Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Alternative transportation

Yesterday, while I was waiting to meet up with a friend in the SAC I was browsing the fliers on the bulletin board, and I noticed an advertisement for an "Alternative Transportation Fair" on March 6 in the Student Center. I thought to myself, a whole fair dedicated to alternative modes of transportation--walking, biking, skating, scooting, you name it--that's pretty cool! I know that DePaul is dedicated to keeping the campus as green as possible. We have recycling receptacles all over campus, the new "greenware" in the cafeteria, and more and more classes are using digital resources such as Blackboard and TurnItIn.com (or for this class, Blogger!) instead of paper. Student groups like the Environmental Concern Organization (ECO) promote awareness of environmental issues to the DePaul community and do service work to promote a healthy environment.

But honestly, how many of us consider the impact our transportation choices can make on the environment? It is true that living in the city makes it more difficult to have/maintain/pay for a car, so many students use the CTA buses and trains. This is a good step, but what about the other alternatives? This year, my apartment is kind of far off campus, so I brought my bike from home and I ride it in nice weather. But there are students at DePaul who ride their bikes every day, keeping their bodies healthy and the planet that much more green. And sure, most of us use public transportation now, but what about when we graduate, leave the city, and go out into that elusive "real world" that everyone has been talking about since we were little kids? Will the measures to make our campus more green and our experiences at events like alternative transportation fairs affect our decisions?

This week in my Monday night class, we got off on a tangent about geopolitics and how globalization devastates a lot of the local culture in developing countries. My teacher was talking about biofuels, and how a lot of people are looking to biofuels as the alternative to fossil fuel sources, since we all know that our precious oil reserves are going to run out someday, and probably some day soon. According to my professor, the most successful sources for these biofuels are sugarcane and African palm plants. While this seems like a good thing on the surface, there's a real underlying danger. It is unlikely that we will be growing the majority of these cash crops on our own soil, and I imagine that in American corporate fashion we already have our eyes set on the soils of developing countries in Latin America. Thus biofuels will likely continue the perpetual cycle of globalization and cultural imperialism, and we'll keep destroying.

Maybe my professor is right and we should be working on building engines that don't depend on fuel.

Maybe alternative transportation fairs are a good first step for DePaul students who are interested not only in preserving the environment, but in preserving basic human rights across the globe.

(What's up, politically charged blog post from Jenn??)

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