If I know anything about the environment, it’s that connections between issues can be far-reaching. Though you’ve likely heard that water scarcity will be a massive, looming issue in the near future, it can be hard to see the big picture in the U.S., where freshwater seems so readily available and consumption is rampant. Today, many water sources — which sustain local ecosystems and our growing population — are becoming stressed. As the climate continues to change rapidly, the issue of water scarcity is anticipated to only become more dire.
Boston and its surrounding cities are beautiful places. One thing decidedly not beautiful is the litter that mars the woods and streets throughout Greater Boston. Unfortunately, I have, at times, seen a similar scene on campus. Though Tufts facilities might clean up litter occasionally, the responsibility for keeping our campus beautiful is a community-wide one. Littering is a serious problem in the U.S.;in a national litter study done by Keep America Beautiful in 2020, it was determined that there were “nearly 50 billion pieces of litter along U.S. roadways and waterways” throughout the country. That equates to 152 items of litter for every person in the United States per year.
Of the 92.9 quadrillion British thermal units of energy consumed by the U.S. in 2020, 62.3 quads were considered “rejected energy” by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This means that more than two-thirds of the energy consumed in the U.S. in 2020 was released into the environment — mostly as heat — and provided no economic or societal benefit at all. In other words, over two-thirds of all energy consumed in 2020 was wasted. This waste comes from inefficiencies in technology that allow energy to be lost as heat while converting one form of energy into another or while running technology.
In my last column, I talked about the role that community, and the actions of each individual within that community, plays on sustainability. I also asked you to think about how you can make a difference every day in our community through your own actions. With that in mind, let’s look at sustainability.
Tufts is widely known for its student engagement. We all know this. It’s also well known that we have a bit of a green streak here, proudly supporting our Office of Sustainability and the Eco Reps. As we dive headfirst into another semester on the hill, it’s a good time to step back and appreciate the community we are a part of, the community that has been built on decades of Jumbos’ voices and their dedication to shaping both Tufts and the world into a better place, one person at a time.