A Discussion on Climate Change

On April 14, the Office of Sustainability, the political science department and the environmental studies concentration held a discussion about the United States’ rejoining of the Paris Climate Accord.

The Paris vs. Pittsburgh advertisement poster.

The event featured three keynote speakers: JoyAnna Hopper, Ph.D., professor of environmental policy, Jessica Nolan, Ph.D., professor of environmental psychology, and Mark R. Murphy, director of sustainability at Scranton.

JoyAnna Hopper, Ph.D., teaches several courses at the university, including including courses in U.S. political institutions, social welfare and environmental policy, federalism and research methods.

Dr. Hopper’s research focuses on state-level environmental policy. She spoke about how the solution to climate change is global cooperation and said that the outcome depends on how everyone else participates.

“The agreement was made in Paris, but it’s going to be what happens in places like Scranton . . . that determine how successful we’re going to be in protecting our future both environmentally and economically,” Dr. Hopper said.

Dr. Nolan, who teaches several courses in the university’s psychology department and whose research focuses on the application of psychological tools and principles to understand and solve environmental problems, spoke about the psychological aspects of global policy.

Jessica Nolan, Ph.D., teaches fundamental, environmental and psychological diversity courses within the university’s department.

Climate change could be viewed as a large social dilemma that relies just as much upon people’s perceptions as it does upon reality, she said. Specifically, she referred to the efficiency of second order beliefs, or the thoughts people have about others’ beliefs.

“People’s perceptions of [how much] their friends and family believe in climate change can impact their belief in climate change,” Dr. Nolan said.

Mark R. Murphy talked about how the University has been doing its part in the global fight against climate change.

Mark Murphy acts as the director of sustainability for the university.

“I always joke that my job is to save the planet, but it is,” Murphy said. “I think it’s everybody’s job.”

Murphy explained how technology at the University has drastically decreased the school’s carbon footprint, including use of LED lighting, carbon-neutral energy, energy recovery wheels, on-demand water heaters and solar energy projects.

Murphy said there are four energy recovery wheels in the Loyola Science Center that have helped with reducing emissions.

Various different technologies on campus that contribute to the decrease of emissions on campus.

“Energy-wise, [the wheels] are reducing the consumption in LSC . . .  by more than half,” Murphy said.

Murphy said LED lights even made the Class of 2020 Gateway more sustainable.

“The Gateway is all LED lighting and goes into an energy-saving mode at midnight [where] it goes down to about 50 percent capacity,” Murphy said.

The gateway was lit to memorialize the lives lost to COVID-19.

Murphy said the Gateway allows the school to raise awareness for certain causes in a sustainable way.

The University can “raise awareness for certain things [like] the COVID medical cross, Black Lives Matter and Asian racism awareness,” he said, “without wasting a lot of natural resources.”

Murphy said the school will continue its efforts and hopefully reach even lower emission levels.

“I’m extremely hopeful about what’s going on,” he said, “for the goal that we’ve set to [reach] 2005 [emission] levels.”

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