Global Sustainability

Global long term sustainability represents one of the most complex and difficult challenges that will need be solved by the human race in the decades to come. The steps that will need to be undertaken, will alter the current environmental, political, economical, and societal norms everywhere. For this reason, it requires broad and willing participation in reducing our carbon footprint, limiting the release of greenhouse gasses, and transitioning away from fossil fuels and natural gasses. The latter of these three options will prove the be the most difficult task in my opinion. While countries have taken dramatic steps towards reducing their carbon footprint, removing the dependence on fossil fuels and natural gasses will face much opposition due to it’s deeply ingrained status within societies. To prove this point, Europe has spent just under 80 billion dollars this year importing over 50 million tonnes of fossil fuels and natural gas. This number is very significant; as it accounts for 37% of the European Union budget.

Looking at this issue of removing dependence on fossil fuels another way, Saudi Arabia relies extremely heavily on their ability to export and sell oil on the international market. Accounting for 42% of their GDP, oil and natural gas profits and hungry markets all over the world have been at the heart of many political decisions and actions undertaken by Saudi Arabia. This should reflect how important natural gasses and oil are in the well being and prospering of Saudi Arabia.

Whether you view the issue of burning natural gas and fossil fuels as a sustainability issue or an economic one, one thing that remains constant is the significant grasp that these products have over almost all nations on earth. If we, as a people want to transition away from this source of energy in favor of renewable it will mandate complicit communication on a political, economic, environmental, and societal level.

Mathematics, Sustainability, and Global Learning

I honestly think certain issues are best understood through specific, smaller-scale examples.

For instance, there’s the broad issue of global warming and climate change and human use of fossil fuels and all the corresponding problems that arise as a result. Yet instead of trying to tackle the issue broadly, I think it best to start small and work your way up. Which is why my paper focused on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, a relationship centered almost entirely around 2 fundamental, core values: cheap oil and defensive guarantees.

For too long, in fact since the end of World War II, the United States of America has guaranteed Saudi national security and defense in exchange for a reliable supply of cheap oil supplies. We have overlooked Saudi offenses and atrocities time and time again, to the detriment of our own values and the sacrifice of American lives.

The issue, of course, is U.S. reliance on Saudi oil supplies. On a daily basis, Saudi oil supplies represent roughly 5% of U.S. oil consumption (U.S.E.I.A.).  Obviously, this dependence results in an unwillingness to abandon Saudi Arabia’s record of abuse in favor of what we believe.

As a result, we sacrifice our own values as well as the present and future of our environment in order to maintain the status quo. Clearly, this trade-off is unsustainable to say the least. It requires necessary and immediate change, in both U.S. energy and foreign policy.

Global Learning: Water Conservation

The key to making our world’s population more aware of the impact of the individual is to expose it. In general, we need to have higher standards and we need to do a better job to promote global learning from all three aspects: global awareness, global perspective, and global engagement.

In terms of resources, if a person was to cut his or her shower down from twelve minutes to four minutes, he or she would be saving sixteen gallons of water per shower, or 5,840 gallons per year. This could save a person up to $100 a year on water usage. It is these kinds of mathematics that provide people with the  incentive to change their unsustainable ways. But the big issue is getting this information out to the public, and actually making people relate the issue back to themselves.

Water consumption is a huge concern for today’s population due to how wasteful we tend to be. More water consumed results in higher energy costs and possible shortages in areas where water is not easily accessible. Certain cultures, simply by geographic location, are naturally bound to have a smaller water supply and a higher demand from the population. A huge part of global learning is having that perspective that just because you have a faucet with running water, doesn’t mean another person across the globe has the same luxury.

Below is one way we can start to spread more information to the public.

How to workout sustainably!

For my video, I decided to interview my friend Courtney to talk about her sustainability efforts on campus.  Courtney, an avid runner, described an easy task she does to save energy.  She runs outside instead of running on the treadmill.  This saves electricity, while at the same time gives her the ability to appreciate the beauty of the Union College campus! As mentioned in the video, a normal treadmill uses about 2HP (horsepower), with the average person using it for approximately 30 minutes a day, this means they are using 0.75 kilowatts per hour everyday.  To save energy, run outside!

Green grant, saving water in the bathroom

For the green grant, I would like to see the school further initiate their solution that helps reduce the amount of water waste from toilets and sinks. There are already more sustainable flushing systems and motion-sensored sinks in some of the bathrooms on campus, but I think it should be a universal theme in every building, in all facilities. These sustainable practices are highly beneficial in saving water.

In terms of the dual flushing toilets, they “take water-efficiency one step further: using 1.6 gallons for solid waste and only .8 gallons for liquid waste.” As opposed to using 1 1/2 gallons of water per flush, everywhere that has implemented this system gets to dave almost an entire gallon per flush.

Additionally, “millions of gallons of water are wasted every year through faucets that are left running for too long or not closed properly after use…It is believed that installing motion sensor faucets can save as much as 30% to 50% on overall water use.”

It would be nice to see Union implement these ideas further into campus, as a lot can be achieved by sticking to these sustainable practices.


Green Fee Proposal

My idea is to apply for a grant in order to fund research about the cost/benefit of green renovations to the residence halls. This is important because while the administration and trustees may think renovations are not in the budget, it could save money in the long term. This research would focus on assessing how long it would take for certain renovations to pay back themselves and be more cost-effective than just maintaining the current system. The main renovation that I think is important is a new heating system because that seems to be an area that generates a lot of unnecessary energy. If we could show the board concrete data supporting that renovations such as these will save the school money, they may be more likely to dedicate funds to such a project. This would benefit this school, the environment, and the students’ quality of life.