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Sustainable Development: Investing in Safe, Renewable Energy

Fossil fuels propelled the industrial revolution over the last two hundred years which has brought wonderful advantages, comforts, and life-enhancing amenities, and some challenges as well. Development can be exciting and beneficial. It is important to look comprehensively at the costs associated with different methods of development because of the numerous options available in this day and age, so that enterprise can serve the greatest good.

Until the 1960′s and 70′s with the Clean Air and the Clean Water Acts, policy makers in America were not too concerned about the human and environmental costs of development. Bigger, better, faster were the concerns. During recent decades pollution and deforestation have become more severe and weather patterns more erratic so that the damage we do to nature can no longer be ignored.

Modern urban human life requires energy. Modern conveniences demand it. Taking this need for fuel into account, where will we get it? Well traditionally we have gotten it from oil, coal, and natural gas aka the fossil fuels http://carbonnationmovie.com/. We owe so many of our modern advancements to fossil fuels, and yet we must begin to wean off of them http://permaculture-media-download.blogspot.com/2011/02/power-of-community-how-cuba-survived.html.

Gigantic hydroelectric dams http://www.internationalrivers.org/node/4292 built on rivers destroying regions upstream and down (for example the Three Gorges dam in China http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9aU43suUvg&feature=player_embedded which displaced more than one million people) have also been used to generate electricity. Side effects of dams can be refugees, increased landslides and waterbourne diseases, and decreased biodiversity.

In recent decades nuclear power has been part of the energy picture as well. Despite scientific genius, nuclear power poses a serious problemhttp://www.ratical.org/radiation/IntoEternity/. Its byproducts like Iodine-129 can remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Cobalt-60, another byproduct, is dangerous for only 5 years, but during that time close exposure to just 1 gram for a few minutes can be lethal. And there are over 430 nuclear plants worldwide http://www.beyondnuclear.org/human-rights/. Three Mile Island in 1979 in Pennsylvania was America’s biggest national nuclear accident that cost $975 million and 14 years to clean up and remove radioactive material. Other nuclear diasters include Chernobyl in 1986 in Ukraine, and Fukushima Daiichi in 2011 in Japan.

A review of nuclear energy policy around the world occurred after the Fukushima accident. Italy banned nuclear power. Germany decided to close all its reactors by 2022. Switzerland also decided to phase out nuclear at the end of the lifetime of its existing reactors (nuclear power plants have a 40 year max lifespan). And in September 2011, German engineering giant Siemens announced that as a result of the Fukushima catastrophe it would withdraw entirely from the nuclear industry and would no longer build nuclear power plants anywhere in the world. Australia, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Malaysia, and Israel are all opposed to nuclear power. Another drawback of nuclear is that it increases the availability of nuclear weapons material because uranium is used for both nuclear power and weapons. Uranium mining http://www.chiptaylor.com/ttlmnp2665-.cfm is hard on the environment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhrWCGIlku4.

The US has created 70,000 tons of nuclear waste over the past sixty years, and no one can figure out what to do with it because it is so deadly. The most popular suggestion is to stick it in a mountain near Las Vegas called Yucca Mountain which would require 40 miles of tunnels. The US has at least 108 sites designated as areas that are contaminated and unusable, sometimes many thousands of acres, due to nuclear power.

In examining the fossil fuels- oil, coal, and natural gas- there are a number of reasons why they are not sustainable http://www.blindspotdoc.com/. They are all found underground and must be mined or drilled for which can be quite disruptive http://www.crudethemovie.com/trailer-and-photos/.Their supplies are finite, meaning there will come a time when we have taken all there is to take out of the earth http://www.postcarbon.org/. And getting them requires that we displace people (often not compensating them for the loss of their land) and demolish ecosystems http://www.globalissues.org/article/86/nigeria-and-oil.

In any endeavor there is always a margin of error, and when an error occurs with technology used to extract or transport these fuels, the results are devastating, like the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 in Alaska and the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The Chilean mining accident in the coal mines of Copiapo in 2010, and the coal mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia in 2010 illustrate the dangers in mining for coal http://www.coalcountrythemovie.com/. Examples of natural gas accidents are the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California and the 2004 pipeline explosion in Ath, Belgium http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/.

Countries are recognizing that they can address these problems by investing in renewable energy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DflgducmN4. Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Improving both sources of energy and energy efficiency are the goals, plus creating lots of green jobs, and more localized, small-scale power generation so there is less dependence on monopolies and less energy used in transport of fuel and electricity. Green jobs http://www.bootsontheroof.com/about-us are especially satisfying because people do not have to compromise their conscience, contaminate their environment, or sacrifice their health in order to work http://www.solarenergy.org/womens-program. Application of renewable technologies adds to the diversity of electricity sources and, through local power generation, increases the adaptability of the system and its resistance to central shocks.

