Thursday, February 13, 2014

Biodiversity and Portland State University

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Photo courtesy: lionrose.com

            For decades, Portland, Oregon has been revered as one of the most environmentally friendly, or “green” cities in the United States (some might argue the world!). The same goes for Portland State University, nestled in downtown Portland amidst the heart of the green movement. Judging from this well-known characteristic of the city, one might draw assumptions for what its citizens are like. But what happens when Portland State students are polled about one of the leading topics of the environmentally friendly discussion, Biodiversity? What will they say when asked the question, “What does biodiversity mean to you?” and “What do you think threatens healthy biodiversity?”
Having had the privilege of polling 200 Portland State students, our team was able to get a rough idea into whether not they really live up to the reputation behind their school and their city.

When polled what they think matters the most when it comes to the discussion of biodiversity, an overwhelming 70% of responders said “sustainability.” What does this mean? The short and simple definition of biodiversity is the degree of variation in life. When 70% of respondents are saying that sustainability is what matters, they’re saying that maintenance of a healthy diversity of species is important. What do they think exists as threats to the maintenance of healthy biodiversity, then?
From what the poll results tell us, the big four threats to biodiversity as told by our respondents, are the growing human population, hunting, logging, and invasive species, respectively. The students we were able to poll are just a handful of the several thousands of Portland State-enrolled students (200 out of about 29,000 or roughly 0.07%), so it may not fully grasp how the students of “one of the most green universities, in one of the most green cities in America” as a whole feel about biodiversity. However, it does work to show that the majority, if not all, of Portland State students have been educated, even if just from a flyer or event, on the topic of biodiversity.
So, what does this mean? It means that if you are a member of Portland’s community and are deeply concerned with maintaining a healthy diversity of life on our planet, you know of a resource for support and rallying you can take advantage of: Portland State University and its students.

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