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Mark Xiong's avatar

Mark Xiong

Bruins For a Just Transition

"My name is Mark Xiong and I am a first-year Business Economics major. I joined this challenge because I wanted to gain some new perspectives and educate myself about how I can contribute to the fight against climate change. I want to protect our beautiful planet and I am very interested in learning about how I can make a positive impact. "

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 961 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    1.0
    energy audits
    conducted
  • up to
    1,395
    minutes
    being mindful
  • up to
    1,655
    minutes
    spent exercising
  • up to
    139
    more servings
    of fruits and vegetables
  • up to
    9.0
    public officials or leaders
    contacted
  • up to
    150
    minutes
    spent learning

Mark's Actions

Buildings

Online Energy Audit

Multiple Solutions

I will complete an online energy audit of my home, office, or dorm room and identify my next steps for saving energy.

Completed
One-Time Action

Land Sinks

Advocate for Forest Protection

Forest Protection

I will contact 3 congress people or representatives to advocate for public policy that protects forests and the enforcement of existing anti-logging laws, as well as the rights of local people to protect and restore the land in their communities.

Completed
One-Time Action

Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks

Learn about Biochar

Biochar Production

I will spend 60 minute(s) learning about biochar and how it can help sequester carbon.

Completed
One-Time Action

Action Track: Building Resilience

Express My Support For Walkable Cities

Walkable Cities

I will find out who in my city makes decisions that impact neighborhood walkability and express my support for better walking infrastructure.

Completed
One-Time Action

Electricity

Communicate With My Elected Officials

Onshore Wind Turbines, Offshore Wind Turbines

I will write or call 3 elected official(s) telling them not to support fossil fuel subsidies and instead support wind energy generation.

Completed
One-Time Action

Action Track: Healing & Renewal

Go for a Daily Walk

Walkable Cities

I will take a walk for 30 minutes each day and take note of the infrastructure that makes walking more or less enjoyable, accessible, and possible.

COMPLETED 45
DAILY ACTIONS

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

More Fruits And Veggies

I will eat a heart healthy diet by adding 2 cups of fruits and vegetables each day to achieve at least 4 cups per day.

COMPLETED 40
DAILY ACTIONS

Transportation

Research and Consider Switching to a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle

Electric Cars, Hybrid Cars

I will spend at least 60 minutes researching and weighing my options to see if a hybrid or electric vehicle makes sense for my lifestyle.

Completed
One-Time Action

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Eat Mindfully

I will eat all of my meals without distractions, e.g., phone, computer, TV, or newspaper.

COMPLETED 46
DAILY ACTIONS

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Smaller Portions

Reduced Food Waste

I will use smaller plates and/or serve smaller portions when dishing out food.

COMPLETED 40
DAILY ACTIONS

Feed

  • Reflection Question
    Buildings Online Energy Audit
    What are your next steps for saving energy?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 5/30/2022 10:36 PM
    Today, I completed an online energy audit of my home back in Colorado, and that audit notified me of a couple of improvements that my family could make to our home that I had not previously considered or even knew needed tampering with in order to help reduce emissions produced by the home. I was able to have a thoughtful conversation with my father about the status of our home, and it was interesting to learn about how much energy our household consumes on a yearly basis and what different systems in the home contribute to that energy use. In the summer months, my family uses about 40 therms of natural gas and in the winter that number rises to 188 therms. When looking at electricity use, my family on average uses about 650 KWH of electricity every month, and after completing a home assessment, I was notified that my family was using slightly more energy than the average similar household. This underperformance inspires me to push for a change of both my family and I's behavior, and these figures motivate me to have more conversations with my family about reducing our energy use, be less wasteful of precious resources, and be more aware of what scenarios I may be in where I do not need to be using as much energy as I need to. I feel that a lot of the waste that I produce comes from the fact that I have grown up incredibly privileged and have never really had to worry about finances or limited resources, and with this I aim to be more grateful and conscious of how my individual actions impact the world around me. When I go to visit my grandparents back in China, they hardly ever turn on the AC during the summer and solely opt for the use of personal fans, and I’ve learned that this practice is because of the fact that both my grandparents and parents came from humble beginnings, which made it so that air conditioning was way too expensive to run in the summer. Every last cent mattered to them, and thus they were forced to be less wasteful than I was. Reflecting back on this, I recognize that I need to do better when it comes to recognizing my own privilege, reducing my carbon imprint, and learning how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. For instance, one habit that I need to solve in particular is to make sure that I am turning off the lights in the house before I leave, as I often forget when I am in a rush and end up wasting a lot of electricity when those instances add up. 

