I grew up on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, in rural Maine. So nature and the environment have always been concerns of mine ever since I was a young child, most the time completely subconsciously, but my parents raised myself and my other two siblings as what some would call “feral children”. We spent most of our time outside with animals and with dirt under our fingernails. The importance of our Earth was drilled into us at a very early age, especially the idea that we must care for it. Our little farm almost completely sustained my family through the spring and summer months. My father, who works in finance, constantly speaks about some economic downfall happening in the world. His words? “I’ve predicted the sky is falling for years and people just now started to look up”. So my childhood was built around the care for the environment and the economy.
My understanding of sustainability is the image of a circle. In a perfect world, waste from humans as a species would benefit other species, but that won’t work or be executed for a number of reasons. Sustainability, at this point to me, just means that we don’t make the environment or the economy any worse. At this point I think that’s the best we can hope for. We, as a generation, have been left a complete mess. Hopefully, we’ll figure out how to clean it up little by little; however, perhaps a major road block we face is the corporate greed that seems to blanket the earth. A small example of this is an article in Bloomberg which speaks about a Harvard study that determines the cost of Carbon capture centers as less, and more efficient, than the cost and efficiency of an electric car. This study has been conducted since 2015, but we’ve heard nothing of it. Why? Why have we been kept in the dark about something that could yield almost immediate results to our environment? The idea of sustainability needs to involve questions on our part. A lot of questions.
I honestly don’t believe that there will ever be a day where there will be zero waste, zero pollution, and so forth. I do think that there can be a drastic decrease however. Just like a lot of people who want to help the environment, my beliefs don’t always line up with my everyday rituals concerning what I eat and use. However, I’m really hoping that doing the math behind sustainability will embolden me into practicing sustainability in my life. My younger sister chose the picture…
The concept of sustainability seems like an simple idea but in theory a very difficult task to bring into fruition. Sustainability is the balance between the abundant resources produced by nature and the rate of consumption by humans. Growing up in Cape Verde the idea of sustainability was important for resources where limited and the teachings of resource consumption was common. The environment is something really important to me because I grew up surrounded by the ocean with beautiful beaches and spent most of my time exploring nature. I have spent a few summers working with a non profit organization called Save the Harbor Save the Bay, where we educated children on that dangers of pollution and how improper disposal of natural resources could negatively damage the ocean. The planet is heading in a negative direction when it comes to the conservation of natural resources, for money is an important factor that dictates the decisions about climate change in the future. The population continues to grow and the resources being used are only amounting to higher numbers, but there are other alternative resource of energies that can be used. Creating a healthy world where energy can be used without the harming of the planet would be amazing for the future generations will have the opportunity to experience joy the wonders of nature.
Being from a very rural part of the country, I was raised in the midst of nature. My small, isolated town in south-central Idaho is nestled in the Wood River Valley which cuts through four major mountain ranges and soars at its 6,500 foot elevation above sea level. The air is thin and crisp and the landscape is simply spectacular. About 20 minutes north of my house, the alpine region of Idaho begins with thick pine forests, mountain peaks that are covered with snow even on the hottest summer day, and is inhabited by moose, bears, wolves, bobcats, bald eagles and many others. However, traveling about 35 minutes south of my house, the high desert region stretches down to the Nevada border. The sagebrush covered camas prairie stretches for miles and is home to cacti, rattle snakes, scorpions, jackrabbits and coyotes. Living in between these two very distinct habitats causes my family and the other members of my community to constantly experience severe weather events. We have all had to evacuate our homes four separate times due to wildfires. Houses have been washed down the river during the spring runoff severe flood season and lives are lost every winter as a result of catastrophic avalanches. We all have a healthy respect of the nature that surrounds us and fully understand how dangerous the frontier lifestyle can be. Because of our severe weather events and the fact that we are so remote, (the nearest airport is 3 hours by car over through the prairie), we are raised to from infancy with sustainable practices. For example, in my home, we have no heat or air conditioning. During the sub-zero alpine winter, we chop wood and burn fires in our fireplaces to keep warm. We hunt for much of our own meat and we partner with local ranchers to get what we cannot grow ourselves. Everything is a whole community effort; that is how we survive the harsh conditions. We live because of the land, not in spite of it. Sustainability is a way of life for us because it is a necessity and we cherish our culture and system. I feel that now, more than ever, it is important for everyone around the world to be more conscious of their environmental impact and inform themselves on ways that they can reduce their footprint. Sustainability is incredibly important to me and my hope is that sustainable practices will become more common and widely used everywhere.
As a Political Science major, the goal is to understand how states are created, how they operate, and the effects that policy decisions have on society as a whole. Oftentimes environmental sustainability and global climate change become politicized issues that are now partisan in nature. This is unfortunate, as sustainability is deeply intertwined with the quality of life that people have. From my understanding sustainability relates to maintaining the makeup of our planet and ensuring that there are enough resources to support human life. The modern world often threatens sustainability, and it is important for people to understand these threats; whether it be from climate change, or lack crops and food. In the Spring I took a geology class that covered climate change and I feel as though I at least have a basic understanding of the issue. Another course that I’ve taken that relates to the issue of sustainability was Human Security. Human Security is a concept brought forth by the United Nations that describes ways in which governments worldwide can enact policies that give people the ability to live lives that are secure from the threats of violence, hunger, and poverty. Last winter break I had the opportunity to study in India. When I was there, our group saw firsthand at how some of these issues can directly effect quality of life. In taking this course, I hope to brush up on my math skills a bit and garner knowledge about how people and governments address the issue of sustainability worldwide.
