The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Canadian professor discusses ecological crisis

By Christy Andersen/reporter

Even though the U.S. is going through an economic crisis, an even bigger catastrophe, the depletion of the earth’s resources is looming ahead, a Canadian professor told TCC audiences last week.

Charles Hopkins, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization Chair at York University in Toronto presented Sustainability: Beyond Environmentalism on South and SE campuses Feb. 17-19.

“What happens when everyone wants something?” he asked. “With a world population of 6.5 billion, heading to 9.5 billion in the coming years, we are going to run out of natural resources.”

Hopkins used images from one of the most important mountain formations, Mount Kilimanjaro, to show how the snow has melted dramatically from the peaks because of global warming. Another mountain chain, the Himalayans, which provides drinking water, crop and irrigation water to two-thirds of the world population is also melting and shrinking at a rate of 10 percent per year.

Another staggering fact, Hopkins said, is that the world’s population of bees is dying off.

“Without these bees to help pollinate our crops, we will have to find a way to do it ourselves,” he said. “We need to utilize Mother Nature’s resources while we still have them.”

Hopkins also brought up the ecological footprints the population is leaving behind for future generations. An ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystem. Hopkins said most Americans spend their extra money on material items, such as a new car or recreational vehicle, but Europeans spend a great deal on the arts.

“Think about how much of an impact on the environment a painting versus a Winnebago would make,” he said.

In 1992, the largest recorded gathering of world leaders traveled to Rio de Janeiro to make a commitment to work toward sustainable development. Leaders proposed several initiatives. Hopkins said the most important was helping the world’s most impoverished country achieve higher education to stem population growth.

A reported 85 percent of the world’s population lives in developing countries. Out of those, only 3 percent make it to secondary education. Hopkins said the theory is that the more educated a person is, the more he or she can contribute to help sustain the environment.

“The advantages of a Prius are completely irrelevant if a person is not educated on how these hybrid vehicles work,” he said.

In many developing countries, families are large because of necessity, Hopkins said. The more family members can work or farm crops, the more income that can be brought in. So, if family members can find a better paying job through higher education to help support their needs, they are less likely to have more children, which will help reduce the surge in population growth.

When asked what the average American citizen can do to help with this large-scale global problem, Hopkins’ answer was simple. “Use less resources,” he said. “If you live in New York, you don’t own a car. Less resources used, less emissions, better for the environment.”

For those who do not live in areas that offer a subway system, he suggested the use of buses or light rail, like the DART system in Dallas.

Hopkins also suggested finding a way to redefine happiness. He said Americans are very much into material goods. Out of half a trillion dollars spent globally worldwide in advertising, half is spent in the United States exclusively because manufacturers know Americans are likely to buy the product advertised.

“Instead of going out and spending that bonus or tax return, try investing the money and go to a local art museum or park,” he said.

These typically free or low-cost options do little to harm the environment, just one small step each person can take to help out now and for future generations, he said.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian