Heal the world: Biologist urges students to think about the future of the environment

By By Davey Davis

By Davey Davis

College is the place where change has to begin-on both a personal and an institutional level, Fred Montague, professor of environmental biology, said during a lecture in the Honors Center Nov. 30.

Montague said he does not see a bright future on this planet without drastic measures being taken.

He asked students to re-examine their lifestyles in order to promote the preservation of nature and the inclusion of all people and species in their worldview.

“Students have an amazing amount of potential, time and energy. You need to be really careful about how you use it,” he said.

Montague said that school and society focus on methods that are disastrous for the world, from the well-being of citizens to the welfare of the environment.

“We can tell you how to orchestrate and engineer the domination of nature, but we can’t teach you how to grow a healthy meal or prepare it,” he said.

Montague began by outlining the population growth around the world.

The less wealthy countries, which contain 81 percent of the world’s people, will double in population within the next 60 years.

In wealthy countries, doubling will take 700 years. This is due to wealthy countries’ intervening in death rates but not attempting to affect birth rates.

This ties into ecology because of the methods America uses to advance other societies.

“Right now, we materially develop other countries. Now here’s the problem: in the developed countries, we have 20 percent of the world’s population using 80 percent of the world’s resources and creating 80 percent of the world’s pollution,” he said.

In order for the rest of the world’s 5.2 billion people to achieve the level of material consumption of the wealthy countries, we would need six more planets, he said, offering this as an example of our expending resources beyond our limits.

This value of consumption is shortsighted, Montague said.

“It is impossible to steal from your ancestors. It is illegal to steal from each other. But it has become a way of life and a cornerstone of American economics to steal from the future generations.”

Stephen Jeffries, a junior in finance, said the lecture was revealing.

“Lots of people agree with this stuff-they just don’t know it,” he said.

Jessica Frandsen, freshman biology major, liked the facts but said she found the lack of solutions disappointing.

“You want to have an idea of what to do. The only advice he gave was to drink from mason jars,” she said.

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