Simple Sustainability Stats

Courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems

U.S. adults are overweight or obese
68%
Children 2-19 are already obese
17%
Good food wasted today
26%
Good food hauled away to landfills
15%

If you happen across a photo of people from the 1970s, you’ll notice one thing. Pretty much everyone is a normal size. Look around today and you’ll see what research proves. More of us are fatter than normal sized. In fact, 68% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Even more worrisome is that 17% of children 2-19 are already obese.

Bad as those numbers are, there’s a contradictory and darker side. For most of the last century, leftovers were a mainstay of the American diet. Think Great Depression and ration cards of WW II. Yet today while seven out of ten adults eat too much, we throw away more edible food than ever before! For the record 26% of good food is wasted today, fifty percent more than in 1970. i.e. We wasted less food back then, and we weighed less.

No need to mention how damaging obesity is to health because everyone knows it. So you’re thinking, ‘Isn’t it better to throw food away than to eat it?’ Not if we want a sustainable world for future generations. Good food pitched in the garbage makes up 15% of what the big trash trucks are hauling to our dumps.

So how about saving money and solving this food-wasting problem? First, buy fewer groceries and see how good yesterday’s meatloaf is warmed up. It gets better. Hauling and dumping that 15% of trash costs every single American $455 a year. Reduce your grocery bill, get acquainted with your grandparents’ fondness for leftovers, and now we’re talking some real money.

Not to mention our country is running out of room for dumps.

University of Michigan’s  Newest Dean Wows Her Audience

Healing lead-poisoning in children with backpacks? According to the new Dean of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & the Environment, books in a backpack are indeed a good start! And Dean Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda should know. She is an academician and a pediatrician whose research specialty – and passion – is improving environmental health conditions for the disadvantaged, especially children.

Duke University’s loss became Michigan’s gain in January 2012 when Dr. Miranda left her dual posts at Duke as a faculty member in the Nicholas School of Environment and as a physician with the medical school. On March 26, Dean Miranda delivered the 11th annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability at her new university. Since the series started in 2001, the University of Michigan’s Wege Lecture has become one of the most popular on campus.

Combining her intellectual strengths, compassion for children, love for family, and sense of humor, Dr. Miranda captivated the crowd adding to the Wege Lecture’s stellar reputation. Dr. Miranda showed graphics on how her research team locates high-risk areas – usually in impoverished neighborhoods – for environmental toxins, including lead. They then collect blood studies of children in the area who have  elevated lead levels.

By testing these children, Dr. Miranda found clear evidence of developmental deficits attributed to the lead in their bodies. Children are at greater risk for lead poisoning, Dr. Miranda explained, “because they are not little adults.”

They crawl on the ground, put things in their mouths, and have higher metabolisms causing them to breathe more air and drink more water per pound than adults. That’s why children are more vulnerable to environmental toxins like lead that can diminish their ability to learn.

The positive news, according to Dr. Miranda’s results, is that an enriched environment can help mediate the mental deficits caused by ingesting lead. And that is where the backpacks come in. Working with the schools and teachers, Dr. Miranda’s team visits the children affected by lead poisoning. They give each child a bright new backpack filled with what Dr. Miranda calls “really good books” along with a library-card application.

Miranda’s team also puts in a growth chart for the parents so they can track their child’s developmental progress. This information enables the parents to get help if they see signs of developmental slowing.

Dr. Jonathan Bulkley, Peter Wege’s longtime dear friend and newly retired professor in the University of Michigan’s SNR & E, Dr. Miranda, and Dr. Keoleian at the dinner following the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability delivered in 2012 by Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda.

To read more on this event please visit : Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability

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Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda displays not only her enthusiasm for her new career at the University of Michigan, but also her crowd-winning sense of humor.
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Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda, the new Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & the Environment, presents Ellen Satterlee, CEO of The Wege Foundation, a poster of the talk Dean Miranda gave as the speaker for the 2012 Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability.

Wege Surprise Honors Dr. Jonathan Bulkley

To Peter Wege, Jonathan is not only a gifted scholar, teacher, and researcher, but he is also one of Peter’s closest friends. They first met in Lansing in 1991 when Dr. Bulkley and Greg Keoleian, his Ph.D student at the time, invited Peter to serve as the new NPPC’s first board chair. Thus began a professional collaboration and personal relationship between the academician in Ann Arbor and the business man in Grand Rapids that continues on.

