Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Palm Beach Community College Environmental Sustainability Essay

One of the biggest issues nowadays is environmental sustainability. Sustainability came from the root word ‘sustain’. â€Å"To sustain means to support, bear the weight of, to keep going and to keep alive† (Petry 2). In College Reading 4, Cheryl Benz and Cynthia Shuemann defined environmental sustainability as: â€Å"the ability of the environment to function indefinitely without going into a decline from the stresses imposed by human society on natural systems (such as soil, water, and air) that maintain life† (129). Here is another definition of environmental sustainability by Kelsey and Becker: â€Å"The general concept of ‘environmental sustainability’ refers to the necessary balance between human wants and needs and the capacity of the natural systems of the earth† (31). As stated in the website of Environmental Protection Agency, the term â€Å"sustainability† was first used in 1987 when World Commission on Environment and Development report: Our Common Future was published. The concept of sustainability is still in used nowadays and it is of great help for the human race. The whole world is currently experiencing one of the most serious problems regarding the environment which is global warming. We, the human beings are taking for granted the world we are living in. Instead of protecting the world from degradation, we serve as the agents of world’s deterioration through our selfish activities and behaviors. Pollution, fast population growth, non-conservation of energy and exploitation of natural sources are some of the human activities that cause environmental problems. Here now comes the issue on environmental sustainability. Can we still say that the environment is capable of sustaining or giving the needs of the present generation as well as the needs of the future generation? Environmental science and the concept of environmental sustainability can be used to help the nations, organizations or even the single individuals in resolving the problems we are facing right now. In opening the minds of individuals about the environmental issues and sustainability, higher education can be used as medium or means. Higher education specifically college level can be used in making the individuals, especially the youth, aware of the environmental degradation the earth is experiencing right now. The universities are one of the best channels in providing the individuals with knowledge and awareness about sustainable development. What is sustainable development? According to Environmental Protection Agency, sustainable development is defined as â€Å"development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. † Sustainable development is very beneficial not only to the environment but also to economic growth, technological advancement and improvement of quality of life. According to Roger Petry, the university plays as a key contributor to sustainable development. The following are the reasons why Petry considers the university as mediator for sustainable development: a) The university can contribute breadth of knowledge, particularly of human and ecological systems; (b) it has the capacity to integrate knowledge regarding ecological, economic, and social issues, including local knowledge; (c) it has the capacity for global and local sharing of knowledge; (d) it provides knowledge to the poor and marginalized groups; (e) it has the capacity for long-term research; (f) it has academic freedom and institutional autonomy and (g) it is subjected to public accountabilities. 11) In order for higher education to become more sustainable, national and international sustainability declarations were developed. The sustainability declarations for higher education, which are stated according to chronological orders, are as follow: The Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment (1972), Tbilisi Declaration (1977), University Presidents for a Sustainable Future: The Talloires Declaration (1990), The Halifax Declaration (1991), Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – Chapter 36: Promoting Education, Public Awareness and Training (1992), Ninth International Association of Universities Round Table: The Kyoto Declaration (1993), Association of Commonwealth Universities’ Fifteenth Quinquennial Conference: Swansea Declaration (1993), CRE Copernicus Charter (1994) and International Conference on Environment and Society – Education and Public Awareness for Sustainability: Declaration of Thessaloniki (1997) (Wright 1). The Stockholm Declaration of 1972 was the first declaration ever made for the sustainability of higher education. Its focus is on the relationship of humanity and environment. The declaration failed to protect the right of natures and it is clearly centered on human (Wright 2). The Tibilisi Declaration was created during the conference by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on 1977. The Tbilisi Conference echoed the sentiments of the Stockholm Declaration by stating that environmental education should be provided to people of all ages, all levels of academic aptitude and must be delivered in both formal and non formal environments. † (Wright 2) â€Å"The Talloires Declaration was the first statement made by university administrators of a commitment to sustainability in higher education. It stated that university heads must provide leadership and support to mobilize internal and external resources so that their institutions respond to this urgent challenge. † (Wright 2-3) The Kyoto Declaration of 1990 was created during the Ninth International Association of Universities Round Table with the attendance of 90 international university leaders. Agenda 21 and the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro are two important conferences in environmental sustainability and biodiversity. The Kyoto Declaration is closely related to these two significant conferences (Wright 5). Almost 400 universities from 47 countries attended the ratification of the Swansea Declaration. One of its important contributions is the prioritization of the third world or the less developed countries. The wealthy countries must support those less developed countries regarding sustainable development among universities (Wright 5-6). The Thessaloniki Declaration of 1997 was ratified during the UNESCO Conference on Environment and Society: Education and Public Awareness For Sustainability that was held in Thessaloniki, Greece. The declaration argued that the concept of environmental sustainability must be clearly linked with poverty, population, food security, democracy, human rights, peace and health and a respect for traditional cultural and ecological knowledge. † (Wright 7) Palm Beach Community College is one of those universities that includes sustainability in their curriculum. â€Å"Palm Beach Community College is committed to providing the best educational opportunity for our current students while ensuring that the same opportunity for success is available to our future students as well. Therefore our entire educational organization has dedicated itself to focusing on improving the three areas of sustainability on our campuses and in our community: