At issue

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McGill Reporter
April 20, 2000 - Volume 32 Number 15
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At issue

On April 28, 1999, Senate passed a resolution "to recommend to Senate an environmental policy with which to address environmental issues in a progressive and efficient manner." A year later a draft policy is well under way. What would you like to see in an environmental policy for the University?


Karine Kisilenko
McGill School of Environment student

Recycling on campus would be the most obvious program lacking at McGill. While a paper-recycling program exists, there is nothing in place for cans and bottles, something which many students are frustrated about. Also, I would like to see audits done on campus buildings to determine where improvements may be made in terms of energy efficiency and solid waste reduction. A 'green' purchasing policy and a program in which professors and students from various disciplines could work together to address environmental issues on campus would be effective starting points in making McGill environmentally friendly. Writing a policy is futile unless there is initiative to implement it; communication between administrative staff, faculty and the student body is critical in keeping up the momentum.

Professor Martin Lechowicz
Department of Biology

Aside from managing chemical wastes, reducing energy consumption, developing recycling systems and the like, we should pay serious attention to the "greening of the university." Although McGill is essentially an urban university, we enjoy rich connections to more natural landscapes. The Macdonald Campus is a link to the lakeshore, the main campus a bridge between downtown and Mount Royal Park. Teaching and learning can take place in exceptional natural environments. We should show leadership in the management of wild as well as settled landscapes. We should develop policy to take advantage of the juxtaposition of urban and natural environments that is a distinctive part of the fabric of the University.

Wayne Wood
Manager of Environmental Safety

If an environmental impact study on McGill were conducted today, it would probably conclude that the most detrimental effect on the environment stems from the pollution and fuel consumption related to transporting people to and from the University. McGill is in a unique location that enables living within walking or bicycling distance or within easy access from all over the region by way of public transit, but instead it appears that the car culture prevails — just observe the unrelenting demand for parking space, the rising popularity of SUVs and the increasing distances people are willing to commute. The environmental policy first needs to address environmental literacy and consciousness — otherwise it will be just another exercise in recycling paper.

Professor Saeed Mirza
Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics

As a university community, we may not be able to effectively control the ever-increasing environmental deterioration; however, we can attempt to prevent it through our individual actions. In my own department, for instance, all the profs bring their mugs to meetings. This way, we don't have to create waste. But there is not enough of that ethic in the University. Why, for instance, doesn't the cafeteria use biodegradable garbage bags and cutlery? On a broad scale, we need to ensure harmony between our "technological environment" and the natural physical environment. We must aim at eliminating, or greatly reducing, the pollutants generated by our research and other activities on campus, without hindering our productivity.

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