Les Hamasaki 2015-12-05 00:39:55
Climate change is about saving money and lives, in addition to saving our environment and energy we consume. To combat climate change we must mimic Mother Nature’s global ecosystem and create a “circle economy” in which one creature’s waste – or one industrial process’s pollution -- is another creature’s food – or another human enterprise’s raw material. Nature constantly reduces, recycles, and reuses its waste streams to produce new value and create harmony and balance. The only external input is solar energy from our sun. This is not what the human “ecosystem” has done thus far. We have developed a linear economic system based on overconsumption, excessive waste, and greed powered with money. We pollute the air we breathe, contaminate the water we drink, and poison our food supply with herbicides, pesticides, toxins, and genetically modified crops, and in the process we have created an unsustainable and unhealthy future for our children. Americans spend $2.7 trillion on healthcare costs annually. Billions of healthcar dollars are spent on treating cancer and other degenerative diseases caused wholly or largely by the mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxins generated from the over 600 polluting coal-fired power plants and more than 230 million gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles in the U.S. Adding to those costs are repairing the growing damages from ever more extreme floods, hurricanes, tornados, and, in the long decades ahead, sea-level rise. And we Californians are experiencing a long-term drought condition causing forest fires and dangerously low water supply in both Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Climate change is not only about saving millions of lives and billions of dollars, it is about transitioning America from the gray economy powered by coal and oil, to a green economy empowered with renewable energy and information technology. It is about transitioning the 20th century industrial rust belt economy to the 21st century distributed green technology economy in the digital age and the solar century. President Obama and other world leaders will be meeting in Paris in December at COP21 to sign the Climate Change Accord, a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Above this upper limit is considered to be the threshold to “dangerous climate change.” At the Food Summit in Milan in September, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon announced an initiative to ensure food security and end global hunger by 2040. Due to climate change, over 800 million people go hungry and malnourished, and millions more are dying from polluted drinking water due to the drought. Under Governor Jerry Brown’s leadership, California is leading the nation in combating climate change by enacting policies and initiatives on renewable energy, mobility, electric and hydrogen vehicles, waste management, food safety, and water conservation. The Governor has signed a new law mandating that 50% of our energy will come from renewables by 2030 and that new homes will be built to Zero Net Energy standards by 2020 in order to reduce our energy needs from coal-fired power plants. Homes are being outfitted with solar panels and energy storage equipment that will eventually transition to a distributed electrical generation future for Californians. The zero energy neighborhoods will not only save people money, but will also accelerate the ongoing shift to building zero energy solar communities. In the city of Fontana, Meritage Homes is building the first zero energy neighborhood, called Sierra Crest. The fact is that for every kilowatt hour consumed, it takes about 22 gallons of fresh water to cool the coal-powered generation plant from which we still get the lion’s share of our electricity here in Southern California. The zero net energy neighborhoods will save money, and will become a societal reason to drastically reduce our use of the energy produced by coal-fired plants – and also save water. Solid waste disposal is a major problem in urban communities and the usual practice is to bury our trash in landfills, and dump our treated sewage, laced with the prescription drugs we take, into the sea, impacting our sea food supply. Supervisor Josie Gonzales says, “San Bernardino County is a leader in promoting zero waste communities to reduce pollution and landfill contamination. Over fifteen cities have come together to find ways of reducing, reusing, and recycling their waste stream(s).” Many new businesses and technologies are being developed to deal with this problem. SCOR Industries in the city of Bloomington in San Bernardino County has established an innovative fully integrated waste and recycling diversion company specializing in new and existing LEED and Cal Green building sites. SCOR provides waste tracking and characterization for each incoming load from projects around the county. President Orozco stated, “In a time when the protection of our environment has reached a critical proportion, it is the responsibility of everyone to come together and make a difference.” By 2030, Southern California will grow by some 5.2 million people, and over two million of them will reside in the Inland Empire. Is the future of the Inland Empire to be another Los Angeles, a wall to wall series of communities identified only with a name plate or a monument sign? Or will the Inland Empire be a village like Dos Lagos in Corona, California developed by visionary Ali Sahabi, where people are able to live full lives of work, play, learning, shopping, caring for each other, and protecting the environment in a mixed use development? In addition to energy independence, food security and safety are important issues for communities to thrive sustainably. New developments are displacing once fertile agricultural acreage for homes and shopping centers. California needs a policy to require large developers to devote at least one-tenth of their projects’ land areas to a set-aside for locally grown food – preferably from green vertical factory farms. These hydroponics and aeroponics greenhouse technologies address not only our food security challenges, but also the inherent dysfunctions and inefficiencies in our food production and delivery system, which cause massive waste and pollution of our air, soil, and surface as well as depleting our groundwater. There is so much waste and inefficiency in the current farming and distribution system that these community green factory farms -- small-scale urban and suburban high-tech agriculture greenhouse facilities, and even urban micro farms -- will become part of the answer to America’s quality-of-life and food security and safety issues at the same time they become profitable. Tomorrow's sophisticated urban farmers will not be dependent on the weather, the seasons, or the supermarket. The urban farmer will be responsive, not to the elements, but to the needs of urban consumers, from local restaurants to local housewives, and even the local McDonald's. The city of Perris under the leadership of Councilperson Tonya Burke and Assistant Director Isabel Carlos is developing a Perris Green City Farm program to educate and train locals to become urban farmers utilizing the hydroponics and aeroponics vertical farming technologies, in addition to growing GMO-free crops and saving 90% of their water to grow their crops. Japanese electronics companies Toshiba and Fujitsu converted old factories into vertical farms for producing leafy green vegetables in “clean rooms.” Fujitsu took its expertise in clean rooms for semiconductor manufacturing and applied it to grow rooms that produce specialty crops that yield low-potassium vegetables suitable for consumption by dialysis patients and people with chronic kidney disorders. Climate change is about changing our economic trajectory to a more sustainable global future. The Inland Empire leaders in business, government, education, and civil society and the native tribes should come together to establish their Climate Change Community Development Framework Plan on air, water, food, energy, and transportation – and the role in all of this of people across the social spectrum -- in order to accommodate the future growth and development of an additional two million people by 2030. The overarching goal is to develop sustainable and regenerative communities in transit-oriented, mixed-use villages where families can live, work, play, shop, farm, learn, and care for each other and the environment.
Published by Moreno Valley Business Journal. View All Articles.