Perspectives on Sustainable Energy
The Notre Dame Forum is intended to promote dialogue—the sharing of knowledge, experiences, and perspectives—across all segments of the campus community. We have invited representatives of the faculty, students, and staff to write brief commentaries about how the subject of sustainable energy affects their lives.
Please take some time to reflect upon the ideas and information posted as part of this series. Let these writers “set the stage” for you to be fully engaged in the Forum’s principal panel discussion. Please also plan to follow the example of ongoing conversation—an education for the mind and heart, a pursuit of common ground and cooperation—in the days and weeks following the panel presentation. Through planned events and spontaneous initiative, we hope to encourage your follow-through for months and years to come.
This Forum can make e difference, beginning here and now. Visit this page frequently in the coming days or subscribe for updates: check out who’s sharing their energy—and who’s making their voices heard—alongside yours.
September 24, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By James M. Mazurek
Sustainability is commonly defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It relates to the continuity of economic, social, institutional, and environmental aspects of human society, as well as the non-human environment.
Beyond some sufficient level of continuous functioning, however, sustainability at a university represents more than just the mere ability to survive and get by. It also represents the shaping of new generations of leaders, as well as the institutional trade-offs that are made daily between equity, economics, aesthetics, and the environment.
September 23, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Brandon Sparks
Large corporations will play a large role in charting a sustainable energy future, but individuals can also impact the future.
The greatest role an individual can play is in saving energy. Not only does this action often lead to monetary benefit, but it also affects and pressures industries in a way that will lead to a sustainable energy future.
September 22, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Sallie Hood and Ron Sakal
In the film “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore urged Americans to drive less, but he failed to mention how the places we live in are designed to keep us behind the wheel. Outside of campus, most of us have to drive in order to do much of anything, no matter how high gas prices go.
We need to recognize and change these patterns so we can live better while using less energy.
September 21, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
The topic of sustainable energy is one that touches the lives of each of us. CEOs are seeking a “green” image for their company, current presidential candidates are preaching their solutions to the climate crisis, and local families are making financial decisions in response to rising energy costs.
September 20, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Joe Kindt
A nation’s economic development is tethered to its ability to produce energy. From the English industrial revolution, triggered by coal-fired steam engines, to today’s Chinese economic boom, backed by the construction of one coal-fired power plant per week, economies have long been concerned with harnessing greater production power. A nation with a sound energy policy that promotes sustainability will foster a healthy business economy.
September 19, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Prashant V. Kamat
During the last century the worldwide population quadrupled and the energy demand increased by sixteen times. The exponential growth in the energy demand is exhausting our fossil fuel supply at an alarming rate.
September 18, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Margaret Pfeil
From the perspective of the Catholic social tradition, care for the environment flows from grateful appreciation of the interdependence of all of God’s creation. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his 2008 World Day of Peace Message, “…[I]t is essential to ‘sense’ that the earth is ‘our common home’ …”
September 17, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Jim Yarbrough
Several years ago, Notre Dame Food Services formed a Social Responsibility Committee that focuses on local purchases, fair-trade products, animal welfare, and environmental issues. The work of the committee filters down to the cooks that prepare your food, the staff that serves your food, and those responsible for maintaining our facilities.
September 16, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Colleen Kelly
I am the stereotypical idealistic student. I strongly believe that creativity and ingenuity can solve any seemingly insurmountable problem. In particular, the energy crisis is one of those solvable problems. The complex and multi-faceted energy concerns including dwindling supply, increasing demand, environmental degradation, geopolitical unrest, and infrastructure problems can all be resolved.
However, my idealism was shaken when I went to Washington, D.C.
September 15, 2008 • Notre Dame Forum 2008
By Frank Incropera
What kind of energy future would we like to see? Few would argue with continued access to abundant, low-cost energy supplies or elimination of energy as a barrier to economic development. We would probably also agree that supplies should be adequate to meet the basic needs of all humankind and accessible without geopolitical tensions or having to turn a blind eye to energy-rich but autocratic governments given to the abuse of human rights. And, finally, we would want energy to be used in an environmentally benign and sustainable manner. Regrettably, these conditions do not exist today, nor are they likely to be achieved any time soon.