    Moreover, the online energy audit gave my family and I a couple of suggestions related to structural improvements that we could implement in the house to reduce energy use, and these advancements included sealing the leaks in our home, adding more insulation to the structure, replacing our one-pane windows with storm windows, replacing our heating and cooling systems, and installing a new energy star certified water heater. According to Paul Hawken, “If annually, 1.6–2 percent of existing residential and commercial buildings in temperate and tropical countries install insulation increasingly with low carbon materials, 17–19 gigatons of emissions can be avoided at an implementation cost of US$751–831 billion. Over the lifetime of the building, heating and cooling savings could be US$21–24 trillion” (Hawken). My family’s individual household energy consumption could also be reduced significantly if we were to install more, and thus I am definitely going to talk to my parents about making this change, as well as replacing the heating and cooling systems that have shockingly not been replaced since our home was built in 2002. After these changes are implemented, I hope my family considers bringing in an expert to conduct an energy audit of our home in person to see the progress that we have made, and I am intrigued to see the results, as I was not aware of the fact that my home’s systems are incredibly outdated and I had not even considered the impact they had on my own carbon footprint. 


  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Express My Support For Walkable Cities
    How could better walking infrastructure make your city both more enjoyable and more equitable?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 5/30/2022 6:21 PM
    Back home, I live in a suburb right outside of Boulder, Colorado, and having listened to Jeff Speck’s Ted Talk about walkable cities, I realize that my hometown is very spread out and open due to suburban sprawl and the increasing dependence on cars that has transformed American culture. Growing up, I was fortunate enough that every school I attended from elementary to highschool was within a walkable distance from my home, but every other aspect of my life required a 10 to 20 minute car ride because of how spread out the town was. While I do feel that my neighborhood did attempt to incorporate and improve various aspects of walkable infrastructure, such as adding more streetlights and building more sidewalks, I feel that my city could have been more enjoyable if everything was more densely packed together. I find driving to be a fairly large nuisance in my life, as it takes time and energy out of my day and it simultaneously destroys the home and planet that I love, and thus I would love it if every place that I needed to be in a day was within walking distance of my home. Increased walkability in my town would give me the opportunity to get more cardiovascular exercise and to enjoy the fresh air in my city more. Furthermore, increased walkability would free me from the shackles of the gas pump, which has effectively found a way to empty my wallet time and time again, and help me avoid other fiscal costs such as car insurance or registration fees. 

    However, while I would witness many environmental and personal benefits if walkability were improved in my city, I understand that such improvements can only improve equity if certain standards are met. Specifically, my city needs to do a better job of eliminating systemic racism at the local level in order to ensure that improvements in walkability infrastructure provide benefits in an equitable manner. For example, according to Destiny Thomas, a transportation planner and community organizer, when talking about how planners should go about promoting walkability in a city, she notes that “If you want to ban cars, start by banning racism. Planners should make an intentional effort to address scarcity across all modes of transportation so as to empower freedom of movement and choice in mobility” (Thomas). Eco-friendly and private transportation options are often not equally accessible for people coming from different backgrounds, and as displayed in the cases of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, forcing black people into the streets via the implementation of public policy, in which the concerns of POC’s are not considered, strips them of a level of safety and protection that guards them from being hunted down by rogue police, vigilantes, and white supremacists. In turn, it would be unfair to ban cars in the efforts of reducing traffic and creating a walkable space before these issues of systemic racism are addressed. There are many other instances in which the decisions of city planners unexpectedly and negatively affect the lives of people of color, and with this I believe that the voices of these marginalized groups should be heard and incorporated into any public policy that is created at the local level and that significantly alters the infrastructure of these groups’ homes and living environments. This way, not only can cities be transformed into more pedestrian-friendly areas, but all pedestrians living in the area can see the benefits of these alterations and not just those who have privilege. 


