Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year 2016

Portland OR is starting 2016 with a couple of beautiful sunny days and.. snow!
As last year's main event related to the environment was the United Nations meeting on climate change in Paris we are looking forward to see how around the world this accord will make things different. We will see if the momentum gained during the conference is maintained and how countries will use the momentum to enable new policies toward improving the conditions to develop new technologies and implement the technologies that we already have that will move our economies away from carbon, or to use carbon in a more efficient way that will not cause harm to the environment. To find out more about the conference link UN's November 2015 Framework Convention on Climate Change. The conference under the leadership of Christiana Figueres was a success. Born in Costa Rica and trained in the London School of Economics and Georgetown University, Ms Figueres has been involved in sustainable development for a long time. You can read her blog clicking here and twitts @CFigueres.

Even though every day is like every other day, there is something special about the beginning days of the new year. We go around in circles, some are seasonal like winter, spring, summer, and fall but we never get back to the same spot. It could be winter as the winter before but is a different winter, dah! This is what makes working for the environment so precious and important, changes are coming and we are part of the change. In some ways we are inducing negative changes sometimes they are positive. Even though there is little we can do individually to affect the worlds climate, there is a lot we can do by doing it together. Kind of a paradox.

For me it is about education, and this blog is part of my effort to share with the world what is going on and what can be done. As a paradox there is little we can do and it is a lot. Having the correct attitude produces a change not only in our perspective but most importantly in our actions. Being able to stay at home (like today when the weather is not proper to go out if not necessary) and not feeling guilty is a gain we can all get. Using the time to learn, read, write, and enjoy life as it unfolds is the thing to do in this case. Learning about cultures around the world and finding out what their struggles are and how they as society are finding ways to prosper and thrive is uplifting and satisfying. Not everyone has to have the same answer or the same solution for a particular problem such as transportation.

In the USA we have developed a system that looks highly individualistic but relies on a strong social network that sustains each individual. We in general are used to drive our own cars but we rely on streets being open for transit. The common good is necessary for the individual good, that was articulated many years ago by Kropotkin in his book "Mutual Aid" where he makes the argument that evolution has made it necessary for commonality. Kropotkin became one of the most influential writers of the XX century due to his clear systematic and solid way of arguing his ideas based on scientific evidence. Being an activist for the environment has to be done al several levels from local like the classroom to global, going through school, city, region, and country. At the classroom level Warner Pacific College is committed to the formation of students that are well prepared for the challenges of a constantly changing world and, among other classes, offers classes in Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, and Earthkeeping.

At the city level Portland OR is an active place for environmentalism, from US Congressman Earl Blumenauer who has been an advocate for public transportation to local organization you can find on MeetupBill Bradbury in particular has been working at the grassroots level to organize the citizenry.
Oregon is and will be a leading place in this new era, I am glad to be here at this time to be part of this change and to witness how as a society we can come together working for the benefit of the commons. 

 I am very optimistic.

1 comment:

Emily Amner said...

You said, "In the USA we have developed a system that looks highly individualistic but relies on a strong social network that sustains each individual."

But why, then, haven't we "evolved" enough to a national health care system?
I am only paying more in 2016 for my healthcare because my neighbor does not take care of his health, but instead gets free healthcare for not working a job at all.

Healthcare is an old debate, but so critical to the nations current well being.