Tackling climate change locally

Lanthorn Editorial Board

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Climate change is a real, evidence-backed issue. 2017 was the second hottest year on record, and per the Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report, average temperatures and precipitation in West Michigan will rise within the next 20 years. 

Grand Rapids has been commended on multiple occasions for its sustainability efforts, and city representatives have continued to stress the importance of committing to being a sustainable community. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss has even maintained the city’s commitment to combating climate change despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord.

This move displays a strong dedication to environmental sustainability on a local level, encouraging residents of the Grand Rapids area to go green, too. In addition to Grand Rapids’ efforts, it is also worth acknowledging that Grand Valley State University has continued to actively combat climate change with different green initiatives, including by educating students and making them aware of what climate change is, as well as the impact it has. There are plenty of ways to learn more and get involved if you haven’t already.

On the Koeze Business Ethics Initiative webpage (part of the Seidman College of Business), there are climate-change resources that highlight some of the local organizations that are working to fight climate change. In addition to local organizations, there are also resources available for international organizations, articles to read on the “human impact” of climate change and more. GVSU has also conducted independent sustainability research and implemented many campus practices to be more green-conscious. 

The Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP), for example, a physical place near GVSU’s campus, is defined as a “space where students can get their hands dirty while learning quantitative and critical-thinking skills relating to soil, water, plant life, climate change and the environment.” SAP also grows and sells its own produce, promoting the idea of buying locally and farm-to-table living. 

In addition, Alison Sutter, sustainability manager for the city of Grand Rapids, is coming to GVSU on Monday, Jan. 29, to address questions about and explain the city’s goals for a more sustainable future. The event will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the L. William Seidman Center’s Loosemore Forum B, located on the Pew Campus. 

In a September 2017 article in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, Sutter was quoted saying, “We have a citywide goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. That means our city has committed to powering our municipal operations with 100 percent renewable energy.” Attendees of the Jan. 29 event will have the chance to inquire about city initiatives and more.

As much as Grand Rapids has done to combat climate change through its various green initiatives, citizens—and GVSU students—can still do their part by educating themselves about the issue, actively engaging in green living (e.g., recycling) and attending discussions like the upcoming one in Grand Rapids to make sure their lifestyles are sustainable, too.