  • Reflection Question
    Land Sinks Advocate for Forest Protection
    Higher standards of living are very often dependent on moving our environmental costs elsewhere. What are some specific ways in which the environmental impacts of your own lifestyle might be shifted elsewhere?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 5/25/2022 11:12 PM
    While various aspects in my life have given me an easier and more convenient life, such as being able to drive my own car around and having easy access to air conditioning, I understand that having the privilege of growing up in a developed country has given me access to amenities that have improved my life at the expense of the well-being of other less privileged individuals. Consumerism and materialism dominated my life before I was educated about how such practices negatively impact others in the world, and while I was buying clothes, toys, electronics, and other goods to provide myself with a higher standard of living, people in developing countries, who are grossly underpaid and highly exploited, suffered the costs. 

    Pollution is especially bad in countries like Bangladesh, China, The DRC, Ghana, and Pakistan, and this is largely due to the fact that manufacturing has been outsourced by US companies to these locations, where wages are low and regulations are weak. In turn, the environmental costs associated with manufacturing are outsourced to underprivileged and vulnerable communities globally, creating inequities that go largely unseen by those living in developed countries. Similarly, fossil fuel use drastically shifts the environmental costs of a life of convenience to those who are underprivileged and underrepresented. In the United States, low-income and POC communities are far more likely to live near oil refineries, exposing them to a myriad of harmful chemicals that can cause birth defects in children born in those communities and countless other health problems for all. These inequities are once again the result of shifting environmental costs to those who will suffer the most from changes in their environment, and it highlights the fact that we should all be reconsidering how our actions impact those who we cannot see but are the most vulnerable in these situations. 

    In participating in this Eco-Challenge, I was exposed to another way in which environmental costs are distributed globally as a result of the desire for convenience by consumerism and capitalism, as deforestation significantly increases the amount of emissions that are present in the atmosphere and reduces the amount that can successfully be sequestered. While one may not directly see how their actions are negatively affecting the environment for others, deforestation perfectly illustrates how selfish behaviors end up dispersing the costs of destroying forests to other more vulnerable groups. Climate change affects everyone, but those who are less privileged suffer the consequences much more heavily, and thus protecting forestry and giving access back to local peoples helps to not only sequester emissions and actively combat the climate crisis, but it also helps us progress towards a greater state of equity, given the previous premises. According to Drawdown, the amount of trees on Earth has decreased by 46% since humans have implemented farming practices, and by protecting 335-466 million more hectares of forest, the amount of emissions that could be sequestered and avoided would be 5.5-8.8 gigatons by the year 2050 (Hawken). These statistics go to show how effective forests are in curbing emissions and protecting the planet from climate change, and thus it is in our best interest to start recognizing that the current practices involving deforestation need to be stopped. Likewise, individuals can help to prevent deforestation and support the healthy management and reforestation of degraded land by using their political rights to voice their opinions and contribute support to policies that aim to accomplish these goals. 

  • Reflection Question
    Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks Learn about Biochar
    Can biochar provide additional benefits besides sequestering carbon?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 5/08/2022 10:02 PM
    Biochar is a charcoal-like material that is created by burning biomass in an oxygenless space to “lock in” the carbon that would be released by the decaying biomass into a stable and compact form that can be stored and sequestered. The process is carbon negative, and the heat generated during this process of creating biochar can be captured and used as a clean energy source as well. This solution attacks the climate crisis as a double-edged sword, and it provides a multitude of other farming benefits that may incentivize individuals to support more initiatives to produce more biochar. For example, indigenous peoples living in the Amazon have used biochar for thousands of years by adding it to the soil to improve its quality and its ability to grow vegetation. In a video that I watched, the creator displayed two gardens side by side, where one had biochar added to the soil and one didn’t. Ultimately, the garden with the biochar had noticeably better vegetation growth and produced more luscious plants. Thus, biochar can also be used as an agent to aid in solving food insecurity, as its contributions to farming can help increase crop yields and improve the soil’s ability to retain water, especially in areas prone to drought.

