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 By José Reymondez
José is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about José below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Climate change is everyone’s problem. Natural disasters or subtle shifts in season can ruin lives. Even for those whose lives aren’t ruined, the domino effect of globalization can bring harm into their lives too. Young people should care more; they have the most chance of seeing its harmful effects. Of course some still distance themselves from the issue. Apathy and denial are easy.
 
The student is a young person with an advantage. They’re rational adults who don’t have to work yet. They can educate themselves about and then dedicate their time to climate change where perhaps others their age don’t understand, have time or care. Students have the time and knowledge to transcend self-interest and find the nobility in working on a cause that the randomness of life may not have brought in to their personal lives.
 
People in power can deny climate change, be wrong and then get away with it because they will be dead before a rise in sea level or slew of hurricanes razes their vacation homes. Students need to pressure their governments. Climate change needs to be dealt with multilaterally. States, especially the US, have the most leverage to push carbon emissions standards or encourage alternate energy sources. If the US feels the will of their youth from within, that an active voting block wants regulation, then they will be more willing to lobby the rest of the world.
 
At more of a grassroots level, young people can normalize energy-saving behavior in to their culture. Shutting off lights when they’re not being used can be made as taboo as not washing one’s hands was made when modern sanitation was introduced.
 
Most of all students can tell the truth, join the debate and tell people climate change is real, don’t let the deniers win.

José Reymóndez is a candidate for, an M.A. candidate for a degree in International Affairs with a concentration in development. He is fascinated by the political economic issues surrounding and hopefully solutions to climate change. He often wonders why something as simple as maintaining the one thing every living thing needs, the earth and its environment, somehow doesn’t seem to be going as well as it could. He is a native New Yorker and pack leader of two adopted dogs, one black and one brown.

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By Nadia Elkaddi
Nadia is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Nadia below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Dick York: Betty, the next time you remove the pages from my calendar, don’t throw them away.

Betty: What should I do with them?

Dick York: Use them. [showing a calendar page]. See makes perfectly good scratch paper. [Laughter]

Betty: No! I won’t cry. He’ll say I’m wasting water!

For those who were never informed by their baby-boomer parents, Dick York was stars of the hit show Bewitched. This particular episode, filmed in 1967, shows the crazy antics of Dick York who was bewitched to be cheap. Now, 43 years later, his words would not be laughed at and his actions would not be considered “cheap.” Oh how the tides have changed! We should thank our parents for that! 

But, on second thought, what have we, as their offspring’s, done?  Yes, perhaps some of us, who could afford them, are buying those Priuses instead of the Hummers- probably because these are bankrupting us at the gas stations. We’ve also started those chapters of SEA, but the question remains: are we really making progress?  I still know people who take their car all of three blocks to go food shopping, and others who walk out of the room without turning the lights off.  We have been advised it’s better to obey the energy saving tips of our elders, but we’re still uncreative in our attempts to come up with innovative ideas of our own. Maybe it is because we are still unaware of how destructive our current ways to the environment. Coal, the fuel for most power plants, is burning at an alarming rate, generating the second largest stream of industrial waste, and churning out heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Freon, the cooling liquid found in refrigerators and car air conditioning units releases chemicals into the air that have found to be an agent in the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere. Dwindling fossil fuels, notwithstanding, where are then the protests? Where is the uproar needed to prod the creative minds to come up with a renewable and safer energy? Are you there Rachel Carson? It’s us, the new generation still dozing.

My name is Nadia Elkaddi. I am a pre-medical student currently attending Temple University, pursuing a degree in bioengineering, a biology minor and a certificate of specialization in Arabic. I became interested in climate change and alternative energies because of it’s basis in science, and truly believe in the power of the people. In 1968,  the students at the University of Paris launched a series of protests that launched a series of protests across the country; if they can do it, so can we!

By Moustafa Hassab-Allah
Moustafa is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Moustafa below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

I dream of seeing my generation changing the world, I envision them as change makers rather than conformers. Climate change is not just a hot month in the summer, it is more catastrophic than we can imagine, probably because nature did not provide its final kick. Tsunamis, floods, iceberg meltdown are just cautionary events for what is bigger.

We – young people – should not wait for the disaster to happen then fight it, instead we can better avoid it. As some countries may declare a war on terrorism, Youth can also fight for a greater cause against the threat of climate change. Each young man and woman has the will and the power to change the environment around them , interest groups and organized target campaigns became classic.

Today is the time for online technology and social media to produce a great impact. Today has never been a better time for global collaboration against climate change; I noticed Canadian & Australian youth coalition against climate change. I believe that now it is time for world youth to put hands together and communicate globally against this serious challenge. Students can reach both elders and children, helping them to realize their responsibility towards the future of this planet. We can teach the elders about how to combat floods in case of emergency; this can be done virtually across the world. Through electronic media, we can launch radio and YouTube, channels, who knows what is next, through this, we can nurture our younger brothers and sisters to grow in a green society, the one who cares about the environment and has a belief that negative human activity harms our planet and will eventually harm organisms living on it.

