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It’s one of the biggest issues in the news today. Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio and Bono are among its biggest fans.

And Al Gore recently won an award (the Nobel Peace Prize, maybe you’ve heard of it) for promoting it.

It’s environmental protection, and Eastern students should jump on the bandwagon.

Unlike boy bands and the New England Patriots, this is a wagon ride that is worth students’ time. It’s human nature to ignore a problem until it directly affects you. But environment woes hinder today’s generation in several ways.

The nation is battling one of the worst droughts in history. Kentucky, Madison County included, has dealt with water shortages for the past few months. Officials in some cities placed restrictions on how much water residents can use. The restrictions were not too strict (residents mainly were told to keep track of how often they watered their lawn), but, if the environment continues its downward spiral, water bans can become a burden, even for students. Do you want state officials to limit how much time you spend in the shower, especially when it takes 10 minutes for the dorm showers to warm up?

On the other side of the nation, a chunk of California sits in ashes. Are the wild fires related to environmental demise? Of course they are. Lack of rain and unnaturally high winds fueled the fire. And the Hollywood fires do not burn too far from home. Kentucky has experienced its share of out-of-control forest fires. Nagging professors and looming exams seem manageable compared with charred property and smoked hillsides.

But even pop quizzes and ten-page papers don’t surpass many students’ favorite complaint: the weather. One day it’s sizzling; the next day it’s snowy. Students can’t take their summer clothes home, because they might need them next month. But they can stock up on cold medicine. The swinging weather results in fevers and sneezing, which interfere with fast-paced college life.

So whether it’s taking a hot shower or spending weekends buried in Kleenex, the declining environment leaves its mark on students. It’s time to take up arms and combat that decline.

We’re not asking students to add “saving the earth” to their agenda. After all, most students must devote the bulk of their time and energy to cramming for tests, rushing to work and sleeping away hangovers. And not everyone is a die-hard “Captain Planet” fan.

But students can pick up a few environment-friendly habits to keep the planet from spiraling into pollution peril.

Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving. Flip the light switch each time you leave the room. Hang up your clothes instead of tossing them into the dryer (the dryers in the dorm take too long and cost too many quarters anyway). Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Carpool or ride your bicycle to campus more often (vacant campus parking spots are a rare treat anyway).

Practicing those simple habits will make students’ fight to preserve the environment as important as Al Gore’s. Students just won’t get a medal for it.

But they might get to wear their winter clothes the entire month of December.