Conference Topic – What’s Your Carbon Footprint?

Climate change is altering crop yields and agricultural demand for water. Human contributions to climate change involve emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. These result from fossil fuel use, travel, and dietary choices that incur land clearing and industrial fertilizer production. Each person in the US is responsible for almost 20 tons of emissions per year, while someone in China only around 4 tons. Personal carbon footprints can readily be reduced through informed lifestyle choices, analogous to designing a budget to manage finances more effectively.

This workshop introduces tools for making a personal carbon audit and provides information to justify highly effective changes. Psychologically speaking, we will learn: (a) how to adjust our attitude (which is the combination of affect/feeling, behavior, and cognition/knowledge); (b) several simple tactics for prompting new behavior; and (c) ways to adopt new habits while enjoying our normal rewards. From classroom experience, we know that for every five students who reduce their footprint by a very-feasible 20 percent, the planetary effect is equivalent to eliminating one US citizen. Changes take as little as a week to adopt but can be extended over years and across multiple generations by involving family and friends.


Bruce T. Milne holds the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Environmental and Food Systems and is Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico. In the mid-1980s, his post-doctoral teaching experience at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design cemented the central notion that the psychological, cultural, aesthetic, and economic aspects of humanity are dominant forces in local ecosystems that constitute the biosphere. The International Association for Landscape Ecology recognized him in 2006 as Distinguished Landscape Ecologist for work with spatial analysis of landscapes and species habitats at multiple scales. In 2004 Dr. Milne responded to challenges facing the biosphere by founding the Sustainability Studies Program at the University of New Mexico to serve hundreds of passionate undergraduate students from across the entire campus. The program celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017 by taking stock of the many graduates who now work for environmental and social well-being.