My name is Moustafa Hassab-Allah. I go to Cairo University in Egypt (Engineering). I believe that we – Students- are able to fulfill a promise of clean sustainable energy. We are the biggest and the most impactful group of people around the globe. This is our time to change the world.

By David Klayton
David is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about David below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

How many times have you heard someone say that 20th century wars were fought over oil, but 21st century wars will be fought over water? Once should be enough—you’d better believe it.

Sure, it may be ten years into the 21st century. You could say that we’re still fighting wars over oil. But picture yourself—picture the world—in just fifteen years, when it is estimated that the world population hits 8 billion. Now picture yourself just twenty or so years beyond then, when we hit 9 billion. Fuse these images with images of populations all over the world with already extremely limited water sources, with images of industries sucking up water like the universe is made of it, with images of how much water you, personally, waste on a daily basis.

We, not only the youth of the United States of America, but the youth of the world, are the next politicians. We are the next congressmen and congresswomen, the next presidents of the United States, the next foreign heads of state. We are the next policymakers, those with the ability to protect our planet’s water.

We are the next diplomats. We are the next generation of those who will represent our nations. We will be communicating with others like ourselves from various nations about the global issue of water. We are the next scientists. We are those who will find ways to desalinate ocean water efficiently, those who will discover new ways to recycle water, those who will introduce and implement entirely new ways of even thinking about water.

Pardon the cliché, but we are the future.

My Name is David Klayton. I grew up in Fairfax, Virginia and I am now a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis. I went to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology with a particular interest in chemistry, but now I am majoring in anthropology and international studies. I switched from studying the hard sciences to humanities because I thought I’d be able to make more of an impact on the world by doing so, and I hope that I’ll be able to do so by analyzing the global issue of water.

The Empowerment of the Younger Generation

By Leticia Brandon
Leticia is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Leticia below or take a look at the  
Student Issue Analysts.

In today’s society the younger generation can be described as empowered. This young group of individuals has the unique opportunity of reconstructing and reviving international affairs. Taking on a more active role in society is a concept that is growing like never before.

This new found interest is much needed. So many aspects of the global society need assistance such as health, food security, climate change, war, etc. As the new leaders of the world we are able to look at the efforts made by our predecessors and improve on their methods. It has long been the ideal of the world of allowing the richest superpowers to dominate the conversations and resolutions of international affairs.

However, in this new era everyone has a spot at the table. Additionally, there is a need of viewing all the worlds’ issues as a whole. One issue cannot be tackled alone because they are all interconnected. Therefore, we as young citizens must take a holistic approach towards these international issues and partner with other’s  across the globe in a unified attempt to create positive changes within society in a way that satisfies everyone as much as possible. In order to connect with other young leaders across the globe, we must take advantage of the new technology that time has granted us. Blogs, video chats and online forums are new tools that can allow us to communicate with other young leaders in order to inform and solicit resolutions. Educating others is a large key towards the success of international affairs as well as making sure one’s voice is heard. Age does not equate to success and distance should not be a limitation. There is still much that can be done in society as a young citizen without even leaving one’s college campus or even laptop.

My name is Leticia. I am a senior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Global Studies with a concentration in Global Health as well as a double minor in Social and Economic Justice and Anthropology. I hope to obtain a Masters in Public Health and work in Health Policy. I was inspired to take on this position due to my work with hunger issues as a member of the Carolina Hunger Education and Activism Project, research on Native American Food Access and Volunteer projects on Native Health in Pembroke, NC. By having this opportunity I hope to inspire others my age to become informed on important issues in society and take the initiative to enact change.

I have been reading Colin Beavan’s book No Impact Man lately.  The book is about a man, Colin Beavan, and his family who decide to undertake the experiment of living with as little impact on the environment as possible.  This mean no trash, no transportation not powered by a human being, and eating sustainably.  For a family living in Greenwich Village in New York, this seems like an impossible task.  But Beavan does it, and learns some valuable lessons along the way.  

What intrigues most about Beavan is how similar he is at the beginning of the book to myself.  He claims to be an environmentalist, yet thinks nothing of throwing out plastic containers of take out food. He, like myself, claim environmental beliefs, but resign ourselves to the fact that we live in a world that just will not be environmentally friendly not matter what we do.  We talk to anyone who will listen about the need for personal changes to our lives, but go home to our cooled homes and unwrap the plastic from whatever will be dinner that night. In short, we’re not living what we preach.

