Tag Archives: environment

Kids vs Global Warming – 15 year old inspiration

Founder of Kids vs Global Warming

The Bay Area Schools Environmental Conference put on by the City of San Jose Environmental Services Department last May was nothing but inspirational. Concerned students were thirsting for new information and ways to slow global warming and rethink how we can be better guardians of our planet… for it is the youth that will be the custodians of the future.

The City of San Jose has committed to promoting awareness and activism for improving our environment. It is one of the leaders in the nation with mayor Chuck Reed’s “Green Vision” program. The Bay Area Schools Environmental Conference brought hundreds of students together to discuss their concerns and learn from the dozens of nonprofits committed to building a sustainable future.

But what was most inspirational was the keynote speaker. 15 year-old Alec Loorz, the founder of Kids vs Global Warming http://kids-vs-global-warming.com rallied the audience, young and old to come together and actively participate in the improvement of our environment from a global perspective to a personal view. “We can do things right now” he proclaimed as he advised us on things we can do on a daily basis such as reducing the use of water while showering or brushing our teeth. On a global scale he is organizing a “Million Kid March” http://kids-vs-global-warming.com/iMatter_March.html, mobilizing the youth around the world to take a stand and let our governments and corporations know that we need to make changes NOW!

If nothing else, Alec and the many committed youth at the conference gives us hope that there will be a brighter tomorrow. It is but a work in progress.

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Climate Change for the rest of us

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As important an issue that it is, the discussions of Climate Change in the media are generally out of reach of the average person, let alone the many who are dealing with the daily struggles of survival. Health issues, family, job loss, housing, education, financial issues and the economy in general all tend to push this discussion out into the distant future. How does it resonate with the many under-served in our population, i.e.: those challenged with handicaps or English as a second language?

This is a much bigger issue that will affect all of us. It is an issue that needs to be talked about at all levels of our society. As the global population pushes towards the 7 Billion people mark (http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html) and our natural resources rapidly depleting (http://record.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/12786.html), the next generations, our children, will be left with a world that cannot sustain the growth that it has over the past century. And with global warming accelerating the loss of the arctic ice sheet (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/10/091015-arctic-ice-free-gone-global-warming.html) there will be catastrophic climate changes that will affect every man, woman and child on this planet. We can’t ignore it.

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How do we engage the vast majority of the population in this conversation? This story needs to be told at all levels of the educational system. This is not one semester of science or world history, this is about changes in the way we live, work and play. Government needs to back major initiatives for change. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce needs to support climate legislation in Congress. The media needs to give access to NGOs and other organizations involved in the environment, climate change and education to help communicate the challenges in very simple, easy to understand terms. The investment community needs to step up and back more clean tech and alternative energy projects. Big business needs to realize that making a profit while damaging the environment is bad business, and not sustainable.

iStock_000002577406_rushhour-300x199How about the entertainment industries where we worship the excesses of our society? The millionaire celebrities with multiple gas-guzzlers, extravagant mansions and lifestyles that promote waste and careless neglect for our environment? There is an opportunity here to reach the masses by telling the story in entertaining but meaningful ways.

We cannot wait for new scientific developments, the next miracle energy source. Climate Change means WE HAVE TO CHANGE. And if we don’t, the world we leave to our children will be more challenging than the one we are living in today.

Full Circle Farm. The next symbol of Silicon Valley?

valleyThere is a quiet movement in Silicon Valley of people getting back in touch with the earth. Full Circle Farm http://fullcirclesunnyvale.org/ is one of the most ambitious movements. A community-based eleven acre organic located at Peterson Middle School in Sunnyvale, CA, it is the largest of its kind in the nation. Started in the summer of 2007, the founders had quite a vision of improving the health and well-being of the students and local community by offering up fresh, tasty organic produce as an alternative to the fast-food diet of today. Integrating into the school’s curriculum, Full Circle Farm is not only teaching students healthy eating habits, but the business of growing, tending, managing and selling the produce.