    My research on biochar reminded me about the research that I had conducted on fire-ecology, as both of these solutions were used long long ago by indigenous peoples who had an incredibly thorough understanding of the environment around them and the land that they were living on. It is crazy to think about how we have just recently discovered the benefits of these solutions and have not really implemented them on a large scale, yet there were groups of people who were using these tactics very long ago and were able to use these processes to cultivate their relationships with the environment around them. Given what I have learned from my research, I would strongly support advancements in academic fields dedicated to exploring and creating new methods of creating biochar, as that would make its creation more widespread and accessible. Through the frameworks of support and sequester, the use of biochar can actively combat the negative impacts of the climate crisis, and while technological innovations, such as solar farms, can have the potential to curb emissions immensely, I feel that it is spiritually uplifting and important to advocate for solutions that aim to use the organic processes of the natural world to help solve climate issues as well.




  • Reflection Question
    Electricity Communicate With My Elected Officials
    What inspires you to act on sustainable energy and other energy issues?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 5/08/2022 4:29 PM
    It has truly been heartbreaking to see how wildfires have become more and more common near the place that I call home, and it hurts to see, in real time and throughout my relatively short lifetime, how climate change has progressively gotten worse and has wreaked havoc on many communities around me. I have seen fires burn homes to the ground and displace countless numbers of people, altering the lives of many. At this rate, I can’t even imagine what the climate will look like for my children and whether it will even be livable or not. These concerns inspire me to act on issues that will help reverse emissions and the negative effects of climate change, such as the increased prevalence of wildfires, and with this I am determined to act on energy issues as I know that energy generation via fossil fuels is responsible for the large amount of emissions being released into the atmosphere. According to drawdown, electricity generation today is responsible for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions globally (Hawken), and thus the infrastructure currently in place needs to be altered and transformed. Energy and electricity are critical parts of our everyday lives and they drastically improve the quality of our lives. However, its generation creates many negative environmental impacts that could be eliminated if eco-friendly methods of electricity production become more prominent. 

    With this, I have contacted three elected officials, Gavin Newsom (Governor of CA), Jared Polis (Governor of CO), and Aaron Brockett (Mayor of Boulder), and asked them to use their influence and power to actively support wind energy generation and to cease support for fossil fuel subsidies. In my emails to them, I discussed the environmental benefits that onshore wind turbines would offer if implemented on a large-scale, and I elaborated on my concerns regarding whether or not the climate will even be livable in the future. Through my research, I have learned that wind turbines can generate energy with no fuel costs or pollution, yet they can be built quickly and in areas where recreation, farming, and grazing can still take place once those wind turbines are built. I made sure to incorporate a discussion of these benefits in the emails that I sent. Overall, this ecochallenge has helped me gain experience with using my voice to advocate for issues that matter to me and also given me new insights into how the climate crisis can be reversed via the influence and support frameworks discussed in Regeneration. By contacting our elected representatives, we can use our influence, passion, and power to encourage people with political power to use their skills to enact change for the better and to help create a sustainable and healthy environment. 
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Healing & Renewal Go for a Daily Walk
    What have you noticed on your daily walks? What have you enjoyed? What infrastructure changes could make your walks more enjoyable or possible?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 4/11/2022 11:33 PM
    Besides walking to and from class and the dining halls, I like to go on walks on and off-campus to get fresh air and to clear my head. After being introduced to this eco-challenge, I began to think about how to create more walkable cities and the impacts that they can have on the environment. What I enjoy the most about my walks are how they make me feel after. I feel refreshed after going on a walk, and I feel that this is largely due to how walkable both the campus and Westwood are. When walking on campus, what really grabs my attention is how beautiful the architecture is, how walkable and pedestrian-friendly the campus is, and how diverse the student body is. Also, there is a certain level of comfort that I get from walking around on campus and seeing other students who are also smiling and walking around versus when I walk around other cities polluted with cars on every block. On today’s walk, I decided to venture outside of campus and walk around Westwood for a little bit to explore the city more. The city itself was moderately walkable and what caught my attention specifically was how close a diverse variety of different stores were to each other. For example, on one block, I noticed that there were a variety of restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores, and even the UPS store, and I noticed that this layout was very similar to my hometown, which is also a college town. 