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Pictured above, next to the sign inviting guests to Dr. Bulkley’s retirement seminar in the Dana Building, is Ellen Satterlee, CEO of The Wege Foundation. While Jonathan planned the panel discussion given by his former students, he knew nothing about Ellen’s surprise announcement. She told the full auditorium of Jonathan’s family, friends, fans, and students that Peter Wege and The Wege Foundation were establishing the “Jonathan W. Bulkley Collegiate Professorship in Sustainable Systems Fund.”

The award will go to a faculty member who is actively advancing the research and educational mission of SNRE and the Center for Sustainable Systems. The honoree will be given the Sustainability Professorship named for Dr. Bulkley. Ellen’s second surprise from The Wege Foundation is an endowment to support Ph.D. students in the dual Ph.D. program between the University of Michigan’s School of Engineering and the SNRE.

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Pictured above is the panel of five former graduate students spanning Professor Jonathan Bulkley’s 43 years with the University of Michigan’s SNRE. The five SNRE graduates from across the country shared their academic memories and environmental wisdom at Dr. Bulkley’s retirement ceremonies. From the left: SNRE Professor Steve Yaffee, Sari Sommarstrom, Ph.D., environmental consultant managing California’s first water trust; Phil Metzger, attorney for the U.S. EPA’s deputy administrator; Susan MacKenzie, Ph.D., teaching in the Environmental Studies Department at Colby College; Julie Zimmerman, Ph.D., associate joint professorship at Yale’s School of Engineering & Applied Sciences and the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Their individual testimonies on how Jonathan Bulkley shaped their lives had common themes. As teachers he taught them accessibility. “He was never too busy to meet.” They learned from him how to respect their own students. “Jonathan listened attentively to us…that built confidence and inspired creative problem solving.” “You taught us how to think.”

On a personal note, each spoke of Jonathan as a family role model in his commitment to his wife – and Mother Goose storyteller! – Trudy. Susan MacKenzie told the crowd that when she was pregnant as a grad student working out of a deteriorating room in the old Dana Building, she came in one Monday to find Dr. Bulkley had painted her office over the weekend. “He worried about the peeling paint.”

But the two most repeated words about Dr. Bulkley from his five former students and from the audience members who spoke seemed to summarize the man himself. “Honesty.” “Integrity.”

 

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10th Wege Lecture at U of M – A Brilliant talk by Dr. Larry Brilliant

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman described Dr. Larry Brilliant as a 60s Hippie idealist, a 1990s entrepreneur, and 21st Century high-techer. And Brilliant proved to be all those things March 16 when he delivered the 2011 Peter M. Wege Lecture for the U of M’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

Larry Brilliant got his start as an activist for good causes while an undergrad at Michigan when he was one of a few students to hear an unknown black pastor named Martin Luther King speak. “None of us were ever the same again,” Dr. Brilliant told his audience at Rackham Auditorium.

This year’s Wege lecturer went on to earn his M.D from Wayne State followed by an M.A. in Public Health at Michigan where he served on the faculty from 1977-86 teaching international health and epidemiology. Dr. Brilliant is a physician board-certified in preventive medicine.

In 1985 he founded a non-profit called Seva that ultimately restored eyesight to 3 million people by eliminating preventable and curable blindness. He also co-founded The Well, one of the early digital communities, as well as inventing and patenting an upgrade for online transactions.

The public-health epidemiologist moved to India where he helped mobilize 15,000 health workers to visit homes looking for smallpox. While over half a billion people died of smallpox in the 20th Century, when Dr. Brillant’s campaign was done, smallpox was officially declared “eradicated” – the first time in history that a united effort had wiped out a contagious disease.

As Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman put it, Dr. Brilliant “does not do small.”

Saline High School students attending the Lecture sponsored by the U of M’s School of Natural Resources & Environment: Sarah Marshall, Aviva Shwayder, and Caroline Devries. Peter Wege would have loved their answers when these girls said why they came to the Wege Lecture. Aviva summarized for the three: “To change the world, you first have to educate yourself.”
Saline High School students attending the Lecture sponsored by the U of M’s School of Natural Resources & Environment: Sarah Marshall, Aviva Shwayder, and Caroline Devries. Peter Wege would have loved their answers when these girls said why they came to the Wege Lecture. Aviva summarized for the three: “To change the world, you first have to educate yourself.”
U of M Professors and chairmen of the Center for Sustainable Systems Dr. Greg Keolian, on the left, and Dr. Jonathan Bulkley, 3rd from left. On the right, Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of Michigan's SNR & E School, and Martin Philbert, Dean of the School of Public Health.
U of M Professors and chairmen of the Center for Sustainable Systems Dr. Greg Keolian, on the left, and Dr. Jonathan Bulkley, 3rd from left. On the right, Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of Michigan’s SNR & E School, and Martin Philbert, Dean of the School of Public Health.

