Keep the environment in mind when traveling this spring break Thursday, Feb 20 2020 

By Catherine Brown —

With spring break around the corner, it’s fun to imagine sitting on a beach chair in the Bahamas or traveling to sunny Orlando to visit the major theme park attractions when stuck in school.

Tourism is an industry that can be beneficial to many countries or territories, and spring break brings a large rush of tourists to these countries.

Because of the high demand for goods and services in these areas, they can charge hundreds of dollars for underwater exploration experiences, sell overpriced sun lotion and even load hotel prices with “hidden fees.” 

While it may be frustrating taking out entire savings just for a week spent on the beach, the tourism industry causes environmental experts even more frustration.

“The most pressing environmental impacts of tourism are the carbon emissions and land use impacts of driving and/or flying to get to natural areas,” said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability at the University of Louisville.

He said that flying is one of the most environmentally destructive things you can do.

Island tourism suffers problems of its own. According to Sustaining Tourism, popular island tourist destinations suffer from water shortages or unclean water, high crowding, lack of recycling and climate change resulting in rising sea levels, among other problems.

If these islands were to continue being overrun by tourism, the native population could lose a significant amount of their clean, natural resources. 

Unsanitary water would be both undrinkable and unliveable for human and marine life. Plastics used in food and drink or hygienic amenities would be improperly disposed of and cause water pollution.

According to the Climate Reality Project, “The Pacific region is seeing seas rise much faster than the global average.”

In 2019, President of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine said that by the year 2030, the Marshall Islands will be completely underwater. 

The Marshall Islands has a population of more than 53,000, more than two times as many people as Jeffersontown or Frankfort, Ky.

Marshall Islands officials are doing everything they can to try to prevent a catastrophe that could lead to lost resources, homes and lives.

In order to help the planet, travelers should be aware of measures they can take to prevent leaving a harmful impact on the environment when traveling.

“Consider a bike tour to your destination, or a canoe, kayak, or sailboat trip, or at least carpool to your destination, or take the bus or train,” Mog said. Traveling can be affordable and environmentally friendly by avoiding harmful methods of travel like flying.

When traveling domestically or abroad, be aware that the land you’re on belongs to the local population. 

If traveling abroad, such as to an island nation or smaller island states, read Sustainable Tourism’s Travel Tips, which include not littering, taking shorter showers, not purchasing or eating endangered species, using public transportation and even specific tips for select destinations. 

Wherever students go on spring break this semester, it is important to travel eco-friendly and respectfully.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L commemorates another year of urban tree care Saturday, Feb 8 2020 

By Maggie Vancampen — 

The University of Louisville celebrates a decade of winning the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA distinction for excellent tree care a press release said Jan. 29.

Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives, said, “This honor represents a decade of dedication to the idea of trees as vital urban infrastructure – for shade and energy savings, food and wildlife habitat, story water infiltration and soil stabilization, beauty and mental health, and clean air and carbon sequestration. We look forward to an even more leafy campus in the coming decade.”

According to the press release, U of L either met or exceeded the standards of care set forth by the foundation for over 2,000 trees on the Belknap Campus.

The Arbor Day Foundation first recognized U of L in 2010 for its plan that guided tree selection, planting, maintenance and education. The plan, called “Trees on Belknap Campus,” has over 130 species of trees showcased on campus including the Kentucky state tree, the tulip poplar, and a rare American elm.

“My hope is that our diverse, majestic campus trees will make a lasting impression on our students for decades to come, and that no one will graduate from U of L without understanding the importance of trees as vital green infrastructure worthy of care and investment,” said Mog.

Mog said he is pleasantly surprised that U of L not only meets the standards for Tree Campus USA, but that the university continues to learn and do more. “I certainly never imagined that one day we would be tapping our maple trees and making syrup every year,” he said.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Colder weather has a direct correlation to climate change Wednesday, Nov 20 2019 

By Ben Goldberger —

Temperatures as low as 19 degrees Fahrenheit hit Louisville Nov. 11, officially making it colder on campus than many parts of Antarctica. Even though Antarctica is currently in summer, it is concerning that during fall, students are feeling the same temperatures as the coldest continent on Earth. 

This brings up the conversation about climate change and how to urgently address this issue.

“We need to act now and do something different,” Assistant Provost of Sustainability at the University of Louisville Justin Mog said about climate change

When most people think of global warming, they purely focus on the “warming” part, but an equally important part of the discussion is the increase in harsh, cold weather. 

A study conducted by “Nature Geoscience” found that colder temperatures in the United States are caused by unnaturally warm temperatures in the Arctic. When talking about violently cold weather events in North America, the researchers said, “These events have been linked to anomalous Arctic warming since 1990, and may affect terrestrial processes.”

This explains why it was colder in Louisville than many places in Antarctica, but climate change will not just bring extremely cold weather. It will cause harm to the Earth’s ecosystem as a whole. 

If the human race does not change its actions in favor of limiting its carbon footprint, the Earth will never be the same. Anna Michalak, a researcher at the Carnegie Institute of Science, expanded on this when she told National Geographic “Winters could be harsher; flooding is more intense; droughts are more frequent.”

“By emitting greenhouse gasses, we’re not just warming temperatures, we’re perturbing the Earth’s entire system,” she said.

While the effects of climate change are scary to think about, the actions people can take to increase their personal sustainability are not. 

The U of L Sustainability Program has a list of “Green Tips” to live a more sustainable lifestyle on their website. Some of these tips include things as simple as turning off all the lights when leaving the room, unplugging electronics such as coffee machines or chargers when not in use and turning the air conditioning/heat unit off when not in the room. 

