News - January 30, 2015

Climate campaign: warm reception or cold shower?

For a whole week, the thermostat was turned down in most Wageningen UR buildings. The organizers of this ‘Warm Sweater Week’ hope to do their bit towards a green world. From 19 to 23 January, students and staff had to wear an extra woolly. Is there much point to a campaign like this? Or are the chilly buildings just a big source of irritation?


Zephyr (Vietnam) - Student of International Horticulture

‘No, I didn’t dress any differently – I wear this hat because I like it. I did see that it was Warm Sweater Week but luckily it’s not very cold at the moment. It is good to pay attention to the climate, because the weather is changing a lot. I understand that it’s getting warmer here in the Netherlands. But in Vietnam, where I come from, it’s getting colder. In the north there is even snow at certain altitudes. Either way, there are climate changes going on that deserves our attention. But I don’t know whether this is the right  approach. Turning down the heating might help a little, but all those sweaters have to be manufactured and transported too. I can’t see any statistical basis for the impact of this kind of campaign. But perhaps it is enough to raise awareness around the climate theme.’


Jeffrey van Houten - Student of Forest and Nature Management

‘That I am warmly dressed has less to do with Warm Sweater Week than with the fact that I’ve just got back from Ethiopia. I don’t seem to be able to cope with the cold as well, it’s terrible. Hopefully it will change soon. I think the Warm Sweater Week is a good initiative, given that the effects of climate change are gradually becoming visible. In Ethiopia I saw how the habitat for pelicans is getting smaller and smaller. But in the end you can only change anything if everyone makes choices for themselves. Personally, I eat hardly any meat, partly on account of climate considerations.’


Nina van der Linden - Student of Nutrition & Health

‘I feel the cold anyway, so when I heard about this campaign I put on some extra layers. You can notice that the temperature in the Forum is lower than usual. But I understand the reasoning of course. Climate change is a problem, but to be honest I don’t do much

about it myself. A campaign like this does make you think about it, so it helps with awareness raising. And prompted by the Warm Sweater Week, I had a heated discussion with a housemate who thinks the campaign is totally ridiculous. So it has put the topic on the agenda.’


Henk Veyen - Works on the IT Helpdesk in the Forum

‘I found out it was Warm Sweater Week on Monday morning. It was cold in my office in the Actio building. You should give plenty of publicity to this kind of campaign, and there wasn’t enough this time. Apart from that, I think there are better ways of reducing CO2 emissions, like banning all those petrol-guzzling old-timers. Or switching off the lights at unused work stations. That works better than bothering people with measures that make the workplace uncomfortable. Not that I don’t care about the environment, because I do. I cycle to work almost every day, 13 kilometres there and back. And I’ve gradually upgraded the insulation of my house. To me those kinds of measures are better than this. You shouldn’t make your life a misery.’


Eva Bookelaar - Student of Biology

‘I read about it but I didn’t notice any change in the temperature. But then I don’t feel the cold easily, and I keep the heating on low at home. I approve of the campaign; after all our planet needs to last a bit longer. So you should give some thought to maintenance. Although you do hear different stories about the impact of climate change. I find that difficult sometimes. But I am in favour of playing it safe and just making more sparing use of everything that can save on fossil fuels.’


Thomas Blondeau - Student of Food Technology

‘I know about the Warm Sweater Week. You can feel that it’s a bit cooler, but it isn’t a big difference. A campaign of this sort is largely symbolic, with the aim of reminding you about the climate. Although I don’t think that is really necessary for most Wageningen students. They tend to be well aware of the problem: last year global temperatures went up by 0.7 degrees. But it is not easy to come up with a solution. CO2 is not easily absorbed and going back to a pre-industrial society is not really realistic, I think. People will have to change their behaviour and a sweater campaign like this might help. Because let’s face it: it is ridiculous to be going around in a T shirt indoors when it is freezing outside.’