University of Michigan Holds 9th Peter M. Wege Lecture

Monday, March 22, 2010, Dr. John P. Holdren (pictured left), Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for President Obama, delivered the ninth annual lecture at the University of Michigan named for sponsor Peter M. Wege. Dr. Holdren spoke to a full house of faculty, students, and guests in the University’s Rackham Auditorium.

Holdren’s topic was “Science and Technology Policy Priorities and Opportunities in the Obama Administration.” President Obama’s personal advisor on Science and Technology outlined the administration’s plans and projected budgets for elevating the role of science in the federal government. Bringing more scientists into the White House’s decision-making process was a key platform in Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

With Earth Day approaching, University President Mary Sue Coleman reminded the audience that Michigan played a key role in the original 1970 Earth Day. Having started the nation’s first Teach-In protesting the Viet Nam War in 1965, Michigan students decided to host a second one to support Earth Day.

But since national Earth Day was April 22 in the middle of Michigan’s final exams, the students put on their Teach-In during March 1970—effectively kicking off the first Earth Day. Founder of Earth Day, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson later credited U-M with inspiring groups across the country to join the first Earth Day celebrations a month later.

Speaking on the need for better education on climate change, President Coleman noted that while the science community tracks the increasing environmental damage from carbon emissions, the public is moving the other way. Over the past two years, the number of Americans who think climate change is a hoax has actually gone up from seven to sixteen percent.

Dr. John P. Holdren   The March 15, 2010 issue of The University Record, a University of Michigan newspaper describes the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: The Wege Lecture, one of U-M’s most visible annual events, is open to the public and the academic community. It addresses important sustainability challenges facing society such as energy security, global climate change, ecosystem degradation and sustainable development strategies – with a focus on improving the systems for meeting human needs in developed and developing countries.
Dr. John P. Holdren
The March 15, 2010 issue of The University Record, a University of Michigan newspaper describes the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture:
The Wege Lecture, one of U-M’s most visible annual events, is open to the public and the academic community. It addresses important sustainability challenges facing society such as energy security, global climate change, ecosystem degradation and sustainable development strategies – with a focus on improving the systems for meeting human needs in developed and developing countries.

Dr. Holdren summarized the thinking among scientists on dealing with climate change. Mitigate environmental harm by reducing greenhouse gases. Adapt to what be can’t mitigated by minimizing the harm. Or suffer irreversible harm to the planet if both mitigation and adaptation fail.

*Above – Dr. Jonathan Bulkley, University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of SNR and E, Dr. Greg Keolian, SNR and E, pose with Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to President Obama for Science and Technology, following Holdren’s delivery of the Ninth Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture at the University of Michigan.

Want Quick Green Facts and In-depth Info?

Visit www.css.snre.umich.edu/facts
Since the early 1990s, Peter Wege has been actively involved with the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan where he went to school. In 1991, when the SNR & E won the Environmental Protection Agency’s national competition to house the country’s first National Pollution Prevention Center, Michigan had an important requirement.

A major aspect of the EPA grant was that the NPP Center would appoint an External Advisory Board made up of people outside the academic campus who were leaders in the private sector. Having heard of Peter M. Wege’s environmental influence on Steelcase Inc., where he was an executive, Dr. Jonathan Bulkley and his younger assistant Dr. Greg Keoleian, asked him to head up the first External Advisory Board.

It was the beginning of a mutual admiration society between Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor that led to several collaborative projects, including the annual Wege Lectures given on the Michigan campus. It was also the beginning of a deep friendship among the three men.

In the late 1990s, the environmental thrust moved beyond preventing pollution to promoting sustainability. The National Pollution Prevention Center evolved into the Center for Sustainable Systems, with Peter Wege continuing to chair the External Advisory Board. Among many definitions of sustainability, one of the clearest summaries is that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

One of the CSS’s important callings is to educate people beyond the academic world about sustainability. Their new web site is an important medium to achieving that end. The CSS Fact Sheets are one-page snapshots on the environmental impacts of everything from personal transportation to residential buildings to how our country supplies and distributes water.

