epa

Smart Shots: How to Take Great Nature Photos With Your Cell Phone

By Chrislyn Johnson

Cell phone camera

Here in the Heartland, we have an abundance of beautiful natural scenes from Missouri’s Ozarks to the plains of western Kansas. By fulfilling our mission to protect the environment, all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors in its unspoiled glory.

You can create spectacular images of our pristine lands and waters with a familiar device nearly all of us carry every day. Cell phones are handy multipurpose tools, so why not take full advantage of their capabilities?

While earning my degree in photography, I learned how to capture on film the images in my mind’s eye, but sometimes my cell phone still throws me for a loop. Making a snapshot into an exceptional photo is a little more challenging with the limited controls of a cell phone, but it can be done. The key is to concentrate on the main elements of a good photograph: exposure and lighting, composition and subject, and focus and angle.

Exposure and Lighting

Exposure seems simple, because the camera usually does a pretty good job of metering (measuring) the light. However, the quality of the light can drastically change the mood of an image. With practice, you can learn to differentiate average from better lighting, thereby improving the look and mood of your photographs.

  • Get accustomed to overcast days. The muted light won’t cast strong shadows and can make colors more intense. Alternatively, go out early or late in the day to capture the golden light professional photographers love.
  • Use the color of the light to your advantage.
  • Learn how far your flash will reach and use it all the time for close subjects. It will help soften bright lights and add dimension to soft light.
  • If your subject is dark, try to direct your camera’s focus to another, darker object the same distance away. The meter will automatically adjust the lighting.

Composition and Subject

The subject of a photograph is not always a person, but sometimes a bird, an old gnarled tree, or a beautiful ice sculpture.

Composition is the arrangement of visual elements in your work. This arrangement can be accomplished through selective focus on the subject, a change in the angle you are shooting from, or strategic placement or contrast within the photo. However, the easiest shortcut is to use the Rule of Thirds.

This rule involves imagining two lines running vertically and two horizontally to divide the scene into three sections each way. The ideal subject placement for beginners is along or at the intersection of these lines.

  • Practice using the Rule of Thirds.
  • Find uncommon patterns and angles to create interest.
  • Get in close and at the subject’s level, and get a good view of their eyes (especially if you can see a reflection in them).
  • Be sure the subject is sharply in focus.

Focus and Angle

Where you focus within the scene and where you aim your camera can change a lot within a photograph. Focus can involve placing certain parts of the scene in sharp contrast as others fade into the distance, or finding that a shot is in focus from the foreground to the horizon. The camera’s angle and the placement of a photo’s focus are important in directing the viewer’s eye to the desired location. This can be performed through the lens, or by using an app to provide the illusion of a shallow depth of field (not much is in focus). The goal when making a remarkable image is to artfully accentuate the parts you choose.

Ferns in various light

This series demonstrates how altering the camera angle and focus can change a photograph. Left: From above, the fern is uninteresting. Center: The camera is focused on the fronds and at a lower angle, while the background fades away. Right: The eye is drawn through the image toward the waterfalls in the background. The lighting has also changed and is more golden in this last image, which changes the mood as well.

  • Consider the subject and overall composition, and the “feel” you want to portray. Where do you want the viewer to look? Take a different angle and focus there.
  • Different settings can provide different moods. A bright, sunny day calls for sharper focus, whereas an overcast day with muted colors begs a softer touch.
  • Use photo editing apps to further edit your images.

It’s not enough to simply possess the knowledge of how to take excellent photographs or to have the best equipment. The ideal strategy is to practice the art, take feedback and learn, and enjoy it. I still prefer my digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) camera for the best photos. However, more and more I find that my cell phone does the trick for most of what I want to accomplish: capture precious memories!

About the Author: Chrislyn Johnson is a Life Scientist with EPA Region 7’s Water, Wetlands, and Pesticides Division. She holds degrees in biology and photography from the University of Central Missouri. Chrislyn loves all things nature.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

El llamado del Papa Francisco en favor de la acción climática

Por la administradora de la EPA, Gina McCarthy, y el embajador de EE.UU. ante la Santa Sede, Kenneth Hackett
El mes pasado, el Papa Francisco publicó su segunda encíclica como pontífice, instando a todo el mundo a proteger nuestros recursos naturales y a tomar acción para afrontar el cambio climático. Dejó en claro nuestra obligación de prevenir los impactos del clima que amenazan la creación de Dios, especialmente para aquellos más vulnerables.

