Nadia Saponara: Bloomberg Coal Campaign
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
On June 17, in the MIT commencement speech, Michael Bloomberg announced the “Beyond Carbon” initiative. Bloomberg aims to shut down all 241 remaining coal-fired power plants by 2030, relying instead on renewable energy sources. While it may seem impossible to let fossil fuels stay in the ground, it is not. We continue to innovate every day and are constantly creating new technologies. In large areas of the US, renewables already dominate the planned new energy construction (Russel).
We should use Bloomberg’s announcement as a wakeup call. Every decision that we make has either a direct or indirect impact on our environment--on our lives, as well as the lives of others. Particulate matter from burning coal does not disappear into the atmosphere without consequence, just as the plastic bags and polystyrene containers we get with takeout food do not simply go “away” when being thrown “away”.
The Bloomberg campaign is strategically donating a portion of the $500 million pledged to various environmental groups, a practice that has also been used by the clothing company Patagonia, to protect public lands. In addition, Bloomberg will use the funds to help elect local lawmakers ready to transition to renewable energy, and educate the public on the opportunities that lie “Beyond Carbon”.
Note the focus on local and state governments, one vote can have a much larger impact in a local election, and while many think that what happens in their hometown won’t make it past county lines, setting a precedent is a powerful tool that others can use as leverage when proposing sustainable solutions in their local legislature.
Being an educated voter on environmental issues is important, but we can’t forget about it after leaving the polls. Our mindset and way of life must change if we want to continue to enjoy the many gifts of our environment. Every decision we make, what we eat, what we wear, our mode of transportation, even our choice of grocery bag, may seem small and insignificant. Many small choices, when multiplied by 7.7 billion, gain unimaginable magnitude and can lead to habitat regrowth, resurgence in biodiversity, improved air and water quality, and happier people.
Many of these choices, to buy or not to buy, are made by women. Educating and empowering women is critical to the health of the environment and to communities and families. Studies have shown that when women generate their own income the health of their families and of the environment improves.
4EvrCarma is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of women in the U.S. and in India through the creation and sale of recycled lifestyle products. When we inevitably find ourselves shopping for ourselves and others, ethical consumerism becomes critical.
4EvrCarma creates products like gift bags and stationary out of 100% recycled materials. Cloth scraps from factories and household waste are turned into raw materials in vivid colors with traditional designs from women in India working for WE Recycle. Then, the materials are shipped to various cities across the United State, where women recovering from trauma, abuse, and addiction at the Centers for Great Expectations, one of the world's leading recovery centers, turn them into completed products. Not only are these quality items reusable, their production provides women with a stable income, job experience and skills, and responsibility. It fills women’s children's college education funds in India and helps heal women in America. And it removes items from the ever growing waste stream and gives them a second chance. The Earth can regrow despite our efforts to beat it back. But it cannot bounce back forever. It is giving us a second chance to change, stop our wasteful habits and clean up our pollutive actions. We need to take this chance now, together.
Russell, Pam Radtke. “Engineers, Contractors Building More Renewable Energy Power Plants.” Engineering News-Record, BNP Media, 2 May 2018, www.enr.com/articles/44436-engineers-contractors-building-more-renewable-energy-power-plants.