Growing up living on a beach has exposed me to the detrimental effects that humans can have on the environment. Vacationers aren’t able to see the damage their carelessness can cause over time. Beach cleanups do assist with some of the pollution taking place on public beaches, but plastics still continue to get left buried in the sand. A study by Carolyn Barry found that these plastics can degrade somewhat rapidly, thus filling the ocean with chemical pollution. Just by chasing after that trash that blew away or picking up an empty water bottle while taking a stroll down the beach can make a huge impact. Every summer I partake in four huge community beach clean ups and the amount of trash collected each time is unsettling.
Through community service projects both on campus as well as at home, I aim to help reduce the community’s carbon footprint. I hope that through this class I can learn more about the other ways I can impact the environment. I also want to learn more about the global sustainability statistics and how carbon footprints can be measured.
The first moment I saw the earth as more than a mere surface we live on was my freshman year of high school. I was on a service trip in Nicaragua, and on the final night we climbed to the top of an active volcano, and sat while watching the most incredible sunset I have ever witnessed. Watching the incredibly large, bright red sun move down beneath the mountains on the horizon within minutes and witnessing the entire view turn to darkness was a new level of breathtaking. This is when I started to understand the utter beauty of this planet.
When I noticed that this was an option for a course, I felt that it would be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about making sure the planet can stay as beautiful and natural as possible. People constantly try to convince others to do what they can to help the environment and the world we live in, but so many of us do not understand why, or just how bad the state of our planet is. I think learning the specific stats and numbers surrounding the problem of the poor state of our environment will not only bring more light to the problem, but hopefully convince people to do what they can to help.
My first experience in understanding sustainability was while I was working on a project in elementary school. We each had to choose a household item and trace back every step on how it went from raw resources to the final product. I chose a pencil, an item I used everyday but had never thought about how it came to be in my hand. That project was a kind of awakening which has been important in my understanding that every purchase I make and product I use has an impact on many people and resources all over the world.
I have always tried to be conscious of my carbon footprint and do my best to implement sustainable habits in my life. However, I am hypocritical very often. I try to use a reusable bottle every chance I can, but I often buy plastic. I eat meat and animal products, even though I am aware that they are a huge contributor to global warming. Many of my everyday practices contradict the values and morals I believe in.
I hope that through seeing physical numbers in this course which represent some of my less-sustainable habits, I can be more conscious about my impact on the globe and be more prompted to make small changes to better the world around me.
In my opinion, a sustainable environment is an environment in which individuals are cautious about their impact on the planet for not only the present day, but for future generations. I was not particularly familiar with sustainability issues until my term in Washington, DC this past spring. As an intern on the Hill, I worked closely with the SEEC (Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition) director to create innovative ideas in which the government could help lessen our environmental hazards through the implementation of a variety of programs. We looked at ways to enhance United States’ infrastructure to conserve energy, and analyzed a variety of bills in support of our ideals. For example, we uncovered that the current electric grid needs to be updated and modernized because it wastes valuable energy due to its out-of-date transmission. If clean energy technologies were used in place of the current system, it would improve efficiency, lower emissions, and even withstand climate impacts. We also looked at how federal investment can help support local governments by allowing them to improve their water systems to ensure clean water across the country. Through my work with SEEC, I was able to understand how sustainability efforts cover an assortment of topics, and how individuals can contribute to these efforts in a positive manner.
I became aware of the importance of environmental sustainability in middle school when I was on an alpine ski team. I love ski racing, but our competition was limited by our environment. If we had an unusually warm day in the middle of January, the ice on the race course would melt, leaving the course slushy and slow. If we had an unusually warm winter, we could lose weeks of practice and races due to the lacking snow conditions. Although I stopped skiing competitively, I still live with the lessons I learned about why environmental sustainability is so important. Today, I try to reduce by carbon footprint in whatever small ways I can, such as by taking shorter showers and separating my trash and recycling. However, I believe I could do, and should do, much more to reduce my carbon footprint. I hope to learn more about how I can do so in this course, Mathematics of Sustainability.
It is important to me to understand sustainability because our everyday personal choices both affect and depend on our environment. The decisions we make on a daily basis can have an impact on our surroundings, for better or for worse. In this course, I hope to learn how to combine quantitative reasoning skills with my knowledge of sustainability and the environment in order to help me make the best choices for myself and my planet. By learning how to interpret, analyze, and understand the environment quantitatively, I believe I can learn to make more socially-just decisions and reduce my carbon footprint.
My definition of sustainability is the ability to avoid resource depletion in order to maintain the world’s equilibrium and benefit future generations. Ways to do this has been introduced to me since I was in grade school, but recently I feel as if issues regarding sustainability are more prominent as ever due to rising awareness of issues such as climate change, pollution, food production, and overuse of materials. The general consensus is that humans are using resources at a pace that we will never be able to maintain. Earth Overshoot Day touches upon how we would basically need another two planets to account for the natural resources used along with our rapidly growing population. The article also states that our carbon footprint has the largest impact yet. I am very interested in learning about the effects of carbon dioxide emission and the numbers that provide insight regarding the damage that has already occurred, projected damage, and what we can do to make changes.