2014 EARTH DAY

 earth day 2014 EARTH DAY Earth Day 2014 will focus on the unique environmental challenges of our time. As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever. Earth Day 2014 will seek to do just that through its global theme: Green Cities. With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future. Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people. As a teacher my goal was not just to increase awareness with my children about environmental issues but to encourage them to take action. Earth Day reminds us that planned and thoughtful action is necessary if we are going to ensure a more ‘healthy’ planet is left for future generations. As more and more people move to cities around the world we have an urgent task to challenge the old ideas of ‘growth is good’ with a seemingly impossible task of solving traffic movements during peak times and people choking on highly toxic pollution during their daily work. These problems of urban living have been with us for decades -we can get people on the moon, but we cannot solve the problem of polluted air and water, the lack of a roof over peoples’ heads, availability and affordability of fresh and nutritious food and decent health facilities for all. We need to wake up and apply ourselves to new actions and be part of the solution not just being more aware of the problems. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D806hNr-mrk Take Action – some ideas (just click on the the titles) NGO toolkit.   Schools toolkit.   University toolkit.   Look at this great resource  from breathing earth – an continuously updated map of the world, illustrating minute by minute CO2 emissions. What about online action -helping cities become ‘greener’? Some possibilities: ncZ804dutility demandrenew QrxxSacbuild yhUebOYsolar 0Gg7Qqgpetrol Gd1auCCbike nhKjJovemission a0gHISimpg   and a few specific examples of city action: green-cities-solar-orb-215x140

A New Kind of Solar Panel

A German architect by the name of André Broessel is totally redesigning traditional photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Broessel designed and built the world’s first “Solar Orb,” that, according to him, is 35% more efficient at converting solar energy into electricity. As the architect himself puts it, “For the last 40 years we have tried to capture [solar] energy with PV panels, but the earth is moving around the sun, and the fixed panel is losing its efficiency.” So to address the problem, Broessel designed a glass orb positioned on a stand like that which a globe sits on, allowing the orb to rotate 360 degrees in any direction. Inside the glass orb, on one end is a convex lens, also called a ball lens, and on the other end is a small array of solar panels and a stirling engine. The orb works by tracking the sun with its lens, and concentrating the light into the PV receptor behind the lens. Broessel claims that the orb can produce up to four times more electricity than conventional PV panels on cloudy days, and can concentrate sunlight and even moonlight up to 10,000 times. According to Mark Thurber, Associate Director of Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University, “the most intriguing renewable energies are those that have the most room to improve.” Since typical flat PV panels only convert about 20% of the solar energy they get from the light that hits them into electricity, it is safe to say that the solar energy industry has much room to improve. André Broessel and his company, Rawlemon, are currently trying to raise another $120,000 for further testing and patent applications, as the solar orb is still very much in its prototype phase, but there is a strong possibility that Broessel’s new design may be the future of solar energy. Image Credit: © Raw Lemon green-cities-bhutan-500x333

Bhutan Cutting Fossil Fuel Imports by 70%

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You may not have heard of Bhutan, the small, mountainous state in the Himalayas, but the country is making headlines when officials announced that they plan to cut fossil fuel imports by 70%. By using a variety of initiatives to achieve this ambitious goal, Bhutan will surely be one of the greenest countries on the planet. In the summer of 2012, Bhutan announced that they plan to employ 100% organic agriculture techniques by 2015. Now, Nissan made a partnership with Bhutan, to further green the country, sandwiched between some of the world’s biggest carbon emitters, China and India. Nissan will contract the EV Leaf to make Bhutan’s new taxi and government vehicle fleet. This will account for 15% of all of Bhutan’s vehicles and 3.5% of all the Leafs that Nissan has sold worldwide. This is such a significant move because Bhutan is a huge exporter of hydroelectric from their 27 hydropower plants, but they still need to import crude petroleum to power things like transportation and residential electricity sectors. By greatly reducing the need to import fossil fuels, other neighboring nations, like China and India will need to supply less. According to Nissan press release, “The country currently only uses 5% of the clean power it produces, exporting the majority to India. But almost all of the revenue earned from selling electricity is spent on fuel imported from India to run the nation’s existing vehicles, which number some 36,000 vehicles in Thimphu alone.” And in Mexico: green-cities-ecobici-500x362mex

Mexico City’s Plan Verde

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Previously known as one of the world’s most polluted cities, Mexico City is cleaning up its act, starting with Plan Verde (Green Plan). This 15-year initiative began in 2007, and is backed by the United Nations and the World Bank. Plan Verde aims to set aside approximately 8% of the city’s annual budget for implementing extensive and ambitious initiatives to make the city more environmentally friendly. These initiatives cover many topics of sustainability, but the main focus is on improving air quality and reducing traffic. Environmental awareness has been expanding throughout Mexico as efforts are made to preserve water supply, increase renewable energy production, and protect endangered species. Mexico City is leading the country in its environmental endeavors. As a part of Plan Verde, citizens are being encouraged to bike, and avoid driving on certain days of the week to cut down the amount of emissions caused by congested streets. “Ecobici” rental bikes are being installed throughout the city as well. The Mexican government also has plans to expand the already extensive subway system, expand their new Metrobus system, and replace old taxis with more efficient vehicles through Plane Verde’s PROAIRE program. Another part of Plan Verde focuses on land management. Successful implementation of programs like Bajo Puentes (Below Bridges) shows just how much can be done to change a city’s landscape. Through Bajo Puentes, businesses are setting up shop below the numerous underpasses that had become dangerous, illegal trash-dumping sites as well as campgrounds for the homeless. This plan leases land to businesses below the market value, under the conditions that they clean up the underpasses, and leave 50% of the underpass space open to the public. Outside of the city, Plan Verde has placed 13,600 hectares of land under protection as well as implementing a re-forestation project as part of initiatives created to protect the ever decreasing water table. Thanks to these developments, Mexico City has received the highest ranking for environmental governance in the Siemens Green City Index for Latin America (2010). Mexico City’s valiant new attempts certainly serve as an example for other major cities of the world to follow as they continue to move towards a sustainable future. Photo Credit: Wikipedia green-cities-masdar-city2-500x375

