SAU Buzz

Bee-ing eco-conscious in a changing world

by Jessica Lewis
Posted on Sep 07, 2017

As a college student, it can be difficult to know what you can do to make a difference when it comes to the issue of climate change. The internet is plastered with articles about “going green” and the suggestions sound great in theory, but when it comes down to it, plastic spoons and disposable cups usually win out. These articles seem to be asking for so many things at once and it becomes overwhelming.

Dr. Amy Blair, this year’s biology department head at St. Ambrose University, has had a passion for the environment since she was a child in small town Iowa. She spent most of her time outside and each summer her family took a hiking trip to Colorado. While at the University of Iowa, her love for science and the outdoors were combined and she decided to become a field biologist.  This puts her in a expert position to talk about changes in our climate with students and faculty of St. Ambrose.

Photo of biology/ecology professor Dr. Amy Blair


It can also be difficult to see changes in the climate around you. Over the many years that we have been hearing about climate change, it’s usually in broad and unrelatable terms. We hear how it’s affecting our beloved polar bears, but not how it directly impacts us. For example, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have passed 400 parts per million, which is a large increase when compared to 280 ppm prior to the Industrial Revolution. But what does this really mean?

Parts per million refers to how much carbon dioxide is in our air. Carbon dioxide acts like a blanket in our atmosphere, trapping heat that would normally pass back out into space.  More carbon dioxide is synonymous to having a thicker blanket around us.  

In Iowa, we have already seen heavier rain events and increased flooding, which both accompany global climate change.  Additionally, we are seeing increased temperatures and humidity across the Midwest.  For example, Dubuque has seen a 23% increase in humidity since 1970.

As college students, it can be hard to take action in an issue like this. The first step to making a difference is becoming educated. There is broad scientific consensus that global climate change is happening and that things will continue to get worse if we don’t immediately start reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we emit annually.  No matter what your political views are, we need to encourage our politicians to listen to scientists and view climate change as a real and present threat to our planet.

Some ways you can take action include:

  • walking to places that are nearby instead of driving

  • carpooling with friends

  • buying clothes at a consignment shop instead of brand new

  • eating less meat each week because producing meat emits high amounts of CO2

  • buying less plastic silverware and disposable cups

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to commit to all of these suggestions to make a difference. Start small and set a weekly goal. If you make the change for 21 days it might become a habit instead of an inconvenience. It doesn’t even have to be a complete lifestyle change, just making the effort to be more eco-conscious can make a big difference in your life and our planet.