Switzerland is one of the top rated countries for environmental policy. Climate change has far reaching implications for the environment, including accelerating glacial melt, water supply, disaster preparation, infrastructure investment and the economy, making Switzerland a microcosm for studying the environment, entrepreneurship and policies for sustainability.
“Hi, I’m Yinka Bode-George. I’m a senior, a dual-degree student in Environmental Science and Health Administration and Policy. What I went to Switzerland to research is water sustainability. I believe that water is a very important resource for humans as well as other organisms on this earth. We use it in many different capacities and I just wanted to see how we can better sustain water in the United States as well as other countries.
“What I researched prior to going to Switzerland was waste water treatment plants specifically and how they consume a lot of energy and how Switzerland has various systems in place to make their waste water treatment plants more sustainable. My first research location took me to a waste water treatment plant in Bern. They don’t just treat the standard waste. They treat rivers, they create bio-energy, and they use waste water residuals to create gas and other products to use for electricity and energy.
“This experience really showed me how going in with a particular idea can help, but your ideas can also change in the course of your research.”
Yinka Bode-George, Environmental Science and Health Administration and Policy Major
“Then I went to the Tropenhaus. They use warm water that they found inside of a mountain and they use that to power turbines. They also use that warm water to create a fishery where they produce caviar as well as other fish products. They also use that warm water to power a greenhouse where they can plant and sustain tropical plants, which is really incredible.
“I also went to a hydro-electric plant in Kandersteg where they also did a similar process of using turbines to power the whole entire region of Kandersteg.I talked to Walter Rosen and he explained to me how global warming isn’t a major thing that they deal with there because their power supply is actually from the lake nearby called the Oeschinensee. The Oeschinensee is supplied with the glacial waters of the mountains surrounding it. When I talked to him, I was interested in finding out how, if the glaciers are melting rapidly, how would that affect their water source? He told me that the Oeschinensee actually has a natural rise and fall and so right now, it’s not really affected by the glacial melting. However in the future, it’s definitely a possibility because if there are no glaciers, then there is no water source. If there’s no water source, there’s no hydro-electric plant obviously.
“It is definitely something they consider and something that is problematic in the future. This experience really showed me how going in with a particular idea can help, but your ideas can also change in the course of your research. Going into grad school, I would like to study environmental hazards. I’m looking at that topic of environmental hazards and waste remediation in a completely different way because now I have all of these experiences that show me that sustainability can be multi-sectoral and can happen in many different capacities. I’m looking at ways to remediate toxins in our environment in different ways, not the conventional methods that we’re so used to, but thinking expansively to see if a conventional resource can be used in a different way.