Rutgers alumnus donates media collection to SEBS
Environmentalist Lester Brown spoke to the Rutgers community last Thursday about the environment, the sustainability of Earth’s resources in the coming years and his new book “Breaking New Ground.”
Each nation needs to limit its carbon emissions, said Brown, a Rutgers alumnus. If they do not, emissions will become so destructive that sustainability, in terms of food and resources, will be affected.
“Societies reach tipping points and, by definition, you can’t anticipate [them],” he said. “We’re probably going to reach a tipping point on the climate issue before too long. I don’t hear very many people arguing against climate change anymore. They may still question it, but the overwhelming majority accept it.”
Robert Goodman, executive dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said Brown is leaving his collection of books, as well as thousands of audio and video interviews, to the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The Lester Brown Reading Room will allow Rutgers students to educate themselves on the environmental movement.
“I feel a special tie with Rutgers because of the four years I spent here,” Brown said. “I also have degrees from the University of Maryland and Harvard, but this was the one where I advanced my thinking and my confidence in myself.”
Joseph Seneca, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said Brown has impacted the view of the Earth on a global scale. For decades, he has been at the forefront of environmental issues, working to change the way the world uses natural resources.
Rutgers awarded Brown with an honorary doctorate in 1978, and 25 other institutions have honored him with degrees for his work, Goodman said. Brown’s works have been translated into many languages.
“[Brown] helped stimulate the extensive, widespread and extremely successful ‘Green Revolution’ in India,” he said.
Brown believes University students can contribute their part to help the environment, noting how he was amazed when noticing how many cars are on college campuses.
“If I were looking at this campus, I would be looking for a way of reducing the number of cars on campus. I visit some campuses from time to time, and I’ve never seen so many cars,” he said. “The pollution that comes with having all those cars does not create a healthy environment.”
Brown said those students should also stop using bottled water.
“Bottled water makes no sense at all. You increase the price of water from a cent and a half a gallon to $16 a gallon when you put it in those plastic bottles,” he said. “The plastic bottles themselves use energy, and they become a form of waste that’s not very disposable.”
The regulations governing the purity of bottled water are less stringent than those on tap water, he said.
Arielle Mizrahi, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first-year student, said members of the Rutgers community have to educate themselves and understand current events. Combatting climate change is something that must begin locally.
Private organizations such as the Sierra Club have already caused more than 100 coal plants to close, Brown said.
Nikita Manavi, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said energy and resource issues are global concerns. As consumption in developing nations increase, the policies used to govern consumption will impact the other nations.
“It is an international issue — [China and India’s policies] will affect us,” she said.
Brown said getting countries everywhere to take meaningful action on the climate will be a difficult and lengthy process. The world does not have the time to make a global consensus in deciding how to fix the issue facing the planet.
He said the best-case scenario would be for countries to accelerate their individual responses in addressing how much carbon they emit.