Emissions-Free Transportation in Masdar City

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Abu Dhabi has set out to create the world’s most sustainable and eco-friendly development project. It’s called Masdar City. The two-square-mile project aims to be almost entirely carbon-neutral, zero waste to landfill, and car-free. Masdar City will eventually be home to 1,500 businesses, 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters. According to Masdar City’s website, “It is a community where cutting-edge cleantech research and development, pilot projects, technology testing, and construction on some of the world’s most sustainable buildings are all ongoing.” There will be no fossil fuel-burning cars in Masdar City. Instead, the city is designed to encourage walking whenever possible. It’s also equipped with a Personal Rapid Transit system (PRT) and a Freight Rapid Transit System (FRT). Both systems consist of “electric-powered, automated, single-cabin vehicles” that are powered entirely by renewable energy. The vehicles use Lithium-Phosphate batteries and are capable of traveling about 60 kilometers on a 1.5-hour charge. The PRT will contain 3,000 vehicles, which will make 130,000 trips per day to 85 stations. The FRT, meanwhile, will make 5,000 trips per day, each one with more than 3,000 pounds of freight. Masdar City will likely complete construction between 2020 and 2025.   green-cities-wind-turbine-500x331

Africa’s Largest Wind Farm

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Investment in Africa’s renewable energy potential is starting to pick up. The Ashegoda wind farm in Ethiopia—the continent’s largest wind farm—is officially open for business. The 120-megawatt wind farm has already transferred about 90 million kilowatt hours of electricity to the grid. Now that it’s at full capacity, it’s expected to contribute 400 million kilowatt hours per year. The 84-turbine farm is located 18 kilometers outside the city of Mekelle—780 kilometers north of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Two other wind farms in Ethiopia—Adama I and Adama II—were also recently completed. Each has 51 megawatts of capacity. “Various studies have proved that there is potential to harness abundant wind energy resources in every region of Ethiopia,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “We cannot maintain growth without utilizing the energy sector.” The Ashegoda wind farm is a big step forward for Ethiopia, a country considered to be ripe for renewable energy investment. With this in mind, the country has instituted a development plan to boost its generating capacity from 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW over the next 5 years. Ethiopia is leading the way in renewable energy generation in Africa.     Can we make green buildings for the future? One example:

