UTSA students today will take time out from their classes to save the planet.
The students will learn about a wide variety of sustainability efforts already implemented in campus, like feeding the Sombrilla Fountain with the recycled water from the university's air conditioning system. Hydration stations have also been installed to help remind students to refill their water bottles, and not just throw them away.
They'll also hear from nationally known climate change expert Laughlin Artz, who will tell them that individuals can make a major difference in cutting carbon emissions, and they don't have to wait for the government or the United Nations to mandate solutions.
"If enough people stopped using plastic that would produce an immediate impact, for example," he told News Radio 1200 WOAI. "Manufacturers would stop making plastic. And that would happen a lot faster than trying to convince the government to push for anti plastic legislation."
Artz says many people, especially students, only consider the 'big issues,' and feel if they can't, for example, bicycle to work or live off the grid somewhere, there is nothing they can do that is worthwhile, and he says that is simply not the case.
"Say, 'I eat meat five days a week, I'm going to cut that down to two days a week,' or something like that'," he said. "Or planting trees, that is something an individual can do that is very effective."
In fact, Artz' organization has a downloadable app that can help people come up with small but meaningful ways they can help. He says if he can motivate 30 million people to take action on their own by 2020, it will mean a significant cut in carbon emissions, and if they wait for the government to 'mandate' activity, that would take longer and would perhaps not be as effective.
Artz concedes that the 'apocalyptic warnings' of imminent doom, with images of sea level rises inundating cities and claims that this will happen 'by 2011,' or something like that has set back the credibility of the climate change movement, and that is one thing his organization hopes to overcome.
"We are not out to alarm people, we are not out to depress people, we are not out to make people guilty," he said. "But we are also not out to make people feel great."