Como servidores públicos quienes laboran tanto en el ámbito de la política interna como en el de la diplomacia, entendemos la necesidad apremiante de tomar acción global. Los impactos climáticos como las sequías extremas, inundaciones, incendios olas de calor y tormentas amenazan a la gente en cada país—y los que tienen menos sufren más. No importa cuáles sean sus creencias o sus puntos de vista políticos, tenemos la obligación de tomar acción sobre el cambio climático para proteger nuestra salud, nuestro planeta y a los seres humanos.

Con anterioridad este año, en una serie de reuniones en el Vaticano sobre la encíclica con asesores papales clave, el cardenal Turkson habló sobre nuestra obligación moral de tomar acción climática no tan solo por los datos científicos contundentes, sino también por su experiencia personal en Ghana. Las reuniones terminaron con un sentido de urgencia, así como un sentimiento de oportunidad y esperanza también.

El primer ministro de Tuvalu, una nación isleña en el Pacífico, habló en una conferencia en el Vaticano la semana pasada y apeló al mundo que prestara atención a la amenaza existencial real al cual se enfrentan—que su país podría ser destruido si el alza de los mares y las tormentas más intensas continúan como consecuencia del cambio climático.

Por estas razones, el gobierno de EE.UU., a través de la EPA, está tomando pasos para cumplir con nuestra obligación moral. Luego este verano, la agencia finalizará una norma para limitar la contaminación de carbono que genera el cambio climático de la fuente principal en nuestra nación—las centrales eléctricas.

La contaminación de carbono viene acompañada del smog y el hollín que pueden ocasionar problemas de salud. Cuando limitemos la contaminación de carbono de las centrales eléctricas, los estadounidenses evitarán centenares de miles de ataques de asma y miles de ataques del corazón en el 2030.

Un reciente informe de la EPA encontró que si tomamos acción global ahora, tan solo Estados Unidos podrá evitar hasta 69,000 muertes prematuras para el año 2100 por la calidad de aire deficiente y el calor extremo. Continuaremos asociándonos con organizaciones católicas y de base de fe en EE.UU., como la Conferencia Estadounidense de Obispos Católicos, y el Convenio Católico por el Clima, para comunicar el mensaje sobre la importancia de tomar acción para combatir el cambio climático.

El Presidente Obama y la EPA comparten la preocupación del Papa por la justicia ambiental—nuestra crisis climática es una crisis humana. Cuando limitamos la contaminación tóxica, mejoramos la salud de la gente, fomentamos la innovación, y creamos empleos. Le debemos a las comunidades vulnerables, a nuestros hijos, y a las futuras generaciones el asegurarnos que nuestro planeta permanezca como un hogar vibrante y hermoso.

El liderazgo de EE.UU. es un paso crucial, peo el cambio climático es un problema global que demanda una solución global.

Es por eso que Estados Unidos ha emitido anuncios internacionales conjuntos—el año pasado con China y más recientemente con Brazil—afirmando nuestro compromiso a favor de una acción más fuerte, incluyendo el recortar la contaminación de carbono más rápidamente que en el pasado, y detener la deforestación. Como tres de las economías más grandes del mundo se han unido, estamos confiados de que otras naciones se unan a nuestro compromiso—y que el mundo finalmente alcanzará un acuerdo climático a escala mundial luego este año en París.

El Papa Francisco está basándose audazmente en la fundación moral establecida por los Papas Benedicto XVI y Juan Pablo II, y se está uniendo a un coro de voces de líderes de fe alrededor del globo que están haciendo un llamado a favor de la acción climática—no tan solo porque protege nuestra salud, nuestra economía y nuestro estilo de vida—sino porque es la acción debida que hay que tomar. Esperamos darle la bienvenida al Santo Padre a Estados Unidos en septiembre para continuar a discutir estos y otros asuntos que nos afectan a todos.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

America’s Heartland Depends on Clean Water

By Mark Hague

The Heartland thrives on clean water, a resource we must both conserve and protect. Agricultural interests, public health officials, recreational small businesses, and all the rest of us rely on clean water for our lives and livelihoods. While EPA oversees the protection of water quality under the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, every Heartlander understands its value to our daily lives.

Mark Hague

Mark Hague

During the past 43 years, EPA, the states, and local partners have worked tirelessly to clean up once polluted rivers and streams. While we’ve come a long way and dealt with the biggest issues, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have worked together to solve what remains through a new Clean Water Rule.