A team of Stanford scientists headed up by Christopher Gardner is furthering the study of how Full Circle Farm will positively impact the diets of the students and the local community, and help raise awareness for programs such as this to help unite communities in the effort to turn the tide of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The long term effects of locally grown organic farming will have major benefits in terms of reducing our carbon footprint as we will rely less on foreign grown produce, thereby reducing transportation, a major source of CO2 pollutants.

As the movement continues to gain acceptance, Full Circle Farm has the possibility to be the role model for building healthy communities on the global stage. It will take work and commitment to make this happen. But after all, before Silicon Valley, this was the “Valley of Hearts Delights” http://tinyurl.com/lrtav3. We have a reputation to live up to.

Green For All founder Van Jones to Washington

The founder of Oakland-based Green For All (www.greenforall.org), Van Jones, has been tapped by the Obama adminstration for the position of spokesperson with the title of “Special advisor for green jobs, enterprise and innovation”.

Congress Urged to move climate change agenda ahead

rushhourI applaud Congressman Mike Honda’s article published in the Mercury News(6/10/09) regarding the need for congressional constituents to urge congress to take action on global climate change issues. http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_12554610 For most of us, we are focused on the economy, jobs, housing, education and health issues which confront us in our daily lives. It is hard to look out into the future beyond the next few months, let alone the next few years. Unfortunately, time is catching up to us and we are going to have to recognize the impeding challenges ahead of us and take decisive action. This is not just a local, regional, or national issue. It is a global issue which will affect all of  us. In addition to the political, economic and social confrontations on the international stage, what to do about global climate change has stymied political leaders and scientists alike http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5glOuTZdaVLxwq820ZEBjxjwov4zA It is important for each and everyone of us to understand the gravity of the situation and reassess our own values and lifestyles to move towards a more sustainable society now and into the future. http://www.scscertified.com/ Talk to your congressional representatives, state representatives, city council and county supervisors. Talk to your teachers, educators, and other civic leaders. It is our opportunity for our country to take the leadership role in this important fight to sustain our planet for generations to come.

Sustainable Urbanism, Douglas Farr

 

Sustainable Urbanism

Sustainable Urbanism

There’s a new conversation circulating in the midst of the economic slowdown and the uncertainties of our global environmental future. Doug Farr (www.farrside.com), architect, urban planner, author, and environmentalist spoke to a crowded theater of business leaders, civic leaders, educators, students, and anyone else who was interested in the sustainable future of our community on Monday evening (October 20, 2008) at the San Jose Repertory Theater. It was a straight forward, no-nonsense dialog of how we live, work and play and the consequences of our “excessive lifestyle”.

 

For newbies, it was an enlightened view into the LEED rating system for buildings and what the current trends and programs are to reduce our impact on the environment.

Yet, LEED does not go far enough, as Doug points out. We need to re-look at the total urban environment, not just a single building, and restructure our urban landscape.

As we struggle with the concept of paying millions for new public transportation systems, it is clear that the system alone won’t solve our problems, let alone coax us out of our beloved cars. We need to create new urban environments, or “Transit Oriented Developments (TOD)” where “it just doesn’t make sense to drive a car”.

We need to increase densities of housing in neighborhoods to be able to sustain businesses and services for that neighborhood. And create compelling environments that make pedestrian lifestyle the mode of choice.

The move to create sustainable neighborhoods and clusters of LEED buildings is being promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council as LEED-ND (LEED for Neighborhood Development).

Although not the only “solution”, it provides a positive goal for create a quality of life “live/work environment” for the next generation of urbanites. He presents the case that it’s not only good for the environment and economy, but it is important for our individual health. With grim statistics on the growing obesity rates in our country, Farr shows that the pedestrian lifestyle has positive benefits for our health and well-being.

Still, we have a long way to go to alter our way of life on this road to sustainability. We need to stop the worship of our cars and consider alternatives to almost everything we do on a daily basis. And it needs to be adopted by everyone in our society, locally, nationally, and globally.

This warning message is not just for us, but for our children and the future generations. What can we do? At minimum, we need to educate ourselves and dialog with our friends, neighbors, business associates, educators and government officials. As Doug has presented his viewpoints on Sustainable Urbanism, we need to take the lead and start the conversation.