Living Proof: Thinking Outside the Box at the Bullitt Center

Bullitt Center

By DENIS HAYES When the Bullitt Foundation determined to create the greenest commercial building in the world, we embarked on a quest that was ridiculously ambitious but enormously rewarding. I’d assumed that the toughest challenge would be to build a zero net energy six-story building in Seattle—the cloudiest city in the lower 48. That was indeed difficult, but probably not the hardest of the goals we set out to meet. In a flight of rhetoric, I told the architects that I wanted them to do for buildings what the 707 did for commercial aircraft, what the first Macintosh did for personal computers, what the Prius did for automobiles. I wanted the Bullitt Center to redefine the whole category. The instrument we chose toward that end was the Living Building Challenge.  Like the X Prize (but, alas, without the monetary award), the LBC lays out a set of “stretch goals” that are so difficult that many people believed them to be impossible in a building of commercial scale located downtown in a major city.  The requirements (which fill a small book) include: Energy. A Living Building must generate as much energy on-site each year as it uses. Other than low-grade heat, all its energy is electricity. Nothing can be burned in a Living Building. Water. A Living Building must use only the rain it can collect on its roof to meet all its water needs, including potable drinking water. Treated gray water must be returned to the hydrological cycle right on site. Healthfulness. A Living Building must be constructed without using 362 common building materials that are toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disrupting, or otherwise harmful to humans and other forms of life. The building contains more than 1,000  components that had to be screened. Wood. All wood in a Living Building must either be recycled or come from forests certified to meet the very high standards of the Forest Stewardship Council. Human Waste. A Living Building must use only composting toilets. We could not find any other examples of composting toilets in six-story buildings. Figuring that this would probably be the only large building I would ever have the chance to develop, I decided to push the envelope even further than the LBC required: Biomimicry.  The Bullitt Center does not look at all like an organism, but it functions like one.  It has a brain and nervous system that determine whether the windows should be open or closed, whether the external shutters should be raised or lowered, whether lights should be on or off.  Occupants can override these systems, but only for a half hour at a time. The Center is a strong-willed building that, like a life form, always seeks homeostasis. Durability. I set a design life of 250 years. The planned obsolescence built into large modern buildings is obscene, a triumph of net present value methodology over common sense. Cars. The Bullitt Center can be easily accessed by bases, trolley, and light rail; it has ample parking for bicycles (and two showers on every floor). However, the Center has no parking lot for automobiles. Exercise. The upper floors of the Center are serviced by an efficient, regenerative elevator.  It is fully ADA compliant, with easy access to people with disabilities and those carrying heavy loads.  However, the Center also has a glass-enclosed “irresistible stairway” with great views of the Olympic Mountains. The stairway lures most people to climb. Lighting. To the greatest extent possible, the Center is daylit. We Homo sapiens have spent 99 percent of our existence on this planet responding to circadian rhythms and to full spectrum sunshine. We are happiest, healthiest, and most productive in natural daylight. Most of the Center’s artificial lighting is full spectrum LEDs. Still, I didn’t need to turn on a lamp (except in the men’s room) between April and the end of September. We chose the members of the senior team—Miller Hull, PAE, Point 32, Schuchart Construction, and Solar Design Associates—for their demonstrated talent and creativity, but also for their ability to play well with others.  We employed an integrated design process, with diverse charettes before beginning the design process. Professor Rob Pena from the University of Washington’s Integrated Design Lab attended weekly meetings of the entire team for more than two years. Net Positive Energy We determined the maximum surface area that could be covered with solar panels, the maximum efficiency then available in commercial panels, and the average insolation per year. We persuaded the city to create an  ordinance providing for “solar canopies,” allowing arrays to extend over public sidewalks. Solar Design Associates calculated that, in an average year, our 570 SunPower E19 245-watt modules yield a maximum capacity of 242kWp  to generate about 257,000 kWh annually. We built in a buffer of 27,000 kWh and set 230,000 kWh as the energy budget for the building. In architectural terms, for a building with about 50,000 square feet, that translates to an energy use intensity (EUI, expressed asKBtu/ft2) of 16. Putting that in context, the average existing commercial building in Seattle has an EUI in the low 90s. A new building built to code would be in the low 50s.  A LEED Platinum building with all its energy credits would be in the low 30s.  An EUI of 16 was a challenge. But we blasted right past it! PAE of Portland, our principal engineering firm, decided to expand into Seattle, and wanted to locate in Bullitt Center. After carefully measuring the energy consumption per employee in Portland, they found they’d have to reduce electricity use by about 70 percent.  They selected computers, monitors, printers, copier and task lightsfor the Seattle office to use as little energy as possible. The new standard computer setup, with a thin client server and two monitors/desk uses, only 17 percent as much energy as the system it replaces—with no loss of computing power or functionality. The Center is still undergoing commissioning.  The third floor is heated and lit, but it has not yet been leased and occupied.  Some tenants are still building their staffs and moving toward full occupancy.  And the first three tenants arrived only about Earth Day (April 22), 2013.  Therefore our dataset is limited. Even so, it offers some insights. The solar equipment, installed under the deeply experienced guidance of Steven Strong, performs as expected.  When the sun shines, it generates power. For the eight months through December 31, it produced almost exactly as much power as predicted. The surprises were on the demand side.  During those eight months, the Center used only about half as much energy as expected, for an astonishing EUI of 8.4!  During these eight months, a six story building in cloudy Seattle produced more than twice as much power from sunshine as the building used. But this must be taken with a grain of salt.  It includes spring, summer, and autumn when Seattle’s sunshine is most abundant, but not winter, and the Center was not fully occupied. One of the six floors had no tenant (we kept it heated and lit, but there were no plug loads) and two of the other floors were not completely full. After another year of operation, we will have a much clearer sense of how the completed and fully-tenanted building operates, and  But at this point, it appears likely to prove a stunning success. Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation, is board chair of the Earth Day Network.  This is an edited version of an article that appears in the March-April 2014 edition of SOLAR TODAY magazine. Some education resources from EDUTOPIA:

Bucket Buddies The Bucket Buddies Project calls for students around the world to collect water samples from local ponds to answer the question: “Are the organisms found in pond water the same all over the world?” The lesson plans allow students to identify microinvertebrates in their water sample, share their findings on the web site, and analyze the data. GLOBE The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program is NASA’s hands-on science program that allows classrooms to connect with scientists and science students from around the world. Schools can join their Student Climate Research Campaign and connect with classrooms near and far. While conducting science investigations and sharing their climate science studies, students will be inspired to look at climate-related environmental issues and Earth as a system. ProjectExplorer and STEM Learning ProjectExplorer’s library of two-to-four-minute videos was created to introduce students to the features that make diverse cultures and countries so fascinating. Start at the homepage by choosing your learning level (e.g., Upper Elementary), pick a spot on the globe that has a project marker, and take off. For example, in the Mauritius series, learn how the island was formed, about the science and the ancient origins of the helicopter, how mineral deposits created gorgeous multi-colored sand found only on that island, how fish breathe, and more. Supplement your “travels” in this series by tapping into National Geographic’s new Geo-Educator Community. The Daffodil and Tulip Project The Daffodil and Tulip Project was started by iEARN, which works to connect schools and teachers across the planet, and has a bank of great collaborative project ideas. This project offers a science/math/writing/friendship experience that can be as simple or as complicated as a classroom is ready to take on. Classrooms around the world choose daffodil and/or tulip bulbs to plant during the same week in November. Students collect temperature data throughout the experiment, including when blooms appear, and report their results — both to their classmates and to their partner classes in other locales. For Earth Day, you can compare the bulbs in your community to postings made by ongoing project participants. This project’s description page shows participation from Jamaica, Israel, Iran and the United States. iEARN reports: Participants enjoy interacting together while “waiting” for the blooms. Students have opportunities to use math skills, such as graphing, converting metric to English or the reverse, temperature conversions F to C and the reverse. In addition, they strengthen and practice science skills, i.e. hypothesizing what effects bloom date, collecting data, comparing and analyzing data. Also, students learn the importance of establishing and following a scientific protocol. The ultimate goal of the project is to promote building connections between students and their teachers, considering what affects plant growth, and peace! Incorporate Global Lessons Challenge yourself to turn any elementary science unit you’re studying into a vehicle for learning more about the wider world. For example, while teaching the water cycle and water conservation, see Teach UNICEF, Water.org.

