People involved with Sustainable Arizona have been engaged with confronting climate change for decades. The concept of the greenhouse effect was first contemplated in the 1800s. Since that time, the amount of greenhouse gases amassing in the atmosphere from human industrial activities has continued to climb. All of the peer-reviewed and validated data is conclusive. The climate is changing globally because greenhouse gases generated by human activities are trapping heat in the atmosphere. A warmer planet means more variable and potentially inhospitable weather with impacts on food and water resources. This is not good news.
The startling difference between the first climate change models introduced decades ago and those of today is that the climate is changing faster than anticipated. That is very bad news.
Finally, after decades of bickering, the majority of the nations on Earth signed a comprehensive, voluntary agreement to combat climate change by reducing the generation of greenhouse gases. There is much that is good about this agreement and much that is lacking. Check our blogs for more discussion.
The official position of Sustainable Arizona is that climate change is real and requires everyone to do what is necessary to mitigate its impacts. Luckily, that can mean the creation of millions of new, good-paying jobs as we move from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewable energy and energy efficiency systems.
In terms of sustainability, our ability as a civilization to survive, education, along with community cooperation, are the most critical opportunities we must pursue. Children deserve the best education possible to prepare them to thrive in a rapidly changing world undergoing the potentially dangerous impacts of climate change.
However, in Arizona particularly and in much of the USA, our education system is severely lacking. Here, teachers are grossly underpaid. Classrooms are underfunded. Standardized tests are over-valued. There is no comprehensive educational design to prepare children for the world they are about to lead.
It’s an example of near suicidal stupidity.
Sustainable Arizona is partnering with SEDI, the Sustainable Economic Development Initiative of Northern Arizona, on an awards system to encourage the use of education for sustainability as the core curriculum. Learn more about the awards here.
We live in a desert. Much of the West is dry. Add to that the fact that precipitation levels have been lower in the past decade. California, with its huge population and thirsty agribusiness, is suffering now. But we all will suffer soon. Water conservation and sensible water management is critical. Sustainable Arizona has promoted water conservation since its inception and participated in several watershed preservation programs.
At Sustainable Arizona, we do not understand the economic sense behind our food resource plan in Arizona. Here, in this dry state, we dedicate 70% of our water to agriculture, yet we import 95% of the food we eat. Through our research, we know that Arizona should be able to produce 95% of the food we eat using 35% of our water resources. Just ask the Hopi how to do it.
Energy for our economy is like water for our population. Everything we do requires energy. Luckily in the West, we have more energy than we can possibly use. It comes to us free with each sunrise. Arizona should be a world leader in the development of solar energy resources. Instead, thanks to what looks like corruption in certain areas of government, we are far behind where we could be. Cloudy Germany is way ahead of us. The utilities, the governor, the legislature and the regulatory agencies need to understand the economic advantages of investing in solar and energy efficiency systems. Then they need to make going green and going solar simple for everyone. After that, Arizona can not only export its excess energy for profit, it can export its common sense energy management systems to other states.
Like other states and most countries, our economy is reactionary. We don’t have a rational economic development plan. People come to Arizona and the West as tourists, so we have departments of tourism. There are metals, coal and gas in the ground, so we mine it. If a developer comes along and wants to put up houses or a shopping center, we permit it. This is what we call “stupid development.”
Sustainable Economic Development begins by taking a look at the needs of communities, making an inventory of assets and setting forth community goals. It is important to factor in the unknown as well, such as the impacts of climate change.
From there, community leaders should create an economic development plan that states clearly what types of development will be encouraged and what should be avoided (such as water intensive developments). Such well-constructed economic plans would set forth the relationships between the government, schools, businesses, local populations, visitors and outside resources. The goal for sustainable economic development should be to replace as many imports as possible with locally produced products and services.
Based on this sustainable development approach and decades of experience with international trade agreements, Sustainable Arizona is not a supporter of global trade pacts. They are not sustainable and usually lead to economic and social harm within local communities.
A vital, educated and engaged community is one of the key bases of sustainable economic development. Being a good neighbor is part of what sustainability is all about. We all live on a small, finite planet within our local communities. We all truly succeed or fail together. Creating resilient communities is part of our mission at Sustainable Arizona.
Environment is everything there is…including us. The environment is not that green stuff “out there.” We are of the Earth and part of all of its systems. We cannot survive without a thriving, healthy natural environment. It is the source of our air, our water and our food. In this modern world, it is still the source of everything we make and need to survive. Sustainable Arizona is an economic organization. We define economy in the real sense: managing where we live so that we may sustain ourselves. Where we live is in the environment. Therefore, to be a good economist, one must be an environmental steward. And so we are.