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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

New ESF Students Worried Most about Climate Change, Energy

Concerns include apathy, declining biodiversity, deforestation

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The Class of 2017 at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) arrives on campus with the knowledge that their generation faces a host of major environmental problems.

Concerns about climate change, perhaps caused by the overuse of fossil fuels, topped a random sampling of this fall's incoming class of approximately 290 students at ESF, the oldest college in the nation devoted exclusively to the study of the environment. The students' responses also listed concerns about public apathy, declining biodiversity, growing pollution of both air and water, deforestation, a general disregard for natural resources and the environment, overpopulation and more.

"I believe pollution is the major environmental problem we face caused by a lack of awareness of how everyday products are made and what happens to them after we dispose of them," said Amanda Chudow, an environmental resources engineering major.

Kayla Besong, another environmental engineering major, said, "Our dependence on too many non-renewable energy resources leads to more harm for the environment like using hydrofracking (to drill for natural gas), wars for oil and deforestation."

Colin Myers, who is studying forest and natural resource management, thinks deforestation is our major environmental concern because, "…it causes problems like habitat destruction, air pollution and erosion."

"We have to protect species and their habitats," said Gerard Deleva, a conservation biology major. "Because decreasing biodiversity means a smaller gene pool and once a species goes extinct those genes can be lost forever, perhaps genes that might've led to a cure for a major health threat."

Hannah Wheeler, an environmental studies major, said, "Not enough people are recycling! Especially in areas where people are not compensated for it."

People are also a concern for Anthony Skinner, an environmental biology major, who said, "Overpopulation is the major problem that we face and is behind most other environmental issues including climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, air/water pollution, and unsustainable harvesting/agriculture."

Samuel Sheehan, a chemistry major, feels people are simply apathetic: "I think the major environmental problem is that not enough people care about the environment and therefore aren't willing to spend the time learning what they need in order to be more environmentally friendly."

In general, the students see good science, extensive research, advocacy and leading by example as the means to resolve these problems exemplified by Michael Wood's hope regarding energy, "With the knowledge obtained from a bioprocess engineering degree, I hope to be on the leading edge of finding, extracting and distributing clean renewable energy."

The fall semester gets underway at ESF today (Aug. 26).