    From my walks and with all of the observations that I have gained from them, I have developed the belief that city planners could use the layout of college towns and campuses and apply them to other cities to make them more walkable. College towns and campuses are incredibly walkable, because all the stores and buildings that someone living there may visit are in close proximity to each other, and thus it is far more convenient to walk to wherever you need to go than to get into a car and drive there. In turn, in order to create more walkable cities, the goal for planners should be to make it so that walking is more convenient than driving, and college towns and campuses provide the perfect example of this. As noted in Drawdown, “According to the Urban Land Institute, in more compact developments ripe for walking, people drive 20 to 40 percent less” (Hawken). This statistic indicates that developing walkable cities helps to curb emissions fairly significantly by reducing emissions derived from vehicles, and thus this is even more reason for people to push for the creation of or transformation to walkable cities. Not only are walkable cities convenient for those who live there, but the environment is protected simultaneously. Given these notions, I feel that the design of Westwood could be improved slightly to make it more walkable, as there are still a lot of cars driving around the city. Overall, I like the proximity of buildings and compactness of the city as a whole, but I feel that the size of the sidewalks could be expanded and the size of the roads reduced. This way, more people will be encouraged to and will be able to walk on the sidewalk freely and be less inconvenienced than if they were driving. Moreover, the effects of these changes could potentially compound and snowball, since more people walking on wider sidewalks may create a larger culture of walking which could promote more people to start walking. If these changes were to be implemented, then the reduction in emissions could significantly impact the future well-being of the planet as well as positively contribute to the current fight for the reversal of the climate crisis.

    • WILLIAM SPARKS's avatar
      WILLIAM SPARKS 4/12/2022 1:25 AM
      Hi Mark, it seems that you and I agree on many things regarding Westwood being a great model for walkable cities. The campus is definitely more calming and exciting to walk than many streets in the apartment complexes and surrounding areas. It is crazy how being on campus can make you forget that you are currently living in one of the most populated cities in the world. One of my mother's friends initially did not want their son to go to UCLA because they thought it would feel too much like a city. But I was eventually able to talk them into visiting, and they were shocked at how amazing of a campus it is, and now their son is a current freshman here. Walkable cities should definitely radiate the same feeling as Westwood and the UCLA campus. I agree that the sidewalks should be repaved, but I am not quite sure if the streets should be made smaller. Some people need cars as a necessity to get around town. LA is overall a huge city, and walking to certain locations or taking the bus is not a viable option. For example, this weekend I attended community service, and I needed to take the bus since my car was in the shop. However, the only effective bus route would have taken 2 hours , whereas a typical car ride is only 20 minutes. Also, many of the streets in the apartment complexes are already impossible for two cars to pass by each other due to the crowded parking. Maybe if parking was more accessible, the roads could be made smaller. Some other cities that I found to be very walkable in Italy. When visiting for a school trip, we had to walk everywhere, yet this was never an issue. All the necessities were within a few mile walk from each other. Venice is a very interesting example because a majority of the city can be traveled by walking or row boating. Venice still struggled with issues, mainly that the waters were polluted with trash, however, in terms of walkability, a lot can be learned from it. Taking the positives and negatives from all of these cities can be very beneficial in creating a walkable city that is optimized for convenience and emission reduction. While it would be a lot of work to reconstruct cities that currently rely on vehicle transportation, with time we could ultimately move to a world where walking is no longer seen as primitive, but instead is viewed as enjoyable and effective.
  • Reflection Question
    Food, Agriculture, and Land Use Eat Mindfully
    Mindful eating is healthier for us than eating with distractions. How does your eating experience differ when practicing mindfulness?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 4/11/2022 10:39 PM
    Over the past couple of days, I have been slowly transitioning into eating mindfully by eating my lunch without distractions. In the past, I would always be on my phone watching videos when I ate, and so this has been a pretty impactful change that I have made in my life. Surprisingly, eating without distractions was not as hard for me as I thought, and it has ended up being very therapeutic for me as well. At first, the urge to grab my phone and throw on a video was fairly pressing, but as I sat there and calmed myself down, I was able to dedicate my attention to the food that I was eating, the textures and flavors I was experiencing, and the journey of how the food got to my plate. In an article written by Howard LeWine, the chief medical editor for Harvard Health, it was noted that “Mindful eating can reduce your daily calorie intake. By paying attention to what you are putting into your mouth, you are more likely to make healthier food choices” (LeWine). Over the past couple of days, I have definitely noticed changes in how I feel after eating and the impacts these changes have later in the day or over the next few days. I can confidently say that I feel more full after eating, and by actually paying attention to what I am putting in my body, I have reduced my food waste by not having to eat as much later. Simply because I wasn’t distracted and could mentally visualize what I had eaten previously in the day, I was able to feel better about myself, less bloated, and make healthier life choices with regard to reducing my calorie intake. In the long-term, I feel that mindful eating will definitely provide me with long-term health benefits as well as the ability to help in the fight against climate change, and I feel that these effects, being compounded through the mindful eating of countless other individuals, will have a lasting and positive impact on the future health of the planet. 