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More trees mean better water conservation so…….Don’t plant a tree……..save a forest! :   https://www.devex.com/news/this-earth-day-don-t-plant-a-tree-save-a-forest-83338

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More from EDUTOPIA: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/earth-day-lesson-plans-matt-davis

Vote on Rio+20 Priorities

The Rio+20 Dialogues have reached the stage where citizens of the world get to vote for the top priorities in the sustainable development agenda. The popular votes will inform the recommendations for sustainable development that are presented to the heads of state at the Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro at the end of June.
Among the top 100 recommendations, there are several education-related recommendations that you can support with your vote. See below for our suggestions of the recommendations to vote for, and feel free to vote for others as you wish. It’s as easy as clicking a few buttons on the Rio+20 Dialogues site.
Be quick, voting closes June 15th 2012.
Sustainable Cities and Innovation
  • Promote opportunities for direct dialogues among government, citizens, enterprises, NGOs, and schools.
  • Cities and schools should develop networks to learn and work together toward sustainable development.
Water
  • Improve water and sanitation facilities to ensure the education of children
Unemployment, Decent Work, and Migrations
  • Create a strategy for jobs and employment leveraging the green economy for investment, training, and retraining for employability.
  • Put education in the core of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
  • Improve human capital by promoting access to health, including reproductive health, investment in education, and empowerment of women.
Sustainable Development for Fighting Poverty
  • Promote global education to eradicate poverty and to achieve sustainable development.
Sustainable Development as an Answer to the Economic and Financial Crisis
  • Educate future leaders about sustainable development.

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY – 5th June 2012

From the WED website

The 2012 theme for World Environment Day is Green Economy: Does it include you? Evidently, there are two parts to this theme and the first tackles the subject of the Green Economy.

Visit the ‘What is the Green Economy?’ page to read a layman’s narrative of this concept.

The UN Environment Programme defines the Green Economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbonresource efficient and socially inclusive.

Practically speaking, a Green Economy is one whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. These investments need to be catalyzed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes.

But what does all this mean for you? Well, this essentially what the second part of the theme is all about. If the Green Economy is about social equity and inclusiveness then technically it is all about you! The question therefore asks you to find out more about the Green Economy and assess whether, in your country, you are being included in it.

It takes only a few simple steps to easily green your daily routine and make good eco behavior into a habit!

AAct now. 

Adopt as many eco-friendly lifestyle choices as you can and make them habits for WED! 

Add it up. Our impact is exponential when the global chorus sings together.

B
Buy FSC certified products and decrease the trade of exotic wood from endangered forests.

Bring a cloth bag to do all you’re shopping. But not just for groceries, even on your trips to the mall. A sturdy, reusable bag will last for years, and only needs to be used 5 times to have a lower environmental impact than a plastic bag.

Bring a mug with you whenever you go for take-out beverages, so you avoid using paper cups. 
Most paper cups are made in a way that makes it more difficult for them to degrade, and in some ways more hazardous to the planet than the plastic cup – so why not just bring your own mug for your favorite beverage?

CConsume locally. You will help reduce the demand for cutting down forests in foreign countries to meet export demands.

Choose public transport.

Compost your organic food waste.

Conserve energy. Turn off the lights to brighten our environment.

Create a greenspace wherever you can from the car you drive to the building you live in.

DDon’t run the water when brushing your teeth. You will save as much as 3 gallons every time! Only 2, 5% of the world’s water is drinkable.

Discover an alternative to using traditional wrapping paper for holidays and birthday gifts.

EEngage in an environmental activity like school or neighborhood beautification or tree planting.

Eat organic and locally grown foods and help reduce the clearing of forests for agricultural land.

Educate your friends on how individual actions can have an exponential impact and motivate action for WED.

FFind an unusual insect in your garden. Fewer than 10% of the world’s described species have been assessed to determine their conservation status.

Form a group of peers or colleagues to oversee the greening of your school, neighborhood or workplace with recycling, car pooling, or energy-efficiency.

Form a tree-planting group with family and friends and commit to planting and maintaining these trees together.

GGreen your office: print double-sided, turn off monitors, start an office recycling program.

Grow an organic garden and your own delicious food.

Give memberships to an environmental organization or seedlings as birthday gifts.

Go electronic for bills and payments: at home, in the office, at the bank etc.

HHost a World Environment Day celebration. Clean up your neighborhood, carpool with friends, have a vegan (no animal products) dinner party! And don’t forget to register your activity on the WED website!

IIdentify the nature that surrounds you – take note of the beautiful plants and animals that you may not always appreciate. Learn about the amazing ecosystem services they provide.

Improve the insulation of your home – it will really help your energy consumption…and your monthly bills!

JJoin a local environmental or conservation group. You can team up with those around you and make a real difference for your community.

Jog outside and save the energy you would have used on the treadmill!