There are rewards set in place by the university to promote these sustainable actions. An example of this is that students and staff get a 10 cent discount when using a reusable cup for their drinks at the SAC Marketplace, Twisted Taco, the SRC Cafe, Starbucks and any P.O.D. store on campus. Customers also will receive half-priced drinks at McAllister’s if they use the official McAllister’s reusable cup. 

Climate change is a scarily prevalent issue that society has to address head-on to keep our planet healthy. There are many easy ways to do this, most not even taking a minute to do. Incorporating these actions into your everyday routine will not only lead to a healthier planet but a healthier lifestyle as well. 

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Health Science Campus experiences sustainability week for first time Friday, Nov 1 2019 

By Byron Hoskinson —

The University of Louisville’s 12th annual Sustainability Week featured over 30 sustainability-related events across the Belknap and Health Science Campuses.  

The week is held each October to raise awareness for environmental issues, promote student engagement in eco-friendly initiatives and showcase career opportunities in sustainability.  The eight-day, multi-location production was the collaborative effort of the university’s Student Government Association, Sustainability Council, Office of the Provost, Dining Services, several RSOs and local nonprofit organizations.   

 It started in 2008 as a single day event, but sustainability week has expanded over the years as the university has made sustainability a central part of its long-term plans, assistant to the provost for sustainability Justin Mog said.  

For the first time, Sustainability Week events spread beyond the Belknap campus to the Health Science Center.  The HSC events were spearheaded by the recently formed HSC Green Team, a group designed to address sustainability concerns related to the health field, Mog said. The events included a series of documentaries, free bike tune-ups and a professional development workshop presented by Mog called “Business as Usual is Killing Us: It’s Time for Institutional Weirding in the Age of Global Climate Weirding.” 

The week included plenty of food for students, kicking off at the Red Barn with the Farm-To-Table Dinner, hosted by the university’s dining services and featuring a five-course meal created with locally-sourced ingredients. It concluded with a “Lunch and Learn” workshop, hosted by the Sustainability Council’s EcoReps program and featuring a free vegetarian lunch.  

The Cardinal Cupboard, a project of SGA’s Engage Lead Serve Board, collected over 1,500 pounds of nonperishable goods for students in a two-day collection blitz held across campus, said Sustainability Council communications intern Henny Ransdell.

Additionally, over $600 was raised for U of L’s Green Fund, which goes towards implementing new campus sustainability initiatives, Mog said.  

Throughout the week, numerous nonprofits and environmentally-focused organizations came to campus to raise awareness and promote jobs in sustainability and renewables.  

Mog was similarly optimistic about graduating students’ prospects in sustainability fields.  

“The opportunities for careers in sustainability have been expanding.  Most universities and many corporations and governments now have a sustainability coordinator or director,” he said.  “There’s been a big boom in interest and it’s encouraging to see.”

Sustainability week ended with some of its initiatives carrying over into Homecoming Weekend.  

“For the Homecoming game, fans should see a new ‘zero-waste approach’ implemented to game days,” Mog said.  He said the approach is an attempt to eliminate all non-recyclables from within the stadium itself, including from vendors and fans.  

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Improving sustainability at U of L with assistant provost Justin Mog Tuesday, Oct 22 2019 

By Matthew Keck–

Justin Mog, assistant provost of sustainability at the University of Louisville, is 45 years old and has never had a driver’s license. This is one of the ways he’s “weirding” in the age of global climate weirding, as he puts it.

During U of L’s sustainability week, Mog has visited the Health Science and Belknap campus’s to discuss environmental, social and economical stewardship. He is looking to raise awareness and show students, faculty and staff how they can contribute to making U of L a more sustainable university.

“We need to act now and do something different,” said Mog.

With climate change undeniably in the forefront of today’s world, Mog is educating those who want to help make a change. Something as simple as brining a reusable water bottle with you to work or school makes a difference, said Mog.

He reflected on U of L’s past and the progress they have made in the 10 years that he has been here. Specifically, he touched on when U of L’s campus flooded in 2009 how that was a turning point for the university’s sustainability initiatives.

Suggestions Mog made for a more sustainable campus include:

  • Eliminating waste and pollution.
  • Eliminating abuse and injustice to people, animals and the planet.
  • Relying on renewable resources.
  • Swapping disposable for durable.
  • Cultivating diversity both ecologically and as humans.

“It’s the kind of thing we need to do in the face of crisis,” Mog said. It was a point of his that people don’t have to suffer to be sustainable, rather they just need to change habits.

As a whole U of L’s carbon footprint has decreased by 13 percent since 2006. Initiatives such as the roundabout at Floyd St. and Brandeis and the new student walkway on Brook St. are a couple of the ways Louisville has made an impact on the environment. Both of these changes have decreased the amount of idling and emissions on campus.

Areas where U of L is having trouble with sustainability are purchased electricity (fossil fuels), on-campus stationary and student commuting. As of 2018 72.4 percent drive alone to campus along with 86.3 percent of faculty doing the same.

In the past U of L has tried to offer incentives for students not driving to campus, such as their “Earn-A-Bike” program. Students received a $400 voucher to a local bike shop so they could purchase a bike to ride to school. This initiative only lasted from 2012 to 2016.

Despite U of L’s failed initiatives in the past and vast room for improvement, they are still the most sustainable university in Kentucky. U of L received their highest STARS rating this year, making it their first time rated as Gold.

“When you start adding it up we can make a difference at U of L,” said Mog.

Photo By Matthew Keck // The Louisville Cardinal  

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