This new rule will help us further ensure clean waters are available to everyone here in the Heartland and downstream. The rule more clearly protects the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources.

In developing the rule, we held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country and reviewed more than one million public comments.

One of our most important challenges is protecting those smaller tributaries and wetlands that are a part of the vast interconnected system of some of our big rivers, like the Missouri and Mississippi. Our small waters are often out of sight, yet still serve an integral role in ensuring clean water for all Americans and our environment.

We rely on these smaller wetlands to provide uptake of nutrients, moderate flow in times of flooding, and serve as important habitat for species that spawn or rely on larger bodies of water, like the Missouri River.

Agriculture relies on clean water for livestock, crops, and irrigation. With the Clean Water Rule, EPA provides greater clarity and certainty to farmers and does not add economic burden on agriculture.

There is no doubt our water quality has improved. As a community and an agency, we must continue to protect both large and small tributaries. Clean water is a powerful economic driver affecting manufacturing, farming, tourism, recreation, and energy production. In fact, people who fish, hunt, and watch wildlife as a hobby spent $144.7 billion in 2011. That’s equal to one percent of the gross domestic product. The fact is, we rely on the flow of clean water to provide for this economic engine.

Finally, we all rely on the healthy ecosystems in these upstream waters to provide us with quiet, natural places to fish, boat, swim, and enjoy the outdoors. Hunters and anglers enjoy pristine places, and fishing rod makers and boat builders enjoy more business. And, of course, when drinking water is cleaner, people are healthier. We all win!

The Clean Water Rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Learn more at www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule.

About the Author: Mark Hague serves as the Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator. He is responsible for overseeing the overall operations within the region and the implementation of federal environmental rules and regulations, and serves as a liaison with the public, elected officials, organizations, and others. Mark has 35 years of experience with EPA.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Invasive Species Alert: Zebras on the Loose!

By Angela Sena

I don’t mean the four-legged variety, but zebra mussels! They are an invasive mollusk species (Dreissena polymorpha) that have been found in many lakes and rivers across the Heartland. Zebra mussels have been discovered in scattered locations along the Missouri River, Lake Lotawana, Smithville Lake, Lake of the Ozarks in the Osage River, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Taneycomo in the White River, just to name a few. For those who are water recreationists – boaters, anglers, water skiers, sailors or canoeists – we all need to keep our eyes open for this species and help prevent their spread since there is no known way to stop them once they get a foothold.

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)

Zebra mussels are a group of freshwater mussels with triangular shells and dark bands with prominent ridges. A concavity (or hollow) about midway allows the animal to secrete byssal threads, which allow it to attach to almost any solid surface. They often clump together, and adults are generally ¼ to 1 inch in length. Zebra mussels are native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia, and were accidentally introduced to North America from ballast water of an international ship. They have tremendous reproductive capabilities: a female zebra mussel can produce more than a million eggs during spawning season. The eggs hatch into a larval form (veligers), which are not visible to the human eye, making their detection and eradication difficult. At three weeks, the sand grain-sized larvae start to settle and attach, and feel like sandpaper on solid surfaces.

This invasive species can hitchhike by attaching to boat, canoe and watercraft hulls, lower units and propellers, axles, engine drive units, trolling motors, hitches, and anchor chains. They can also survive in boat bilge water, livewells, bait buckets, and engine cooling water systems. Aside from being an inconvenience for your water craft equipment, they negatively impact the economy by clogging power plant intakes and industrial and public drinking water intakes, and damaging boat hulls and motors. Zebra mussels also harm native ecosystems, and decimate native freshwater mussels and other aquatic animals.

If you enjoy spending your summers on a lake, just like my family, then we all need to do our part. Water recreationalists can help by preventing the spread of the species with a few simple steps:

  • Clean – Remove all plants, animals and mud, and thoroughly wash all equipment with hot water spray (104 degrees), especially in small crevices or hidden areas. Most car washes will suffice. If you can’t wash at that temperature, a 10-percent solution of bleach will do.
  • Drain – Eliminate all water before leaving the lake, including livewells and transom
  • Dry – Allow sufficient time for drying between water events – at least 48 hours.
  • Dispose – Dispose of unused bait in a trash receptacle.
  • Report – Report any sitings of these species. The U.S. Geological Survey maintains a Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) website for zebra mussels that shows an up-to-date map of recorded occurrences, and includes a “Report a Sighting” link that allows you to submit a report if you find them.

