Tag Archives: global warming

Future Generations Go Green

The American Dream Reborn Through Sustainability

When my father’s grandparents immigrated to America, they had one objective: to give their children, and some day their grandchildren, a better life. They worked hard and sacrificed to instill the desire to make thing better for the next generation, my grandparents.

Maybe you can remember the sacrifices you saw growing up, how past generations saved money and withheld pleasure from themselves in order to make sure the next generations strived.

That generation is long gone and has been replaced with an American culture that is more focused on the here and now. We don’t think as much about the future, particularly one that doesn’t include us. Today, we look out more for our own best interest. Yes, of course, we want our children to have a better life than us, that is, as long as our lives are exceptionally good.

In 1928, Herbert Hoover was elected president based on the promise of prosperity. “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” boasted the campaign slogan, and people lined up at voting booths. Think about that for a moment – to our ancestors the thought of owning a car and having a good meal seemed like a dream! Times have changed.

Our society is in debt, and I am not just talking about our financial woes. We are borrowing resources from future generations: their trees, water, air, flora, fauna. And we have no plan or intention to pay it back, leaving the bill and a big mess to our children and their children.

So the question is: How do we deal with environmental issues that will exist beyond our allotted time here on earth, affecting generations that may never even know our names but will remember our water bottles?

Issues like global warming, pollution, loss of biodiversity and an economy based on carbon will have a much larger effect on our ancestors than it ever will on us, and the solutions for those issues will take generations to fix. Weaning ourselves from carbon is not as easy as electric cars and solar panels, carbon-based fuels are used for much more than powering our cars and heating and cooling our homes. Plastic, makeup, diapers, medical equipment, roads, computers, nearly everything you have in your home in some way or another is connected to these products. Our demand continues to grow and the technology to replace oil, coal and natural gas will take time to evolve and take even longer to meet our growing needs.

So what can we do? First, we need to start thinking beyond our own lifetime and the impact that our actions today will have on future generations and take personal responsibility for those actions. It is a seedy picture of those 25 generations from now weeding through mounds of our plastic, living amongst a significantly smaller circle of species, and enduring famine and disease as a result of decisions made by us today.

Second, we need to demand accountability of our government and the companies we support, asking them to create positions and departments that represent the rights of future generations. In addition, our justice department needs to aggressively defend the rights of those inheriting this planet.

Finally, we need to reconnect to our instinct of sacrificing to create a better world for our children.

To our children, our impact will not be taught from history books but seen in the evidence we left on the planet we lived.

Green News Roundup- Biogas Powered Data Centers

Green News Roundup – Greenhouse Gases, Biogas-Powered Data Centers & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about greenhouse gases, biogas-powered data centers and more. Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

One Moos and One Hums, but They Could Help Power Google
“Information technology and manure have a symbiotic relationship,” said Chandrakant D. Patel, director of H.P.’s sustainable information technology laboratory. If these words are come as a surprise to you, you’re not the only one! According to this New York Times piece “with the right skills, a dairy farmer can rent out land and power to technology companies and recoup an investment in the waste-to-fuels systems within two years.”
It seems to be the perfect solution for all parties involved, companies need places to build and power their large computing center and “dairy farmers have increasingly been looking to deal with their vast collections of smelly cow waste by turning it into something called biogas.”

If You Build It…
In this piece in the New York Times Green Blog, it’s revealed that actor Kevin Costner “has been overseeing the construction of oil separation machines to prepare for the possibility of another disaster of the magnitude of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.”
Costner is most famous for his acting roles, but he is also an environmental activist and fisherman. He purchased the nascent technology from the government in 1995 and even put $24 million of his own money to develop the technology for the private sector. This week it was revealed that BP’s chief operating officer, Dough Suttles, stated that the company had approved six of Ocean Therapy’s machines for testing. The centrifuge processing technology essentially acts like a giant vacuum, that sucks oil from water, separates it and sends it back into the water 99.9 percent purified.

