Guest column: Get the big picture

By By Lindsay Clark

By Lindsay Clark

Times are changing. As we progress into the 21st century, we have to start paying attention to how we choose to live day to day and how that will affect the future. In other words, we need to start thinking about sustainability.

How will we meet the demands for future generations on an increasingly crowded planet with finite resources? We need to take a critical look at how much waste we throw away, how much fossil fuel we burn, how much pollution we put into our air and water and how these factors in turn create smog-clouded air, chemically-tainted water, eroded soils, disappearing wildlife habitats and melting icebergs. In addition to environmental concerns, there are urgent social and economic issues, such as growing disparities in wealth between the rich and the poor that have serious effects worldwide.

So, what can we do about it?

We can work to establish a better balance between economic development, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. As members of the U community, we have the opportunity to participate in the campus sustainability movement that is gaining support worldwide. Since 1990, more than 300 college leaders have signed the Talloires Declaration that commits them to the pursuit of a sustainable future. College campuses such as Harvard, Berkeley, Cornell, Arizona State and the University of Idaho, to name a few, have made efforts to curb carbon emissions, buy clean energy, reduce waste, increase recycling, serve organic and local foods and plant native species.

The U has also had considerable success with the Associated Students of the University of Utah’s wind-power campaign-a campus-wide building energy retrofit that remains the largest project completed by a higher education institution in the United States. According to the U’s energy consultant, Bianca Shama, her work to conserve energy during her 25 months at the U has avoided the CO2 impact that would be the equivalent of taking 3,228 cars off the road for one year or planting 4,990 acres of trees.

So there is definitely work going on behind the scenes at the U. However, there needs to be more coordination of our efforts so that we can really advance our sustainability.

One way to get directly involved in this is to participate in the upcoming Campus Sustainability Forum today from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Union’s Panorama East Room. Everyone is invited to participate in the discussion and to help envision how the U can improve current efforts. The Sustainable Environments and Ecological Design group that is hosting the event would love to hear from you if you are interested in getting more involved. You can contact the group at [email protected] or contact Lindsay Clark at [email protected]

[email protected]

Editors Note: Lindsay Clark is a senior in environmental studies and French and director of SEED. Derek Moss, a student in the urban planning program, and Brad Jones, an architecture major, contributed to this column.

Lindsay Clark