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Earth Hour, Turn off the Lights

Turn off the lights for an hour during Earth Hour on Saturday, March 31st 2012 from 8:30pm - 9:30pm. Earth Hour is an event started by the World Wildlife Foundation. Earth Hour has become a way for cities to show their commitment to addressing climate change, symbolizing not only local change, but global change as well. (Earth Hour, 2012).

Water Conservation

The U.S. Geological Survey indicates that only 1% of the water on Earth is freshwater available for human use (USGS, 2011).  Fresh water is used for a variety of activities, ranging from safe drinking water to irrigation for crops, filling your toilets, and keeping your yard green.  Water is such an important part of everyday life that it is worth it to take a look at how much water you consume and what you can do to reduce that amount as well as the amount of water that you waste.

International Water Day

The United Nations has declared the 22nd of March as national "World Water Day." The aim of this event is to promote general awareness of the fresh water conservation movement as well as present some of the challenges of a growing human population competing for limited fresh water resources. In this weeks post I will unpack some of issues surrounding the water crisis.  http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/

Green Space

In this week's post I will discuss the importance of green space for urban dwellers. On the 31st of October 2011 the world population exceeded 7 billion. As our world becomes more populous, inhabitable space is becoming more scarce. With this comes the challenge to best utilize the existing space. An interesting dichotomy occurs as the amount of available space shrinks per person, particularly in urban settings,while the need for open green space still exists. The World Health Organization has set a suggested minimum of 9 m2 of green space per person, about the size of an 8x12 foot room. I argue that maintaining this minimum is not only an environmental issue but also an issue of social justice.

Karen Washington, Urban Farmer

With February coming to a close, it is important to look back on Black History Month and forward to women’s history month and recognize some contributors to sustainable principles.

Karen Washington is an urban farmer from the Bronx. An urban farmer is someone who grows farms in an urban setting, often in small vacant lots, leftover spaces between buildings, or even rooftops. To deal with the difficult terrain, urban farmers often use raised planters or containers. The main goal is to not only grow food in urban areas, but also to increase access to healthy food to their communities. This is particularly difficult in low socio-economic communities, where there may be a lack of grocery stores, or a lack of affordable, healthy foods. These urban farms fill many needs, such as providing fresh food, as well as creating beautiful green spaces. Many of these urban food movements strive to bring community members together towards the goals of making their neighborhoods safer, more beautiful, and healthier.

2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

Two thousand twelve has been declared as “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All,” by the United Nations. The United Nations see this declaration as a opportunity to raise awareness of global energy issues and to provide a platform for existing and planned initiatives, “energy is an opportunity. It transforms economies. And our planet” (United Nations Foundation, 2011). As part of this initiative the UN has launched what they are calling an ‘Energy Access Practitioner Network.’ The aim of this network is to “bring together practitioners from the private sector and civil society working on the delivery of energy services and solutions,” (United Nations Foundation, 2011). The hope is that by bringing together these practitioners and providing a global network that this International Year will truly include a global audience who are focused in meeting the three goals that were put forth as part of the International Year declaration.

The United Nations hopes to have succeeded in meeting the following three goals by 2030:
- Ensure universal access to modern energy services
- Reduce global energy intensity by 40%
- Increase renewable energy use globally by 30%
(Ki-moon, 2011)

Rachel Carson

March is Women's History Month, which aims to pay tribute to the role women have played in shaping the world as we know it. In honor of Women's History Month this week's post will feature one of the most significant environmental authors of the 20th century, Rachel Carson and her capstone piece Silent Spring.

Walk, Bike, Drive, Ride Transportation Planning For All Uses

Transportation is an important part of living sustainably. The media often promotes electric cars and alternative fuel sources as a solution to transportation problems. However cars are not the only way that people and goods get around. Complete Streets legislation helps to address the lack of focus on other transportation methods.

(Image: Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition)

The Fracking Debate

This week the topic of inquiry for the institutional sustainability blog is energy. In the past few weeks I have examined some recent innovations in energy transformation. This week I will be examine a very destructive up and coming method of energy collection. The purpose of my post this week is to shed light on a highly controversial practice of energy collection - the process of "fracking" in order to show some of the potential implications of over consumption of energy and the lengths companies go to meet consumer demand. 

The Future of Air Travel

The theme of the institutional sustainability blog this week is transportation. In this post I will examine air travel and the progress the industry has made in becoming more sustainable.