Written by Grace Houser, ESLLC 2016-2017
I don’t know about all of you, but I for one could use a bit of good news in sustainability. Too often, environmental issues are presented in a way that can be very discouraging. Plastic flowing in the Great Lakes, extinct species, and major concern for the political future of climate change. It’s hard to balance honestly portraying the severity of climate change while giving hope that it’s worth the fight to improve conditions. So, sit back, relax, and soak up some warm and fuzzy reassurances that just maybe everything will be okay.
First of all, President Obama left the office just a few days ago and will be missed. One major action he took just weeks ago was using executive order to block offshore drilling in huge areas of the Arctic and Atlantic. This triggered Canada to join forces and pause oil and gas exploration in their portion of the Arctic. On his behalf, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stated that this was his “bold action” to protect the planet’s diverse ecosystem and the economies that depend on them. So, we can sleep easy that there ARE politicians with the planet’s best interest at heart and we aren’t fighting this battle alone.
Now as far as actual developments and projects, there are tons of communities working sustainability into a reasonable goal. Since the world is becoming more and more urban, there are people specifically aimed at making the concrete jungles of the world green. One small example of this is New York’s Highline Park. There you will find abandoned railways sprouting native species that not only make the area more beautiful, but educate and allow city dwellers to experience nature in their backyard.
Sustainable Futures is also working with an aim of environmental justice as projects such as Farm Hack use the internet to open up about sustainable innovations and practices regarding food production. In a similar realm, Agroecology is teaching people across the world sustainable practices in food production. One of which is the Satoyama Initiative that allows urban and rural residents to collaborate on underused landscapes with farm stays and volunteer work.
As far as in our own country, California’s solar power generated enough electricity in one day for more than 6 million homes. “On July 12, several large solar plants…briefly produced a record 8,030 megawatts of electricity”—almost twice the amount produced two years ago.
Austria’s largest state, Lower Austria, is now 100 percent powered by renewables. These renewables consist of solar, hydroelectric, wind, and biomass power plants. The Danube River alone “generates two-thirds of the state’s electricity needs.” This has also created countless jobs that people can feel good about! Austria as a whole is 75 percent renewable.
Over the summer, Costa Rica was running on 100 percent renewables for at least 2 months. They get their energy from hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar power. This is not the first time they were on a zero-fossil fuel streak and sure not to be the last as most of their electricity in 2016 as a whole came from renewables. This small island is impressively sustaining itself to protect its biodiverse landscape.
So, all in all, although the climb ahead is daunting, no one is alone in the fight against climate change. There are brilliant minds, creative people, and innovative thinkers all in it together.