MU Holds Discussion About Sustainable Environment

5 years 9 months 1 week ago Friday, March 09 2012 Mar 9, 2012 Friday, March 09, 2012 10:54:00 AM CST March 09, 2012 in News
By: Mengti Xu

COLUMBIA - More than 6o people came to the University of Missouri Friday morning to learn how to make the U.S. more sustainable and what challenges the country faces. The University of Missouri School of Law held the discussion at John K. Hulston Hall, but many students out of the law school and people from outside the university also participated the discussion.

Three panelists, John Dernbach, a distinguished professor of the Widener University School of Law, Patrick McGinley, a Charles H. Haden II professor of the West Virginia University of College of Law, and Uma Outka, a associate professor of the University of Kansas School of Law, gave their speech to the audience. They addressed the importance of the sustainable environment and the consequences of the unsustainable development and environmental injustice.

"The environment all over the world in many ways is degrading and that's not something that we can keep doing," Dernbach said. 

He said sustainability means actions that occur in specific places with specific people--in corporations, colleges and universities and communities.

"You see folks at the local government level, who are saying, 'Look, there are ways to reduce energy by using these LED lights for traffic lights,'" Dernbach said.

Dernbach said the U.S. will not spend too much on unnecessary use of water and energy in the future. People will buy products consistent with the reality they face due to growing demands on the environment.

Dernbach recalled at time of his childhood, the world only had three billion people, but now the planet has more than seven billion people, which puts a lot of pressure on the environment. Therefore, he said everyone, not only some certain institutions or groups of people should play a role in making the world more sustainable.

Dernbach said he hopes people who listen to his speech not only realize what sustainability means, but also think about what they can do for it.

"Some people turn off the lights. Some don't," said Dernbach. "Some people take short showers. Some people take long showers. Some people drive the car that gets a good mileage. Some people don't. There are those kind of choices that are in front of people."

The U.S. makes up about five percent of the world population. American people consume about 25 percent of the world resources. Dernbach said people want to live like Americans, but it needs three earths to supply everybody in the world the resources necessary for the current American standard of living, so everyone should do more and work harder to help each other live in a harmony with a healthy environment.

Dernbach will publish a book called "Acting As If Tomorrow Matters" in June. It looks at the U.S. in the sustainable environment over the last 20 years and tries to pick up the patterns of the progress made.

During the speeches, participants took notes of the important points three speakers made with papers, iPads and computers and applauded the speakers with respect. The event will continue with a lecture called "Environmental Law, Civil Rights and Sustainability: The Need to Bridge Disparate Frameworks to Address Disparately Impacted Communities" afternoon by Eileen Gauna, a Dickason professor of the University of New Mexico School of Law.

The discussion will end with closing remarks by Professor Troy A. Rule from the University of Missouri School of Law around 2:30 p.m.

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