By Kassandra Garcia |Contributing Writer|
Over 2,300 CSU and UC faculty members signed an open letter that addressed concerns regarding President Donald Trump’s freeze on the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The letter was released to Trump and his cabinet after he and his administration ordered the EPA, created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment, to remove the climate change page from their website.
Trump made it clear that the EPA is on a media blackout until Scott Pruitt, his nominee to lead the agency, is confirmed by Congress on Jan. 24.
From the start of his transition period into presidency, Trump and his administration have shared hostile views towards science. This has left scientists questioning whether or not the general populace is aware of what this will entail for the science community.
“I think it is crucial that our campus focuses on what is currently going on in the science community,” said student Daniella Castelo. “We as a community need to be environmentally aware in support of the scientists who do not have a voice because of current governmental restrictions.”
That raises the question about whether academic institutions such as CSUSB are doing enough to raise environmental awareness.
Currently, the Environmental Health Science Club (EHS) introduces and guides students through the diverse and dynamic field of environmental health at CSUSB.
According to the club’s webpage, the purpose of the EHS is to promote professional leadership and create awareness on local, national, and global environmental issues.
There are several ways in which the university promotes environmental awareness.
One example is the new water conservation, San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation Demonstration Garden, located near the Student Recreation and Fitness Center.
The conservation lists all the policies, strategies and activities to sustainably manage and protect water resource.
“I think we are making progress,” said Dr. Joan Fryxell, a geology professor at CSUSB.
These progressions can be viewed on PennEnvironment’s website, which is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.
“As with any progress, there are forward steps and setbacks, but progress is occurring, particularly in California which has taken a leadership role in showing how this can work,” added Fryxell.
In an effort to improve environmental awareness, CSUSB advocates clean energy usage, the campus has solar panels, promotes carpooling, offers free bus rides with student ID, as well as power producing gym equipment.
Further improvement, according to Fryxell, can be made by offering an “Introduction to Environmental Studies” class and making it a graduation requirement for all students. This is another way CSUSB can spark interest in environmental awareness.
“I appreciate everything our campus does in terms of promoting clean energy usage but I still don’t see it as enough,” said student Erin Gonzales.
PenEnvironment’s website also includes material on issues and an action page where you are can help support causes by providing some of your information.
“We definitely need classes that keep us aware of what is currently going on with climate change and the scientific community because the lack of awareness is harmful to our health and environment,” asserted Gonzales.
CSUSB students can also dedicate time to get in contact with their elected officials to discuss the current EPA restrictions and environmental issues such as climate change.
“While many people think small things would be insignificant, they are all definitely significant and effective,” said Fryxell and brought the examples of conserving and reducing water consumption.
In order to raise awareness on such issues, Fryxell urges people to express their opinions to their elected representatives. “I recommend that people write/talk to the leadership at the state level and in congress,” stressed Fryxell.