Renewable Revolution!


Climate change does pose significant threats to prospects for sustainable development. It impacts our environmental, economic, and social development. With climate change in our radar, our ability to meet basic needs to sustain life would be difficult. The behavior that we are carrying out currently may allow or disallow our use of planet earth by future generations. It is also very difficult for developing countries to develop sustainably due to lack of government policy, finance and adaption plans.

In “Renewable Revolution: Low-Carbon Energy by 2030” by Janet L. Sawin and William R. Moomaw, the focus is on sustainable development but by the reduction of energy usage by using it more efficiently and using mostly renewable energy resources.  “Humanity can prevent catastrophic climate change if we act now and adopt policies that reduce energy usage by unleashing the full potential of energy efficiency in concert with renewable energy resources” (Sawin & Moomsaw, 2009).  This is a valid statement because climate change is first and foremost a challenge to development.  Climate change is not just a pollution problem.  In Sawin and Moomsaw’s article, they also stated that “A combination of political will and the right policies can get the world on track to mitigate climate change in the near term while also meeting demand for energy services, providing energy access for the world’s poorest, boosting the global economy, bolstering energy security, and improving the natural environment and human health” (Sawin & Moomsaw, 2009).

According to “Integrating Development in Climate Change: A Framework Policy Discussion Paper on Key Elements for the Development of the Post-2012 Global Climate Policy Regime” by the South Centre, global cooperation to reduce developed countries’ climate footprint and support developing countries’ adoption and implementation of low carbon sustainable development methods should be a priority. In context of the climate change negotiations, there is hope for developing countries to form policies that would promote and aid sustainable development objectives. The South Centre proposed that the post-2012 framework should support the creation of an international economic system that supports and promotes economic development of developing countries (South Centre, 2007). However, certain aspects need to be accounted for such as the need of flexibility to properly determine what policies are needed for development as well as what is best for adaptation to climate change. Policy parameters for the design of economic and environmental policies that were projected by the South Centre are “…the development policy space for developing countries in the areas of tariff and non-tariff barriers, intellectual property, investment promotion and regulation, regional integration, industrial policy, and finance regulation; and the environment and carbon space to increase GHG emissions, to the extent that may be required to enable them to increase the standards of living of their peoples to levels commensurate with a decent and dignified way of life” (South Centre, 2007).




Sawin & Moomaw, Renewable revolution: low-carbon energy by 2030, Worldwatch Institute, 2009.

South Center, Integrating Development in Climate Change. Nov. 2007.



[youtube_sc url=”″]

How can we decide?


The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) aims to close the gap between emission pledges of countries and the possibility of countries actually having the ability to make the global average temperature to be below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. In order for this to happen, countries must come to an agreement by getting involved. However, from the start of the UNFCCC negotiations, parties have had a difficult time agreeing on whether to choose a top-down approach or a bottom-up approach.

A top-down approach is more of a contractual approach. Obligations are decided through international negotiations and it is done with targets and timetables. On the other hand, a bottom-up approach is a facilitative approach that lets a country unilaterally decide what they want to do. It is more of a voluntary approach. The bottom-up approach or “facilitative model” of “international agreements starts from what countries are doing on their own, and seeks to find ways to reinforce and encourage these activities. International law can serve a number of catalytic and facilitative functions. Gatherings such as the annual meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties can focus attention, help raise public concern, and prod states to do more” (Bodansky, 2012). This approach displays the work of countries and what they are doing. There is an assessment of the overall effectiveness. Countries that do not have the financial and technological capacities are not singled out. This approach gives them a better chance to allow greater actions to be taken. It allows for flexibility and inclusivity because it does not require a protocol or international legal agreement unlike the top-down approach (Bondansky 2012). An example of the bottom-up approach would be the Copenhagen Accord and Cancún Agreements. It is only partially committed, not legally binded which increases followers. The fact that it is flexible allows a larger amount of countries to agree to follow an agreement because they are getting what they want. “Bottom-up approaches score well in terms of participation and implementation, but low in terms of stringency” (Bodansky, 2012).However, flexibility is an issue because it gives countries a way to do less towards climate change since they decide what they will do.

