by Katie Lan, Paloma Hernandez, Tuheen Murali Manika, and Lauren McLaughlin
Students for a Sustainable Stanford's Environmental Justice project group has created the following series of posters to bring attention to issues of environmental justice that are often missing from the mainstream.
It’s no news that greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions are contributing to anthropogenic climate change now, but you might not know that climate change doesn’t affect us all equally. Research suggests that poor communities, which have historically emitted lower levels of GHGs, will suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change. East Palo Alto is one example.
In 2015, 196 countries came together to negotiate the Paris Agreement, an international agreement concerning climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. While two of the three top GHG emitters--China and India--are on track to surpass their emissions reduction commitment under this agreement, the second largest polluter is not. That's us.
￼Shifting global trends toward a market of more sustainable and organically-produced coffee seems promising. In many primary coffee-producing countries, such as Guatemala, sustainability certifications are helping farmers establish economic resilience and independence.
However, farmers in over 50 countries are still paid less than $3 a day for picking over 100 pounds of coffee. Farmer’s yearly incomes of around $600 are equivalent to the cost a ticket to a Beyoncé concert!
Take the time to be an informed consumer. Look for sustainability labels before purchasing that cup of joe that fuels your day. Help promote sustainable farming practices and fair treatment of the farmers that work so hard to produce these ‘magic’ beans!
LEARN THE STORY OF YOUR COFFEE
How would you feel to know that you were unknowingly living within walking distance from one of the most toxic waste sites in the nation? And how would you feel to realize that the federal government recognizes the toxicity of the waste site, yet has failed to take action to clean up the area in a timely manner?
Superfund Sites are areas that represent some of the highest concentrations of hazardous waste in the nation, are are designated by Congress for funded waste cleanup. Superfund sites carry one of the four following labels: Proposed, Active, Construction, and Deleted. In many higher-income areas, Superfund Sites will be either Construction, Completed, or Deleted, meaning that either all facilities for waste cleanup efforts have been built or all cleanup efforts have been completed. In lower-income areas, however, it is not uncommon to see a high concentration of Superfund Sites started nearly 30 years ago that still carry the Active label, meaning that the appropriate facilities to clean up the hazardous waste have not yet been built.
45% of people of color live within three miles of a Superfund Site, a staggering statistic that we must bring down in the future.
Toxic Air in Richmond
by Deidre Francks, '20
The countdown begins! Just one week from today—on Tuesday, February 27th—Students for a Sustainable Stanford will host the sixth annual Stephen H. Schneider Memorial Lecture. This year we will welcome Geisha J. Williams, President and CEO of PG&E, to speak on “Energy Network of Tomorrow: How to Reach California’s Climate Goals.” After months of tireless work from our Schneider lecture coordinators and other members of SSS, I look forward to this event with incredible excitement and pride. This will be the second Schneider Lecture I’ve attended, following last year’s lecture delivered by John Holdren, former Chief Science and Technology Advisor to President Obama.
This year, throughout all of the excitement of Schneider lecture preparations, I have found myself increasingly curious about the life and work of the late Dr. Stephen H. Schneider—the esteemed climate scientist and communicator for whom SSS’s annual memorial event is dedicated. Although he passed away before my time at Stanford, it’s impossible to ignore Dr. Schneider’s legacy as a beloved professor, trusted advisor, and dear friend to many who are still on this campus today. Dr. Schneider’s name has been mentioned by professors and peers throughout many of my classes—a testament to his wide-ranging influence in the fields of interdisciplinary climate science and communication. What follows is a brief overview of the legacy left by Dr. Schneider, which—despite hardly scratching the surface of his vast and accomplished career—gives some context for why we work to honor his memory each year with the Schneider Memorial Lecture.
After receiving his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and plasma physics from Columbia University, Dr. Schneider spent his early career working for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) where he researched the effects of aerosols and greenhouses gases on the atmospheric system. During his time at NCAR, Dr. Schneider became deeply interested in global climate modeling and was among the earliest scientists to express concern about the emerging threat of anthropogenic climate change. Before arriving at Stanford in 1996, Schneider had already received the MacArthur Fellow “Genius Award” for his climate research and communication efforts, founded the journal Climatic Change, served as a White House consultant under numerous administrations, and established his public presence as a global climate expert. He was later elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and served as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an accomplishment for which he and other authors received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former Vice President Al Gore.
