The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillhas a long and distinguished tradition of environmental research,dating back nearly 200 years. It began with Professors Denison Olmstedand Elisha Mitchell, who helped found natural science programs atCarolina and prepared the nation’s first geological survey. The scopeof environmental study here has expanded considerably over time. Amajor addition to the campus came in the 1920s with the development ofa program in sanitary engineering that eventually formed the core ofone of the nation’s first truly interdisciplinary departments ofEnvironmental Sciences and Engineering, now located in the School ofPublic Health.
Today, there are programs throughout thecampus, covering literally every aspect of environmental study. The UNCInstitute for the Environment helps these individual departments andcenters join together in interdisciplinary research, education andengagement, and creates new areas of study in response to some of ourmost pressing environmental challenges.
Our society facesserious environmental challenges. Global warming is gaining recognitionas the most serious issue of our time, impacting literally every partof the earth’s system. It, in turn, is linked to theburning of carbon-based fuels to produce our electricity, power ourtransportation systems, and heat and cool our homes and otherbuildings. And the availability of cheap fossil-fuel energy has had adramatic, andunsustainable, impact on the design of our structures and ourcommunities.
Our lifestyles also impact our health, and the health of theenvironment around us. Our transportation systems and power plants sendparticulates and other pollutants into the environment. Our parkinglots, lawns, farms,golf courses and other sources pollute our streams, rivers andwaterways.
The old environmental solutions – command and control regulation ofspecific pollutants and point sources – will not solve these problems.Every one of us is partially responsible for these challenges – andevery one of us must play a role in solving them.
The UNC Institute for the Environment is leading UNC’sworld-renowned environmental community in developing solutions to thesecritical challenges. In doing so, it educates future environmentalleaders and engages withthe people of North Carolina and the nation to address and solveenvironmental challenges.