Making choices to combat climate change

October 23, 2012 •

Even with what could be described as the weight of the world resting on their shoulders, today’s college students seem unwilling to succumb to their generation’s greatest challenge—climate change.

Max Boykoff, University of Colorado Boulder assistant professor of environmental studies, researches cultural and societal adaption to climate change, but some of his most telling discoveries are in his interactions with students.

“What strikes me nowadays is that these students have been born into a world largely where the issue of climate change was already on the public agenda,” Boykoff said. “A lot of these students have a much more sophisticated and mature and wise approach to these sorts of global challenges. A lot of the questions come up in terms of what can they do to make good decisions to help influence these processes in their everyday lives.”

CU-Boulder students are making changes locally and globally. Kevin Rechkoff (ENVS'12) was a volunteer for the CU Environmental Center’s SCORE program, Student and Community Outreach on Renter Efficiency. The program takes students into off-campus homes to perform free energy assessments that help student renters save energy, but energy savings are only the tip of the iceberg for Rechkoff.

“It’s a really great job because we come into students’ houses, we talk with people, and we try to educate them,” he said. “I love to talk to them about population. I’ll talk about energy; I’ll talk about water usage or any of this stuff. It’s all involved; it’s all connected. We all live in the same society.”

While students like Rechkoff are making house calls, students like Charlotte Van Voast (MS CVEN'12) are helping develop sustainable building materials and methods as part of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities’ Compressed Earthen Block project. Students play pivotal roles in optimizing inexpensive and locally sourced sustainable building materials for implementation in developing communities nationally and internationally.

“One of the best ways to be sustainable and green is really to go back to the earth,” said Van Voast. “It will be interesting to investigate solutions that are both economical and sustainable.”

For more information visit Learn More About Climate -- an initiative that localizes climate change for Coloradans, offering web resources, current research, educational videos, educator tools and more.