and story by Jacob Potter
University's Fall Environmental Conference
was predominately focused on the idea of sustainability; essentially,
how to do more with less.
to the Future: Tomorrow By Design," featured several speakers
and exhibits that informed students, professors and the public on
the various areas which need to be improved to make the world an
environmentally friendlier place.
morning session, keynote speaker Dr.
David Orr, a professor and chair of the environmental studies
program at Oberlin College in
Ohio, delivered a speech titled "The Search For Order"
Orr talked about the ways in which various design failures have
led to the declining condition of the environment.
he presented included the fact that 11 calories of energy are being
burned to produce one calorie of food, and his estimate that $14,000
is being spent on security every second in the U.S. He said Americans
need to think long-term in designing a world that is conscious of
the big picture. "We are not prepared to think in such a fashion,"
Orr said. He said all the experts can't be wrong, and he quoted
Scientists' Warning, issued in 1992, in which dozens of top
experts warned that the future of the planet depends on immediate
attention to environmental challenges.
at business and sustainability
at the conference was Dr.
Stuart Hart, the Professor of Management in the Johnson
School at Cornell University. Hart, an expert on sustainability
in the corporate sense, presented a speech titled "Creating
Sustainable Value: Fusing the Business & Sustainability Agendas."
He focused primarily on the internal and external issues facing
corporations in terms of sustainability today and tomorrow.
becoming radically transitive is better than a company becoming
radically transparent," said Hart. One example Hart used in
describing how businesses can execute "disruptive innovation"
by beginning at the "bottom of the pyramid" was the way
in which PCs were able to integrate themselves into a world that
had been dominated by mainframe computers.
in a conversation after his speech that corporations need to think
of ways to meet the needs of people in the third world, to "go
elsewhere and find the people who have the greatest need for cost-effective
of the Moseley Center the day of the environmental forum, several
exhibitors were on hand to show off alternative-fuel vehicles. Event
participants were even invited to test-drive the vehicles. Carlos
Neito, a dealer from Cox
Toyota, was demonstrating the Prius, a hybrid
vehicle which runs off gas and electrical power.
that such a car was more beneficial for city driving versus highway
car gets 55 miles per gallon in the cities and 62 miles per gallon
on the highway" said Neito, who pointed out that the car would
run on pure electrical power at slow rates of speed and would combine
fuel and electrical power as the speeds increased.
Martin, a professor in the North
Carolina A&T school of technology, demonstrated biodiesel,
a fuel substance which can be used as a substitute for regular diesel
in an automobile.
is an ester, which starts in a soybean or vegetable oil, and is
then diluted in water," said Martin, describing the process
in which biodiesel is made. Martin also noted that the U.S. military
is responsible for 50 percent of the biodiesel purchases in the
of Solar Village was also
exhibiting energy alternatives at the conference. Carter installs
solar- and wind-powered home energy systems in the area. He said
the costs for a complete system installed in a normal-sized house
would ultimately run around $55,000. He said solar energy is not
accepted by the average consumer at this point. "It's more
about energy efficiency and how you use it than having the power,"
said Carter, who noted that the stored energy could be used for
a multitude of functions, such as charging an electric car.
to the Future: Tomorrow by Design" is the fourth annual environmental
forum hosted at Elon University. Events were held all day Oct. 8,
and included a culinary clash featuring local products, as well
as several panel discussions involving leaders around the Triad