Professors offer students some eco-living tips

Posted March 9, 2007

Global warming has become an increasing problem over the last 30 years. Here are some tips from biology professors at the University of La Verne on what students can do to help control global warming.

Christine Broussard, associate professor of Biology believes that top things people can do about global warming are: reducing use of fossil fuels in cars, “trip chaining” and electing more politicians who are aware of greenhouse gases.

“Make sure you do all your trips at once,” Broussard said about trip chaining. “Do all your chores at once.”

Broussard also encourages hybrid cars.

“I strongly recommend people to get a hybrid vehicle,” Broussard said. “I have one myself.”

Broussard also suggested donating to organizations such as TerraPass.

“There are organizations that will allow you to pay for the amount of pounds of greenhouse gases,” Broussard said. “This is the cost that you don’t take into consideration to make up for that, you pay them and they invest in alternative energy: fuel sources, wind energy.”

Another major issue that people should be aware of is transportation.
Broussard notes that vehicles also contribute to global warming and encourages people to use the bus if they can.

High on Broussard’s list is to watch: “An Inconvenient truth.”

“I highly recommend it. The future is now. We’re probably close to the bottom when it comes to fuel efficiency; we can’t even sell our cars to China because we’re not up to China’s regulations.”

Broussard recommends another movie, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” about the beginning of the first modern electric car.

The California Air Resources Board wanted car makers in California to make 10 percent of their cars sold here zero emissions, i.e. electric.

The forerunner was GM. They built the “EV-1” in the 1990s and stated leasing their cars, but they sued CARB, saying it wasn’t possible to have 10 percent of their cars sold be zero emissions.

GM won and they took back all the cars they had leased out and destroyed them.

“They had a seven year jump and they just threw them away,” Broussard said. GM started making the electric car at the end of the 1990s.

“If GM followed up with it they wouldn’t be in dire straits,” Broussard said.

Since then Japanese companies have invested in hybrid cars.

“You still have fossil fuels and electric engine but most of the time you will be running on the battery,” Broussard said.

Broussard is worried about the United States' position on global warming.

“We’re behind in the game and we’re one of the majority,” Broussard said.

Jeffery Burkhart, biology professor and Fletcher Jones Chair of Biology has six tips for those individuals who want to address global warming.

“The key thing is everybody be educated about the issue and in addressing the root problem,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart also suggest to “become and example for others by changing consumptive behaviors.”

“Keep focused on the problem,” Burkhart said. “Little things around the school, we have all kinds of ways to conserve electricity.”

Burkhart notes that it’s the little things that add up like “leaving the computer on over night and never turning it off.”

“At least half the time when I walk by La Fetra all the lights are on,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart has taken many steps at home in order to curb his consumption.

“Something I do at home, I’m on a special energy use plan,” Burkhart said.

“The way I pay per kilowatt. I pay more during the day and less at night. During the day the rates are seven times as high, it saves money and power consumption.”

This idea of consumption is very important to Burkhart. “People should buy green and reduce consumption,” Burkhart said.

“There’s lots of way to reduce consumption of we think about it.”

No. 3 on Burkhart’s list is to “Educate others by your behavior.”

“If we make it a point to recycle it’s a good example for others,” Burkhart said. "Change the ways others review things.”

The fourth thing people can do about global warming is to “Identify your environmental or ecological footprint and seek to address areas of greatest impact.”

This can be found on several Web sites such as myfootprint.org, earthday.net and ecobusinesslinks.com.

The footprint is a measure of land and water needed to support an individual’s lifestyle based on what an individual uses and discards.

The footprint also compares your results to what resources are available on earth.

“It’s 6.9 earths for everyone to live my lifestyle,” Burkhart said. “I was embarrassed by it.”

Fifth on Burkhart’s list is to support agencies such as the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy that are striving to address the problems of global warming.

“If you win over students now, think about the difference over the next 50 years,” Burkhart said. “To have the greatest impact, focus on winning over the youth.”

Finally, Burkhart urges every one to “Vote green, research candidates that identify global warming as a problem requiring immediate steps to resolve.”

“That is something we can do individually,” Burkhart said.

The biology department is deeply concerned about global warming and conserving energy.

“We’re passionate about recycling,” Burkhart said.

“Everybody shuts off lights in our faculty meetings.”

“A lot of people would change if they realized the depth of the problem and the depth of the solution,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart is a member of the Sierra Club and is on the Sustainable Campus Committee at the University of La Verne. He also participated in the first Earth Day in 1970.

“I’ve been involved in Earth Day activities since then,” Burkhart said. “You got to show people, you got to be an example,” Burkhart said.

“It is not possible for the world to live the lifestyle we [Americans] do.”

“Changes start with the individual,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart notes that “already about half of all amphibious animals are already in danger” because of global warming.

Jay Jones, professor of biology and biochemistry, agrees with Burkhart that it’s the little things that matter when trying to control consumption.

“There’s so many simple things,” Jones said. “In our society what we tend to do is come up with a handful of things and that diverts out attentions of what we should be doing.”

Jones suggest cutting back on time in the shower, using only one towel to dry your hands after using the bathroom and using fans and opening or closing windows at the right time during the summer.

“People generally think in terms of energy use and think that can be related to energy what type of vehicle you drive and electrical consumption,” Jones said.

Jones suggests replace incandescent lights with fluorescent of LED lights.
“fluorescent are better, but not as good as LED lights,” Jones said.

Jones notes that “40 percent of electric energy that is produced and utilized goes into pumping water.”

“We’re using a lot of energy; we don’t think that having a green lawn has an effect,” Jones said. “The No. 1 use in urban environments is for landscaping.”

Many people aren’t aware of how much energy is takes to pump water or to have a nice lawn.

“If you really want to have an impact you have to think of all kinds of things,” Jones said.

When Jones visits Aoki, the Japanese restaurant near the university, he bring his own chopsticks with him and never uses a straw.

“Look around the room it’s like the tip of the iceberg when you consider the energy to make these things it’s more than the thing itself,” Jones said.

Jones suggest when you go to market, if you don’t need to buy something, then don’t buy it.

“When you don’t need something don’t use it and if you do use it, use it with the understanding that you’re having an impact,” Jones said.

“Anything that I save in diminishing the time in the shower I save in so many ways.

Jones said that most of the classrooms in Founders Hall and Miller Hall have enough windows that they don’t need the overhead lights.

“In high school we had an exchange teacher come over from Britain,” Jones said.

“We entered the classroom and the lights were off, the sun was beaming in.”

One student had asked why the lights were off and the instructor asked,
“Why would I turn them on?” Jones said.

“I suppose in Britain you turn the lights on when you need it. I do that when there is sufficient light.”

Jones said the best thing students can do is “Understanding that everything we do has an impact.”

Alexandra Lozano can be reached at alozano@ulv.edu.

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