USGS Where Are the Mussels

However, if you do spot a mussel when you’re out enjoying a lake or stream, don’t worry. Not all mussels are unwelcome. In fact, most mussels here in the Heartland are a good thing. Check out these previous Big Blue Thread blogs by EPA’s Craig Thompson: Mussels in the Blue, Mussels in the Blue II: Relative Abundance of Species in the Blue, and Mussels in the Blue III: Water Quality and Threats.

 

Angela Sena serves as an Environmental Protection Specialist with the Water, Wetlands, and Pesticides Division at EPA Region 7. She has a degree in environmental science and management, and is a native New Mexican and avid outdoorswoman.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Recién publicada: Las principales 25 ciudades de EE.UU. con el mayor número de edificios ENERGY STAR

032515 FINAL SP_EnergyStar_buildingmarch_all25-3

 

¿Sabía que el uso de energía en edificios comerciales representa el 17 por ciento de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, que generan el cambio climático, por un costo de más de $100 mil millones por año? Esto es significativo. Es por eso que la nueva Lista de las Principales 25 Ciudades ENERGY STAR de la EPA, que clasifica las ciudades por las que tienen el mayor número de edificios certificados ENERGY STAR, es tan importante.

Los edificios certificados ENERGY STAR son confirmados por tener un rendimiento mejor del 75 por ciento que edificios similares a nivel nacional. Usan un promedio de 35 por ciento menos de energía y son responsables por tener 35 emisiones menos que los edificios tradicionales. Muchos de los tipos de edificios comunes pueden ganarse la certificación ENERGY STAR, incluyendo edificios de oficinas, escuelas K-12, hoteles y tiendas al detal.
Las ciudades en la lista demuestran que cuando los dueños de las instalaciones y gerentes aplican las directrices ENERGY STAR de la EPA en los edificios donde todos trabajamos, compramos y aprendemos, ellos ahorran energía, ahorran dinero y reducen las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero. Esta labor es vital porque en la mayoría de las ciudades, los edificios comerciales son la principal fuente de emisiones de carbono.
Desde el 1999, más de 25,000 edificios en todos los Estados Unidos se han ganado la certificación ENERGY STAR de la EPA y han ahorrado cerca de $3.4 mil millones en facturas de electricidad y servicios públicos, y han prevenido las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero equivalentes a las emisiones del uso anual de electricidad de unas 2.4 millones de hogares.
¿Acaso su ciudad figura en la lista? De ser así, use la etiqueta #ENERGYSTAR y comparta la Lista de las Principales Ciudades ENERGY STAR de este año para que todos lo sepan.

 
Acerca de la autora: Jean Lupinacci es la directora interina de la División de Consorcios sobre Protección Climática en la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE.UU. Ella ha laborado en la EPA por 20 años y sus principales responsabilidades se centraban en el desarrollo y la gestión de programas voluntarios de eficiencia energética.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

What Does a Tribal Liaison Do in Region 7?

By Heather Duncan, Region 7 Tribal Liaison

The relationship between a federal employee and a Tribal representative is based on the same tenets as any other: respect, trust, and lots of honest communication. A large collection of history, policy, and case law defines the relationship between the federal government and Tribal governments. Because each Tribe’s interests and concerns are unique, I have no typical days – and that’s one of my favorite things about my job.

Tribal flags logoSince November 2014, I’ve been serving in a temporary position filling a vacancy in our Region 7 Office of Tribal Affairs. As part of these duties, I serve as a liaison between EPA and five of the nine Tribal nations in our Region. I also negotiate and manage several financial agreements with our Tribal partners.

To an outsider looking in, my day may look calm, spent sitting in a meeting room or in front of a computer. Behind the scenes, most of my day as a liaison is spent translating. I translate the opportunities, needs, and requirements of the federal government into actionable goals and tasks for the Tribes to consider. Likewise, I work to understand and translate the needs and priorities of the Tribes to create better opportunities and policies at EPA.

Outside of my Agency work, I do not have a background or experience with Tribal governments or cultures. I grew up an Iowa farm girl in an agricultural community inherently skeptical of the federal government. Neighbors may disagree with one another but are quick to unite to improve their community’s resilience. At home, handshakes are binding agreements and individuals are judged by their honesty and ability to follow through on their commitments. Growing up in an agricultural community has been excellent training for my experiences in our Office of Tribal Affairs. In many ways, working with the Tribes feels like home.