The Kyoto Protocol is an example of a top-down approach for mitigating climate change negotiations. The issue with this protocol is that developed and developing countries could not come to an agreement when negotiating the protocol. The top-down approach enacts regulations explicitly but has issues with participation and implementation (Bodansky, 2012). The mixed-track approach is a fusion of both top-down and bottom-up approach. However, I believe that the bottom-up approach is the best because it starts at an individual level. It may create a division and that may be a weakness for it but the fact that a country is willing to do something is better than nothing. Arguing to negotiate on climate change will not stop it or reduce it. Taking even the smallest bit of action will. We need implementation and participation as well as fast action by the government to reach the 2020 goals of the ADP.




Work Cited

David Bodansky, “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (2012): 1-11.

Star Gazing Glacier

Star gazing glacier
Star Gazing Glacier

James Balog, recipient of the 2014 Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism is an American nature photographer and scientist who has been following rapid glacier melt due to climate change.  Founded in 2007, his project, the Extreme Ice Survey, was as a method of educating those on the immediate impact of climate change and showing them how humans play a role in climate change.  He enjoys nature and he had a hard time figuring out what is an effective way to make the public understand that climate change is occurring on a day-to day basis.  He wanted to make skeptics of climate change question their views and that is just what he did.

He was sent to take a picture of ice for the National Geographic magazine that he thought he couldn’t complete.  That mission soon led him to think about how ice is melting at a rapid pace due to climate change, which in turn made him pursue his project, the Extreme Ice Survey.  By traveling to multiple locations where there are glaciers, he monitored the rate at which they were melting.  The footage he captured was just amazing.

His pictures speak more than a thousand words.  There was a free showing of his documentary, “Chasing Ice” at the Carlisle Theater and hundreds of people showed up to the screening.  As the documentary was playing, you can hear the sounds of concern the audience was making.  Having had the privilege of being able to speak to him multiple times one-to-one (and getting a picture with him!), I can say that he is truly invested in his work and his passion burns inside in out.  Despite injuring his knee quite too many times, he still perseveres and completes his ongoing, never-ending mission.  Balog’s next project deals with forrest fires…let’s hope he makes another documentary leaving people awe-struck and that too without melting his equipment!

The Redefining Of A Movement

The Redefining Of A Movement

This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend the NYC 4th Annual Climate Justice Youth Summit.  Young people of historically marginalized backgrounds participated in learning circles that focused on climate justice issues like waterfront justice, frontline resiliency, zero waste, policing/militarism and the Dig, Burn, Dump Economy.  In conjunction with those learning circles, we also learned about Direct Action and how one could use non-violent action tactics to demand climate justice solutions.  The main purpose of the Summit was to create a safe environment for young people of color to plan their own direct action for climate justice and prepare to implement their direct action at the annual People’s Climate March on September 21st.

Many of those whom I met there were unaware of climate change.  They have heard of it but did not learn much about it.  It is not in the curriculum unless you build it in, which many educators fail to do.  The youth present at the summit were just in shock when presented with the facts.  What I found very unique and new was the way the facts were presented.  UPROSE, a partner of the summit had performers come in and explain what they’re doing about climate change in a way that can relate to the youth present at the summit.  They had an graffiti artist that did work on climate change as well as spoken word poets share some of their work.  The youth seemed to respond to it very well.  Below are some images of that same group of young coming together and marching at the People’s Climate March.

“Frontlines of crisis, forefront of change”
"The roots that will weather the storm"
“The roots that will weather the storm”










UPROSE'S Executive Director, Elizabeth Yeampierre at The People's Climate March Global Press Conference
UPROSE’S Executive Director, Elizabeth Yeampierre at The People’s Climate March Global Press Conference
Marching Together
Marching Together
Painted Flowers
Painted Flowers

Start Small Then Go Big: Clinton Climate Initiative

GHG Emissions for C Cities

Chapter 3 of “Governing Climate Change” starts out with the statement “…climate change is an issue of concern not only on international and national agenda, but also for an array of transnational networks.”[1] So many transnational networks are being created with the purpose of addressing climate change. One of these many transnational networks is the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI). Former President Bill Clinton launched this initiative in 2006 with the expectation of fighting climate change in realistic and effective ways. CCI works with major large cities on a global scale to find potential solutions that will reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency.[2]


GHG Emissions for C40 Cities
GHG Emissions for C40 Cities

The four basic programs that the CCI is currently involved in are the Climate Leadership Group (C40), Forestry Program, Islands Energy Program, and the Energy Efficiency Program. C40 was first taken up by the CCI in 2007. “Activities which this network is undertaking include collaboration with Microsoft to produce software for greenhouse gas emissions accounting at the city scale, and the Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program, which “brings together cities, building owners, banks, and energy-service companies to make changes to existing buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”[3] It has the goal of committing sustainable activities that are intended to reduce climate change on a global scale. Every area of the world is equally represented in C40’s goals by being based in almost all of the continents.

