The Boy Scouts of America are directed to be helpful and conservation minded as part of their Scout Law and Outdoor Code, respectively. Eighteen Boy Scouts of the Chippewa Valley Council (Western Wisconsin) advanced these principles at the University of Wisconsin-Stout by completing the Sustainability merit badge.
This badge requires them to learn stewardship and management of Earth’s natural resources including water, energy, and food production. The in-depth course was spread over three separate Tuesday nights in October and November.
The United Nations Water Development Report from 2015 indicates that 20 percent of the world’s aquifers are over-exploited and about one-third of people on the planet have exceeded the ecological limit of sustainability in their water supplies.
The World Health Organization says that 3.4 million people, mostly children, die every year of water-related diseases, of which, most could be prevented with access to clean water.
The U.S. annually consumes 100 exajoules of energy equivalent to lighting 32 billion 100-watt light-bulbs continuously. About 90 percent of it comes from non-renewable energy resources. The U.S. consumes 170 billion gallons of transportation fuel each year.
Living sustainably requires using resources in such a manner that does not jeopardize the ability of future generations to provide for themselves. The scouts examined renewable alternatives such as Ivanpah’s massive solar thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert, wind turbines, and solar photovoltaic panels.
We produce 299 million tons of plastic worldwide every year and only 5% of plastic waste is being recycled. We also produce 41.8 million tons of electronic waste every year worldwide with only 18 percent getting recycled.
There are 416,000 mobile devices and 142,000 computers recycled or disposed-of every day just in the United States. Ways to reduce, reuse, and/or recycle are discussed by the scouts at every step.
Guiding scouts through this journey were physics professor Dr. Alan Scott, college student Ms. Cambria Sinclair, and Mr. Vern Caturia.
Sinclair majors in apparel design and development and minors in sustainability. Caturia a Volunteer Adult Scouter with the Chippewa Valley Council was instrumental in organizing and managing the administrative aspects of the merit badge sessions.