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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Searching for sustainability

    Stuck in the middle of an arid desert, Tucson is decidedly far from the greenest locale around. However, our dry environment makes Tucson – and the UA – the perfect place to foster another kind of “”green””: sustainability.

    Wednesday marked the beginning of the university’s Sustainability Week, a series of events designed to promote discussion of environment-friendly living on campus and in the community. Talking about a green campus is important – but environmental problems won’t stop when this week’s events are over. The UA’s sustainability Web site says, “”We strive to be the premier place society turns to for innovative solutions for our changing world.”” We hope our campus can meet that goal. In the future, the UA should strive to become a leader in sustainability research and its application.

    As awareness of global issues like climate change has grown over the past few years, the idea of “”sustainability”” has become a popular trend – look no further than the futile spectacle of this summer’s star-laden Live Earth concerts for an example of its appeal. But although green living may be in vogue today, it’s more than a fleeting fad. The basic idea behind the sustainability movement – to meet today’s needs without compromising tomorrow’s – is a logical policy for a world changing faster than we may expect.

    But let’s face it: environmentalism can be expensive, and the Achilles heel of sustainable living is the cost associated. Sustainability requires individuals to think about and value the future, a task that is difficult for most. Universities that have jumped on the sustainability bandwagon have experienced the costs and difficulties of ecological consciousness firsthand. The University of Florida levied an exorbitant driving tax on campus, hiking parking permit prices over $3,000 in an effort to discourage carbon-spewing cars. Middlebury College spent $11 million dollars on a wood-chip burning biomass plant that won’t actually reduce carbon emissions until years in the future. And Arizona State has gone crazy for sustainability, spending millions of dollars on building projects, sustainability studies and university bureaucracy as their size continues to expand. These are all examples of sustainability via dictum – policies handed down to clean up higher education.

    Over the past few years, the UA has taken a different approach. Our school has built a green movement from the bottom up – one that includes faculty, students and the community in the drive to build a sustainable campus. It’s a bright idea – going green through individual action rather than institutional management helps mitigate sustainability’s costs. It also keeps green growth from stopping at the edge of campus by encouraging community collaboration. For example, a recent overhaul of the UA Visitor Center, which installed solar panels and added a rainwater harvesting system was a collaboration between ECOalition, a student group, university faculty and administrators, and Tucson Electric Power, as well as other community groups. And the university itself has found places to promote sustainability – campuswide recycling programs, a flex-fuel motor pool and buildings complying with sustainability standards, to name a few.

    The mindful Wildcats who are doing their part to build a greener university deserve praise. The best way to build an eco-friendly campus isn’t through plans passed down from up high – it’s through individual action. So take the message of sustainability to heart this week – toss this paper in a recycle bin when you’re done with it, hop on a bike instead of in a car and flip off the lights to reduce your carbon footprint. A sustainable campus is your responsibility.

    Opinionz Board
    Editorials are determined by the Wildcat Opinions Board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler, Connor Mendenhall and Jeremiah Simmons.

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