Davis residents analyzed climate solutions from a global perspective at last Thursday’s “Searching the Globe for Climate Solutions” community forum.
The forum was part of the Davis Climate Action Team’s community forum series. Jenifer Segar, for the Valley Climate Action Center, organized the meeting, while the city of Davis and the International House co-sponsored the event.
Mayor Ruth Asmundson said addressing climate change is our future as a local and global community. If the United States continues to consume at its current rate, we will consume 1.6 earths annually, she said.
“If everybody takes care of their own sphere of influence, then eventually, it will get better,” Asmundson said. “In Davis, we do care about our future; we do care about our earth.”
Jeff Loux, director of the land use and natural resources program of UC Davis Extension, said a sustainable neighborhood must be ecological, economic and socially equitable.
Vauban, Germany, exemplifies a sustainable neighborhood, Loux said. Vauban is almost exclusively car free, and its main street has several bike and pedestrian pathways, as well as tram lines. Eighty percent of housing is owner built and designed, solar panels form the roofs and green space complements the building density.
“If you’re going to do density, do transit and green space,” Loux said.
It is possible to replicate this sustainable neighborhood anywhere with the desire and resources to do so, Loux said.
The Hammarby Sjostad neighborhood in Stockholm is also a model because there is no waste, Loux said. Garbage is converted into heat and electricity. For example, solid waste is used as biofuel for gas stoves and the bus system. Most people travel by train or ferry, while cars are kept at the periphery of the city. Buildings are six to eight stories tall. The business buildings are on the left, the homes are on the right and green is in the middle. All trash travels through pneumatic tubes under sidewalks into a cogeneration plant that powers parts of the neighborhood.
“I am not saying that every lesson applies, but it is good learning from European examples,” Loux said.
Kurt Kornbluth, director of the UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies and UC Davis D-Lab instructor, focuses on energy issues in developing countries.
The future of energy is already here, Kornbluth said. People who have money can generate electricity. The four lenses of sustainability are environmental, financial, social and technical.
In Kornbluth’s D-Lab course, students accumulate garbage from their take-out food, bring it to class and measure how much energy can be produced – the garbage can heat two rooms.
Kornbluth’s graduate students will introduce their “Smart Light,” which will emit better light and reduce indoor pollution, in Zambia, Africa this spring. The light will pay for itself in three months with candle savings.
“About 1.5 billion people use either a candle or kerosene as their light at night,” Kornbluth said.
Larry Greene, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and a Davis resident, spoke about his experience at the 2009 Copenhagen climate change summit, where “Hopenhagen” was the marketing theme.
There were 45,000 people at the Copenhagen summit, while the Bella Center held 15,000 people.
“Innovation in U.S. global warming is not happening at the national level, it’s happening at the local level,” Greene said. “States and locals are where the action is on climate.”
THERESA MONGELLUZZO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.