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Archive for the ‘Just Sustainability’ Category

mouthprint.jpgCredit to Tyson Buerkle on the Cornell Daily Sun Blog:

This weekend kicks off what is probably the most exciting few months in the year for local foods in Ithaca – at 9 a.m. on Saturday the Ithaca Farmers Market opens its stalls for the 2008 season! The Ithaca Farmers Market started up in 1973 and has grown to 165 vendors selling a variety of products from produce to crafts. And this is the really cool part – every vendor comes from within a 30-mile radius! This stuff basically comes from your back yard. It’s local food in Tompkins County at its best!

The Ithaca Farmers Market is located on Steamboat Landing on 3rd Street, right off Route 13. You can get there by car, by foot, by boat, by bus, by bike, or by any other method you choose (helicopters excluded). With this in mind, parking on Saturdays tends to get a little cramped and congested, so it is best to carpool or use the TCAT (a combination of routes 30 and 13 or 16 should get you there from Cornell).

Saturday the market will open up with the Maple Festival – a very pertinent celebration for the beginning of spring. Stop by for a couple of hours to eat some good food, buy some cool things, talk to some awesome vendors (they really know their stuff!), listen to good music, and chill in a nice setting. Hope to see you there!

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sustain_logo.jpgCredit to Carlos Rymer and Mollie Futterman in the Cornell Daily Sun

It is now approximately one year since President Skorton signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, setting Cornell on the path towards climate neutrality. KyotoNOW!’s Beyond Kyoto Campaign showed that there exists widespread support for such a target on campus. Since then, the student group has been looked upon with admiration by the youth climate movement and many organizations on campus. But since then, an entire year has passed. So it is about time that we ask ourselves what we have done in the last year about this commitment and, more broadly, sustainability. Well, let’s think about it.

Shortly after the signing of the Presidents Climate Commitment, an Implementation Committee was formed to draft a comprehensive plan (due in exactly one year) to reach climate neutrality in the Ithaca, N.Y. campus. In addition, an ad-hoc faculty committee was formed voluntarily to begin looking for ideas on what to do to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Lots of ideas have been proposed, including a rapid transit system promoted by the local group Connect Ithaca, wind turbines on nearby hills (Enfield, Town of Caroline and Mt. Pleasant), increased energy efficiency, a big red bikes program, biodiesel production from dining locations,and methane biodigestors. We don’t know yet what the Implementation Committee is doing, but we’re set to find out soon when President Skorton addresses the campus today at 11:30 a.m. in the Duffield Atrium, where the first anniversary of the Presidents Climate Commitment will be celebrated.

In addition to all this administrative work, there has been a great buzz around campus about the Presidents Climate Commitment. In fact, every time a campus publication mentions sustainability, the commitment is brought up as the most aggressive move yet. It is now typical to confuse sustainability with climate neutrality, since global warming has become such a huge threat and people are getting that in their heads. Yet climate neutrality is something to be achieved over one or a few decades; it’s something that, right now, is all about words. In effect, this constant talking about Cornell’s commitment to climate neutrality has masked the obvious about sustainability.

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Credit to Fil Eden in the Cornell Daily Sun

They clean our dorms, cook our food and work hard every day to keep Cornell running. They are an integral part of our University. Yet a huge number of the workers responsible for feeding Cornell students have a hard time earning enough to feed their families.

A recent report from UAW Local 2300, the union that represents staff and maintenance workers at Cornell, finds that about 40 percent of all Cornell dining workers earn less than a living wage for a single person, while a full 75 percent earn less than a basic family living wage.

Alarmingly, the number of dining workers earning less than a living wage has increased since 2005. A living wage, as distinct from a minimum wage, is determined by the amount an individual working 40 hours a week year-round would need to earn to support themselves without public assistance. The rate varies in different areas along with the cost of living.

For Tompkins County in 2006, the living wage for a single person was $20,450 a year. With a child to support, the living wage was $26,400. A worker earning minimum wage in New York State, working 40 hours a week and never taking a day off, earns less than 60 percent of this: approximately $14,900 a year.

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By Kate Duch in the Cornell Daily Sun:

Last month, the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Governmental Relations welcomed the Executive Director of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to present on “Green Campuses in New York State.” The director discussed how campuses across the state can become more environmentally-friendly and how his organization assists universities in this goal. Fortunately, Cornell is already a leader in the movement to create more sustainable campuses by reducing current energy use, creating renewable energy sources and reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses.

