Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I've got to be rank with you

Everything in our lives needs to be ranked so we know where we stand with others. No one ever wants to be last or even in the middle of the pack. Our aims are usually for the best ranking, except when the ranking is for a bad quality. There are so many ranking systems in this world and they are all based on differing criteria.

Even for sustainability ranking, there are many different systems with many different indicators. One system that I looked at was the Global Sustainable Competitive Index. This index looks at several factors when deciding who has the best sustainable competitiveness or sustainable growth. The factors include governance, intellectual capital, social capital, resource management, and natural capital. They rank each nation on each of these factors on how sustainable their practices are and how effective as well. Some nations rank higher on some factors and lower on others. They use the results from the subrankings in the overall rankings.

There are some challenges with these kinds of ranking systems. Not all information for every individual country is available for every person to use, which could make some countries better or worse if that information was available. Another challenge would be to rank countries with similar scores because what small factor would cause one nation to be better than the other if they were nearly identical? Another issue is that it is hard to compare apples to oranges and assign a score when the two aren't even related. They do have systems in place to take care of these challenges, however, they cannot be 100% perfect.

The goals of this ranking system is to show a much more rounded picture of GDP that takes into account social, environmental, and governmental factors that are otherwise left out of GDP calculations and projections. Rather than just focusing on "prosperity," the Global Sustainable Competitive Index looks at the ability of a nation to provide for the needs of its people today without compromising the needs of future generations and allowing growing wealth without depleting natural, social, and intellectual capital. This makes for a more encompassing ranking which shows which nations are using all of their resources and capital wisely.

The ranking system seems mainly holistic, but could potentially be missing several factors that others may deem necessary like air quality or ability to use renewable energies.  I think that the system provides a great approach to ranking nations for sustainability and competitiveness.

In my opinion, the US ranked pretty high considering its focus on growth of wealth above the environment and its people. The US typically likes to believe it is the best nation in the world and that its this huge powerhouse. Whenever a ranking system puts them in the middle of the pack, it puts things into perspective for many Americans. If we were to have been ranked higher on this list, I don't think people would feel the need to care about improving anything in America. But if others were to see the current ranking they may feel inclined to speak up about it. So its good that America is not ranked the best because there is room for improvement.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Parks for All, All for Parks

Urban Ecology is an organization that works with communities in the Bay Area to establish more environmentally friendly and more socially equal urban design. A lot of environmental racism stems from inadequate and unequal distribution of parks and open spaces. The initiative focuses on removing that unequal distribution to make the Bay Area a better place for everyone; not just those who can afford it.

They had one project in Oakland that emphasized working with community members to get people to use underutlized parks. The people in these areas were characterized by poor health, such as asthma and obesity, and sedentary lives. Urban Ecology led many workshops and town meetings to work to get people to use three parks in the area. They wanted to create programs that would entice people to go out and be active, while improving their lives entirely. They set out to create better parks that people would actually use. To do so, they partnered with local organizations such as the East Bay Asian Youth Center. Together they went to work on improving school yards and other playgrounds in the area.

Another interesting project that they worked on was redesigning BART stations in the Mission District. These BART stations were very uninviting and unsafe, making very few people want to get off at these stops. Urban Ecology worked with local businesses and the community to come up with designs that would improve business and improve the safety of the community. This paired with other revitilization projects in the area have contributed to a rebranding of the district as a whole. The community is more vibrant and welcoming and has increased the productivity of business.

Urban Ecology has definitely taken the people and the environment into account during its projects. These projects are helping to make lives better for everyone in the Bay Area and it is great to see that!

Monday, May 8, 2017

CCL striking a chord

Before today, I had not heard of CCL. At first, I thought we were going to be visited by CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and that would have seriously rocked. But, I'm sure CCL will also manage to strike a chord with us global sustainability kids.

The main policy objectives that CCL addresses are regarding their Carbon Fee and Dividend Policy. This policy is pretty cool. According to their website, CCL claims that it will reduce carbon emissions to 50% of the levels in 1990 and add 2.8 million jobs in the next twenty years. This sounds awesome, but how will they achieve that?

The first part of the plan is to impose a Carbon Fee. The carbon fee would be minimal to start, roughly $15 per ton CO2 equivalent. Each year the fee will go up by atleast $10 per ton, depending on how well they met the goal in the previous year. This kind of incremental building will influence the fossil fuel industry and companies that rely on fossil fuels to run their systems to decrease their dependence. Decreasing the dependence will save them money in the long run and decrease the amount of emissions being released. This will help to foster more support of renewable energy systems, which produce much less or no carbon emissions.

The second part of the plan is to pay dividends to households from the the Carbon Trust. Paying households will allow for lower income families from being left behind with the increases in energy costs due to renewable energies and higher priced fossil fuels. It is interesting to see this sort of social safety net to help foster the decrease in fossil fuel dependency. Rather than just focusing on the environment, which is typically a problem with environmental policy, this idea combines environmentalism with sociocentric ideas that help to alleviate poverty and progress society as a whole.

This plan is pretty interesting as a whole. It will be interesting if they can actually get bipartisan support on these ideas because even though it is economically ideal, it is still not an idea that I feel many republicans will support.

My question for the CCL would be how long they think it will take to get enough bipartisan support to actually make this plan a reality.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Is it God? No, it's David Suzuki


It had to be said. Not only does David Suzuki denounce Trump and all of this anti-science sentiment, he is also a man with great metaphors and phrases. David Suzuki is the first man I have ever listened to and truly respected every word that he had to say. David feels like one of my best pals and I haven't even met him yet. He speaks so wonderfully and has a lot of logic in reasoning in his arguments, which sadly is a breath of fresh air.

In the video I watch, David Suzuki was confronting the Australia media on how climate change does not stop when the rain comes. Australia's climate is conducive to drought and is not very well suited for an extensive human population. During the last drought, they built desalination plants to provide fresh water to the people so that they could endure the drought. The drought ended with immense amounts of rain, which led people to believe that climate change was no longer an issue and that they had wasted all of their money on these desalination plants that will never be used again. But Australia's climate has historically shown periods of droughts followed by periods of wet years, so it doesn't make sense to believe that they will never have a drought again and will never use their desalination plants again. David Suzuki was asked by the news station if he thought that climate change was rubbish since there was rain. OF COURSE DAVID SUZUKI STILL BELIEVES THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS A BIG DEAL!!!! He goes on to talk about how Australia should be at the forefront of combatting climate change since its one of the places in the world that will be the hardest hit by the implications of increased temperatures and ocean acidification. David relates his experience diving in the Great Barrier Reef in the 80's to the present and he says there is a significant difference. This difference should be enough to convince anyone that things are changing within our climate systems.

David Suzuki draws out that the government in Australia was hands-off which should have fostered a more scientifically driven political scene, however, it led to the opposite where they barely believe anymore. David believes it is the job of the political system to inform people of the claims that science is offering - which 97% of science agrees that climate change is the real deal. Without arguing and defeating the media, David made his point that the spread of information is key to inciting a more environmentally aware world where we work with nature instead of against it. David's most persuasive point was when he said "What will we have to rely on, the  Bible, Quran, or the corporations?" which he said to point out that science is the only objective and logical way to approach these ideas. I don't think that he was trying to denounce religion in this point, but science needs to be spread like these ideas. Without the spread of science, people are going to believe that one instance of rainfall ends droughts forever. We need more Davids in this world!

POLITICS AND SUSTAINABILITY: Dr.David Suzuki 'Are We Going to Rely on the Bible, the Qu'ran or Corporations'? (YOUTUBE)