Dr. Richard Olson Challenges Class of 2011 to Save the World

April 06, 2010

Dr. Richard Olson, director of sustainable and environmental studies at Berea College, presented a lecture about the Perfect Storm at Mount Union College on Thursday, September 27.

When Olson discusses the Perfect Storm, he is not talking about the weather, but rather the challenges that face the world. 'How can you save the world, and why does it need saved?' asked Olson.

'The first step to a solution is understanding the problem,' said Olson. He pointed out many problems that face the world today.

Population growth is the first problem that he discussed and illustrated with numbers and graphs. Olson then discussed oil use around the world and described how the world production of oil has already peaked and is now declining, which could lead to a problem. He also discussed the adverse effects of oil use, including the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

Another issue is global warming and Olson showed that in the summer of 2005 the ice covering the Arctic Ocean shrank to the smallest it has ever been. Some of the effects of the ice shrinking include extinction of animals such as polar bears and an elevation of sea level, leading to flooding and strong hurricanes.

Olson then discussed the future and what may come of it. He talked about Plan A: what will happen if people around the world keep doing what they are now (consuming and burning fuel). Olson pointed out that Plan A will lead to Plan D.

He then told the audience of Plan B, which will happen if the world keeps consuming but does a little more to better the situation such as using some alternative fuel methods. 'Plan B will lead to Plan D, too,' he said. 'but it may just take a little longer to get there.'

Olson then revealed what Plan D was. 'Plan D occurs when the resources are depleted and a heated globe finishes us off,' said Olson.

He did suggest a better plan that would end in much more happiness. Olson offered Plan C, which he says will save the world. 'This is where you consume less, grow your own food and live well. In order to do this there has to be an 80 percent reduction in the use of energy and materials in the next seven decades.'

Olson also offered some simple suggestions for everyone to help the environment including using fluorescent light bulbs and composting. He also shared many of the ways Berea College is working to improve the environment.

Olson challenged the Class of 2011 at Mount Union College to raise half of what it would cost to install a solar energy system and said that he would match their donations to provide the other half. The class also has to gain permission for installation of the system on campus by October 21.

To The Top!