In addition to his remarkable scientific expertise and countless related awards, Dr. Schneider had a gift for science communication that set him apart from many others in his field. A clear and persuasive communicator, Schneider never shied away from the opportunity to convey complex scientific concepts to the general public and others outside of the scientific community.
Throughout his career he delivered speeches, authored books, and even testified before congress on the science of anthropogenic climate change and its associated impacts. Crucially, Dr. Schneider was fearless in the face of criticism. While he acknowledged the difficulty of communicating the risks and uncertainties of climate change to policymakers and members of the general public, Dr. Schneider relentlessly stressed the importance of competent science communication. Above all else, Dr. Schneider aimed to educate, advise, and empower people to make smarter decisions in the face of a changing climate.
Each year, to honor Dr. Schneider’s legacy of climate communication, Students for a Sustainable Stanford invites an esteemed speaker to campus to speak on an issue related to climate, environment, or sustainability. In years past, with the invaluable support of Dr Schneider’s widow Dr. Terry Root, we have hosted former Vice President Al Gore, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, urban farmer Will Allen, and the aforementioned science advisor to President Obama, John Holdren. We are now thrilled and honored to welcome Geisha Williams to our campus next week, for what will surely be yet another in a long line of truly illuminating talks.
photo credit: http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Symposium/SHS_symposium.html
by Becca Nelson '20
From Thursday February 2nd to Monday February 5th, eight college students from University Tecnológico de Monterrey (TEC) in Mexico visited Stanford. The students were part of an innovative sustainability club called Programa Estudiantil de Sostenibilidad (PES), whose mission is similar to that of SSS. SSS and PES participated in a weekend of collaborative events focusing on how to affect sustainable change on college campuses and building a foundation for future teamwork.
The visiting students along with members of SSS went on a tour of SESI, Stanford’s cutting-edge energy facility. Many PES students are studying engineering and enjoyed learning about the design elements of SESI. SSS and PES also toured together Stanford’s educational farm and Y2E2, an energy efficient building on campus. We engaged in a discussion about global alternative energy policy and implementation at a faculty panel at the Woods Institute for the Environment with Professor Craig Criddle and Professor Mark Jacobson. Professor Criddle is an environmental engineer who specializes in using microbes to remediate contamination, and Professor Jacobson has developed a global plan for renewable energy solutions.
Later at a Sustainability Salon dinner hosted by Roble Sustainability Leader Songhee Han, we discussed in collaboration with the Roble Living Laboratory for Sustainability at Stanford how to inspire people to make more sustainable choices. We found common ground in the challenges we face in terms of getting people on campus to care about sustainability. During the dinner, I was moved by the stories of the students from PES, who were able to spark action about sustainability through leading by example. As the evening progressed, we delved into the future of environmental policy in the United States and Mexico and how it related back to our current collaboration.
Along with the students, TEC faculty member Diana Guzmán Barraza visited Stanford. She is an innovator in sustainable energy design and implementation, receiving a Leadership Award from former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, the Friendship Award from United Nations (UNFCCC), the High-Achievement Award from Santander, and full academic excellence scholarships. Diana Guzmán Barraza has a wealth of experience as a climate activist from serving as a delegate in the United Nations to collaborating with NGOs, such as: Climate Reality Project, Citizen Climate Lobby, and the Citizen Observatory of the Air Quality of Monterrey. She appeared on Al Gore´s international live transmission 24 hours of Reality. She shared with us her experiences in affecting sustainable change in implementing energy efficient policies on college campuses.
Together, SSS and PES hiked through the ancient redwoods at Big Basin State park and discussed what we could learn from each other. After a series of collaborative discussions, we signed an agreement as organizations to engage in long-term collaboration, share best practices, and engage in ongoing communication regarding our initiatives. I would like to extend a warm thank you to our visitors from TEC and look forward to future collaboration.
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This is a forum for students to share their writing on intersectional environmental topics, curated by Students for a Sustainable Stanford. Writers of all backgrounds, abilities, and perspectives are welcome.