The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Warning: global destruction ahead

From Al Gore to Gwyneth Paltrow, the world is “going green.” President Bush’s Texas ranch is environmentally friendly and Sandra Bullock drives a Prius. While celebrities and politicians are all speaking “environmentally friendly,” it seems that there is more we can do to stop polluting the environment we live in.

Perhaps we are headed toward a world where Dallas sits under a cloud every day and pollution count is not of passing interest but will dictate when and for how long we can go outside.

Environmental changes can be made through deliberate and thoughtful small steps. The question is, how many SMU students actually take those steps? As we begin to realize that we will be around for at least another 50 years and our children and grandchildren much longer, it becomes evident that being better stewards of our world is important.

In working toward a better and more environmentally responsible world, SMU has established an Environmental Science Program. Headed by Dr. Bonnie Jacobs, it is an interdisciplinary program concentrated in math and the sciences.

“We are trying to create a new program in sustainability which would merge science, social science, humanities and engineering,” said Jacobs. “It will be another way of educating students about environmental issues, as well as give them a background to work for a company [that] wants to become more sustainable.”

Speaking with Jacobs, it is evident that SMU has not given up the fight in becoming environmentally friendly. The university practices what it teaches and designed the new J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering building to meet the highest standard in energy and environmental design.

The Embrey building is gold LEED certified, making it one of the first academic buildings in this country to be constructed under Leadership in Energy and Environmental design. This LEED gold certification is the second highest level in being an environmentally friendly structure.

According to the School of Engineering’s Web site, “The building will save the University an estimated 30 percent in energy, water and maintenance costs annually in comparison with a non-LEED building.”

The Embrey building is not the only successful project SMU has completed to become more resourceful.

“With a big push from the students, The Planning and Plant operations who run the actual plant for the school has coupled with the Energy Protection Agency to get three percent of our electrical energy to come from renewable sources. We are now a green power partner,” said Jacobs. “This is huge, but we still have lots more that can be done.”

Jacobs expressed a need for “campus awareness,” while bringing about the importance of environment in all fields of study. “Learning about sustainability can, in the future, help students run their buisnesses in a more productive and profitable way.”

There are small things students can do even if they don’t want to join the Environment Society or Students for a Better Society programs. Recycling, for example, “is important . . . because less energy is used to produce new products,” said Jacobs.

Recycling bins with special labeling are placed throughout buildings on campus; it only takes a little effort to use them.

“We even use recycled printing paper over here in the Geology department building,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said that climate change “is already happening. But what we can expect more of is extreme weather events, such as Katrina.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in February that the pattern of freak weather is caused by humans.

From the killer Tsunami in India to Katrina’s high winds and devastating water, we seem to be fighting against nature. These weather patterns only foreshadow what may be coming if we do not pay attention to our environment today.

“Shrinking natural resources, air pollution and global warming present a severe danger today and tomorrow,” says Julie George, an attorney and environmental activist.

George says protecting our future is in each of our hands. She points out that we need to use alternative energy sources such as wind and says hybrid cars will help save gas and limit air pollution.

“Recyling plastic and glass is important, and each time we reduce our use of paper products we are protecting our forest.” She says “being concerned isn’t just for ‘tree huggers,’ but for all of us.”

George explains that Katrina was a man-made environmental disaster long before the levees broke.

“Louisiana is on the Gulf of Mexico, and over many decades oil companies cut channels into the swamps. Because of salt water intrusion into fresh-water swamps, the swamps are dying and the coastline is eroding,” said George.

“With the eroding coastline comes a breakdown of the barriers that protect the state from the ravages of mother nature such as hurricanes,” she added.

It is fairly certain, as George asserts, that some of Katrina’s devastation can be attributed to man’s destruction of natural barriers. Nevertheless, some scientists contradict the assertion that Katrina or any other devastating storm was caused by global warming.

Shortly after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said, “Science doesn’t support a link between global warming and recent hurricane activity.” He asserts that Katrina was just part of a “natural cycle.”

But whether climate changes are a result of global warming or natural cycles, students can step up and make small changes that can only help the earth as was the case at this year’s Academy Awards where there was a conscious decision to “Go Green.”

Partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Fund, which counts among its board members Leonardo DiCaprio, the Academy sought to use products and services that were environmentally sensitive. From recycled paper for ballots to shuttling presenters and stars in hybrid automobiles, the effort was aimed at reaching a worldwide audience with the message that every effort toward environmental well-being can have an impact.

Students can get involved through student environmental groups such as the SMU Environmental Society and the Environment Committee of the Student Senate. SMU also offers an environmental science program, an environmental geology program and environmental and civil engineering for people intrigued by this phenomenon.

But students can have a positive impact on the environment without joining a group or majoring in Environmental Sciences. Without going completely “green,” all you have to do to make the world a better place for the future is to make a few small changes in your own life. Walk:

Don’t drive when you can walk, bike, take a bus or carpool. All of our SUVs are guzzling gas and adding pollution to the air. SMU students can ride public transportation in the Metroplex for free after the purchase of a $5 pass. Unplug:

All of the little chargers running in your apartment or dorm room on standby can use energy equivalent to a 75 watt light bulb running continuously. Unplug chargers for cameras, phones and computers when they are not in use or use a power strip and turn everything off at once.Turn off:

Turn off lights when you leave a room and turn off your computer when you are not using it. Recycle:

Cans, bottles and plastic can all be recycled. Drop them in the appropriate bins on campus rather than trash cans.

These four tips are easy to do and have an impact on energy consumption and air pollution.

For more tips on things you can do to be environmentally responsible, log on to SMU Environmental Science at or

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