Environmental Sustainability Essay
The environment is really something we should start worrying about more than war or making more and more money. We are changing our world, “The old ideas-particularly that warfare was a kind of natural extension of statecraft-had survived a great deal of scaling up. But the explosion of the first nuclear weapon clearly made us reconsider the idea of war” (McKibben 500) This is because the nuclear weapons we had created a weapon that could not only kill millions of people but leave the soil poisoned with radioactivity, leave a nuclear winter behind, and even send society back to the Stone Age.
Now we could affect the natural world in a massive and significant way, unlike before when our actions had little effect on the environment around us. This sparked the idea that our actions do have a long lasting effect on the environment; the idea had been around since the mid-nineteenth century, Diplomat George Perkins Marsh helped spread these thoughts, one of his ideas was that cutting down whole woodlands was changing hydrological cycles. McKibben 500) Rachel Carson was among the first in the mid-twentieth century to suggest that our effects could be felt across the whole of creation, which took a real shine off the idea of technical progress for most Americans. (McKibben 501) In recent years we have started to change how we understand nature, mostly because we see the effects of the climate change we have helped cause.
The environmentalist movement has even changed to the global warming movement, because that’s where money and politics are concentrated. (McKibben 501) The biggest problem the environmentalist is facing is the fact that they are not just trying to change the ways cars emit exhaust or saving national parks from being cut down, but they are trying to decarbonize the entire country, to remove the fossil fuel base on which our society runs, and to change it all in a matter of years.
It is simply impossible if done by a small organization, that’s the reason you see ad campaigns on billboards or on magazines, it is because environmental organizations need the help, they need to expand their influence so something can be done quickly, and to push people to become green, even colleges are starting to take a part on becoming green. The Princeton Review is starting to release annual guides for colleges so they will include a ranking based on: environmentally preferable food, power from renewable resources and energy-efficient uildings. (Zernike 503) Colleges simply cannot pass an opportunity to be on the top of a ranking, and in a sense it’s a win win opportunity, the college gets a spot on the Princeton Review ranking giving it a better public image and the environment is being helped out. Colleges across the country are racing to be the greenest college in the country. (Zernike 504) Some are even setting their sights on becoming carbon neutral in the conceivable future; others are hiring sustainability coordinators, and are competing with one another to get green power.
The thing that Colleges want to also ensure is that students won’t take easy steps to raise their school’s ranking, but to actually do big things, like changing their air exchange system to help lower their greenhouse gas emission, and not just do things like ask for biodegradable utensils for the cafeteria. Mary Gorman, an associate provost at Dartmouth stated that the big results come from projects that sound less catchy and depend less on students than on those who manage the buildings. Zernike 505) Much like those institutions that are reshaping their campuses by converting to greener fuel, and power sources and even building their own wind turbines. (Zernike 503) Colleges are not the only ones trying to become greener, but also cities are starting to be greener and fight climate change.
The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg is the chairman of the C40, a group of mayors from the world’s 40 largest cities who are fighting climate change. (Emmons) He has stated that “(Climate change is) the greatest challenge that humanity has ever created for itself. Bloomberg sees cities as major points in the fight against global warming and climate change. Large cities are home to half the world’s population and they account for as much as 70% of global CO2 emissions. They are also the hubs and engines for the world’s economic, political, and social development. (Emmons) Their legislative power, however, to regulate buildings, density, energy use, and transportations cities can start setting a building ground to help with climate change. Cities have also started to realize that the greener they are, the better their quality of life, and a better ranking in the world’s economy.
An idea to help climate change in cities is to upgrade urban slums into environmentally sound cities that will be created “from scratch” in thinly populated areas of China, India, and other countries. These instant cities will be designed, and built to be more livable and more competitive; that means densely populated, high energy-efficient urban centers, with excellent intra- and intercity mass transportation. We have been able to figure out ways to greatly reduce our emission of greenhouse gases, but green renewable energy has been hard to work with.
We have wind turbines, which obviously work from the simple power of the wind, but the only problem is that they can only power a small amount of populated areas, and wind farms must be in places with constant wind movement. Then there’s electrical cars that hardly emit greenhouse gasses but at the same time that electricity is coming from a factory that is releasing countless amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, yes the cars don’t emit exhaust like normal cars, but the energy they run on still causes CO2. Then we got water power, like the Niagara Falls, which power a good portion of the Northeastern U. S. ut water power is only useful when it comes from a constant and large amount of water. Another example would be Hoover Dam, but in places like southeastern Arizona there are not enough large amounts of water available to power the state, let alone a whole region of the U. S.
Then there is natural gas, which proved to be reliable in New York City during the Sandy Hurricane. Natural gas lines run across the city along with the wires that carry electricity. This separate energy system allows businesses to produce electricity themselves in small, highly efficient gas-powered generators at their facilities. Revkin) This helped New York City University and Co-op City, a housing complex in the Bronx, stay way warm and bight because they can create their own heat and electricity. Mayor Michael Bloomberg already has given strong support to expanding natural gas supplies to New York City, to help reduce the use of heavy oil in heating. (Revkin) Natural gas should be harvested responsibly, and urban gas lines and the pipelines from the national supplies to New York City need to be carefully built and maintained. (Revkin) This new interest in natural gas could help not just New York City, but cities or countries around the world.
The environment is finally getting the attention we should’ve given it hundreds of years ago, and we should all try helping a little, from donating to organizations to recycling to even being a part of an organization and getting involved with them. The world is not ours, we belong to the world, so we should take care of it, because without it we wouldn’t be here.
McKibben, Bill. “The Challenge To Environmentalism. ” Trans. Array Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. Laurie G. Kirszner, Stephen R. Mandell and . Seventh Edition. New York: Prentice Hall, 2011. 00-503. Print. Zernike, Kate. “The Challenge To Environmentalism. ” Trans. Array Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. Laurie G. Kirszner, Stephen R. Mandell and . Seventh Edition. New York: Prentice Hall, 2011. Emmons , Garry. “Designing Cities for a Sustainable Future. ” Harvard Business School. Harvard Business School, 19 2011. Web. 5 Dec 2012. <http://hbswk. hbs. edu/item/6845. html>. Revkin, Andrew C.. “How Natural Gas Kept Some Spots Bright and Warm as Sandy Blasted New York City. ” The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 2012. Web. 5 Dec 2012.