National Academy of Sciences urges strong action to cut greenhouse gases
This week, the National Academy of Sciences called for big changes in the actions to cut greenhouse gases. They called for “taxes on carbon emissions, a cap-and-trade program for such emissions or some other strong action to curb runaway global warming.”

These actions would increase the cost of using coal and petroleum, but the Academy argues that this is necessary as we continue to battle the negative impacts from climate change. The three reports, totaling more than 860 pages provide some broad outlines for the U.S. to respond to this ever-increasing threat.

EPA: BP Must Use Less Toxic Dispersant
The latest updates on the BP Oil Spill are available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website. On Thursday, May 20th, the EPA issued a directive requring BP to “identify and use a less toxic and more effective dispersant from the list of EPA authorized dispersants.” Dispersants are a chemical that is used to break up the oil so that the oil beads are more easily degraded.

Climate Change Talks

U.S. Commits To Change At Copenhagen Climate Talks

As some of you may be aware of, the historic United Nations Climate Change Conference is underway right now in Copenhagen. The conference began on December 7 and will continue till the 18th. It is the largest international political conference ever to be held in Denmark, with participants from 192 countries meeting to reach an agreement about how to combat global warming.

Despite some clashes with protesters that that essentially ceased all talks on Dec. 16, the conference pressed on. President Barack Obama is expected to appear on Friday, along with 100 other national leaders hoping to come to a historic agreement between nations.

On Thursday, Dec. 17 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced that the United States would participate in a $100-billion-a-year fund that will help poor nations combat climate change through the end of the decade. Though Clinton did not specify how much the U.S. would be contributing, it is still a huge move for the country and sends a strong message about the nation’s stance on environmental issues.

However, U.S. participation was contingent on reaching an agreement this week, as well as a commitment from China about more transparency in its emissions reporting.

Clinton’s announcement is a high point in the conference, which has been plagued by delays and deadlocked over several issues. Hopefully, discussions will end on a good note and firm plans for progress will be put in place.

en.cop15.dk

Sustainable America

How Does America Feel About Sustainability?

In a previous blog post I wrote about the amount of money being set aside for sustainability in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act — $467 million to be exact.

With so much money being spent, are you wondering what the American people really think about sustainability-related matters? Me too. As luck would have it, a research team from the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,164 Americans to get some insight. Titled “Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ climate change beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences and actions” the survey included various matters relating to “issue priorities for the new administration and Congress, support and opposition regarding climate change and energy policies, levels of political and consumer activism, and beliefs about the reality and risks of global warming.” The survey was conducted in September and October of 2008.

Obviously, the biggest issue on the minds of most Americans right now is the economy. Hence, some of the survey results were to be expected (76 percent of Americans rated the economy as a “very high” priority). Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that global warming was a “high” or “very high” national priority for a majority of Americans. Also, 72 percent said the issue of global warming is important to them personally.

When asked who should act to address global warming, 76 percent of respondents said corporations and businesses should do more, or much more. Another 67 percent said Congress should do more to address global warming. Yet, 72 percent believe that citizens themselves are responsible.

Who’s right?

I don’t think there’s a right answer to this one; collaboration is the only path to a truly more sustainable way of life. Still, these findings are definitely a positive sign in my opinion.

Some other notable positives the study found:

• 92 percent of Americans surveyed supported more funding for research on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
• 85 percent supported tax rebates for people buying energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.
• 79 percent supported a 45 mpg fuel efficiency standard for cars, trucks and SUVs.

Here’s the kicker: 79 percent of respondents supported this 45 mpg fuel efficiency standard EVEN if this meant a new car could cost up to $1,000 more. Now that’s dedication!

Unfortunately, though going green can sometimes be a bit more expensive upfront, hopefully with time these costs will be lowered and these kind of vehicles (and other green initiatives) will become the norm.

Overall, what I gathered from this study is that Americans do indeed care about the environment. Although our country is in a precarious time, sustainability hasn’t been entirely forgotten.