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Free Live Stream This Weekend From Omega Sustainability Conference Featuring Renowned Speakers
Nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy demonstrated just how real the threat of climate change is, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) is hosting Where We Go From Here: Opportunities & Solutions for an Interdependent World, a conference that addresses the imperative for examining sustainability issues from a holistic perspective based on the interconnection between human behavior, economic and social systems, and the environment. The conference is Oct. 4-6, and will feature keynote speaker President Bill Clinton, 2005 MacArthur Fellow Majora Carter, environmentalist Paul Hawken, economist Jeremy Rifkin and other major leaders in sustainability. The conference will be available free to the public via live stream on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6.
As the problems of climate change and dwindling resources manifest themselves more clearly and urgently, the conference will assess the shortcomings of current sustainability efforts—and create a road map for going forward that places whole-systems thinking front and center.
“With ever more frequency and intensity, we are seeing the effects of being out of balance with the earth and each other. We cannot solve this problem without considering the whole—understanding the big picture and finding our place within it," said Robert “Skip" Backus, chief executive officer at Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). “We are thrilled that President Clinton will deliver the keynote speech. Omega is proud to initiate the discussion about where we go from here, and to serve as a model for a whole-systems approach to sustainability."
Founded four years ago, the OCSL includes the first green building in America to receive both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certifications, and has evolved into an emerging environmental leader, offering programs that teach the regenerative environmental practices modeled by the building. Omega Institute is integrating similar designs into other facilities on its Rhinebeck, New York campus. A recent addition to the Omega Women's Leadership Center is the first commercial project in the U.S. to meet Passive House certification standards—the building uses very little energy and the space is designed to reduce heating costs by 75 percent.
“Recognizing our interdependence—to each other and to the planet—is key to finding solutions to our pressing environmental challenges," said Backus.
Where We Go From Here will include keynote talks, panel discussions, stories from the field and a tour of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living.
Leading economists, environmentalists, philanthropists, designers, architects and activists round out the list of speakers, including:
- President Bill Clinton, Founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the U.S., was the first Democratic president in six decades to be elected twice, and led the U.S. to the longest economic expansion in American history, including the creation of more than 22 million jobs. After the leading the White House, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs),and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. clintonfoundation.org
- Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, is an authority on economic sustainability. His books include The Third Industrial Revolution and The Empathic Civilization. foet.org
- Janine Benyus, a biologist, consultant and author of six books, including the classic Biomimicry, is cofounder of the Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes the study and imitation of nature's remarkably efficient designs. biomimicry.net
- David W. Orr is a professor, founder of the Oberlin Project and author of Ecological Literacy. oberlinproject.org
- Majora Carter, recipient of a MacArthur “genius" Fellowship, founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 when few were talking about sustainability, and even fewer, in places like the South Bronx. Since 2008, her consulting company, Majora Carter Group, has exported climate adaptation, urban micro-agribusiness and leadership development strategies for business, government, foundations, universities and economically underperforming communities. majoracartergroup.com
- Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, author and entrepreneur who founded some of the first natural food companies in America to rely solely on sustainable agriculture. paulhawken.com
- Bob Berkebile is an influential sustainable design architect and community planner, a founding principal of BNIM Architects and a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Nature Conservancy and Center for Global Community. bnim.com
- Robert “Skip" Backus is chief executive officer of Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. He helped lay the foundation for Omega's environmental and conservation initiatives, including campus recycling and composting, sustainable purchasing and support of local agriculture, water conservation and 100 percent sourcing of campus electricity from wind and solar technology.
- Carla Goldstein, JD, is Omega Institute's chief external affairs officer and cofounder of the Omega Women's Leadership Center. An attorney with 25 years of experience in public interest advocacy, she has contributed to more than 100 city, state and federal laws, and has worked extensively on issues related to women's rights, poverty, public health and social justice.
- Peter Buffett is an Emmy Award-winning musician, composer, philanthropist and author of the New York Times best-seller Life Is What You Make It. peterbuffett.com
- Maya Azucena is an award-winning singer, activist and cultural ambassador. At the 2010 United Nations Summit, she was selected by the Office of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the exclusive performer at the Every Woman, Every Child event. She is also a cofounder of the multimedia website MDGFive.com, which raises awareness for maternal health. mayaazucena.com
- Rob Hopkins, author of The Power of Just Doing Stuff and The Transition Handbook, is cofounder of the International Transition Network, a charitable environmental organization. The Independent lists him as one of the top environmentalists in the United Kingdom. The Observer calls him “one of Britain's 50 New Radicals."
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By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
The climate crisis has become a driving and dividing factor in the political arena in recent years. According to the survey, almost three-quarters of respondents think global warming is happening (though that number varies across party lines) with more than half of registered voters agreeing that it is driven by human activities. As such, six-in-ten voters are worried about the current state of the climate — a marked increase from the last survey conducted in March 2018.
When asked how much they would support different strategies the government could use to reduce air pollution, more than three-quarters agreed that investing in renewable energy research and infrastructure and regulating pollution was a priority, as well as taxing pollution (requiring companies to pay a tax on pollution they emit to encourage a reduction in emissions). A majority of respondents also support more specific policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a fee on carbon pollution that distributes money to U.S. citizens through monthly dividend checks. Furthermore, many support a Clean Power Plan that implements strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants. A majority of voters also say they want policies that address the pollution that causes global warming and reduces pollution investments, regulations and taxes.
Climate change ranks as the 17th most important voting issue and is a more polarizing topic than abortion. So much so, that almost half of registered voters say they would support a president who declared global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
A handful of 2020 presidential candidates have put climate change at the forefront of their campaign platform as part of ongoing pressure to combat the effects of climate change. The Green New Deal, unveiled in part by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) earlier this year is a decade-long plan that will "mobilize every aspect of American society ... to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all," according to a section of the resolution from her office posted by NPR.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who introduced a plan just a few days ago to combat climate change. In it, Bennet calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank" to use federal spending to incentivize the private sector to transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. His opponent, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, similarly announced a clean energy plan earlier this month dubbed the "100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan" that would aim to phase out coal over the next decade and require all power production to be emissions-free by 2035.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also threw his name into the running hat but didn't mention climate change in his announcement. His overall stand on the Green New Deal and fossil fuel infrastructure is hazy. His campaign website promises environmental action but does not go into further detail. If elected president, Senator Elizabeth Warren has promised an executive order to ban new fossil fuel extraction leases in federal lands and waters.
- Abortion and the 2020 Election – Mother Jones ›
- Here's where the Democratic candidates stand on the biggest 2020 ... ›
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.