environmental protection, economic growth and social responsibility. (Palm Beach Community College Sustainability) The above passage is the mission statement of Palm Beach Community College as stated in their website. Palm Beach Community College promotes environmental sustainability by teaching their students about it. They also enhance the awareness of their students regarding sustainability. Palm Beach Community College is a very good example on how higher education can promote sustainability. Palm Beach Community College has many activities that practice sustainable development not only for their students but also for the whole community. Palm Beach Community College is indeed a very great model for promoting sustainability. A good example for this is the use of green buildings in their university. Green buildings are buildings made of materials that are environment friendly. They also made renovations of existing buildings in order to attain greater sustainability (Building and Renovation). Also through energy conservation, sustainability is attained. In order to conserve energy, the lighting in the campus is composed of bulbs that consume less energy. Air conditioning consumes large amount of energy. In order to lessen energy consumption, the university introduced technological innovations to their air conditioners and also the university implemented the greater temperature in their classrooms (Energy Management). Palm Beach Community College also improves their landscaping and grounds. Improvement on landscape and grounds that were mentioned in the website are reducing pesticide use, planting native vegetation, minimizing lawn space, removing pavement, or designing wildlife habitat areas. These activities not only promote environmental sustainability but also display aesthetic value of the campus (Grounds / Landscaping). Palm Beach Community College believes that wildlife must be saved so that the next generation will be able to see those endangered species. One good example of wildlife conservation is the protection of owls inside the campus. The owls give the campus with lesser rodent population in return (Wildlife). Services in Palm Beach Community also prop up environmental sustainability. They encourage their students to eat foods from plants like vegetables and fruits. They also discourage students to use non-environment friendly packaging of food like Styrofoam and plastics (Food Service). â€Å"Green Cleaning is an approach to janitorial services that offers better environmental performance and improved worker health and safety, while retaining the same sanitation quality as traditional, more chemical-intensive methods. † (Housekeeping) The university also pushes the use of environment-friendly cleaning products. Recycling is the best way for waste management. All wastes that can be still used must be reused or recycled in order to lessen the wastes that are being thrown away. By this, pollution can be avoided (Waste Management). Sustainable procurement involves making conscious purchasing choices to conserve resources, mitigate pollution and waste, and promote a healthy economy. † (Procurement) Toxic chemicals and substances are used in printing but Palm Beach Community College promotes another way of printing which is ‘green printing’. The university encourages their students to use recycled papers, double-sided printing, and soy-based inks that are not toxic and less harmful in the environment (Printing). â€Å"PBCC defines service-learning as a teaching method that increases student engagement and success through community involvement to apply theories or skills being taught in a course. (Service Learning) Through service learning, the students are exposed to real life social issues and by that the students can learn how to apply sustainability in order to improve the environment, economy and quality of life. PBCC encourages students to join Ecology clubs in order for them to join co-curricular activities regarding the environment. â€Å"Palm Beach Community College offers students the opportunity to become actively involved with award winning clubs and organizations, by promoting the development of leadership skills, challenging special interests and encouraging interaction with other students. † (Mission Statement & Student Clubs & Organizations at the Boca Raton Campus) Some of the events sponsored by Palm Beach Community College are Earth Day, Coastal Cleanup, Transportation transformation and Green Expo. These events are very important to the environment since it is when environmental sustainability is practiced. It is also a very good time for PBCC to educate other people about sustainable development of the environment. As an individual, what can we do to our environment? Palm Beach Community College suggests some ways that we can do for the welfare of the environment. Some of these ways are conservation of energy and water, waste management at home and at work and living a ‘green’ lifestyle (What Can I Do). Not only the youth and the adults can serve as stewards of environmental rehabilitation, the kids can also help. Palm Beach Community College offers activities for kids that can enhance their awareness on environmental sustainability and at the same time they are enjoying and learning. Some of these activities are Gorilla in the green house, Fish in the lake and National geographic kids (Green for Kids). Smoke emission and the use of non-renewable resources like fossil fuels are some of the problems that are being encountered in transportation. Since transportation is a necessity inside the campus, Palm Beach Community College implements ways and means in minimizing environmental degradation due to waste by-products of transport vehicles. Alternative fuels, such as ethanol and electricity, carpooling incentives, increased bike accessibility, and other solutions are being explored on campuses across the country†¦ and as a result, these campuses are saving money, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, decreasing water runoff, and realizing myriad other benefits. † (Transportation) In the world we are living right now, we can say that the environment is not that sustainable and it has now less capacity to support life. The people nowadays are destroying the nature that God had given us. It is not only the environment that we are not taking care of but also the lives of the future generations. We are leaving then but problems on environment and low quality of life. What we need right now are stewards of environments who will restore its beauty and sustainability. Through higher education, agents of environmental sustainability were being created. One example of the universities that produces individuals that are concerned to the environment is the Palm Beach Community College. It not only opens the eyes of students on current issues regarding the environment but it also brings-up the awareness and sense of responsibilities of students. By that, environmental sustainability is attained. Also, in our own little ways we can bring back what we have lost. If only each and every individual will help on the restoration of the environment, attaining sustainability will be faster.

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