Blog Action Day 2009 – Climate Change in the Everyday

Hi all…

I have to say that I’m not the most environmentally aware person ever. Occasionally I forget to recycle and reuse. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. I try to be good and that’s all I can really hope to do with the insane schedules of life, the universe, and everything.

But how do my occasional slips in environmental awareness hurt the planet? I don’t honestly know.

I have noticed changes here in Colorado Springs. The seasons seem to be out of kilter. My wife and girls play soccer in the Spring and Fall, so it’s especially easy to see when you’re fighting Spring snows or Fall freezes in the face of those dedicated to their sport. Would these seasonal changes continue to occur if I managed to recycle every single piece of paper that came in the mail or at my doorstep?

We had an unusually wet Summer for here, which many seem to think will lead to a cruel Winter. How does forgetting to throw a can in the recycle bin affect that? If I’d recycled one more can, is it possible to avoid a particularly cold or snowy Winter?

Probably not. But it does make me wonder. And hopefully other people wonder as well. Wondering what the little changes we can all do might eventually do to help or hurt the planet will hopefully make us more aware of ways we can help.

I know I need to get better. Are the seasons changing due to global warming? Maybe not here. But if I can turn off the water while brushing my teeth or turn out the lights when I leave a room, maybe I can help those poor polar bears in their time of need when the sea ice isn’t staying solid as long as it used to.

I can only hope my actions help a little. As Google is sometimes attributed with saying – Do No Evil. But I think we can do better than that.

Don’t you?

–Fitz

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Blog Action Day – Do Something About Poverty

Hi all…

It’s Blog Action Day 2008 and this year’s topic is Poverty. Poverty is more than just a lack of food or money. It can also involve a lack of safe and sanitary conditions, health care, shelter, education, and information according to the UN.

According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, the 2008 Poverty Guidelines vary a little whether you’re in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, or Hawaii and are based on the number of people in the household.

2008 HHS Poverty Guidelines

Persons
in Family or Household
48 Contiguous
States and D.C.
Alaska Hawaii
1 $10,400 $13,000 $11,960
2 14,000 17,500 16,100
3 17,600 22,000 20,240
4 21,200 26,500 24,380
5 24,800 31,000 28,520
6 28,400 35,500 32,660
7 32,000 40,000 36,800
8 35,600 44,500 40,940
For each additional
person, add
3,600 4,500 4,140

SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 15, January 23, 2008, pp. 3971–3972

In 2006, the guidelines amounted to basically 36.5 million Americans (1 in 8) living below the poverty line. With the economy slowdown in 2008, I shudder to think how many people are living below the guidelines this year.

But this just measures the monetary guidelines at a high level. It doesn’t include things like health care and education. So when you look at some of the areas of the country hit hardest by the economic downturn, it’s not just states like Michigan hit hard by job losses… Even states like Hawaii were hit hard by the lack of tourists.

What can we do to help? In my opinion, it’s time for the United States to focus our attentions at home. The unemployment rate was holding at 6.1 percent at the beginning of October according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We can only hope that it holds steady or improves soon.

First we need to stimulate the economy to encourage employers to seek qualified employees. Put America back to work.

Next we need to work on education in our country. Programs like One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) are great to spread the wealth around the world, but there are far too many places in the United States where schools can’t afford to buy books, let alone computers. Let’s put some of these OLPC computers in classrooms in Mississippi, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, and Alabama — the bottom 4 states in the 2007 ALEC education report card.

And lastly, we need to make sure that the people we put in office have our best interests in mind. Yes, there are lobbyists. Yes, there are special interests. These groups pay the money to get folks into office. Let’s make sure that the folks that get into office are smart enough to disagree with their backers from time to time and do what’s right for the country – not just right for their wallets.

In the early 2000s, I have to say I was proud of our country and how it handled 9/11 and banded together. It’s time to do the same thing and make sure that we do what’s right for the United States at home, not just abroad.

–Fitz

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The Face of Poverty, a Short Film on SnagFilms

Hi all…

To continue the theme of poverty started by the Blogger Action Day movement, I thought I’d feature one of the short documentaries I’ve found on the web about poverty in New York.

The following is the abstract for the film at SnagFilms.

“This short film confronts America’s widening poverty gap through a creative journey along New York City streets, observing the stark contrast between the rich and the poor contained within only a few blocks. People from all walks of life, whether they live on the street or study at Columbia University, approach the glaring problem through unique perspectives. The viewer sees the honest tour of New York’s poverty gap and ideas of how to solve it, through the thoughts of everyday people and through the eyes of poverty herself.”

Let’s rise above our differences and open our eyes to see solutions to the common problems on our own streets.

–Fitz

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