Future Perfect : Engaging Local Communities In Sustainability

City of Albany, NY

The Capital Region of New York has recently published a draft Sustainability Plan, (CC, 2010, UpstateNyer)

It is an understandably gloomy beginning to the New Year. Global climate change negotiations have failed yet again, this time at a meet held in Qatar in late 2012, leaving the rest of us wondering why they hold these high-level talks with such depressing regularity. State-side, a crippling drought, wildfires and the incredibly destructive Hurricane Sandy has done precious little to break the stony silence emanating from Washington. Does that mean we start going the way of “climate adapters” and stock up on disaster rations? Thankfully, there is still hope for our future. Local governments, both big and small, are stepping up to the challenge of creating resilient, sustainable and vibrant communities of tomorrow. The US is leading the effort with over 600 state & city governments that have incorporated sustainability into their planning processes. These pioneering communities are part of a network known as ICLEI – Local Governments For Sustainability, working together to transform the climate change debate from the bottom up. Continue reading

Making Sustainability As American As Apple Pie

Trust a politician with your home and …
(c) R J Matson, Cagle Cartoons

Two down, one more to go. The score – Obama:1, Romney:1, our future: 0. After watching the second debate in a series of empty promises, political weaselry and some downright childish whining, I am certain any concerned voter would have serious reservations. And while the two candidates jabbed, parried and danced around the usual suspects – jobs, outsourcing, taxes and immigration- no one wanted to talk about the very real effects of climate change that America is experiencing in recent years. This year’s drought, the worst in two decades or more, affected nearly 80% of all agricultural land, driving up food prices and pushing small farmers to the brink of collapse. Dry areas of the country, notably the Southwest, are facing fresh water shortages that will only be exacerbated over time. Eastern states are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Irene, one year after it killed 67 people and caused nearly $50 billion-worth of property damage. And the problems are not just state-side. As the rest of the world enters a new era of scarcity, extreme weather and ensuing poverty, global peace and stability cannot be taken for granted forever. The worst failing this year was the washout-that-was Rio+20, a mega-conference of world leaders with nothing concrete to show for the time spent. This is why I am frustrated by the games politicians play on-screen and off. Why is our future being held ransom by these peddlers of flimflam? Continue reading