Many have their gripes with Boston College. Some more serious than others. This week, I have chosen to beef with Baldwin.
Now, I have not been personally wronged by our mascot. I am actually quite fond of him. His origin story is probably one of the most entertaining things I have read in a while.
Rather, my issue is more structural. I think that our goal of choosing a mascot to represent fierceness in competitions is completely accomplished with Baldwin, a bird of prey. Strong, independent, and intelligent are all words that come to mind when I think of an eagle.
I just think it is time for a rebrand.
I am not saying to replace Baldwin. Let’s not get crazy here. I am just proposing a secondary mascot. Like, if Baldwin gets COVID and can’t come support a competition, we can call on our secondary mascot to come out and fill in.
We have a pretty unique opportunity in choosing our secondary mascot. I believe that we can demonstrate our commitment to conservation and our desire to be a part of solving our climate crisis in this choice. Perhaps, choosing a plant, one that is exceptional at carbon sequestration, would achieve this. Allow me to introduce Mo the MossMan.
NCAA Division I mascots that are plants are few and far between, but notable examples include Stanford’s Stanford Tree and Syracuse’s Otto the Orange (if you even count that). Mo, therefore, would make us trailblazers on two fronts: having a secondary mascot and opting for one that is a plant.
In terms of aesthetics, I’m thinking of something akin to the fictional Moss Man character from the Masters of the Universe franchise. I think the costume would be easy enough to create, considering it would ideally just be a moss suit.
Jokes aside though, let me plead my case. Moss is so unique in its ability to sequester carbon, which is absolutely something to be paying special attention to as we search for ways to ameliorate our current climate crisis. As I am sure most people are aware, carbon dioxide is classified as a greenhouse gas. This means high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere trap heat, ultimately causing global temperature rise, contributing to phenomena like sea level rise and increased frequencies of intense weather events. Human activities, namely the burning of fossil fuels, significantly increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, causing the particle per million count of atmospheric carbon to rise by 40 percent in the times since the Industrial Revolution.
Now, plants have a natural ability to uptake carbon from the atmosphere. This occurs through the process of photosynthesis and allows for plants to store carbon in the soil as soil organic carbon, which prevents it from entering into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
Moss is particularly adept at carbon sequestration as compared to other plants. Just half a square meter of moss can sequester one full kilogram of carbon dioxide. To put this statistic in perspective, most small forests cannot absorb one kilogram of carbon dioxide.
Specifically, Sphagnum (commonly known as peat moss) is one of the most efficient plants at carbon sequestration. Sphagnum mosses are accredited with most of the carbon sequestration primarily because they are the most abundant in the northern peatlands (they are one of the most prevalent mosses in Massachusetts as well). Sphagnum mosses are further equipped to sequester large amounts of carbon because they are very resistant to microbial decay, which affects other plants’ ability to capture carbon.
Additionally, half of all the nitrogen fixed in soil (nitrogen fixation being a crucial part of the nitrogen cycle and allowing for trace nutrients to be delivered to ecosystems) is done so by moss in conjunction with lichens. This fixation, in turn, accelerates the carbon sequestration rates of surrounding plants.
So, that is why I am proposing that moss be our secondary mascot. It would be a statement to all other colleges about our commitment to the environment, and I personally think having Mo the MossMan being our secondary would just be really cool.
As facetious as this is, it would be, somewhat embarrassingly, one of the first real public stands that BC takes in favor of the environment. Ideally, BC would be taking greater steps in this regard, and I wouldn’t be writing an article about something as nonsensical as Mo the MossMan to make my point about the University’s seemingly lack of interest in the environment.
I do like Mo the MossMan as a concept, and I think that, at the least, BC should be including more plants like Sphagnum into its landscaping in order to show some interest in environmental issues. At this point, all efforts matter, and it would be significant for the University to demonstrate its devotion to ameliorating the climate crisis, even if it is through Mo.
Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan/ Heights Editor