April 21, 2014
Green Cities, Selfies And Water Are The Highlights Of Earth Day 2014
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Each year on April 22 numerous organizations, agencies, communities and citizens around the world join together to celebrate everything Earth. This year, one of the biggest events surrounding Earth Day is Earth Day Network's "Green Cities Campaign."The Green Cities Campaign was launched in the fall of 2013 by the Earth Day Network (EDN) as a novel way to help cities around the world become more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint. The campaign is focused on three key elements – buildings, energy and transportation – to help cities move to a cleaner, healthier and more economically viable future.
The Green Cities Campaign seeks to help cities – which have relied on outdated sources of electricity for far too long – become more sustainable by working toward redesigns of the current system, transitioning to renewable energy sources and implementing real-world solutions for the 21st Century.
The campaign also seeks to improve buildings to be more efficient to help reduce emissions significantly. Currently, buildings account for nearly one third of all greenhouse gas emissions. To change this, cities need to update ordinances, revise building codes, and improve financing options.
And in respect to transportation, which is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, the campaign seeks to reduce emissions and smog by improving standards, increase public transportation options (75 percent of all transportation emissions comes from passenger vehicles), invest in alternative transportation, and improve areas in cities to allow more access to walking and biking.
Several American cities have already made the transition to a greener way of life and at least two cities have already partnered with Earth Day Network for the Green Cities Campaign.
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
Santa Fe, NM has shown a clear commitment to become sustainable by leading the nation with its Green Building Code. The code requires developers to build homes that reach high levels of sustainability across six different categories. But the code doesn’t necessarily mandate specific actions that must be taken by developers. Instead, it gives developers the freedom to find the most efficient ways to make buildings sustainable. Benefits of sustainable buildings offer residents lower operating costs, increased comfort, improved environmental quality, and enhanced home durability with less maintenance.
Javier Gonzales, the mayor of Santa Fe is also supporting the EDN by dedicating to making his city a green example for the rest of the country. As a result, EDN is actively working with the the city’s sustainability committee (Sustainable Santa Fe) to act as an advisory board to determine the best course of action moving forward.
Jackson, MS is also off to a good start under the Green Cities Campaign to become more sustainable. The city has proven its dedication to environmental protection through programs such as hazardous waste disposal, litter removal, and adoption of public space for cleanup and maintenance.
Residents of Jackson are also doing their part by dedicating their time to cleaning up city streets and educating their peers on the importance of environmental protection. As well, several projects – tree planting, litter-free sports and graffiti removal – are geared toward helping the city become more sustainable and are encouraging more people to get involved in the city’s well-being.
The former mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Lumumba, was at the forefront of the city’s sustainability plan. His leadership set Jackson down the right path to achieving a green future. His recent death has been a great loss to the city, yet Jackson is committed to making Lumumba’s vision a reality.
EDN has begun working with the city to organize a Green City Advisory Committee, which will work with local organizations, professionals and citizens to determine the most effective course of action for the city.
While Jackson and Santa Fe have partnered directly with EDN under the Green Cities Campaign, several other cities are on their way to becoming sustainable under the EDN’s building, transportation and energy sectors. These include urban agriculture in Somerville, Massachusetts; the world’s first solar-powered bus in Adelaide, New Zealand; and the first community solar project in Kansas.
While cities around the world look for ways to become more sustainable, our nation’s capital (Washington, DC) is playing host to a free interactive, educational exhibit in honor of Earth Day.
On April 22, Union Station, Washington, DC’s historic public transportation hub, is putting on an exhibit for guests of all ages, with the goal of showing people how they can help make the world a more sustainable place by making simple changes in their everyday lives.
Joining EDN at the event is NASA, which plans to show off a Hyperwall and Science Gallery with a variety of hands-on demonstrations and activities. Nearly 20 NASA scientists will make presentations telling how both natural and human-induced changes impact the environment over time.
“Like all things in life, Earth’s environment is in a constant state of flux,” said NASA in an official statement. “Components of the Earth system—including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere—are all connected, and interact in complex ways that we do not fully understand. At NASA, our goal is to study the Earth as a system and understand how both natural and human-induced changes impact Earth’s environment over time. To find out how our planet is changing and what NASA is doing to better understand and predict these changes, come celebrate Earth Day with NASA at Union Station in Washington, DC, April 21-22, 2014.”
Along with EDN and NASA, the event will include exhibits from Amtrak, NOAA, Washington Gas Energy Service, and the Human Rights Campaign.
EARTH DAY SELFIES
NASA will not only be busy talking about sustainability at Union Station, it is also hosting a global event asking people to snap up a selfie in honor of Earth Day.
The event is not just about Earth Day, however. This is the first time in more than a decade that NASA is launching five Earth-observing missions in a single year. To help celebrate this major milestone, the US space agency is inviting people around the world to step outside on Earth Day, take a selfie, and share it with the rest of the world via social media.
[ Watch the Video: NASA Promo For Earth Day 2014 ]
NASA’s “Global Selfie” event is designed to encourage environmental awareness and to also recognize the agency’s ongoing work to protect our home planet by asking people to not just step outside and snap a selfie, but to do it with the environment in mind.
NASA plans to monitor Earth Day selfies over several social media platforms using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. NASA also plans to create a crowd-created mosaic image of Earth using all selfies shared over social media.
While green cities and selfies are taking the spotlight this year, one of Earth’s most valuable resources is also getting some much needed attention for Earth Day 2014.
Water, which comprises of more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and forms the basis of all life on the planet, is a very important resource that cannot go without mention.
As such, the American Chemical Society is showcasing three scientists whose research keeps water safe, clean and available for future generations. The “Chemists Celebrate Earth Day” series highlights the important things that chemists and chemical engineers do every day and is geared toward elementary and middle school students.
The series includes videos by Aydogan Ozcan, PhD, of UCLA, who has built a device that turns a cell phone into a water tester that can detect harmful mercury even at very low levels; by Collins Balcombe, of the US Bureau of Reclamation, whose job it is to keep our drinking water safe and to find new ways to reuse the water that we flush everyday so it doesn’t go to waste, especially in drought-prone regions; and by Anne Morrissey, PhD, of Dublin City University, who is using sunlight to remove harmful pharmaceuticals from our water supply.