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The recent floods in Pakistan (watch videos here) caused an initial wave of 1500 deaths, but that number may quickly begin to mount as rain continues to inundate parts of Pakistan and displaced and stranded Pakistanis face shortages in food and clean water. United Nations officials say that approximately 6 million Pakistanis, mostly children, are at risk for water-born diseases that could be potentially lethal.1 This humanitarian disaster clearly shows the linkages between environmental issues, governmental instability, development, and health.

NY times image

Catastrophic weather patterns leading to unprecedented heat waves, storms, and floods are becoming more and more common as global warming takes its toll, causing events like smaller floods here in the US, fires and heat waves in Russia, flooding and mudslides a few months ago in Brazil, and now this deluge of flooding in Pakistan. Governments that are not stable enough or are not held accountable to their people fail to provide the kind of response needed in such instances. Pakistanis were infuriated by the fact that their President Asif Ali Zardari continued his trip to England even as floods devastated his country, and see his response to the disaster as slow and inadequate2 (reminiscent, perhaps, of President Bush’s delayed response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005).

Both international and domestic aid to the citizens of Pakistan has been slow to arrive and has been insufficient and inconsistent, leaving people to fight over food and water. The lack of developed systems in Pakistan – sturdy buildings, roads and bridges, as well as evacuation routes, transportation, and rescue capabilities – has made aid difficult to deliver and has made it nearly impossible for many Pakistanis to reach safety. Lastly, the impending health disaster demonstrates more than ever the need to prioritize the integration of health systems into other forms of development, in order to provide clean water, safe food, and the medicines necessary to combat disease when these basic needs are not readily avaible in such situations. In order to address the issues posing increasing challenges to our planet, like emergency response, it is necessary to understand and act on the linkages between sectors and develop comprehensive solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

100% renewable energy by 2016.  The first country in the world to run off of all renewable energy. Mainstreaming solar and geothermal energies.  The US is really moving forward in the alternative energy arena. Oh no, wait. None of these things describe what the US is doing to solve the problem of dependency on non-renewable energies.  These are all solutions produced by ‘developing’ countries like El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, according to an article on IPS.

Honduras is planning to put up the largest wind farm in Latin America within the year, hoping to produce as much as 100 megawatts of electricity.  The country is also planning on investing in 52 hydroelectric power plants between 2010 and 2016.  At the moment, fossil fuels produces 70 percent of the energy in Honduras, a fact that the Honduras government is taking steps to change — and change quickly.

Using renewable energies is something that many Latin American countries, like Honduras, are used to doing.  Just 3 decades ago, Central American claimed to have 70 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources like hydroelectric dams.  In the present, that number has dropped to about 50 percent, meaning that 50 percent is also coming from fossil fuels.  Nicaragua is planning to have all electricity come from renewable sources by 2016, changing the proportion from 70% fossil fuels/30% renewable to 100% renewable.  Costa Rica is planning to be the first country in Central America to be 100% dependent on renewable energy (It is already pretty close, 80% of its energy comes from renewable sources).

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Hello fellow AIDemocracy followers! I’m AIDemocracy’s new Global Development Intern, Noor Khalidi. I’m very excited to be on board this summer, to be learning more about social justice advocacy, and to be delivering you interesting news and reflections within the field of global development.

A little about myself—I am a junior at Virginia Tech studying Economics and International Studies. I began my college career very devoted to environmental issues, primarily due to a class I took my freshman year which exposed the frightening impact of modern human civilization on our Earth and its resources.

While my passion for environmental issues still burns, I have slowly begun to gravitate towards issues of global development and poverty alleviation. Earlier this summer, I traveled to Nicaragua as part of a Virginia Tech field study to learn more about approaches to sustainable development in poor rural communities–communities without running water and electricity, for example.

During my time in Nicaragua, I lived in two villages with very generous host families in modest adobe mud homes, filled with many chickens and a pig or two if lucky.  Through the international organization Green Empowerment and their local partner AsoFenix, I learned about low-impact sustainable development projects such as greywater filters and solar water pumps.

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It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love water.  My master’s thesis is centering around women and water, and I could talk about the benefits of keeping water public for days.  For these reason, I am truly excited about the fact that the right to water and sanitation is being considered by the UN as an addition to the Declaration of Human Rights.

Water is necessary for life — not only for the physical necessity of keeping hydrated, but also for the the daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, and sanitation.   Access to clean water and sanitation can prevent fatal diseases that have plagued the developing world for years and survive only in memory in the developed world.

In the recent decades, water has been increasingly privatized, making it difficult for those not in power to have access to clean water.  In South Africa, the private companies charge way about the income level of the poor; in other countries the water systems are not maintained, leaving broken pipes and pumps that don’t work.  These situations force the people to go back to drinking the dirty water that causes diseases like dysentery or cholera.  Even in the US, our water systems are in danger of being privatized by corporations looking to make a profit (or take the bottled water industry…selling our water back to us in little plastic bottles).

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