Student Sustainability Collective adviser talks strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

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Trucks and cars make their way east on the 60 Freeway in Riverside on June 1. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation accounts for 28% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. (Erik Galicia | Viewpoints)
By Sigifredo Macias

As the world attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some may feel there is no immediate action they can take on the ground level.

Preston Galusky, Riverside City College science instructor and Student Sustainability Collective adviser, has some ideas for students who want to do their part.

The SSC advocates for sustainability and promotes it to Riverside City College students. Some of its projects include waste reduction on campus and finding ways to educate RCC students on environmental-friendly choices. The collective has even had its own garden to help students see more sustainable food choices on campus.

Many people have different views on this topic and some may believe smaller cities do not have much of an impact on the climate crisis.

“We rely heavily on fossil fuels for transportation and energy in our area,” Galusky said. “These contribute greatly to greenhouse gas emissions that are primarily responsible for the climate crisis.”

Being focused on environmental stewardship, SSC members have seen instances of the environment not being cared for to the necessary extent.

“One example is the needless construction of new buildings and equipment on open land,” Galusky said. “Also, landscaping throughout Riverside could be converted to growing food or planting native, drought-tolerant vegetation. The city and county could better promote the use and purchasing of electric vehicles and renewable power sources.”

Riverside already has a Climate Action Plan in progress intending to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 by making the area more energy-efficient and helping people and businesses shift toward renewable energy.

Although the action plan is in place, questions remain: Is the climate getting better or worse and is a deadline of 2035 enough time?

“It is getting worse,” Galusky said. “The climate is destined to get hotter and more extreme for many years to come, even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gasses today. Riverside can expect to experience weather extremes even greater than we already do: even longer droughts and even hotter days.”

Being the Advisor of the SSC and knowing the climate is getting worse it’s no surprise to see why Galusky advises students to help the environment.

Though significant policy changes are one way to reduce greenhouse gassesin Riverside, students are also capable of helping to lower carbon emissions.

Galusky believes students can make changes that help the environment.

“Walk, ride a bike, or carpool (or) take public transport when possible,” he said. “Plan trips so that you accomplish more than one goal. Drive as little as possible for errands. Choose electric vehicles if you have the opportunity.”

While many may not have the time or privileges necessary to make some of these changes, Galusky and the SSC are trying to inform and encourage students to take the opportunities to help the planet that are available to them.

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