Les Hamasaki, Green Technology Editor 2015-08-10 06:05:53
Creating a Circle Economy versus a Linear Economy Twenty-first-century students are our best hope in creating a sustainable global future. They must be prepared to learn about the interconnection of water, food, energy, transportation, lifestyle, waste, and more to understand and counter the threat of climate change that is creating constant environmental havoc throughout the world. Students must learn how Mother Nature creates a balance and harmony in her ecosystem, where one creature’s waste is another creature’s food. She constantly reduces, reuses, and recycles the cycles of water, the elements, and the waste stream- - with only the one external input of energy from our sun- - in order to create a “circle economy.” Students must learn about the devastating impact of our economic system based on overconsumption, excessive waste, and me-centric desire and greed powered with money. In the modern industrial "linear economy," one person’s waste is another person’s problem, and -- even worse -- it becomes every living creature's problem. Americans make up 5% of the estimated 7.3 billion global population and consume Nearly 20% of the planet's energy resources. We have polluted the air we breathe that causes cancer in our adults and asthma in our children; poisoned our food chain with GMO crops and fertilizers and pesticides that impact the health of our people; contaminated our seafood supply with the prescription drugs that flow out of our bodies into our sewerage, the chemicals and toxins that wash out of our driveways into the waterways. And we bury our garbage in landfills that contaminate ground water reservoirs that have built up over millennia. Not only are we impacting the health of our environment, but also that of our children who are our future leaders and workforce. Among our children and teens, the problem of obesity has grown considerably: between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese.Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults with heart disease, diabetes, and an understandable lack of self-esteem -- which is why our children’s addiction to sugar-sweetened beverages is one of the greatest dangers to their health.Asthma among our children is another growing heath concern, thanks to air pollution and second-hand smoke. We must re-think, re-plan, and re-design our K-12 public schools and college campuses to function as sustainable models of built environments designed for the Digital Age and the Solar Century: energy-smart, water-wise, and waste-free -- with electric mobility, food farms, and digitally-enabled learning environments that maximize educational productivity. The digitally- enabled campuses of today and the future are a microcosm of our communities: "living, learning, and doing laboratories" for students to be engaged in the planning and implementation process at their institutions pursuing the informed and creative development of a sustainable campus environment. For everyone's sake, these future leaders must be prepared for and committed to changing the course of our, their society, to creating a new economic order that mimics Mother Nature’s ecosystem instead of fighting and frustrating at every turn the processes that sustain us and our vulnerable civilization. If we want to change the pathway to a more sustainable future, school campuses are an excellent place to meet this challenge! The new Digital Age, in whose evolution Southern California has played a prominent role, provides dynamic capabilities for these campuses to help shape our shared future, locally and globally: the digital and aerospace technology developed in California has the potential to revolutionize everything from education (e.g., universal distance learning by satellite TV, and Internet) to transportation (e.g., electric vehicles, evacuated tube transport, and telecommuting between home and office) to urban vertical factory farming (e.g., NASA-developed aeroponics) to energy (e.g., solar photovoltaics) and much more. And the growing obviousness of the need to save our drinking water during the continuing California (and world!)Drought is both an opportunity and a requirement for action. A major thrust of the Sustainable Campus Plan 2030 is to reduce the operating costs, particularly the cost of energy that will have a huge impact on saving water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over 41% of U.S. fresh water is used for thermal electric generation, primarily cooling our dirty coal power plants.It takes about 22 gallons of water for every kilowatt-hour consumed. Solar energy and energy-efficiency technologies are essential cost-saving techniques and capabilities. As part of a distributed energy solution, campus parking lots can become productive real estate for generating electricity for immediate use (such as for charging the Evs parked there) and, increasingly, for later use via ever-improving energy storage technology. Solar energy storage will be an essential part of a Resilience Disaster Preparedness Program during major catastrophes. It is not if, but when a major earthquake destroys our central power grid, water mains, and natural gas pipelines. Campuses must be prepared to deal with these emergencies -- especially as they will become one set of the community’s gathering places during major disasters. On-campus electric vehicle charging stations will help facilitate the transition to an electric vehicle mobility future by offering an EV incentive for employees and students in the form of free electric vehicle and electric bicycle charging stations -- as in free gasoline equivalent A vertical campus farm program can supply their cafeterias with whole foods should be part of our food security and healthy youth initiative. This would become a "learning by doing and eating" program that will not only teach about growing vegetables, but also consuming nutritious plant-based meals for all of its students. As human populations grow, greenhouse gas emissions continue, and drought in California stubbornly continues, students (and the rest of us) need to rethink and re-plan our local food security, the quality and healthiness of the food we eat, the environmental impacts of today's industrial food production, and our central farm-to-market distribution system. The Sustainable Campus Plan 2030 addresses today's complex fluxes and interrelationships in order to help schools and communities meet Governor Jerry Brown’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard goal of 50% by the year 2030. The Sustainable Campus Plan 2030 is a great way to increase the odds that humanity will enjoy a sustainable global future.
Published by Moreno Valley Business Journal. View All Articles.
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