Wednesday, June 01, 2005

NOW FOR GOOD NEWS From California!

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

If they don't all slide into the ocean or burn down or collapse in an earthquake or all three, sort of like the Monty Python's Holy Grail castle, California is doing the right thing, energy-wise!
It would be easy to pass off the United Nations' World Environment Day conference that begins today in San Francisco as yet another gathering full of windy pronouncements and empty promises about creating sustainable communities.

There is, after all, a long history of feel-good environmental summits that ultimately did nothing to reduce carbon emissions or improve the planet's condition.

But climate change experts see the first Environment Day conference held in the United States as a crucial opportunity to put the environmental movement where it belongs -- in the hands of the people.

"One of the great things about our country is that when one part of society drops the ball, as Washington so clearly has in terms of climate threat, another part of society can come pick it up and run with it," said James Speth, the dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. "That's why I'm so encouraged by this conference in San Francisco. It's taking the issue away from the lobbyists in Washington. There isn't any substitute for the people taking action at the state and local level."
Amen, brother.

Yes, that is what matters: working locally for sane solutions to problems. My local paper, the Albany Times Union, is probably going to print a letter I wrote about windmills this week. We can all pitch in. One way to do this is to take information like the things presented here and writing to local papers and showing this to local politicians. This is what I do in my off hours.

In the future, I plan to do stories about my lobbying work. See what comes of this, now that people are finally a little bit spooked by high energy prices and a very bloody oil war that is going bloody bang-up bad. Maybe now people are ready to listen to us. Time to go forth and educate!
The conference will feature five themes, one for each day, with names such as Cities on the Move and Flower Power. More than 200 events will be held, including an environmental film festival, a music and entertainment exchange, an organic fashion show and a green cities expo.

But the real business of the week will be the historic signing of the Urban Environmental Accords by the mayors of 68 cities from virtually every corner of the world. The accords commit each city to attempt to implement 21 actions designed to help fight global warming and create environmental sustainability over the next seven years.
I am so jealous. I hope the people at this conference have a great time. The fact that it is international pleases me no end.
"The question, 'What is a green city?' is of vital and utmost importance, " said Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, which is overseeing the event. "We must concentrate the eyes of the people and create awareness for the environment while, at the same time, offering concrete examples for other regions on how to develop a green city and how to integrate these systems. The activities of cities and private businesses to fight climate change are extremely important at a time when we no longer have time for delay."
Some time ago, on this blog, I wrote about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. One of the Seven Wonders of the Earth. It was truly a "green" city on many levels. It was alas, unique, evidently.

We should try to imagine the perfect city. This is vital to our survival. I love looking at my neighborhood, nearby towns of Troy, NY, for example. In summer, the town disappears under the verdant trees so much only a few large buildings are visible from the hills on the opposite side of the Hudson. Yet it needs more trees for up close, the streets still are too barren which is why we have tree planting programs. In NYC, I belonged to the Botanical Gardens society and the tree planting group in Brooklyn. We dug and planted trees all over the place. I had a globe locust in front of my brownstone and a garden behind and a hanging garden on the second story and a roof top garden, too.

Gardening is good on so many levels.
An estimated 1 million people per week are now moving to urban areas. It is projected that within 30 years, 65 percent of the people on this planet will be living in metropolitan areas, which already use up to 75 percent of the world's resources.

Speth, who wrote the book "Red Sky at Morning," an analysis of the global warming threat, said forests in the tropics are being cut down at a rate of an acre a second. He said a third of the planet's land surface and 20 percent of global river flow is being used by humans. In the United States alone, carbon dioxide emissions are growing at a rate of 3 percent a year.

This is contributing to climactic changes that Speth said will lead to mass extinctions by the end of the century if nothing is done.

"It couldn't be a more serious problem," Speth said. "It is a security issue, a social issue and an economic issue that has the potential to destabilize whole countries. It's a form of insanity if we don't get serious about it soon."
Water: the next thing we may end up fighting over. This is all so sad. Humans waste water wantonly, as I point out here in this blog. Every time we flush a toilet, we are doing something destructive and insane.

I am happy people want to discuss this. Only we have little time to change many bad habits. Change will happen, willy nilly.

Personally, I prefer to prechange.