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From Campus Talk at SUNY Stony Brook Sustainable Energy: A Team Effort by Mike D’Alto

With environmental concerns, such as global wanning, oil drilling, air/water/land pollution and deforestation plaguing our world today, the time is now to help repair the damage we’ve caused and hopefully prevent more widespread problems for the next generation. So, how can we all do our part?

I recently visited SUNY Stony Brook, which has developed a Sustainability Studies Program for undergraduates. As Program Director Martin Schoonen describes it, ”It is a multi-faceted, nontraditional program that combines many different disciplines, including economics, social sciences and politics. It’s a wholesale approach to teach students how to find energy solutions based on the economic impact, as well as societal behavior towards them.”

According to Schoonen, the United States is way behind other countries in terms of sustainable energy. “Other countries have key patents in tenus of solar panels, wind turbines and nuclear energy. Our resources will eventually run out; solar and wind technology need momentum and we need to learn how to conserve our resources.”

Jason Rubin, a senior from Lindenhurst, and Melissa Czerniawski, a junior from Blue Point, stressed how important this program is in bringing our country closer to alternative energy solutions.

”This program covers all the basics of development, infrastructure, government policies – everything in terms of implementing new energy,” Jason said. “I used to think, ‘Why aren’t great ideas immediately
put into place?’ but thanks to this program I understand that it’s not so simple – it’s a long process.”

Melissa, who is president of the Environmental Club on campus, agreed. “We learn leadership training, conflict managing, advocacy and other topics,” she said. “It’s hands on for your mind.”

What about those of us who aren’t under such an encompassing college program; what can we do to help the cause?

“Raising awareness is the first step,” said Program Coordinator Ginny Clancy. “Also, people should stop drinking bottled water.” Schoonen offered, “Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. Also, if we all ate less red meat, the energy savings would be like taking thousands of cars off the road.”

For those in charge of policy decisions, Rubin recommended, “We need more micromanagement to ensure these new sources are used properly.” Czerniawski, meanwhile, suggested, ”’This country needs to step out of its comfort zone and get off our addiction to oil.” She also said we could all do our part by following one simple rule: “Watch your own energy use everyday, and think about how it affects the natural world around you.”

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