College of Humanities Takes Steps to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Preserve the Rain Forest

March 5, 2007 — Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Utah will come together to rally support for a new partnership to preserve the Costa Rican rain forest and at the same time reduce greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming. The College of Humanities, along with Salt Lake City Corporation, is entering into an agreement with Pax Natura Foundation to support its Costa Rica carbon sequestration project.

The rally and media conference will take place Thursday, March 8 at 10 a.m. in the University’s Alumni House, Dumke Room (first floor). Presentations on the partnership will be made by Robert Newman, dean of the College of Humanities, Rocky Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City, and Randall Tolpinrud, president of Pax Natura.

“We teach our students to be good world citizens, and to be so through sustainable practices. As educators, we seek to model citizenship individually, but it’s important to do so institutionally as well. It is my great hope that our students will be alert to what companies and nonprofit organizations around the world are doing to protect the environment, and that they will be proud the College of Humanities is among them,” said Robert Newman, dean of the College of Humanities.

Students in support of the Pax Natura partnership include Environmental Studies and Environmental Humanities students; and SEED, the registered student group at the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center and the Associated Students of the University of Utah. SEED focuses on education about sustainability, which is the search for balance between economy, society, and the environment.

Pax Natura Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable and educational foundation that has acquired and protected over 500 acres of primary forest in Costa Rica with an additional 60,000 acres as a link in the critical Meso-American Biodiversity Corridor. For more information on Pax Natura Foundation, visit www.paxnatura.org.

The idea behind the University partnership, along with Salt Lake City, in the carbon sequestration project is for both to raise funds for the specific purpose of purchasing carbon credits, which offset a portion of the carbon footprint of both entities. In other words, portions of the Costa Rican rain forest will be acquired and protected to counter carbon dioxide gases emitted by both the University and Salt Lake City.

“A pioneering agreement between the College of Humanities, Salt Lake City, the Pax Natura Foundation, and the Costa Rican government will result in a Certificate of Avoided Deforestation issued to the city and the University,” said Pax Natura President Randall Tolpinrud.

The College of Humanities has committed to raising a minimum of $16,500 annually to purchase carbon credits for this project to offset an equivalent of approximately 45,000 metric tons of C02 compensation.

Salt Lake City will likewise raise funds to offset the carbon dioxide emissions that result from City related air travel. In addition, Salt Lake City will promote Pax Natura via the Salt Lake City Green programs, including encouraging residents and businesses to utilize Pax Natura to offset their personal carbon dioxide emissions. “This unique collaboration will provide an innovative tool for Salt Lake City to meet its future emissions reduction goals, while protecting some the world’s last remaining carbon sinks, defending biodiversity, and supplying practical economic incentives to the land owners of Costa Rica. Salt Lake City is thrilled to be a part of this ground-breaking partnership addressing the most serious issue of our time,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.

In addition to purchasing carbon credits, the College of Humanities will provide funding for one graduate student to assist in project coordination with Pax Natura. This will result in the development of a K-6 curriculum centered on understanding our individual carbon footprint, and ecological impact of individual behavior. This curriculum will be made available to elementary schools in Utah to further education on the concept.

Conferring nearly 20 percent of the University of Utah’s undergraduate degrees, the College of Humanities goes beyond the traditional disciplines of the humanities and has embraced interdisciplinary education in such areas as technical literacy, international studies, cognitive science, applied ethics and now the Environmental Humanities graduate program.