The Spartan Podcast


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Kirk Heinze welcomes Dianne Byrum, Doug Buhler and Marc Schupan to Greening of the Great Lakes for the program’s annual sustainability roundtable discussion to share their expertise and insights on some of the key economic, environmental and social issues facing Michigan, the Great Lakes region and the United States.

Byrum is partner and co-founder of Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications and a recently re-elected member of the MSU Board of Trustees. Schupan is CEO of Schupan & Sons. And Buhler is assistant vice president for research and graduate studies at MSU and director of MSU AgBioResearch.

The panel shares its views on what went right on the sustainability front during the Obama administration’s eight years in office. And they opine on what they think could have gone better and the challenges that remain.

And they speculate on how a Trump administration will impact the important environmental issues facing the country and the world.

Byrum says she expects companies and organizations to continue to develop more renewable energy to power them and that advances in battery storage capabilities in the next five years will be a “game changer” in how America powers itself.

The processes and programs “that are eventually going to go are those that make both economic and environmental sense,” says Buhler.

“When the two of those link, then it doesn’t really matter what your view of the world is. Then it makes sense for everybody. We have to do the right things that do both.”

Trade and immigration are important topics for all of us to keep in mind, too, says the panel.

“I believe in free trade, but I also believe in fair trade,” says Schupan. “It’s one world for all of us. And the more we trade, the better our political relationships become. We’re a nation of immigrants, and we should be open to the point where there are opportunities.”

“I think we’re all trying to respond and address the immigration issue from different angles because it’s not a simple problem,” Buhler says.

Protecting Michigan’s precious water resources will continue to be an important issue in 2017.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who doesn’t want to protect the water, and as long as we do it in ways that make common sense I’m 100 percent there,” Schupan says. “Unfortunately, I think the Flint situation may be the canary in the coal mine as we look at infrastructure challenges across the country. Hopefully we can correct some things before they become a problem.”

“This is a very interesting time to be alive,” says Buhler. “We try to hire people who have strong skills in their fundamental discipline. And as a public research institution, it’s our job to respond to the challenges and the needs of the society. As some of those things change, we need to be looking at how we reposition ourselves.

“How can someone for example who is a world class plant geneticist apply those skills in something different?”

“You have to be like Wayne Gretzky and go where the puck’s going to be, not where it is, and you have to be nimble” says Schupan. “We’re going to try to do that so we’re sustainable for the future. What areas can you grow in and add value to your customers and to your communities? We’re certainly going to try to use that as our direction.”

“These are clearly interesting times, and the speed of change is very fast,” says Byrum. “I’m positive and upbeat about the future. I think there are going to be a lot of opportunities. And from my agricultural perspective, it’s still going to be all about transportation, energy, water and how we continue to produce high-quality food with fewer resources.”

Greening of the Great Lakes airs every Sunday evening at 7:00 on News/Talk 760 WJR and around the state each weekend via the Michigan Talk Network.

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