K
Kick the habit! Don’t print unless it’s absolutely necessary. And when you do print – always print double-sided!

Keep your cup! When traveling on airplanes, ask to reuse your plastic cup.

LLearn more about Brazil, this year’s host country.

MMobilize your networks! Message your friends about WED – facebook, twitter, orkut, SMS, text, phone, email – it doesn’t matter how, just get the word out!

NNominate a WED Hero from your world. Notify us about the great environmental work they’re doing and why they should be a WED Hero.

OOptimize the use of your washing machine – use the cold-wash option and significantly save energy and reduce your daily carbon emissions.

Offset your travel whenever possible – most airlines provide an option to offset your travel when you book your tickets.

Opt for public transport whenever possible.

P
Plant a tree this year! 
Why not celebrate by planting a tree with friends or family.

Pile up! Lay the grounds for a compost pile and start sorting your garbage.

QQuantify how much money you could save each cold winter if you lowered the temperature inside your home by 2 degrees Celsius. It could reduce your energy consumption by 14 percent!!!

RReduce. Reuse. Recycle. 

Register a WED activity at www.unep.org/wed!

SSacrifice something small each month – eat locally grown vegetables instead of imported vegetables; do without steak as cattle ranching is high impact!; carpool with co-workers; take your bike to work etc.

Support and motivate companies that use certified materials and operate in ways that are environmentally responsible.

Switch your lightbulbs to energy-efficient LED’s. You will see substantial savings on energy bills!

TThink! How green is your daily routine? Just by making a few small changes, like remembering to turn off the lights, turning down the heat, stop running the water while you brush your teeth – you could cut your daily emissions by more than 60 per cent.

Think again! Before you toss, consider if the item can be reused or recycled?

Think outside of the bottle! Bottled water costs 1900 times more than tap water

UUse your common sense!

Understand your options. Learn about the small ways you, as an individual, can make a positive impact on the environment.

Use rainwater for your indoor plants – they love it, and you’ll save water at the same time.

VVisit the WED website  regularly and see how you can get involved! Book mark website, subscribe to RSS, Twitter or facebook

W
Whenever you feel like buying books, magazines, or newspapers go to your local library or borrow from friends and neighbors.

X
X-plore! Get out into the forest and enjoy what our planet has to offer.

YYOU!
You can make a difference – individual actions, when multiplied, can make an exponential difference to the planet! 

ZZip around town on your bike, on public transport, or your own two feet. 
Avoid your car whenever possible – it’s cheaper! 

“Three weeks after WED, Brazil will host Rio+20 where world leaders and nations will gather in order to design a future that takes sustainable development from theory and patchy success to the locomotive of transformational change-a pathway that can grow economies and generate decent jobs without pushing the globe past planetary boundaries,” he added.

Brazil has had a checkered history on the environment front but it seems that there is some hope and it is worth working with the country as it will be very influential in the future.

With a country of 200 million people, Brazil is the fifth most populous nation in the world and has the fifth largest land mass on the planet with 8.5 million square kilometers

In recent years Brazil has taken enormous steps to tackle issues such as deforestation in the Amazon through enforcement efforts and monitoring initiatives by the Brazilian government.

Indeed by some estimates, Brazil recently realized one of the biggest greenhouse gas emission reductions in the world as a result of its achievements in reducing deforestation rates.

According to UNEP’s Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, the country is also at the forefront of building an economy that includes recycling and renewable energy and the generation of green jobs.

    • Brazil’s recycling industry generates returns of US$2 billion a year while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tonnes.

Recycling in all its forms already employs 12 million people in three countries alone: Brazil, China and the United States.

Brazil is also the world leader in sustainable ethanol production for fueling vehicles and is expanding into other renewable areas such as wind power and solar heating systems.

    • The recent construction of 500,000 new homes in Brazil with solar heating systems generated 30,000 new jobs.

“We are very pleased to host this global celebration for the environment. The World Environment Day will be a great opportunity in Brazil to showcase the environmental aspects of sustainable development in the warm up to the Rio+20 conference,” said Brazil’s Minister of Environment, Izabella Teixeira, who this week is attending UNEP’s Governing Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The history of Brazil, the complexion of its diverse and dynamic economy with its natural and nature-based resources allied to its industries and its current and future role in international relations, offer a lens and a unique perspective through which a broad-based, transformational outcome is possible at Rio+20,” said Mr Steiner.

“Brazil’s commitment to social and equity issues nationally and regionally and its responsibilities towards developing and least developed economies can also guide and shape the debates,” he added.

And from Cultural Survival

To honor this year’s World Environment Day, take action!:     

1. Learn about the impacts of oil palm plantations on the environment.  Watch The Sustainability Lie.

2. Stop Oil Palm plantations from destroying Cameroon’s ancient rainforests.

In 2011, the government of Cameroon granted a vast land concession to Herkales Farms in the southwest region of the country. What the government overlooked, was that this concession occurred on the homelands of the Oroko, Bakossi, and Upper Bayang peoples. Herakles Farms plans to clear and replace 300 square miles of rainforest with mono-culture trees to establish an oil palm plantation. Take Action to stop this destruction. 

3.  Learn about the 2012 theme for World Environment Day. “Green Economy: Does it include you?” The UN Environment Programme defines the Green Economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Simply, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

take action now

RIO+20 – but where’s EDUCATION?

