Environmental Awareness MODULE #7 Narayan Subramanian Columbia University 2013
<ul><li>If you breath air and you drink water, you can’t ignore the environment </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental issues encompass everything including food sustainability, water availability/quality, air quality, species extinction, natural disasters, and rising sea levels to name just a few </li></ul><ul><li>Whether you’re planning on dedicating your life to environmental issues or not, you have a role to play as a citizen of the world </li></ul><ul><li>Often times, the environmental issue is compartmentalized as a separate issue from the economy or security; what we don’t realize is that all these issues are intertwined; a healthy environment is a prerequisite for anything else </li></ul>Why You Should Care
Now that you know why you ought to care, what’s really happening in the world right now…?
<ul><li>As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) </li></ul><ul><li>Climate change could kill 1 in 10 species by the end of the century </li></ul><ul><li>1 meter of sea level rise is considered inevitable by the end of the century, which would effectively submerge most low-lying islands and coastal regions, displacing millions </li></ul><ul><li>One third of all carbon dioxide emitted by humanity has been absorbed by the world’s oceans making them more acidic than they’ve ever been in the last 10 million years. This puts coral reefs and marine life at major risk </li></ul><ul><li>The past decade was the warmest on record according to NASA </li></ul>The Facts
An important thing to note based on all the facts presented in the earlier slide is that though each one of these issues may appear to be separate and distinct, they are in fact all caused by the same mindset– the mindset that we can consume and develop endlessly without a limit. A mentor of mine gave me the analogy that we must advance from a “caterpillar society” to a “butterfly society.” Caterpillars in their nature eat/consume pretty much whatever they come across indiscriminately. They take more from their environment than they put back. Butterflies on the other hand, are very selective in what they consume, and over their lifespan replenish and put more back into their environment than they take from it. We ought to become a butterfly society.
<ul><li>We all can make simple changes to our lifestyles that would have a lasting impact: </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling is certainly good, but what if you just cut down your consumption all together? Not everything that’s put in recycling gets recycled! Instead of opening a new water bottle every time you’re thirsty, why not invest in a reusable bottle? </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce how much you drive. Take public transport or walk whenever you can. It’s a betting mingling experience too! Did you know that on average, every mile you drive puts around 1 lb of carbon into the air? Every mile you avoid driving, is one pound less that the atmosphere has to carry. </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce your meat consumption. Ideally, we’d all be vegans, but I understand it’s not possible overnight. At a minimum, reduce your red-meat consumption. The meat industry by itself accounts for about 17% of carbon emissions. That’s quite huge. </li></ul><ul><li>Buy local! Produce sold at supermarkets are shipped and transported for thousands of miles. Try to grow some of your own produce at home if possible but definitely look into local farmers markets that you can buy from. The food sold at farmers markets are largely local. If you do need to buy from the supermarket, try to avoid buying produce that’s out of season. For example, oranges bought in January are probably shipped from the Southern Hemisphere. </li></ul><ul><li>These are by no means exhaustive. They’re merely simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint </li></ul>What You Can Do
Helpful Websites and Resources Check out the Collegiate Climate Collaboration ( www.collegiateclimatecollab.com ). The website contains the perspectives of college students who strive to raise awareness among youth on environmental issues. Join the discussion! If you’re interested in activism and making a tangible impact, check out www.350.org . The biggest acts of climate activism have all been organized by 350. Other than that, open your eyes and ears to everything that’s being discussed in the news today about the environment. I feel that a lot of us have simply tuned out because of the abundance of information. Tune back in and make a difference!
THANK YOU! NARAYAN SUBRAMANIAN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY [email_address]