Friday, April 5, 2019

Hey Honey(Bee)

My daily commute to class feels pleasantly different than the usual. The sun shines brighter than I’ve seen it in awhile and my skin welcomes the warmer temperatures. I hear birds chirp cheerfully and squirrels playfully scale budding trees. Flower stems break through the dirt, ready to reveal their alluring colors. Winter is (hopefully) over and springtime is gracing us with her beauty, which means new growth and a return of old friends: the pollinators.

Pollinators are vitally important creatures for every ecosystem. When traveling between plants, these animals carry pollen on their bodies that fertilizes other flowering plants. This process leads to the development of seeds and fruits; a crucial step for the next generation of flowers or trees. Both parties benefit: from nutritional nectar for the pollinators to reproduction for the plants. I immediately think of bees and hummingbirds as the most well-known pollinators, but others include butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, and bats (this one surprised me).

My friends think I’m crazy for obsessing over these hard-working animals. In my opinion, everyone should pay attention to pollinators as they provide the foods that we enjoy. Without honey bees alone, we wouldn’t have almonds, cherries, or pears. Unfortunately, climate change and misuse of chemicals are negatively impacting populations of pollinators. This fact should motivate us to become mindful of the decisions we make, especially ones that may jeopardize these creatures. Consider planting flowers that attract bees and butterflies or encourage the creation of green spaces in your community. Buy locally produced foods and honey to support farmers and beekeepers. Or simply appreciate the pollinators that truly make the world go round.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Green New Deal: The Basics

The Green New Deal, which is a term reminiscent of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, has become the new hot topic. While the exact details of the Green New Deal are yet to be worked out, it is pretty straightforward.

What is it? The Green New Deal is a program of investments in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, meant to transform not just the energy sector, but the entire economy. This program is meant to decarbonize the economy and make it fairer and more just. Implementing the Green New Deal would help us transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to an economy driven by dignified work and clean energy sources. The GND would upgrade infrastructure, revitalize energy systems, restore ecosystems, and provide for communities faced with damage from natural causes. It also emphasizes a “Buy Clean” law that would ensure purchases from the government would help fuel the transition to a cleaner energy economy and creation of good jobs to those who need them.

Why is it Important? The GND is important for many reasons.  As climate change keeps advancing further, there are more and more communities hit harder by storms, droughts, and flooding. Many of the people in these communities will be deprived of the resources needed to adapt and cope with the consequences of climate change. Benefits would first go directly to working class families and communities of color that have endured the worst from the fossil fuel economy. The GND would also slash costs for working class families by providing more energy-efficient homes, which helps the environment while leveling the playing field and providing more equality.

What is Being Done Now? Despite what some may think, there are GND-esque policies that are implemented at the state-level trying to create good jobs, cut climate and local pollution, and combat racial and economic inequality. In Illinois, the Future Energy Jobs Act has been signed into law, creating over 7,000 new jobs, reducing air and climate pollution, and $4 billion in energy savings for families residing in Illinois, prioritizing low-income households. In California, the Buy Clean Law encourages climate-friendly manufacturing and local job creation. One last example would be the Pittsburgh United’s Clean Rivers Campaign pushing for green infrastructure projects to help reduce flooding in vulnerable neighborhoods.

SECS will be hosting several events about the GND and what it means for our future. Check our Facebook page to stay up to date on these!