Let’s learn about climate change

Looking at Ferris' conservation initiatives

If climate change remains unchecked, it is projected to push 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030, according to the MGH Institute of Health Professions. 

In response to this problem, Ferris is choosing sustainability. 

Defining climate change 

Jerry Griffith, a social and behavioral sciences adjunct professor, notes that scientists primarily agree that the average global temperature is increasing, and there have been changes in rainfall, snowfall, drought and other weather events.

“NASA reports that the average global temperature since 1880 has increased by just under 2° F. This may not sound like a lot, but it is significant when you consider the difference in average temperatures between an ice age and an interglacial period is about 6° F,” Griffith wrote in an email to the Torch. 

There are many factors contributing to the changes that have been witnessed in the Earth’s climate. Some of these factors are natural, such as volcanic emissions or cycles of the earth’s orbital parameters. However, scientists have found that the primary factor in climate change is the role humans play in greenhouse gas emissions.  

Ferris initiatives 

President David Eisler explained that Ferris has done a lot of work with sustainability, especially in recycling and energy conservation. However, he admits that much more can be done at Ferris.

One aspect of conservation at Ferris is recycling. The Physical Plant’s staff goes around campus everyday, collecting recyclable material from every bin. The materials are then taken to the Mecosta County Recycling Center.

There are recycling receptacles inside the buildings on campus, and there are also larger recycling containers on the campus’ outskirts.

“… At one time there was very little recycling at Ferris. I think that’s kind of embedded in the work that we do,” Eisler said.  

Eisler further explained that energy conservation is another of Ferris’ goals, and even the choice of lights used in a building can make a difference.

The goals of energy conservation are outlined on Ferris’ website, and they explain the goal is to minimize energy and water consumption at Ferris.

“Efforts to minimize energy and water consumption include the implementation of modifications to mechanical and electrical systems and participation in behavior modification programs,” the site said. 

The methods Ferris has adopted in regards to how they conduct their building and renovating projects has also allowed them to remain sustainable.

Eisler explained that, when the Ranken Center was replaced by the University Center six years ago, two residence halls were knocked down in the process. Instead of throwing away all the products from the destroyed buildings, Ferris chose to grind up the bricks and blocks and use them as the base for the University Center’s parking lot.

“… Fifteen years ago, all that stuff would be thrown away. Now, you can grind that up. So, the work we are doing with the asphalt paving across campus is important,” Eisler said.  

Where do we go from here?

While climate change may be daunting and seem too large to change, Griffith has some suggestions for ways to make a difference.

First, he explained that being educated on the topic is incredibly important, and NASA’s climate change webpage (climate.nasa.gov) provides many great resources and information. 

Reducing individual carbon footprints can also be important. Some suggestions are to carpool, use public transportation and make homes more energy efficient.

“However, while it is a good thing to reduce one’s carbon footprint, let us not forget who is really to blame, Griffith wrote. “The main culprits for greenhouse gas emissions and the current climate crisis are the coal, oil and natural gas industries and the large multinational corporations whose supply chains of resource extraction, manufacturing and transport release huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Shifting the responsibility of the climate crisis to individuals has been a strategy of theirs to deflect responsibility away from them.”

Because of this, it is essential for students, faculty and staff to vote. Voting gives people the opportunity to help put leaders whose priorities include addressing climate change and holding institutions responsible for their detrimental impact on the environment in office, which will allow real change to occur.