    According to Drawdown, “The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions” (Hawken), and by doing something as straightforward and achievable as mindful eating, we can contribute to the reversal of the climate crisis. Moreover, besides reducing my portions, and thus my food waste indirectly, mindful eating has given me the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for the food sitting in front of me. For example, today, all I could think about was how much effort and time was put into producing my food, delivering it, and cooking it, and through my experience today, I have really gained a greater appreciation for how lucky I am to not have to face food insecurity and be able to enjoy some of the best dining hall food in the country. With these privileges, it is my duty to reduce food waste and do my part in reducing emissions globally, as it has been reported that nearly a third of food in high-income economies is wasted and thrown in the trash (Hawken). In turn, mindful eating has given me new insights into what I should be putting into my body, how truly appreciative I am of being able to enjoy such comforting and tasty food, but also how I can make an impact by simply stepping away from the distractions of the modern world and eating without distractions for just a short amount of time a day. The lessons and insights that I have gained can make an impact on anyone, and for me, they have provided me with a new lens to see the world through and a calling to do the little things that may have a large impact in the future. 

    • SHERROD SESSION's avatar
      SHERROD SESSION 4/11/2022 11:13 PM
      Eating mindfully is one of my challenges as well! I really like how you've made the distinction of how important food really is. I think showing your appreciation for every meal you have will make you want to eat all your food, all the time. I also really like how you indicate that it is your duty to ensure that no food that you consume doesn't go to waste. It makes me think that this is an obligation you've undertaken.
  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Research and Consider Switching to a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle
    Reducing (or eliminating) exhaust emissions and improving public health are two benefits of green vehicles. What other motivators inspire you to consider switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle?

    Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 4/11/2022 8:23 PM
    Although I currently do not have a car here in Los Angeles and choose to walk or take public transit wherever I go, my research has given me a new perspective on the multitude of benefits associated with switching to an electric vehicle. In turn, if there ever comes a time in my life in the future where I need to have a car in order to support my daily transportation needs, then I will definitely be purchasing an EV. At home, I share a car with my brother, and although I rarely drive it anymore, my research has definitely given me the push to consider selling my old car and purchasing a used EV. The pros that come with switching to a green vehicle outweigh the cons, and as noted in Drawdown, "Compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, emissions drop by 50 percent if an EV’s power comes off the conventional grid. If powered by solar energy, carbon dioxide emissions fall by 95 percent" (Hawken). Evidently, driving a green vehicle helps to reduce emissions and in turn protect the planet and improve public health, but there are plenty of other motivations for switching that are economic, social, or even spiritual in nature. 

    Primarily, I would be interested in purchasing an EV due to the fact that everyone living on this planet plays a crucial role in reversing the climate crisis, and thus I want to ensure that I am doing everything that I can to curb emissions and ensure that there is a future for our planet. From a personal perspective, the inconveniences of driving an EV, as they pertain to my life, are near nonexistent, and it is far cheaper to fuel my vehicle with electricity than have to pay for gas at the pump. I would be in a win-win situation as I could simultaneously save money and do my part in protecting the planet at little to no cost to my own convenience. Moreover, a past concern that I had about EVs was that I used to think that they were wildly expensive and considered to be luxury cars. However, my research has actually led me to many affordable options that also are completely electrically-powered. For instance, the newest model of the Nissan Leaf has a starting price of $27,400, and this is very comparable to many other vehicles that are marketed as affordable such as a Toyota Camry, which is the car that I currently own at home. If someone were to buy a used Nissan Leaf, then they could definitely obtain an EV without having it be a large financial burden to them. Lastly, one pro that I found for switching to an EV in my research that I found especially interesting was one that talked about energy independence, and I feel that energy independence can serve as a benefit to one’s spirituality. The ability to not have to be tied to a gas pump can have the potential to feel very liberating and consciously soothing, and I feel that these benefits can translate to an improved self-image, especially with regard to making a conscious effort in curbing emissions. Personally, I love the idea of not having to worry about going to the gas station, and the ability to be energy independent gives me insight into a new aspect of what it means to be "free." Given all of these motivations, this knowledge and the action that ensues from it can have a very meaningful environmental impact on a larger scale, especially if the impact is compounded across many people.

