Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rising Above and Three Sustainability Tales

Today's Sunday New York Times has three articles of interest to those interested in sustainability.
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First, comes this article on the local food movement in Jamaica.  Prices on the global food market are increasing and Jamaica is trying to limit imports and focus on local food.  Many have predicted for the last several years that food prices would increase greatly as a result of growing demand and the need for high profits due to the transfer of food production from the family farm to large corporatized systems.  The government of Jamaica is promoting local food using the slogan, "Grow what we eat, eat what we grow".  It is ironic that Jamaica, and much of the rest of the world, is focusing in supporting the advance local food in order to make their societies much more self-reliant just as suburban New York is defunding its Horticultural Extension Office which has taken a leadership role on this issue in the suburbs.

Next, check out this article on safety issues in nuclear power plants in South Korea.  It seems that companies have faked safety tests and put in substandard parts in the facilities.  Remember, if things go wrong, these plants have the potential to kill many people and poison vast areas for tens of thousands of years.  The waste from these plants will last hundreds of thousands of years before it is safe.  I wrote about my feelings about nuclear power recently and this article supports my concerns.

Finally, some of you might find this article about environmental quality and food safety in China of interest.  Many are concerned about the safety of basic food products and everyday living due to the poor environmental quality in the country.  One of the key areas of concern is baby formula of all things.  Based on my experience, there is interest in dealing with these issues in China, but they have a very long way to go.  Many are working on trying to improve environmental quality and food safety, but right now, there are real day to day issues for many people living in some of the most polluted areas and distrust of their food system.

It would be easy to take a dystopian world view based on these articles, but knowledge is power.  People are working to solve these issues, which gives me hope for the future.  In my career, I get to work with lots of amazing young people who go on to make the world a better place.  My former students (some of whom are reading this) are out there doing just that.  

Yesterday, I saw Spider-Man Turn off the Dark on Broadway.  Like most superhero stories, it is really a coming of age tale.  One of the key musical pieces from the show highlights this transformation from adolescence to the responsibilities of adulthood.  I feel this way about our current era.  Around the world societies have acted recklessly to damage the environment.  It's time to face reality and deal with these issues.  I get to work with young people who are going to do just that.  They are rising above.

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