University News

Flowers Send a Message

April 15, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- Flowers often have a meaning or message: love, apology, congratulations, sympathy, friendship ... and thanks to a Western Illinois University student organization, environmental awareness.

In October 2009, Campus Greens, with the support of the WIU Sustainability Committee and the landscape maintenance division within Facilities Management, planted crocuses just east of the Malpass Library. When those flowers began emerging, they took on the shape of the numeral, 350, which signifies climatologists' finding that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

WIU History Professor and Campus Greens Adviser Peter Cole said the perennial flowers were planted in this shape to remind individuals of their responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint. This year, the Campus Greens have constructed a sign that answers the question, "Why 350?"

"Our project is an attempt to raise awareness about the very real dangers of climate change and keeping the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere less than 350 parts per million," Cole explained. "Seeing that we had the hottest year in America's recorded weather history and the worst drought in the Midwest in 50 years, climate change is real and already having massive impacts. Campus Greens is dedicated to sharing the message about our earth's health, and by showcasing this important number in flowers is just one more way to share that message."

For more information about Campus Greens, contact Cole at or visit

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