We Have Only One Earth. Let’s Take Care of It.

10, 2022

Email: zhangchi@westlake.edu.cn
Phone: +86-(0)571-86886861
Office of Public Affairs

What does the end of life look like?

In the movie Coco, they offered a sad and yet truthful answer: the end of life is not death, but being forgotten.

Each one of us as individual lives would be forgotten one day. But as a generation, every trace we leave on this blue planet will still be here with the world that is to come in hundreds and thousands of years.

A coffee cup you threw in the bin will still be on planet Earth after 450 years if not longer.

When hitting the accelerator pedal while driving, you might have become partly responsible for the degradation and even extinction of the coral ecosystem in the future.

The digital devices we leave behind year after year turns limited and precious rare metal into trash.

What are we leaving to the future of Earth? How would our offsprings see us and our ways of living?

Six independent laboratories with the program of Sustainable and Environmental Engineering of Westlake’s School of Engineering share their voice with us today: We have only one Earth. Let’s take care of it.

Where Did the CO2 Go

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports that the average greenhouse gas concentration was at a record high in 2021, and it continues to rise. The Atmospheric Environment Research Lab is developing technologies to track the sources of greenhouse gases. The Biomass Energy and Materials Lab not only develops biomass conversion technologies but also puts together policy-relevant evaluations of our pathways towards decarbonization. The two laboratories jointly proposed a “Zero-carbon Campus” initiative, calling for everyone to reduce and separate food waste, and choose buses, subways, shared bicycles or walking as means of metropolitan transport.

Where Did the Coffee Cups Go?

Now plastic is everywhere, from the Himalayas to the Mariana Trench. Yet it can take as many as 450 years for plastics to degrade, and some will never be degradable. How many of the 70,000 cups of coffee bought on campus in 2021 were served in eco-friendly cups we brought along with us?

The Sustainable Agricultural Systems & Engineering Lab in the School of Engineering reminds everyone that, in the face of this problem with plastics, change can start with the cup of coffee in your hand.

Where Did the Fish Go?

Fish in the ocean have nowhere to hide from the deadly threats caused by acidified water, bleached coral, floating trash, and wastewater. As of May 2022, about 4,800 fish have been released into the water canal at Yungu Campus. But how are their lives so far? The Deep Sea Technology Research Lab and the Intelligent and Informational Fluid Mechanics Laboratory of the School of Engineering of Westlake University are developing bio-inspired fishlike robots. The robots are soon expected to join the family of the 4,800 fish and monitor the quality of the water in the canal at Yungu Campus, while fulfilling a bigger mission to protect the safety of the Earth's aquatic environment.

Where Did the Gold Go?

Do you know that manufacturing smartphones consumes an enormous amount of nonrenewable mineral resources on Earth, especially rare elements such as gold? Each smartphone contains about 30 mg of gold. The 300 million smartphones expected to be sold in China in 2022 will require the mining of approximately 5 million tons of gold. The Research Group of Extractive Metallurgy is focusing on the recovery of elemental resources. Recycling deserves more attention.