way around?)

If it wasn’t already evident, I think we need to be a bit more conscious about the effects our vacations have.  How can you travel far one day, and then be lectured by your professors about the effects thereof the next? We are the ones who, eventually, have to turn back the clock on our past (and contemporary) mistakes. In the current searing climate, we can’t afford to keep doing this.

Regardless, welcome back in the now slightly greener Enschede. I hope you enjoyed lighting the atmosphere on fire. I hear climate-change lectures start next week; maybe you want to consider joining one?