The air we breathe: Rider takes initiative to reduce carbon footprint

Take a walk around campus, through a city or even any moderately populated town and observe what you see. At first, it may not be much — everything appears to be clear. But as you look up at the sky and see no stars and a layer of smog, you realize that this is not a result of natural processes, but a result of air pollution from surrounding factories, vehicles and other anthropogenic activities. With this increase in harmful gases being released in our atmosphere, there are already numerous indicators of climate change, such as the melting of the arctic ice caps, an increase in sea level, a decrease in overall air quality and so much more.

According to National Geographic, “The average temperature of the Earth is rising at nearly twice the rate it was 50 years ago.” 

National Geographic also mentions just how high these levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are, stating that the current level of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide is higher than any point over the past 800,000 years, causing an increasing amount of heat to be trapped in our atmosphere. This is rapidly changing the entire world’s climate. 

The largest contributors to massive releases of GHGs include transportation, electricity production and industrial processes, accounting for a total of 79% of greenhouse gas production, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Increasing concentrations of GHGs are what is accounting for dangerous weather conditions and rising sea levels, as warmer temperatures fuel storm systems to become more powerful. A result of this increase in temperature was Superstorm Sandy, which impacted over 200,000 homes. One individual that was nearly flooded out of his home was freshman psychology major Brody Hilliard. 

“The water [from the flooding] was inches away from my doorstep, and also left us without power for over a week. My family is lucky that we made it out of the storm with minimal damage, as houses just down the block got completely flooded out.” 

Climate change has also caused certain areas to become significantly drier than usual, creating fires that devastate large areas. Some of these areas that have been impacted so heavily include California and Australia, resulting in a severe increase in GHGs in the surrounding atmosphere and decreasing the biodiversity of the region as some species are left nearly extinct.

Thankfully, Rider has implemented a variety of initiatives to reduce the impact that students and faculty alike, have on the environment. One of these initiatives is the creation of a 3.2 acre, 0.74-megawatt solar field located just at the back of Rider’s campus. The 2,640 solar panels are projected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 35,580,526 pounds over a 25 year period. This replaces the burning of coal from power plants to power Rider and provides energy for 100 other Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) users. Rider is also about to install more electric car charging stations on campus, giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to easily charge their electric vehicles. 

It comes down to you to make a difference in the world we live in. Each and every person that makes a change, whether it be a large or small change, improves the world we live in and with worldwide support, we can all make enough change to save the planet we love so much.

Dean Riddle

Lawrenceville Eco-Rep

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