We are a species that is constantly evolving and growing, but it’s at the cost of our planet. We have accelerated the rate of global warming, destroyed a good junk of our natural resources, and killed a lot of animals to extinction. To top it off, we still continue to add more sustainable problems to the pile. The trigger is none other than capitalism and greed (in my opinion of course)! Like all broken things, we attempt to fix it. The solutions range from recycling to raw veganism. In fact, sustainability is now a new field of the job market for the Millennial Generation. My mind is blown away by this fact. It’s another worldwide race. In fact, most East Asian and European countries are on their way to becoming number one.
So where does that put the US?
This semester I got to learn more of these issues and energy efficiency at my internship with the UIC Energy Initiative. I was intrigued by how aware students may be about ANY sustainable practices. I narrowed it down to anyone in a wet lab classroom in SEL in a voluntary survey. Just the entire process astounded me. Most UIC students are not aware of basic “green” practices here in the campus (besides recycling), let alone a wet lab.
If you were to look at our Asian counterparts (my case international students), most are aware of these pressing issues because their country (most said China or Japan) places value on these issues. The US does have it’s push, but I feel that with the overpopulation, overcrowding urban spaces, and limited resources, other countries are forced to come up with more plausible and innovated ideas. They are trying to find ways to save our resources for future generations of their respective generations.
I could go on and on about how important we should emphasize these issues. However, the field of sustainability is very broad and novel. These new changes affect technology, the environment, economies, and geopolitics. This landscape affords unprecedented opportunities for collaborative scientific research and education to answer global challenges with innovative and competitive solutions.
Students should get involved, but first they should learn what they want to impact.
For me, I’m still learning, but I think STEM majors can change the world with fields in green chemistry, innovations towards energy-saving ideas, and much more within the realm of different uses of energy. For example, The UIC Energy Initiative strives towards innovation in the cross-disciplinary fields of energy and sustainability through programs like SISE (an extensive yearly summer program), the iThink lecture series, as well as several UIC courses focused around the important issues of energy.
UIC students can go far, and who knows? We might beat if not catch up our European and Asian counterparts.
Source: UIC students' perspectives; SEL survey; Google Images
Some interesting links: