Reducing the Lethbridge Ecological Footprint

Thursday, March 23, 2006

'Bridge Day - Connecting Community and Environment



We each have answers! A big thank-you to everyone who participated in ‘Bridge Day by answering the questions we posed and congrats to the prize winners.

The following is a summary of the answers received for question 1, and are ranked in descending order by the number of responses for each: What is the most important environmental issue of our day?

Over-consumption of resources
Accumulation of waste
Global climate change
Water quality/Consumption
Lack of public awareness of environmental issues
Pollution
Loss of habitat
Unsustainable agricultural practices

All of these issues are pressing, concern our local Lethbridge environment and most importantly they are all interrelated!

Here are some of your suggestions for question 2: What can be done on campus and in the community to address these issues?

Over-consumption of resources
-Recycle paper/cardboard/glass/metal/batteries
(right here on campus!)
-Reuse plastic containers and glass jars
-Conserve electricity around your home

Accumulation of waste
-Bring your lunch to school in reusable containers
-Use a travel mug/ durable water bottle at school
-Shop with re-usable bags

Global Climate Change
-Ride a bicycle or walk for short travel distances
-Car pool to school
-Take a walk in the coulees!

Water Quality/ Consumption
-Conserve water usage
-Landscape with native prairie plants
-Do not put chemicals/ paint/ oil down storm sewer

Lack of public awareness of environmental issues
-Be an engaged, educated and active global citizen
-Share your knowledge with others
-Support groups and businesses that promote environmental causes

Pollution
-Drop off unwanted chemicals/paints/electronics at monthly Toxic round-up:
Apr 16, May 28, Jun 18, Jul 16, Aug 20, Sep 17, Oct 15
This event is held at DBS Environmental:
1430 33 St N, from 10am - 2pm

We hope that everyone has some lasting ideas of how to act locally to have a positive impact on global environmental issues. If you have any questions or would like to get involved in the club please contact us at: be.aware@uleth.ca

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

'Bridge Day Questions

To better focus action toward improving the sustainability of our City, individuals and organizations in the community must express their thoughts. In answering the following two questions, you will be contributing toward finding common solutions. A diversity of answers is expected, and no answer is right!

1. What is the most important environmental issue of our day?
2. What can be done on campus and in the community to address this issue?

To answer questions:
a) Click on "Comments" below this blog
b) Write your answers in the "Leave your comment section"
c) In "Choose an identity" click "Anonymous"
d) Click on "Login and Publish"


If you are on campus on 'Bridge Day (March 15th), you can also hand in the answers to these questions at the Be-Aware table, and you will have a chance to win a grand prize draw.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How Can We Address Environmental Issues on Campus?

As community centres for producing and exchanging knowledge, universities have a responsibility to be exemplary leaders in adopting environmentally sound practices (otherwise called "walking the talk"). Campuses across North America are currently mobilizing to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Students from all faculties at the University of Lethbridge can make a difference on campus by taking on Sustainability projects such as the Campus Climate Challenge and working with professors and university administration to find innovative solutions for real-world problems. Perhaps you could even get credit for your work!

The Be-Aware club invites students to join them in working toward the following goals, among others, at the UofL:

- Encourage the University to formally commit to Campus Climate Challenge initiatives, like the ones below, and create the necessary human resource positions to do so.
- Support the Alternative Transportation Initiative to make busses more accessible to the student population.
- Help determine the feasibility of alternative energy solutions, such as passive heat, solar, wind, and geothermal power in university buildings.
- Support energy and waste reduction initiatives such as energy efficiency retrofitting, recycling, and composting.
- Help broaden the scope of environmental and climate change education curricula across faculties on campus, such as the Faculties of Management and New Media.

Please contact Be-Aware (be.aware@uleth.ca) if interested!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

How Does Climate Change Relate to a Possible Water Crisis?

A warming climate will change the distribution of water mainly due to greater evaporation rates, which is already observed around the world and more information can be found here. The Lethbridge area is likely to be affected by an increase in summer drought severity. Warmer temperatures are decreasing the amount of spring snowpack (as a result of more winter precipitation falling as rain rather than snow in the nearby mountains), resulting in a decline in summer (growing season) available water.

Compounding this impact on water quantity is the fact that water quality is deteriorating. This results in less available drinking water or increases the amount of energy/money needed to treat it. Industrial (including oil and gas exploration), home, and especially agricultural pollution stemming from pesticides and manure are culprits in this area. More information can be accessed through WISE.