Cornell has implemented an Energy Conservation Initiative (ECI) to reduce current energy use by 20 percent of year-2000 levels by 2012. The initiative is a multi-phase 10-year plan focusing on maintenance projects and continuing improvements in energy conservation. The total estimated project cost is $25 to $30 million, yet the initiative is projected to save Cornell $7 to $8 million annually in energy costs, offsetting the costs of implementing the initiative within five to seven years. Cornell has already completed studies of 31 buildings and conservation projects in 36 buildings. By 2012, the initiative is projected to have reduced energy use in 105 buildings across campus.

As part of the ECI, Cornell has released data on energy use for all campus buildings and published five years of data on the Internet with “base” averages from 1998 to 2000 for comparison. A new feature also displays data on the CO2 emissions for each building. The data allows the University to compare energy usage in buildings across campus, identify those buildings that consume the most energy and track our progress in energy conservation.

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Global Warming After Gore
By Teryn Norris
Published: Alternet.org, Nov 10th

Al Gore’s Nobel Prize was a momentous event we should all applaud. Now it is time to move on and get smart about the climate movement’s next steps. First, we should deal with some of our own inconvenient truths: global warming continues to rank extremely low among voter priorities, and Congress is going nowhere fast. The question we should ask ourselves is, how can the climate movement retool its politics for the post-Gore era?

It is high time for global warming activists to leave behind their focus on the “planetary crisis” and the regulatory-centered agenda, and embrace an energetic and inspiring vision that captures people’s minds, hearts and votes.

Despite last year’s “tipping point” in public attitudes toward climate change, Pew polls find that it still ranks dead last among voter concerns. It is of little surprise, then, that the Washington Post ran a front-page article on recently titled “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats.” Nor is it surprising that the best provisions of today’s congressional energy bill would still allow U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to grow 22 percent by 2030, effectively making the recommendations of the world’s leading scientists unattainable.

One of the most hopeful signs is young activists, who are already making the breakthroughs necessary to build an expansive climate movement. The Campus Climate Challenge has rapidly grown to include over 500 colleges and achieved hundreds of innovative clean energy policies across the country. Power Shift 2007, the first-ever national youth summit on global warming, drew 6,000 students to Washington, D.C., last weekend and featured guests ranging from Nancy Pelosi to Van Jones. Indeed, the youth movement is quickly becoming the largest and most influential student movement in nearly a half century.

How can young activists best capture the moment? Thomas Friedman offered some ideas in his recent op-ed, “Generation Q.” He said that today’s young adults are “too quiet, too online, for [their] own good, and for the country’s own good.” We’ve got to wake up, he said, and reform our tactics: “Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way — by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall.”

But Friedman is mistaken. It is easy to get nostalgic for the ’60s, but the direction of today’s youth movement must be profoundly different from that of the baby-boomer era. Vietnam was about stopping a war. Civil rights were about equalizing freedoms. The energy and climate movement, in contrast, is about creating an entirely new clean energy economy — a fundamentally different undertaking that requires us to transcend the models of the past.

The “old-fashioned” tactics of protest, demand and complaint just aren’t enough. Global warming is one of the most complex challenges the world has ever faced, vastly different from those of the 1960s. It calls upon us to innovate, politically and economically, at an unprecedented scale. Our politics must be retooled, not only to achieve immediate policy changes but to create new and lasting political majorities. And instead of constraining our economy, we need to unleash it, driving our engineers, scientists and manufacturers to hone their skills and knowledge, and put these forces to work toward building the next energy economy.

A powerful climate movement — one capable of capturing the public imagination, defining new political identities and fully unleashing our economy — should put forth an even stronger vision of American greatness than the neoconservatives once offered. It must tap the optimism and can-do spirit embedded in our nation’s history that has driven us to overcome the daunting crises of the past. “A new story of American Power begins by acknowledging what our country is great at: imagining, experimenting and inventing the future,” argue Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of Break Through. “First we dream — and then we invent.”

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Adopted from the Cornell Chronicle:

Cornell’s sustainability practices are better than they were last year, according to the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a nonprofit organization. But, says the institute, there is still room for improvement.

Sustainability at Cornell logo

The university’s overall grade rose to a B this year — up from last year’s B-minus, based on assessments in eight categories from transportation to endowment transparency.

The sustainability report card, which graded 200 universities nationwide, was released Oct. 24. More than two-thirds of the schools assessed saw their overall grades rise, with some of the biggest improvements reported in endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement.

For Cornell, the Lake Source Cooling project, Combined Heat and Power project and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified housing on West Campus were all major contributors to the higher grade. The projects were cited in the Climate Change and Energy and Green Building categories, where the university earned an A and B, respectively.

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