A Green Future for New York City
Through her role as a Parks Analyst with the New York City Department Parks and Recreation, Katie Edmond (MPA-ESP ’14) is working toward a greener future for New Yorkers in high-need communities.
1. What is your current job?
I’m a Parks Analyst with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation working on the Community Parks Initiative, which aims to improve parks in high-need communities through increased programming, maintenance, capital investment, and community partnerships.
2. What drew you to the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program (MPA-ESP)?
Coming from an environmental science background, I spent years studying the details of climate change, soil loss, invasive species, and water shortages. But as I entered the workforce and began discussing these issues with both scientists and non-scientists, I realized there was a real gap in my knowledge of how our communities address these problems. The MPA-ESP program’s focus on policy, governance, and real-world environmental management really appealed to me. Essentially, my previous studies showed me what the environmental problems are and the MPA-ESP program showed me how we solve them.
3. What were you doing before you started the program?
I was working for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, where I taught science and nature classes to children, led tours showcasing the ecology of the city, and inspected boats entering local lakes for aquatic invasive species. I also spent some time as an assistant instructor of soil science at the University of Minnesota.
4. What area of environmental policy and management are you most interested in?
The majority of my previous work experience centered around public speaking, education, and communications, so I’m very interested in the way the presentation of information affects how that information is perceived and understood. This is especially crucial for any discussions on climate, sustainability, and other environmental issues, which are frequently derailed by misunderstandings of data, uncertainty, risk, or the basic scientific principles involved. During my time in the MPA-ESP program, I tried to focus on the most effective ways to frame information for a variety of audiences, including scientists, policymakers, and the general public. I was even able to put what I had learned into practice during the program, as I twice had the opportunity to present formally on behalf of my Workshop team.
5. How did your professional goals develop during and after the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program?
I entered the program very interested in pursuing a career with the federal government, for an agency like the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Agriculture. My experience in the program gave me a closer look at the world of local-level public service. I came to think that, while the environmental work done at the federal level is important, it would be in city government that I could experience firsthand the impacts of my work on my community. I’m very excited to be working with NYC Parks on this parks equity initiative and building a bright, green future for all New Yorkers.
6. What skills has the MPA-ESP program taught you that you think have proven useful to your current position?
The skills I gained and honed during the MPA-ESP Workshop have proven to be invaluable. Everything from collaborating with team members, balancing multiple (and sometimes conflicting) priorities, adapting quickly when things go wrong, and even email and conference call etiquette come up on a daily basis. The Workshop taught me never to underestimate the importance of open group communication, a detailed work plan, and a good PowerPoint.
Students in the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program enroll in a year-long, 54-credit program offered at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, in partnership with the Earth Institute.
Since it began in 2002, the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program has given students the hands-on experience, and the analytical and decision-making tools to implement effective environmental and sustainable management policies. The program’s 682 graduates have advanced to jobs in domestic and international environmental policy, working in government, private and non-profit sectors. Their work involves issues of sustainability, resource use and global change, in fields focused on air, water, climate, energy efficiency, food, agriculture, transportation and waste management. They work as consultants, advisers, project managers, program directors, policy analysts, teachers, researchers and environmental scientists and engineers.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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