Every little bit can help save the Earth

Elizabeth Rund

If there was ever a doubt as to the importance of conservation, consider the biosphere project.

In 1991, eight scientists were to be sealed inside a three-and-a-half acre glass and steel facility for two years. The experiment was designed to test whether humans could live and prosper in a closed ecological system.

ÿ The team had problems from the beginning. Members could not grow enough food or plant life to sustain them and provide oxygen. As a result, CO2 levels increased, causing most of the vertebrate animals and all of the insects to die. Pure oxygen had to be pumped into the habitat and outside supplies had to be taken inside to keep the scientists alive.

Even with $200 million, the top scientists in the country could not reproduce or recreate on a small scale the same environment and resources that Earth has been providing for millions of years.

Conservation is a big issue facing American citizens. Pollution, green house gases and global warming have all taken the national stage, and Earth Day on April 22 serves a reminder to the public of the importance of the environment. ÿ

ÿ “I found conservation to be an interesting, thought-provoking and innovative subject that really makes me think,” said conservation major Allison Bugg. “Everything I learn about has real-life implications.”

ÿ Conservation is the practice of protecting natural resources by limiting the uses of these resources and creating different ways to use these resources.

ÿ Natural resources can be broken down into several categories: wildlife, air and wind, soil, water, minerals, fossil fuels, sunlight, and people.ÿSome of these resources, such as air, water, soil and wildlife are considered renewable, meaning they can be replaced once they are used. Fossil fuels and minerals are examples of nonrenewable resources, which cannot be replenished.

ÿ In some cases, however, the renewable resources are being used faster than they can be replaced. According to the United States Geological Survey, more than 400 billion gallons of water is removed from water sources every day. In the U.S. alone, 85 percent of the water came from freshwater sources. It is used for everything from irrigation to public water supply.

Still, the situation isn’t a hopeless one.

“I feel like if enough people are working toward a goal, a change can be made, even if it is a small triumph,” said senior conservation major Kelly Barriball.

Despite the sometimes-daunting statistics, there are a number of ways to conserve energy and resources — many of them surprisingly simple:

  • Use fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. The florescent bulbs last 10 times longer and use 66 percent less energy. They can last 10,000 hours and save an average of $30 in energy costs.
  • Recycle and reuse whenever possible.
  • Use the stairs.
  • Replace shower heads and faucets with high-efficiency models. It reduces the water usage 50 to 70 percent without affecting the shower experience.
  • Turn down the thermostat.ÿ Instead of spending the money and energy, put on a sweatshirt.
  • Turn off lights when you leave the room.

— Source: www.conservation.org and http://cdis.missouri.edu

Contact features correspondent Elizabeth Rund at [email protected].