Growing Sustainably

For the last blog post, I wanted to think about improving our world to combat climate change and a growing population. One of the biggest threats to humans in the next decade is global climate change. It can be seen that if we continue to follow the highest emission path of releasing CO2 into the atmosphere many parts of the world will become unlivable.

With the threats of the rising temperatures and natural disasters we as a society need to be able to counter this. One of the methods to do this is through building sustainable cities. Goal 11 “Sustainable cities” with the growing population the ability to accommodate this along with creating a sustainable development that will last. The goal states, “we need to build modern, sustainable cities. For all of us to survive and prosper, we need new, intelligent urban planning that creates safe, affordable and resilient cities with green and culturally inspiring living conditions” (Global Goals, n.d). 

This goal can be seen more locally within New York State. There is a push by the state to grow in a sustainable way. There is a state program called Climate Smart Communities (CSC) created by the NYSEC which provides a framework for local governments to guide their climate action plan. This program has been successful with 2,706 sustainable actions being completed across the state (New York State 2021). An off branch of this program of CSC was created by the Under the NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) called Clean Energy communities. This program created a commission that focuses on the mitigation of climate change and energy use on a more local level. Schenectady has completed 7 actions adding up to 2100 points. Including implementing clean fleets, being a part of Climate Smart Communities, LED Street Lights, PACE financing, Unified Solar (NYSERDA n.d.). 

All these programs created by the state of New York work towards the goal of sustainable  cities. These programs combine state action, local municipalities, and the individual to work towards creating a greener and more sustainable place to live globally. 

Within the goal set up by the UN, it includes the target to  “affordable and sustainable transportation” which New York is doing by setting up grants that encourage individuals to buy electric cars but also encourage governments to implement electric fleets. Another target is “inclusive and sustainable urbanization” and “reduce environmental impact of cities”, these targets are something the ClimateSmart incentive is tacking step by step through their incentives program that it is getting more and more towns to implicate green incentives that will better the local community, the nation and in turn the world. 

Making the world a better place, is such a broad ask for anyone, if it’s a country of a single person. By breaking the statement down into parts and focusing on making small improvements, you are in turn helping everyone. By New York State and then Schenectady working to create a more sustainable place and developing or green initiatives it is, in turn, reducing the amount of fossil fuel emissions being released which is helping EVERYONE in the future. 


Global Engagement- Getting Everyone On Board

It seems that more people are aware of sustainability than we think. Whether or not they choose to act in sustainable ways is a different story. 74% of adults (One out of every three adults) globally are aware of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)! The survey, conducted for the Forum by Ipsos Group, asked almost 20,000 people aged between 16 and 74 from 28 countries how familiar they were with the SDGs and which SDGs they thought were the most important. The 17 SDGs represent the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development plan calling for global collaboration to address pressing world problems including the climate crisis, poverty and the gender gap.Globally, Great Britain and Japan rank lowest in terms of familiarity, with 51% having never heard of them. Here at home, 50% of respondents in the United States have never heard of the SDGs whereas in comparison, 92% of respondents in Turkey have heard of them. The top-ranked SDGs are those related to humanitarian human needs, including zero hunger, clean water and good health. Age also has an effect on sustainability knowledge and practice. There was an apparent demographic variance in responses that was significant. Perhaps not unexpectedly, the survey found respondents under the age of 35 were the most aware of the SDGs, with 9.6% reporting that they were “very familiar” with them, compared to 6.3% of those aged 35 to 49 and 2% of those aged 50 to 74. Only 23.1% of under-35s said they have never heard of the goals, compared to 25% of 35- to 49-year-olds and 29% of those aged between 49 and 74. This shows us that the world is more aware than we think they are on sustainability , but also that we have a ways to go on educating.

Works Cited:

Global Learning

I think that global engagement is the most important part of global learning, as it takes actually wanting to make change to see change. As the old adage says, actions speak louder than words. Throughout this class, we have learned of so many ways we can be more sustainable, whether it be being conscious of our water consumption, eating locally, avoiding buying items from certain companies, taking public transportation, etc. But to know is not enough, we need to actually partake in these more sustainable methods. I have been a vegetarian for about 11 years, and while it wasn’t for sustainable reasons then, I love that my choice to not eat meat benefits the environment. Since I already to do so in that manner, I try to go the extra mile to find foods that are more local, organic, and have less packaging so I can further my efforts to make my eating habits more environmentally friendly. I recognize that I am privileged enough to make these decisions. There are steps people can take to cut out meat in a more sustainable and affordable way, for example the program Meatless Monday, where one can choose to not eat meat one day of the week. This is a good way to get communities engaged, involved, and cooperating to make more sustainable choices. 14% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to livestock, and a global shift to a vegetarian diet could mean reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 63%. This of course is a big ask, but the implications of simply changing one’s diet are huge.