While the information in these Fact Sheets is often unnerving, they do offer various solutions and alternatives. The Fact Sheets are a great resource for mainstream Americans not familiar with the environmental lingo as they are written in clear English with lots of graphs, charts, and drawings to help viewers visualize the numbers.

Pictured above is the University of Michigan’s Dana Building housing the School of Natural Resources and Environment. As the Dana approached its 100th birthday in the 1990s, the dilapidated classroom building faced demolition. But SNR & E Professors Jonathan Bulkley and Greg Keoleian convinced the University to instead restore Dana as an example of green rebuilding.

Peter Wege was involved from the beginning in what became known as “The Greening of Dana.” The Dana restoration gained national attention as a hands-on clinic for SNR & E students in environmental reconstruction. In 2005, the Dana Building received a gold rating from the United States Green Building Council making it the greenest academic building in the state of Michigan.

Be part of Pollution Prevention Week September 15 - 21, 2008, by incorporating activies into your daily routine that reduce, reuse and recycle waste. This is an opportunity for individuals, schools, communities and industries to share ideas on how to protect the economy, improve health and reduce energy costs.
Be part of Pollution Prevention Week September 15 – 21, 2008, by incorporating activies into your daily routine that reduce, reuse and recycle waste. This is an opportunity for individuals, schools, communities and industries to share ideas on how to protect the economy, improve health and reduce energy costs.

PETER WEGE RECEIVES HONORARY DOCTORATE FROM THE U OF M

PHDegreebig (1)The University of Michigan paid its highest tribute to lifelong East Grand Rapids resident Peter M. Wege by awarding him an honorary degree as a Doctor of Laws. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University, gave the Honorary Doctorate to Peter M. Wege during the University of Michigan’s winter commencement ceremonies on December 15, 2007.

In introducing Wege to the graduating seniors and guests in Chrysler Arena, Dr. Coleman said this to the crowd:

Peter Melvin Wege has dedicated his life to improving global ecology through relentless persuasion, prodding people and organizations into undertaking initiatives and achieving results that never would have occurred without his advocacy. He has devoted over half a century of his own energy and resources to the University of Michigan and the State of Michigan.

Dr. Coleman told the audience that Wege left the University in his sophomore year to join the U.S. Army Air Corps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. “He not only defended our nation against enemy forces,”Dr. Coleman said, “but also realized we needed to protect our country against the harsh consequences of our own pollution…Mr. Wege became an early activist regarding the ecology of Michigan, incorporating the University in his motto of “Go Blue—Think Green!”

In 1967, she said, he started The Wege Foundation to honor his parents, Sophia Louise and Peter Martin Wege, principal founder of Steelcase. In citing The Wege Foundation’s support for the University, Dr. Coleman talked about his service as the first chairperson of the advisory board for the National Pollution Prevention Center in Ann Arbor, now the Center for Sustainable Systems.

Coleman described him as “a robust supporter of the University’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.” Among his gifts, he sponsors the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on campus. Speakers for the Wege Lecture have included Nobel Laureate Al Gore, the Prime Minister of Norway, and this year William Clay Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman of Ford Motor, Inc.

According to President Coleman, Wege considers one of the Foundations “best success stories” the environmental renovation of the century-old Dana Building that houses the School of Natural Resources and Environment. In 2005, the Dana Building received a gold rating from the USGBC making it the greenest academic building in Michigan. The new Ph.D. Wege calls the “the greening of Dana” the perfect example of his motto, ‘Go Blue, Think Green.’”
President Coleman noted that Wege is finishing his second book on economicology calling it “a word he coined to promote a balance between a healthy ecology and a profitable economy.”

In presenting the Doctor of Laws diploma, Dr. Coleman concluded:

Mr. Wege, your extraordinary vision and deep-rooted commitment have made our planet a better place for future generations. You have shown us that it is not enough to be passionate about a cause, but that we need to translate our enthusiasm into action. By devoting your support to educational efforts as well as specific projects, you are ensuring that your mission will continue far into the future. You represent the best ideals of the University of Michigan, and we are proud to welcome you back in order to present you with the honorary degree.