What is Sustain Champlain?

Sustain Champlain is a campus-wide initiative strives to infuse sustainability concepts and practices across Champlain College by coordinating and promoting best practices within four areas: our institution, academics, operations, and culture.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

4th Annual Biophysical Economics Conference

    I was lucky enough to attend the 4th Annual Biophysical Economics conference held this year at UVM. This three day event featured some of the most notable names in Ecological and Biophysical Economics. Such as Dennis Meadows author of Limits to Growth, Christopher Martenson author of, The Crash Course, and Charlie Hall, founder of Biophysical Economics, a field that focuses more on the biophysical effects of what we are doing to our planet. A field that is, in his own words, “sustainable sustainability”. These individuals and many other brilliant speakers gave several presentations over the three day event, subjects ranging from oil depletion, to food security, to gas taxes, to energy return on investment (EROI). This was a truly transformative experience to listen to professors, economists, physicists, and environmentalists and see how many facts there are that prove our economic system is killing the planet.


Dennis Meadows and all of the work he has done with exponential graphs told us that we are long past peak oil and on a steep downslope towards running out of our most important resource. Chris Martenson illustrates the “three E’s” Energy, Environment, and Economy. He showed how they all tie together to make up a super complex system and how the only way one can grow is by taking away from the other two. The way we have rapidly grown our economy rapidly depletes our energy and destroys our natural environment at an unprecedented rate. Charlie Hall gave us a chart that describes how high our EROI needs to be in order to maintain the way of life we have grown accustomed to. A way of life that is impossible to maintain without oil. A way of life that even if oil was infinite would destroy our planet as it already is doing.


This information is just the tip of the iceberg but it would require a whole new blog to truly delve into the world changing implications of this conference. Luckily there are a few of those http://www.theoildrum.com/ and http://www.peakprosperity.com/learn  and many more can be found through these websites and the networks they have created. I want to leave you with one small experience that had a major impact on me and hopefully will resonate with you also. I was talking with this eighty-something year old retired professor and I asked him how he got involved with all of this and he looked me right in the eye and said “I am trying to figure out how to save my family.”


 By Tucker Malone, Class of 2016

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Environmental Leadership Conference

E2 Environmental Leadership Conference
A few weekends ago I had the pleasure to attend a conference at ECHO. http://www.echovermont.org/events/viewevent.html?event=516 The conference was centered around getting people involved in the movement for environmental sustainability and social justice. This conference was the precursor to an even bigger event ECHO will be holding on January 21st called the Environment and Equity Summit. At the October conference there were representatives from student environmental clubs from UVM, Saint Mikes, and of course Champlain College. We spent the day discussing a variety of challenges we face in raising awareness to environmental and social issues. We also spend a great deal of time coming up with simple solutions to the complex problems society has created. 
There were some brilliant presentations and discussions about a variety of different topics the most notable of which was transportation. Chapin Spencer, the executive director of Local Motion, lead a discussion about how we can make our transportation system in Burlington and Vermont as a whole more efficient and more sustainable. We ended up coming to a consensus that the only way to do that is to get people motivated so that people are willing to give up there comfy cars and walk or bike to work or school. We discovered that a large number of people live within a few blocks from where they work but they still decide to use their cars rather than just walking. So how do we motivate these people and others to start doing the right thing for the planet? That's where Matt McGrath of the Vermont Workers Center came in. He gave a wonderful presentation about how to get the word out and motivate people to get involved. It turns out the best way to get people to do things is not though multimillion dollar ad campaigns (sorry Koch brothers, it just doesn't work). It is actually just going out and talking to people and letting movements build though word of mouth. The Vermont Workers Center has had great success using this simple strategy and we can to! Come give us your ideas and get involved. The Champlain College Environmental Club meets every Tuesday in fireside lounge! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Champlain-College-Environmental-Club/180133277258