20 Remarkable Vegetarian Statistics for 2022

Human Impacts

It is the human interactions with the earth’s natural systems that are causing the negative change. Of course, to maintain a healthy environment we must use some of the earth’s resources; although, it is the overuse that is cursing the problems. The global issues we are facing are a direct cause of the style choices we humans are making to live a comfortable, consumerist life.  We are currently in a state of overshoot, meaning we are using more resources than the earth can produce in a year. In 2018, the ecological footprint was 2.4 times greater than the biocapacity. Essentially, in 2018, we were using 2.4 times the amount of resources the environment could produce in a year. Calculations can be figured out by dividing the footprint by biocapacity.

It is time to make small changes to our lifestyles to drastically slow the rate of the earth’s change and maintain the Earth for future generations. Some simple changes are rooted in expanding our knowledge, such as learning what can be recycled and composted. Many individuals think that plastic and paper can be thrown in the now common, zero sort recycling. This belief is not true; only particular types of plastics can be recycled if they are clean. Composting will also reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills and will promote healthy soil and crops. Along with these changes, individuals can limit laundry and wash in cool water to cut down on electricity usage. The changes mentioned above are minor; but if every person began to practice them, we could seriously reduce negative change. In a consumerist society, it seems hard and maybe impossible to reduce our intake of products, yet it is very possible.


The importance of global awareness

One aspect of global learning that I think is important to focus on is global awareness. Global awareness is important because it is the human understanding of the natural systems of the earth and human societies and how they impact each other. If we can make more people aware of their global impact, then they might take more action to make a sustainable world. For example, the Earth can only produce so many natural resources that are renewable and I feel like everyone does not know that. If humans are using too much of these non-renewable resources then the planet will run out these resources much more quickly. An example of a nonrenewable energy source is oil or petroleum. This is a resource that countries produce and constantly use (i.e. at the gas station) and we are using more than what the earth can continuously supply. In 2020 we were averaging oil production of 88.4 million barrels of oil per day. At this extremely high consumption rate, the earth will run out of oil in about 47 years. This is concerning because we use oil as a nonrenewable energy source for just about everything. Hopefully technology can advance to the point where renewable energy is much more commonly used. I feel like this could be possible with the increase of electric cars instead of ones powered by petroleum. If more people knew about their impact then they may increase their level of global awareness and want to change their daily actions. Every little bit of change can help try to decrease the negative impact that non sustainable actions have on the health and future of the planet. 

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Reducing overshoot

From a global perspective, if we were able to begin holding individuals accountable for their interactions with the environment today, it will make a big difference to the future of the next generations. We need to meet our own needs as a functioning society, but actions can be taken to reduce overshoot. Some ways to reduce overshoot in daily life is by reducing one’s carbon footprint. This can be accomplished by avoiding using a car that releases greenhouse gasses. One can also buy sustainable products, eat local, and utilize renewable energy sources such as solar panels. Equally as important is to reduce your water footprint. This can be done by being conscious of letting faucets run; 10 gallons of water per day are wasted through not turning off taps when not using them (Terrapass, 2022). Nearly 95% of an individual’s water footprint is hidden in their food and energy intake, products one purchases, and services one relies on in daily life (Terrapass, 2022).

Earth Overshoot Day: Consuming More Than The Earth Can Give

Global Awareness; An Around the World View

For the last blog of the year, I wanted to focus on something very broad that covers much of the worlds views and understanding of climate change. This is no easy task to quantify. Obviously, the worlds more advanced and industrialized countries will have a higher understanding of the dangers of climate change while the populations of third world countries are proven to likely be more concerned with locating the day to day necessities of life rather than showing concern for what their grandchildren’s future may look like.

This chart here shows a list of surveyed countries and where they rank on how large of a threat they see climate change to be. After viewing this, it is pretty embarrassing that roughly 40% of the Americans don’t see climate change as a serious threat but that they are more concerned with ISIS and cyber attacks – this is a serious lack of intellect. However, over a 5 year span from 2013-2018, every country on this list had an increasing concern in regards to climate change, which I guess is a good sign when it comes to awareness. A quick political digression, but in the US, in 2018, 27% of republicans viewed climate change as a real threat while 83% of democrats viewed it as a threat. This is in direct result of former President Trump and makes Americans look dumb compared to the other world powers.

Bottles Need To Go

First off there needs to be a global awareness by humans for their consumption, use, and waste of resources that affect the environment. Global awareness with sustainability is how humans will survive in all regions of the world. Awareness has to do with initiative where if people are aware of their actions, they can be held accountable and have an initiative to either fix their harmful actions or to continue practicing beneficial actions. One way that awareness correlates to mathematics is being aware of the ways that each human is polluting the environment. This can be through using plastic bottles, driving efficiently, not recycling, and using an excess of energy. For example, millions of people use plastic bottles for beverages instead of using reusable bottles which in return affects the atmosphere and environment by releasing Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. For every water bottle, 1.6 ounces of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Think about the millions of water bottles used per year, that is thousands of ounces of carbon being released into the atmosphere. If each human can use reusable water bottles, this will immensely help the environment. A simple switch to reusable water containers can extremely benefit the environment, and this can be accomplished through global awareness. If humans can become educated and aware of their actions with plastic bottles, even though they are very convenient, the earth takes the punishment. Awareness is a key to any change on earth, which is in return through education and knowledge.