    Overall, my research has given me the opportunity to discover countless positives associated with purchasing and/or switching to an EV for transportation purposes, and I feel that these pros are very applicable to my own life. Given my lifestyle, the negatives that come with driving an EV, such as longer “fueling” times and range anxiety, do not have a great impact on my life. I do not drive anywhere I don't have to, and I do not usually travel very long distances. Given all of these factors, I have been persuaded to purchase an EV in the future after graduation. I feel that this research has not only been impactful in giving me the motivation to switch, but I feel that it has the potential to motivate so many others as well. The benefits associated with switching from gasoline-powered vehicles to EV’s can significantly alter the future well-being of our planet, and thus the actions that both the people around me and I take can have a lasting impact on the reversal of emissions and the climate crisis.

  • Mark Xiong's avatar
    Mark Xiong 4/04/2022 12:10 AM
    Growing up in the beautiful state of Colorado, I have been able to develop a strong and meaningful connection with nature. I have always loved nature, and I find great comfort and therapy in going out into the woods, up into the mountains, or out to the lake just to get away and to be left alone with my thoughts and feelings. I am able to find true happiness when I'm out in nature and the outdoors, and I could not imagine a world without it. However, with the continuous and ongoing exacerbation of the climate crisis, I am incredibly concerned for the future of both my home state and our planet as a whole. Within the last two years, I have witnessed countless wildfires near my hometown and seen hundreds of people be forced to evacuate their homes due to threats created by our changing climate. It wasn't always like this, but in recent years wildfires have become increasingly prevalent in Colorado and in many states across the United States. Just last summer, I was able to see a fire that had pushed up and spread within a couple miles of my neighborhood from right outside my house. Many of my classmates had to evacuate, and these events have occurred on a repeated basis within the last 5 years. I have seen our planet change for the worse in real time, and I fear what our planet will become if we do not immediately push for change. 

    I joined this challenge because I want to educate myself about what I can do in order to make a positive contribution towards this fight against the climate crisis. In the past, I have been introduced to the climate crisis and possible solutions, but now I really want to dive deep and learn as much as I can about what I can do to help curb and reverse the negative effects of climate change. I feel that I do not have as good of an understanding of the climate crisis and its various solutions as I would hope to, and thus I am eager to learn about how I can contribute. Some of the actions that I have chosen to participate in involve reducing food waste, taking walks, researching electric vehicles, eating more fruits and vegetables, and eating mindfully, and I have chosen these because I feel that these are areas in my life where I can make fairly significant improvements and in turn make a positive impact in the fight against climate change. Moreover, I am very interested in collaborating with and learning from the other team members in this challenge, and I would love to gain some new perspective on the entire issue as a whole. 

    I am excited to be a part of a movement, and I can't wait to be inspired by my peers to go out and create change and be enlightened on various issues surrounding the climate crisis. The future generations deserve to have the same opportunities and privileges that I had growing up, and I want to ensure that my children and their children are able to live in a livable climate, have food security, and be able to go out and enjoy nature. In turn, I strongly believe that is my duty, as well as everyone else's duty, to make a conscientious effort towards preserving our earth and to fight for the reversal of the negative effects of the climate crisis. We cannot keep kicking the can down the road and continue destroying our planet in the hopes that some miracle will occur in the future. Our planet needs us more than ever right now, and I am dedicated to doing my part in making a lasting, meaningful, and positive impact on the future wellbeing of our planet.