Solar http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/ and wind power http://www.awea.org/ are the world’s fastest growing energy sources. Leading renewable energy companies include First Solar, Q-Cells, Sharp Solar, Suntech, Gamesa, and Vestas. There are economic, social, and environmental benefits to renewable energy http://www.siemens.com/entry/cc/en/#/newzealand. Also wave power from the coastal ocean is being developed by companies like Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave.

Over 400 manufacturing facilities across America make components for wind turbines, and 37 states now have installed at least some utility-scale wind power. The Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas is the largest wind farm in the US  http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/solar-wind/4338280?page=2. Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon, which Google is helping to build, will be the largest wind farm in the world when completed in 2012. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis.

Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) is the name given to nine solar power plants in California’s Mojave Desert, which were commissioned between 1984 and 1991. SEGS is the largest solar plant of any kind in the world.

More than 1.5 million homes and businesses currently use solar water heating in the United States. Compared to those with electric water heaters, Florida homeowners with solar water heaters save 50 to 85 percent on their water heating bills http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/index.php.

The global available solar energy resources are 3.8 YJ/yr (120,000 TW). Less than 0.02% of available solar resources are sufficient to entirely replace fossil fuels and nuclear power as an energy source. Solar cell production increased by 50% in 2007, and has been doubling every two years since http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/29/ge-solar-power-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-in-5-years/.

Sustainable biofuels are a great idea too, and can be made from things like algae http://www.oilgae.com/sewage http://www.magnegas.com/index.html, and used vegetable oil http://www.lovecraftbiofuels.com/. Algae grows fast and has the added bonus of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Finding a way to convert excrement into energy takes care of its disposal as well!

In airline news, more than 200 flights within Europe on Air France/KLM are expected to fly by burning used-cooking-oil biofuel. United Airlines launched its first flight, the ‘Eco Skies test flight’, powered with algae biofuel on November 7, 2011. Virgin and Alaska Airlines are also using jet biofuels, as is the US Military. The US Military has ventured into solar and wind as well http://cleantechnica.com/2012/03/21/u-s-army-gets-its-first-solar-powered-microgrid/!

For the Children

From her home in Australia, to the slums of Bangladesh, Amanda Ryan is an earth angel who is proving that age and experience mean little when it comes to making a big difference.

When you read Amanda’s resume, its hard to believe she was in high school just four years ago. The Bachhara company director, founder of JAAGO Australia and fair-trade fashion designer has never let her age or lack of formal experience stop her from achieving what most others could only dream of.

She left her hometown of Wollongong, Australia, at 16 to live and study in Japan. This led her to work for an international non-profit organization and later to travel through India volunteering for charitable organisations. Amanda discovered while the need and chaos of India overwhelmed many people, it balanced her out. So, she began searching for new opportunities to live and work in Asia – a quest which led her to the slums of Bangladesh and the people of JAAGO.

Describe yourself when you were young… did you always know you wanted to make a difference?
When I was young I guess you could say I was the class clown and constantly in trouble. But I was always extremely interested in international politics and what was going on in the world. In high school I would often attend events on human rights, making the long trek by myself on a train from Wollongong
to Sydney.

Ive always known I would do something along the lines of what I am doing now. My current path a been shaped and molded along the way as I have learnt more about myself, the world and what I can do in it. There was never really a point where I said “okay now Im going to be a charity worker or philanthropist”. Its more the fact that Im choosing to be a human being who sees all other human beings as my equal and they deserve my respect and as much assistance as I have within my power to give.

What is it about JAAGO and Bangladesh that speaks to you?
My first international volunteer stint was to India. As soon as I arrived in Delhi I felt like I had returned home. I think the chaos of countries like India and Bangladesh level out the chaos of my personality and I feel a real sense of peace being there.

After volunteering at a leprosy colony and girls orphanage in India I realized this is what I wanted to do with myself and I set about trying to research how I could open up and school that would allow children to have the basic right of being able to dream of a bright future. I was deeply saddened in India when I saw that the dreams I had as a child of being a teacher or a doctor or a dancer. Is not a luxury these children have. For me if I could not pursue my dreams I would not be me. Because I can pursue my dreams I am making a contribution to the advancement of our world. Just thinking about all the wasted potential of these beautiful children is heart breaking for them and unfortunate for the whole world.

When doing research about organizations that had a similar ideal to my own about non discriminative assistance, I came across Korvi Rakshand and the Jaago foundation. Two weeks after introducing myself to Jaago founder Korvi over email I quit my job was on a plane and arriving in Bangladesh with my life savings to volunteer for two months.