What can be done locally?
Canadians are wasteful water users, and rank among the worst of industrialized countries according to this study. We do not value water appropriately, exemplified by the fact that tap water costs just $0.50/cubic metre in Lethbridge. This does not reflect the financial resources needed to treat and distribute it. Some think that water privatization can solve this, while others suggest local governments should take the lead in increasing use efficiency (through technology) and allocating water to priority uses. Many factors must be considered to better manage our water, and here are a few in a nutshell.

To better manage water in the Lethbridge area, the entire needs (industrial, municipal, agricultural, environmental, and recreational) of the Oldman River basin will have to be considered. The Oldman Watershed Council has a mandate to ensure the sustainable management of our local water supply, by bringing the various stakeholders together to discuss and act on the points raised herein. Public participation in this watershed stewardship group is highly encouraged.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

How Does Climate Change Relate to the Ecological Footprint?

Fossil fuels (oil) are the most important resource that we extract from the Earth; we burn it to produce energy to power our daily activities. As U.S. President Bush stated in his 2006 State of the Union Address, North Americans are "addicted" to this non-renewable resource.

In burning fossil fuels, large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are released into the atmosphere, which causes the globe to warm through the greenhouse effect. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

Climate change impacts are widely observed today. Though certain weather events cannot always be directly linked to climate change, no world leader denies that the globe is warming, and that warming is in part due to humans.

While some regions of the world are experiencing severe impacts of climate change, such as sea-ice melting and sea-level rise, effects are predicted to worsen over the next 20-30 years and beyond. That is why today's youth should be concerned about the issue. The International Youth Declaration states, "We, the youth of today and leaders of tomorrow, face an unprecedented challenge as a result of global climate change and share in the responsibility of addressing it." To find out more, read Our Climate, Our Challenge, Our Future, produced at the UN Conference on Climate Change, Montreal, 2005.

This blog is intended to help people in the community of Lethbridge address environmental issues such as climate change. Learn more about one way to do this, by clicking here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

What is the Ecological Footprint?

The Ecological Footprint is the amount of land area required to support a person's lifestyle. Through our daily activities, we consume resources to eat, heat our house, travel, and power our daily activities. Canadians use, on average, 7.7 hectares of land per person to support their lifestyles. The global average is 2.8 hectares per person.

Many believe that as a global population, we are using resources (oil, water, forests, arable land) faster than they can be renewed, in that there are only 1.7 hectares available per person.

Calculate your footprint here.

Click here to find out more about Ranking the Ecological Impact of Nations.

This blog focuses on trying to reduce the Ecological Footprint of the community of Lethbridge, Alberta. Together, we can change our lifestyles to have a smaller impact on the environment and other communities around the world.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

'Bridge Day Invitation

'Bridge Day – Connecting community and environment


Information letter of the coordination initiative

of the University of Lethbridge Be-Aware Club


Our community has a growing network of environmentally conscious people. The University of Lethbridge, through its Environmental Sciences program, is educating students on the importance of the environment in our everyday lives. These students feel the need to actively engage their peers in creating a more sustainable city. To do this, bridges must be formed between community and environment, both within the university and beyond. By bringing together a diversity of clubs, groups and organizations, ‘Bridge Day is designed to work towards this goal.

On March 15th, 2006, we would like to invite you to participate in our day of awareness and celebration of the local environment. Join us in the Atrium of University Hall, from 9am to 3pm, for an all-day event complete with informative presentations, activities, speeches, and discussion. As the environmental awareness club on campus, Be-Aware believes that each person or organization has a connection with the environment, and we challenge them to find it, define it, and tell us about it. This can be achieved through, but is not limited to, information booths, exhibits, educational sessions, or on-line blogging.

We have also invited the active community of student-run clubs to promote their interests and activities while exploring the impacts these have on the environment. In addition, we have extended invitation to members of the University faculty, community groups, NGOs, environmentally conscious businesses, the City of Lethbridge, and Alberta Environment to take part in ‘Bridge Day. Not only will their participation provide wonderful learning opportunities for community members, it will exhibit the variety of ways in which individuals can interact with and enjoy the natural world.

We hope this event will address environmental issues from various points of view, raising levels of discussion. We would love to have you join us in achieving this goal. Members of our club would be more than happy to meet with you to help determine how you could best contribute to this event, and please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Thanks for your consideration, and we hope to hear from you soon!

Sincerely,

The Be-Aware Executive Council