Environmental issues will play pivotal roles the lives of all high school and college students today. That is why I direct SMC’s Center for Environmental Communication. The days of hydrocarbon-based energy are waning. Louisiana is losing 10.3 square miles of coastal wetlands per year. There are serious concerns about the effects of synthetic chemicals on our health. Exposure of enlarging coastal populations to hurricane risk is changing the availability and cost of insurance. Ozone depletion potentially exposes all living organisms to the threat of increased ultraviolet light, etc., etc…
Your Loyola education will inform you that environmental changes affect our economy, culture, and well-being. Before you get too depressed, you must know that the game is not over. We are in mid-play, and informed leaders and entrepreneurs do and will have incredible opportunities to resolve the threats. In so doing, they will improve the lives of today’s impoverished peoples and tomorrow’s generations. Oh, and along the way, there are very comfortable livings to be made.
So, what can a Loyola student in Mass Communication do? First, broaden your understanding of what “environmental concern” means. Understand that considering environmental issues is not a fringe activity, and it certainly is not anti-business. It is main-stream, and becoming more important every day. It is patriotic.
Learn to connect the dots. Understand the interdependence of a sound economy and a clean environment. My considered opinion is that the two must coexist – if one fades, the other will follow.
It is important to learn the long-term costs to our society (and your pocketbook) if we allow uncontrolled pollution to damage our health. Chronically sick people do not prosper; they find it difficult to contribute to society, and they are often marginalized.
As a student at a Jesuit institution, you will frequently study justice issues, and I’m sure you will hear examples of how environmental injustices are disproportionately negatively impacting some populations. You will also learn that these injustices have both social and economic costs to society and to the business community.
Be sure to communicate with friends about your ideas and beliefs. Challenge others opinions, including those of your professors. There are no better learning fields than open and honest dialogue.
Not all of your professors agree on environmental issues. There are many perspectives. There are no simple answers, and it is incumbent upon you to become educated and, at some point, contribute to environmental improvement.
Here is my recommendation. For those who are environmentally sensitive and concerned, don’t forget your roots. As you begin the rest of your life, continue to think environmentally. Little things add up, and baby steps eventually take you where ever you want to go. Turn out lights when you leave your room. Use both sides of paper. Choose reusables over disposables, and recycle when you can (remember, there are people making a living as recyclers). Be less consumptive at every step (who needs bags in stores?). Walk when you can, and use public transportation when you can’t. Randomly pick up trash when you cross campus. Buy used books, or share those you don’t need to own.
If you have environmental interests, know that during your life there will be many opportunities to contribute to environmental reform and make a nice living.
My generation has done much ground work. We are hopeful that yours will take the game to the next level. God speed.