In June 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) will be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This conference represents 20 years since member states created and adopted Agenda 21: A Programme of Action for Sustainable Development

The Zero Draft for Rio +20 was created in January, and includes very little on education, despite the fact that education is often affected by natural hazards (floods, tsunami, tornadoes, etc.), and education can be a critical factor in mitigating both the impact of natural hazard and environmental degradation.

 

As a contribution to the sustainability agenda and the outcomes of the Rio +20 conference, INEE has issued a statement (full text below and online here) advocating for the inclusion of education in the final document. Please feel free to distribute and use this statement for advocacy. Comments and discussion about this statement can be shared on the INEE Blog.

 

 

Crisis sensitive education: from response to prevention

INEE Position Statement on Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

 

The Rio 2012 Issues Brief No.8 on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Building states that “environmental degradation and climate change contribute to the increasing occurrence of disasters linked to natural hazards”. It further explains that the level of vulnerability to disasters is closely and inversely related to levels of social and economic development. The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) maintains that through the provision of crisis-sensitive education before, during and after emergencies, children and youth’s lives can be saved and the foundations for sustainable social and economic development of communities and countries can be restored.

 

Crisis-sensitive education saves lives and builds resilience in schools, communities, and societies to prevent and withstand the impacts of disaster. Crisis-sensitive education follows the ‘do no harm’ principle and addresses root causes of conflict and disaster, for instance through inclusive access to learning content that reduces risks and promotes peace and sustainable development.

 

INEE’s approach to crisis-sensitive education is in line with the strategic goals based on the Hyogo Framework, and outlined in the above mentioned Rio +20 Issues Brief No.8. From the integration of disaster risk reduction in education sector policies and plans (Strategic Goal 1), to the development and strengthening of education institutions, mechanisms and capacities to build resilience to hazards, (Strategic Goal 2), crisis-sensitive education is at the very heart of sustainable development and crisis prevention. Evidence from the US Geological Survey and the World Bank demonstrate that for every dollar invested in disaster risk reduction between $2-10 is saved in disaster response and recovery costs[1]. Until principles of conflict and disaster risk reduction are fully integrated, implemented and monitored in education sector policies and plans, efforts for sustainable development will continue to be compromised.

 

Education systems can educate citizens to be resilient to disasters, both in ensuring physical safety of children and in teaching and disseminating information on appropriate preparedness and response behavior. Children, youth and school communities are particularly vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters caused by climate change. For example, the 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan province of China took the lives of more than 10,000 children in their schools. The 2010 Haitian earthquake killed more than 4,000 children and 700 teachers, all of whom were teaching and learning in non-earthquake resistant buildings. These are shocking statistics, particularly when combined with the existing 175 million children likely to be affected by natural disasters over the next decade. Not only do these statistics illustrate that some of the current Millennium Development and Education for All Goals will not be reached, they also demonstrate that the post-2015 goals must explicitly address issues of education for sustainable development and conflict and disaster risk reduction.

 

Education also contributes to enabling people to escape poverty, build sustainable livelihoods, and act as responsible citizens. Equitable access to quality, relevant education in safe learning environments is a fundamental human right. However, access to school alone is not enough if girls and boys are not learning the skills to equip them for living and working in the 21st Century. Such skills not only include, literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, and problem solving, but also need to promote relevant knowledge in environmental and climate change; disaster risk reduction and preparedness; sustainable lifestyles and consumption; and green technical vocational education and training.

 

INEE also strives to support crisis-sensitive education during acute and chronic emergency situations. Despite offering both life-saving and long-term benefits to children and communities, education remains one of the least supported sectors in a humanitarian response. Yet education is typically one of the first priorities that children and parents consistently request during the early stages of disasters. One concrete framework for supporting education in such situations is through the use of the INEE Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery[2].

 

In order to raise the profile of education for sustainable development, INEE calls on actors at Rio +20 to:

  • Put education front and centre on the Sustainable Development Goals agenda as the mechanism for future leaders to internalize principles of sustainable development;
  • Focus on access + learning to ensure that next generation is equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to build sustainable 21st century lives and livelihoods;
  • Champion crisis-sensitive education content and systems, together with safe learning environments in order to address the particular challenges of natural and human-made conflicts and disasters; and
  • Integrate conflict and disaster risk reduction into education sector planning and programming, ensuring that funding is available to support education in emergencies.

[1] Red Cross (2007), Building safer, resilient communities

[2] This handbook provides guidance on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters in ways that reduce risk, improve future preparedness and lay a solid foundation for quality education,which incorporates cross-cutting issues such as conflict mitigation, Early Childhood Development, Gender, HIV and AIDs, Human Rights, Inclusive Education, Inter-sectoral linkages, Protection, Psychosocial support and youth engagement



Earth Day or International Mother Earth Day? April 22nd 2012

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues…Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

–Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
As a primary school teacher, working with 6 /7  year olds, I remember working on The Lorax with the children in the hope of raising a variety of environmental concerns,some in their own back yard and some global.
A couple of decades on and I can only hope that some of those seeds have grown into saplings and small trees and that some of those young people may be taking action on Earth Day and everyday after…

Earth Day is a day early each year on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Earth Day draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way – which is also the most ancient way – by using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making the length of night and day equal in all parts of the Earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the March/April Equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible, and a flag which shows the Earth, as seen from space, appropriate.”