Oddar Forest Meanchey Community
Oddar Forest Meanchey Community

The Forestry Program works with governments and communities in developing countries to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by creating sustainable resolutions for managing forests and lands.  The goal of this program is to provide developing countries with the information and resources to improve land use.  They do this by reducing carbon emissions by planting trees, improving farming practices, and building carbon measurement systems.[4]  The Islands Energy Program is partnered with governments of twenty-five island nations.  Its purpose is to develop renewable energy projects, and design and implement waste/water solutions that will cut fossil fuel usage.


Empire State Building
Empire State Building



The Energy Efficiency Program works to discover the obstacles to achieving a huge reduction in the amount of energy used by buildings. “In fact in the United States commercial and residential buildings accounted for over 40 percent of primary energy consumption.”[5] That is a huge amount of energy consumption.  The program works with public and private organizations, not limited to corporations, governments, and fellow non-profits.


According to Bulkeley and Newell, the boundaries between private and public actors in transnational climate governance are increasingly indistinct.  Transnational networks such as the CCI actually helped increase the outline of municipal responses to climate change internationally.[6]  In order to prevent climate change, the Clinton Climate Initiative operates in cooperation with companies, political groups and nonprofit organizations that aim to protect the environment.  The first step begins with local communities, proceeds to spread to countries and then makes its way to have an effect on a global scale.  You have to start small then go big.

















[1] Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 54, Print

[2] LearnStuff. Clinton Climate Initiative – LearnStuff. Web accessed September 2014.

[3] Ibid, 60.

[4] Clinton Foundation. Clinton Climate Initiative. Web accessed September 2014.

[5] Clinton Foundation. Clinton Climate Initiative. Web accessed September 2014.

[6] Ibid, 60.

Climate Modeling: The Completion of the Climate Jigsaw Puzzle

Helen Walters of TED had some questions that were worth asking.  The main question she asked was “How do you solve a problem like the climate crisis?”  However, the real question is how does one truly understand the earth’s climate when there is just more than a few factors involved?

Well, according to climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, climate modeling is “The discipline that synthesizes data from multiple sources, including satellites, weather stations, even from people camping in the Arctic and submitting measurements of the ice they see around them.”  Basically, it is the consolidation of data from all over that helps us understand what goes on.  It helps us see the big picture.  He provided us with four silent animations that show what is really going on with our climate.  The links are listed below.

Cloud patterns over North America

Watch particles swirl in the atmosphere

Real vs. prediction: Watch the world’s climate change throughout the 20th century

3 ways the climate might look in the future


I really liked the analogy of looking at the climate as a jigsaw puzzle that needs to be completed.  That was very clever!  You need all the puzzle pieces to complete it just like we need to know all the factors involved in the climate to fully understand it.  Without the big picture, it is harder to put the puzzle pieces together.


Exploitation At It’s Finest

shopping cart earth
The Full Shopping Cart

Exploitation At It’s Finest

One idea in the passage that does not allow for interpretation is that humankind is exploiting the world for its resources that help us survive, but this exploitation of earth for our needs is coming to an end with global climate change negotiations and adaptations on the rise. Another widely understood component is that climate change has already struck and is striking currently. In addition, the Parties should be preparing for what has yet to come by reducing the triggers of climate change and by cleaning up the damaging effects that it has already caused.

While there are grave and irreparable damages that climate change has and could cause, it is not the reason to stop trying to bring it to a halt. Even the uncertainty of scientific evidence is not a good enough reason. Earth as we know it will soon disappear because of our doings. We are the reason for it being in this state. One just wonders just how the should go about reducing or stopping the effects of climate change. We want to reduce or stop it where we will benefit the most but at the lowest possible cost. Just how will we do it though?

Global benefits are spoken about in the article. However, there is a question of who will ultimately benefit. Will it be the developed or developing nations? Developed nations carry more CO2 emission weight but developing nations carry some too. Developed nations are more powerful though, which may play a role on who benefits more ultimately. Also, there are implications in figuring out a solution to this problem in a cost effective way. Who will figure that out and how will they figure that out? It is still very vague and up in the air. Cost effectiveness is a factor that drives the solution but it’s not the solution as a whole.
Happy Earth Day!

Which international relations theory will you choose?

