Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Taking the "Bull by the Horns" in Texas

"First Published on Qassia"

What do you get when ranchers, farmers, mayors, and a host of other people take on TXU - a giant-sized electric company? You get a Texas-sized fight!

From the governor's fast-tracked permitting process, to the sketchy environmental information, the idea of 18 coal-fired power plants to be built in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Waco area was more than Laura Miller could take.

The former Dallas mayor led a group of mayors representing 36 Texas cities, counties, and school districts to form the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition. The TCACC successfully challenged the building of new coal-fired power plants that would have added over 100,000,000 tons of CO2, nearly 4,000 pounds of toxic mercury, and 30,000 tons of nitrogen oxides to the atmosphere each year.

Due to the efforts of Mayor Miller, the coalition, and all the concerned ranchers, farmers, townspeople, and environmentalists, TXU cancelled the construction of all but three of the proposed plants. In May of this year, Ms Miller was honored for her outstanding efforts to protect the Earth's climate and ozone layer.

A documentary, narrated by Robert Redford, was made about their struggle, and subsequent victory.

Until next time...become the change you imagine.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Zero-Waste Town

In Kamikatsu, Japan you will not find a garbage can in any of the town's homes, and there is no dump anywhere around. This is because the resourceful residents must compost all waste from their food, and sort other trash into 34 separate categories, with sections for plastic bottles, razor blades, Styrofoam, and various other items.

Interestingly enough, the locals seem to like this extreme recycling process. One resident, claims that the town's no-waste policy makes her more mindful of what she's using, and helps her to take advantage of every last scrap. When she cannot use the whole vegetable, or all of the meat, she cooks it again, often making soup.

Most of us may not be as ecologically-advanced as the residents of Kamikatsu, but the idea that people on the opposite side of the world are separating their trash into 34 categories may inspire people to recycle their cans and bottles, at least. Check out Lime's Guide to Recycling to learn how to get rid of trash without heading to the dump.
Embrace the concept of zero-waste. Use less, and use wisely.

Until next time, become the change you imagine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The answer to our survival is BALANCE

Our Common Future is a report from the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) and was published in 1987. An excerpt from page 4 reads:

"Until recently, the planet was a large world in which human activities and their effects were neatly compartmentalized. ... These compartments have begun to dissolve. ... the various global crises that have seized public concern ... are not separate crises ... They are all one."

Written over twenty years ago, it is as true today as it was in 1987. If we were to analyze the root causes of most of the world's conflicts we would find a recurring theme of imbalance. Poor vs. rich, famine vs. abundance, cities vs. nature, war vs. peace...ad nauseum. When humans live in harmony with nature their essential needs are met. Everything needed to survive is available. Materials for housing, clothing, and tools. Food, clean air, and clean water all provide for a healthy population. Healthy people tend to be happy people.

In her 1992 article Utgard , Diana Paxon wrote:

"The human brain is an example of an organism which has developed by adding new structures and functions to older ones. Most people today have access only to the newer levels of consciousness, and are disturbed by the "irrational" emotions that shake them when the older parts of the brain are aroused. In the same way, our civilization thinks of itself as "modern," and has trouble understanding the social movements that arise when deeper needs revive older ways.

A major paradigm shift in our relationship to Nature is taking place in this century - a change that must occur if humanity is to survive. Ours is the first generation to be aware of the fragility of the environment. "Primitive" people retain an instinctive awareness that the only way to survive in an environment that is more powerful than they are is by learning to live in harmony with its forces. But as civilization and the development of technology have given humans more control over their surroundings, Nature has become an adversary. In the natural world, birth and death, creation and destruction, are parts of a continuing cycle in which both are equally crucial to long-term survival. Modern man can accept this in theory so long as he remains insulated from its realities by his technology."

Are we addicted to technology? Will it be the cause of our demise? Not necessarily.
Humans can create technology that is sustainable in its manufacturing, with energy that is clean and from renewable sources. We can use our formidable technology to address and conquer our waste problems, clean and reclaim natural habitats. We must find a balance again. We must take action.

By creating processes that eliminate further pollution and reclaim damaged environments, we can stop our inevitable destruction. The earth will survive. If we don't change our ways, and soon, it is the human race that will become extinct.

Until next time, become the change you imagine.