International Mother Earth Day was established in 2009 by the General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278. The Resolution was introduced by the  State of Bolivia and endorsed by over 50 member states.It recognizes that “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home” and that “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth.” The term Mother Earth is used because it “reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit”. It is decided to designate April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Education is the key component of any environmental initiative, as it provides for sustainability and prepares future generations of global citizens. The Earth Day Network  is helping teachers incorporate those elements into their classroom through online resources, curriculum and activities that engage the entire community.

For the teachers out there:

Reading For The Earth

Earth Day Network has provided you with an online toolkit that will provide the resources to help guide you with informing and organizing activities for young readers in your community. Earth Day Network has identified a number of steps that you can follow to effectively engage your students in the environmental  movement.

Encourage Reading

To encourage reading amongst young readers in grades K-8, Earth Day Network suggests you follow the steps identified below:

Step #1 – Advertise

Find locations in your library that are highly viable to young readers and their parents  and post fliers and announcements about the campaign.  Create your own original posters or use on of Earth Day Network’s Reading for the Earth™ posters located below:

Poster Design #1      Poster Design  #2      Poster Design #3      Poster Design #4

Step #2 – Create Display/Showcase

Build a display or showcase that has information about Reading for the Earth including posters and suggested reading lists. Gather a few books to highlight in your display and to help you find environmentally themed books, Earth Day Network has created suggested reading lists for young readers in both grades K-3 and grades 4-8. Some of the selections from the lists are highlighted below and to view a more complete reading list click the link after each section.

Grades K– 3 Reading list

Squish! A Wetland Walk; Nancy Luenn

A feast for the senses, Squish! provides young children with an introduction to the sights, sounds, and smells of a wetland as experienced by a young boy. Luenn uses simple language to explain some of the many ways wetlands are beneficial, and Himler’s quiet watercolors beautifully capture the unusual, wondrous atmosphere.

The Curious Garden; Peter Brown

The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown, is an excellent book about the benefits of greening up our own small corner of the urban world, as told through the story of a young boy who begins to “guerilla garden” in a desolate corner of the city.

The Great Kapok Tree; Lynne Cherry

Author and illustrator Lynne Cherry tells the tale of a man who is sent into the Amazon rain forest one day under instructions to chop down a great kapok tree. As he sleeps, animals emerge from the jungle canopy to plead with the sleeping ax-man to spare their home, and this unique  perspective from the wildlife provides an intriguing scientific argument for preserving nature’s gifts.

Complete Grades K-3 Suggested Reading List (PDF File)

Grades 4-8 Reading List

The Weirdos, Theodore Taylor

Chip Clewt, known simply as the weirdo, lives like a hermit in the Powhatan Swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge that is at the center of a heated controversy between local hunters and  environmentalists.

What  the Parrot told Alice, Dale Smith

What the Parrot Told Alice is a remarkable story, founded on fact. It is destined to awaken the conscience of young people to crucial issues of our time, such as habitat destruction and exploitation of wildlife.

My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George

Jean Craighead George tells the story of a boy who really wants to get away from it all. So, he leaves home to live in the mountains, where he learns to live off the land and gains a sense of independence and adventure before he finally reunites with his family.

Complete Grades 4-8 Suggested Reading List (PDF File)

Suggested Reading List- Grades 9-12                         Suggested Reading List- Australian Authors

Step #3 – Sign-Up Young Readers

Allow young readers to pledge to read environmentally themed books  throughout  the month of April in honor of Earth Day. At the end of April, Earth Day Network will ask participating libraries to count, record, and report the number of pledges made at their libraries.  All participating libraries will receive Certificates of Participation which will be emailed to you using the email that you provide during registration.   Download and to print the official Reading  for the Earth™ pledge sheet click here.

Each pledge will count as an act of green in our A  Billion Acts of Green®  campaign,. The purpose of this campaign is to mobilize one billion acts of environmental service around the world.  The campaign calls for people of all nationalities to commit to an act that helps reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability.  Collectively, these acts will also demonstrate the power of small every-day individual acts of green. For more information on A Billion Acts of Green® visit: http://act.earthday.org/.

Certificate to award to students who have pledged to read an environmental book

Earth Day Network – India

India has emerged as a decisive environmental, social, economic and political power. Earth Day Network is engaging with partners to build and enhance the region’s civic mobilization and leadership in the environmental movement.It is unfortunate that the government still pursues military strengthening as part of its political power base -we can hope for more peaceful pursuits so that the environment does not suffer any more through destructive power plays.

Building on the success of its 40th Anniversary Earth Day campaign, Earth Day Network has launched a permanent India Program, head- quartered in Kolkata, India. Projects in India focus on :

• Environmental Education
Women & The Green Economy (WAGETM)
• Capacity Building & Training
• Earth Day — India

Check out Hesperian

April 22 is Earth Day!  Hesperian is celebrating by releasing A Community Guide to Environmental Health. Also there is a new HealthWiki! This digital format makes it easy to access, edit and adapt the material for local needs.

And how big is your environmental footprint? Calculate the impact you are having on the planet.