How has the work youve done so far made a difference?
I dont really know what we measure making a difference on. But I know that 320 children who never had a chance to go to school now have a chance to because of Jaago. This will grow to around 600 by next year with the development of two new schools being built. I think the real difference is the difference.

What is your day-to-day life like?

At the moment my day-to-day life is pretty crazy. A week feels like a day and a month feels like a week. Natalie (Bachhara business partner) and I are extremely passionate about our vision and live and breathe Bachhara constantly. On top of that I am also working on getting Jaago Australia the charity established and trying to help out a school for autistic children in Bangladesh. Im just extremely thankful I have an amazingly supportive partner and family surrounding me.

How can others help?

The thing I really love about Bachhara is that it is so easy to help. Since I have started my work in Bangladesh so many people have contacted me wanting to know how they can help and up until now I have not had an easy way to give people the “how” to help. Women especially always want to look beautiful and as Westerners we will always shop and consume. Bachhara gives you a chance to still do those things without the guilt. You know that youre supporting an intuitive cause that is providing real change in the lives of so many disadvantaged people in Bangladesh.

When are you next off to Bangladesh?
Natalie and I will both be heading to Bangladesh in January to start production of our summer 2011 line. We both love being in Bangladesh very much. Our sewing centre is just off the Jaago Foundation school in the Rayer Bazar slum. We have become familiar faces in the slum area, much to the amusement of the locals. Two tall white women with kids hanging off us constantly provides quiet a show for the local slum dwellers.

How are you helping autistic kids in Bangladesh?

I assist at a school that autistic students. In Bangladesh, autism is something most people know nothing about. Most autistic children are given to an orphanage at birth or they spend their lives indoors in their family home to avoid public embarrassment. I came across a school that happened to keep receiving a large number of students who were autistic yet not diagnosed. I have been doing my best to introduce them to people who know more about autism and provide as much awareness and education on the disability they are dealing with.

M.A.M.A. Earth Meets the Q Side

After the excitement of the recent M.A.M.A. Earth fundraiser in Hollywood is officially over, Stuart Brazell went in search of two of the event’s top stars: its creator Kailani Bayot and The Q Side‘s Quddus who put his star power behind the high profile gathering. In this two-part interview, the pair chat about M.A.M.A. Earth and the Q Side, Haiti and what we can all do to make a difference.

Celebrities Turn Out to Support Global Green

It was one of the hottest parties in town, all in aid of working toward a cooler planet. With performances by Mia Maestro, Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte and Camp Freddy as well as Juliette Lewis and Mark McGrath, the Global Green USA 7th Annual Pre-Oscar

Pathway to Prosperity

When Jessica Rodriguez stepped up to address the audience in Washington, D.C. along side of Hillary Clinton at the first Pathways to Prosperity Women Entrepreneurs Conference in October, it was a step that few would have imagined her taking just one decade ago–least of all, perhaps Jessica herself.

Test Eco Waters at Go Green

Living green can be overwhelming. Where to start? From eco cars and planet-friendly cleaning products to organic wines and veganism, its little wonder many opt to do nothing for fear of not being able to do it all.

Yet its the little steps that add up to mean something big.

Emile Joins Celebrity Friends for Kilimanjaro Trek

Actor Emile Hirsch will join Jessica Biel, Lupe Fiasco, Isabel Lucas, Santigold and many of the worlds brightest minds and major cultural influencers, for a 50 mile journey to the highest freestanding mountain in the world.

Alison Goes to Extreme

World Champion extreme freeskier and activist-athlete Alison Gannett is known for going to extremes for the cause most near and dear to her heart – Save Our Snow*. To bring further attention to the cause, Gannett, along with a few other female environmental crusaders and athletes, just completed 250 miles on a “Big Ben to Brussels Walk”, London to Copenhagen, with skis and a backpack strapped to her back every step of the way.

Oprah & Dustin Team up for Green

Dream of meeting Oprah? How about joining actor-extraordinaire Dustin Hoffman on set of his latest film? Thanks to Chartiybuzz’s sixth annual Chevy Chase Green Auction online, your wildest wishes could become oh-so-real. Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Dustin Hoffman, Stephen Colbert, Dave Mathews Band, and Regis Philbin have teamed up to bring once-in-a-lifetime items and opportunities to the auction block. Proceeds benefit The GREEN Community Schools, who strive to create model GREEN schools and promote sustainability.

Green Guide Network Expands

What began in 2006 as the OC Green Guide, an insiders guide to everything “green” in Orange County, CA, has now taken root as a full-scale, ultra-local Green Guide Network across the United States.

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