The world in which we live in is made up of optimists and pessimists. There are those who always look for the bright side in a given situation and then there are those who just expect the worst. In terms of international relations, we call the optimists the liberals and constructivists and we call the pessimists the realists. Liberals believe that global cooperation can be achieved and is an alternative to power politics. Constructivists are a bit different. They believe that change in world politics can transpire without having to change the entire structure of the international system. Realists on the other hand think that everyone is in it for themselves. It is all a game of who can get the most power between sovereign states.

According to Russell Bova’s book “How the World Works”, “While liberals and constructivists see global problems like the environment pushing states toward cooperation and global solutions, U.S. nonparticipation in the Kyoto Protocol and the disappointing outcome at Copenhagen reinforce realist skepticism. Indeed, realists see those environmental problems as yet another potential source of international conflict” (p.248). Realists see that international conflicts will arise such as competition for scarce resources. Just like the power game, a race will start regarding who can get the most of what is running out—let’s face it, the bigger country with the most power will win.

If every single country decides to cooperate and solutions are created for our global problems, all might be well and go smoothly…NOT! This is where the question of governance for whom comes into play. Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell addressed this question pretty well in “Governing Climate Change.” They discussed three areas where issues arise regarding global problems. The questions of who is responsible, who pays for action on mitigation and adaption, and who bears the costs of actions and inactions pops up. The countries that have contributed the least amount of carbon emissions which would be the developing nations, are actually much more susceptible to the effects of climate change than the large actors. Richer countries have the ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, Bangladesh is a country that lies below sea level. When areas in Bangladesh are hit hard and homes, lands, family, as well as many other things are lost, who comes to their rescue? It’s certainly not their government because they cannot afford it. These people living in these areas have to fend for themselves and establish a whole new life in the slums of a city. They have to start from scratch. However, when the Northeastern coast was hit by hurricane Sandy, shelters, food, repairs, and so much more were provided to those who needed the aid. The government had funds to aid those in need and also had money to repair the damages. In New York City, the subways were drained, houses near beaches were fixed, and even places such as South Street Seaport were repaired almost immediately. A big and powerful country like the United States has the ability to go back to our daily routines. Countries like Bangladesh do not.

Climate change was caused by the development of the North. The United States has contributed twenty percent towards global emissions. The United States alone caused this much damage, so why should others pay the price? Ultimately, can all of the countries in the world cooperate and come up with global solutions when the United States did not even participate in the Kyoto Protocol?

Who would like to turn right at Machu Picchu?

Jo Llama Macchu Picchu

Mark Adams describes Machu Picchu as a sublime sight.  From many google images (and I mean many) I too agree that it is quite a sublime site.  From steep hikes, the changing of altitudes, and the deep history that lies here, why should we not turn right at Machu Picchu?

In Adams’ book “Turn Right at Machu Picchu”, he narrates his adventure in retracing the steps of Hiram Bingham in the process of studying Bingham’s life and Incan history.  Bingham has been accused of stealing and just “rediscovering” Machu Picchu since there were people already living there once he got there.  Adams set out to discover what Machu Picchu really was.

Throughout his journey, Adams encounters locals, comes across untouched Incan ruins, and a funny Australian guide John Leivers who wears the same clothes everyday.  He does an amazing job in weaving together two stories and adding a nice kick to it.  He truly discovered the lost city one step at a time.

Not only am I excited for COP20, but Machu Picchu has been on my list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit.  I am very happy and grateful that I have the opportunity to do two very wonderful things at such a young age.

An Inconvenient Truth


In 1965, our 36th president Lyndon Johnson delivered a special message to Congress. He said “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale though…a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.” These powerful words portrayed how many have known about this issue for a while now. But what has truly been done about it?

Science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway introduce us to this special message in the beginning of the book “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issue from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.” Throughout the book, you can see how environmental issues have been just swept under the rug because of other pressing issues at hand that needed to be tended to. Newsflash! There will ALWAYS be pressing issues that need to be tended to! How much longer will we keep our lovely planet waiting?

Oreskes and Conway also point out that the media is responsible for how information is represented or should I say… misrepresented. Information is put out in an exciting way by journalists, which is not wrong. That captures people and engages them. However, somewhere along the lines of “exciting” the truth gets lost. Scientists depend on journalists to get it right because they honestly do not have time to deal with public relations. When information is tampered with, it is the public who goes and knocks on doubt’s door, enters and remains there until further information is released. Climate change and media have a very difficult relationship.