EARTH DAY 2011 – 22nd April 2011

April 22nd marked Earth Day 2011 – check out the website to see how you can get involved.
Projects…

Athletes for the Earth™: Bringing the voices of Olympic and professional athletes to the environmental movement, Athletes for the Earth™ has a proven track record of illustrating the interaction of athletes with their environment and connecting popular athletic activities with environmental stewardship.  Participating athlete/celebs include Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Demong, Olympic Bronze Medalist Andrew Weibrecht, World Champion Freeskier and founder of the Save Our Snow Foundation Alison Gannett, Boston Bruins Defenseman Andrew Ference, Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Aaron Peirsol, and NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

The Canopy Project: In 2010, Earth Day Network planted over 1 million trees in 16 countries under the Avatar Home Tree Initiative. In 2011, EDN will continue that effort with another 1 million trees in large-scale, sponsor‐supported tree-planting projects in partnership with non‐profit organizations throughout the world. Locations where reforestation is most urgently needed include Haiti, Brazil, Mexico and urban areas of the US.  Help us green our future, one million trees at a time.

Women and the Green Economy (WAGE): To accelerate and provide the new thinking and creative power for a global post-carbon economy, Earth Day Network is engaging women business, government and NGO leaders in its “Women and the Green Economy” (WAGE™) campaign. Our goal is to create a policy agenda for Rio+20 and relevant generate national initiatives that will promote the green economy, secure educational and job training opportunities for women and channel green investment to benefit women.

Arts for the Earth: Arts for the Earth is an innovative education program developed to teach sustainability and environmental education through museum and arts community networks.

World Environment Day – a war of the worlds?

World Environment Day  – 5th June 2009

Which world do you inhabit -a ‘tree -hugging’ world or a ‘fight you’ world? Read on….

tree hugger

tree hugger

World Environment Day (WED) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

Commemorated yearly on 5 June, WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The day’s agenda is to:

  1. Give a human face to environmental issues;
  2. Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;
  3. Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues;
  4. Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
increasing surface temperatures

increasing surface temperatures

The theme for WED 2009 is ‘Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change’. It reflects the urgency for nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen some 180 days later in the year, and the links with overcoming poverty and improved management of forests.

climate change-can you control it?

climate change-can you control it?

While the United Nations tries to alert people about the potential environmental crisis looming ahead  -the ‘Nations’  part of the UN prefers to spend their money on arms production and use, than pay their dues to the UN.

Global military expenditure now stands at over $1.2 trillion in annual expenditure and has been rising in recent years.

Global arms spending

Global arms spending

Indeed, compare the military spending with the entire budget of the United Nations:

The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $20 billion each year, or about $3 for each of the world’s inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is just a tiny fraction of the world’s military spending. Yet for nearly two decades, the UN has faced  financial difficulties and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN’s voluntary funds. As of August 31, 2008, members’ arrears to the Regular Budget topped $919 million, of which the United States alone owed $846 million (92% of the regular budget arrears) and of course is the world’s biggest spenders on arms.

Summarizing some key details from chapter 5 of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s 2008 Year Book on Armaments, Disarmament and International Security for 2007:

  • World Military Expenditure in 2007 is estimated to have reached $1.339 trillion in current dollars (just over $1.2 trillion in 2005 constant dollars, as per above graph);
  • This represents a 6 per cent increase in real terms since 2006 and a 45 per cent increase over the 10-year period since 1998;
  • This corresponds to 2.5 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP), or $202 for each person in the world;

Of course with a billion people living in poverty, living on $365 per year or less, they may prefer  their governments spend their tax dollars in a different way. What about spending more on education and health?

UNESCO stated that governments of the world invested the equivalent of PPP$ 2.46 trillion in education in 2004 (or 1.97 trillion if converted into U.S. dollars on the basis of market exchange rates). This figure represents 4.4% of global GDP in PPP$. PPPs (purchasing power parities) are rates of currency conversion which eliminate differences in price levels among countries.

Total global expenditure for health US$ 4.1 trillion + Total global expenditure for health per person per year: US$ 639

So back to WED -what about spending on the environment?Guardian headlined in 2008

“Huge increase in spending on water urged to avert global catastrophe”

HEP Dam Chile.EPA

HEP Dam Chile.EPA

Countries across the world will have to dramatically increase investment in dams, pipes and other water infrastructure to avoid widespread flooding, drought and disease even before climate change accelerates these problems, experts have warned.

Global sea level rise?

Global sea level rise?

Investment needs to be at least doubled from the current level of $80bn (£45.5bn) a year, an international congress was told this week, and one leading authority said spending needed to rise to 1.5% of gross domestic product just “to be able to cope with the current climate” – one thousand times the current level.

The warnings follow a summer of dramatic events, from hurricane flooding in the Caribbean and the east coast of America to desperate measures in drought-stricken Mediterranean countries, including importing water by ship.

Rich nations suffer huge under-investment, but the threat of poor infrastructure to populations in developing countries is even greater, said Dr Olcay Unver, director of the United Nations’ Global Water Assessment Unit.

So serious is the problem that next year the UN’s World Water Assessment Report will make one of its main messages the need for investment to “accelerate substantially”, said Unver.

“You can’t justify the deaths of so many children because of lack of infrastructure or lost productive time of people [who are] intellectually or physically incapacitated because of simple lack of access to safe water or sanitation,” he added.

Dr Glen Daigger, senior vice-president of the International Water Association, said there was growing evidence that spending on clean water and sanitation was the single greatest contribution to reducing disease and death. The UN has identified dams for hydropower and irrigation as leading drivers of sustainable economic growth in developing countries. “Water and sanitation is clearly a better investment than medical intervention, but it’s not sexy,” added Daigger.

So on WED Governments could do some thinking -where do we get the money to attempt to start solving some of the big questions about the environment -and the step before that is to raise enough awareness so that action can be taken to pressurise Governments to act on your behalf…and the penguins!

Antarctic penguins

Antarctic penguins