Faculty question Clark’s equation

Alfred Clark, associate vice president of academic affairs, speaks about “A Formula for Sustainability” at the faculty lecture Monday in the President’s Dining Room. The next faculty lecture will take place April 28. / photo by Keenan Gilson

Liz Ortiz
Staff Writer

University of La Verne faculty members criticized Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Alfred Clark’s equation for sustainability during the faculty lecture Monday.

Clark presented “Principles of Environmental History” and discussed the five principles he believed correlated to creating a formula for sustainability in the water supply and proposed his equation as well. He said he was open to criticism and invited students and faculty to ask questions and challenge his principles and formula.

“(Clark) is only working with the San Gabriel water shell, not the world,” Professor of Biology Robert Neher said.

“In other places there are other problems that may not impact this area.”

When he examined the San Gabriel River, Clark developed his five cardinal principles of environmental history.

The first principle stated that species come into existence, evolve and eventually become extinct, Earth abides.

The second principle addressed that everything on Earth is interconnected. The third principle said that species radiate and reproduce to the limits of sustainability and beyond. The fourth principle expressed that all humans use resources and pollute their living space.

The last principle concluded that sustainability is directly proportional to natural resources available and inversely proportional to the size of the population and their resource use per capita. “The fourth principle specifically refers to humans, but other organisms fit it as well,” Neher said.

After Clark received constructive criticism, he proposed his formula. The equation stated that sustainability is equal to resource minus reduction of resource due to global warming divided by population multiplied by resource use per capita.

“Population is a major issue, so I placed it in the denominator of the formula,” Clark said.

Clark said problems in sustainability arise when resources are limited or declining. If there is a formula that can predict sustainability for the future, then water shortage will not be an issue.

Faculty and students initially had a difficult time understanding the formula. Clark had to further clarify after Professor of Mathematics Michael Frantz said that the units would cancel out and make the formula impossible.

“I see a problem using the formula to predict future sustainability,” senior political science major Michael Miller said.

“It does not take into account natural occurrences that may be expected. It can be beneficial for the past and seeing what was the problem rather than seeing what will be the problem.”

“The formula could be implied to a specific geographical area, but it’s on the simpler side of mathematical models,” Frantz said.

Clark addressed several issues with his formula including global warming. He said global warming impacts and creates changes in the atmosphere that threatens the most essential resources. He visually displayed his claim by showing a chart of greenhouse gases that have caused climate changes.

Clark also addressed the issue of water resource use. He said that resource use varies dramatically per capita between nations and even among states. According to his research, the United States has the highest rate of water usage.

“The average person in the United States uses about 671 liters of water a day,” Clark said.

Clark admitted several times that his principles and formula are still in the beginning stages, but he hopes to publish “Principles of Environmental History” and the sustainability formula.

Liz Ortiz can be reached at elizabeth.ortiz@laverne.edu.

Keenan Gilson

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