In my role as a Tribal liaison, it’s important to recognize the cultural and economic influences in scientific conversations and to share those insights as EPA discusses new policies and programs.

I have about two months left in my temporary assignment. In those remaining days, my desire is to do the right thing – one day at a time.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

It’s Time to Test Your Home for Radon

By Bob Dye

Football season is in full swing, leaves are starting to fall and furnaces will be heating our homes. With colder weather, people are spending more time indoors, sitting with their kids and friends, and watching their favorite college or professional teams on the tube. As people close up their house for winter to keep warm, it is an excellent time to test for radon.

U.S. EPA Radon PSA

U.S. EPA Radon PSA

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of naturally occurring radium and uranium in the soil. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and children are more sensitive to radon exposure as their lungs develop. The EPA estimates that as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year are caused by radon exposure. Radon is colorless, tasteless and odorless, so the only way to know if your home has a problem is to test for it.

The EPA and the US Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon and if the levels are high, take steps to lower them. You can get low cost test kits through the National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University at http://sosradon.org/test-kits or you can contact your state radon program to find you where you can get a test kit.

Take steps to protect your health and your children’s health by testing your home. Order a test kit today. Get more information at www.epa.gov/radon.

Bob Dye is a radiation & indoor air specialist in EPA Region 7’s Air and Waste Management Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Teach Kids the Triple R’s

By Toni Castro

Being young and feeling invincible can be hazardous to your health, or even deadly. There have been other asthma stories here on the Big Blue Thread, but I wanted to share my family’s crisis because it was a very close call that really made us think about our asthma plan. Hopefully, our story will help you or a loved one take heed and review your asthma plan, too. Remember the basics: review your asthma plan, refresh your medicines if needed, and remind yourself how serious asthma is.

Our daughter Shanice was diagnosed with asthma 18 years ago at the age of 3 and we’ve managed it pretty well without many incidents. Managing it consists of medication and close monitoring by an asthma/allergy specialist.

Asthma awareness!

Shanice lives with asthma everyday.

One evening last fall, we got a phone call from Shanice, who was away from home for the first time at college. She began by explaining that she had been hospitalized and was waiting for a ride back to her dorm room. My husband and I knew she’d been struggling with asthma symptoms brought on by a cold, so we were communicating with her regularly to check on her condition. Apparently, she had an asthma attack and still wasn’t feeling 100 percent but was ready to leave the emergency room. This was not her first attack but it was the first one away from home, so it was especially frightening to us because we felt helplessly far away.

Shanice’s breathing became increasingly harder as the day progressed and by evening, she was weak and lethargic. The medicine she typically uses when in the asthma danger zone was not effective. She was fortunate enough to have a good friend and dorm mate who insisted she go to the campus clinic. After seeing her blue lips, which indicated dangerously low oxygen levels, the clinic staff recommended that she be immediately transported to the hospital emergency room. At the hospital, Shanice was given oxygen, an IV (intravenous injection) for medicine, and a breathing treatment. After a few hours, she was finally stable enough to go back to her dorm.

Now that Shanice is on her own, we are hoping that she will remember to keep these critical things in mind, in addition to the Triple R’s:

  • Be aware of your triggers, environmental or otherwise.
  • Always take your medicines as directed, if prescribed.
  • Have emergency phone numbers readily available.

Statistics (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) show that in 2008, 48 percent of adults who were taught how to avoid triggers did not follow most of that advice. For young adults and parents of young adults with asthma, managing asthma is nothing new, but managing it without the guidance and monitoring by a parent or guardian may be. As your children become young adults, make the Triple R’s – review, refresh and remind – a mantra as part of their asthma plan. The mantra may someday save their life.

Learn more by visiting EPA’s Asthma Triggers website.

Toni Castro works in the Office of Public Affairs as a Visual Information Specialist. She has worked in Region 7 for just under 27 years and the last 8 in the Office of Public Affairs. She is married and has 3 daughters, 1 grandson and a 2 year old Yorkie. While an active family keeps her busy, she does enjoy reading, traveling, cooking and music.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Semana del Clima—Es el momento de tomar acción

Por Gina McCarthy

 

El año pasado, el presidente Obama presentó un Plan de Acción Climática para recortar la contaminación de carbono que fomenta el cambio climático, desarrollar una nación más resiliente, y liderar la lucha global climática. A medida que el mundo se reúne en Nueva York obligada por la necesidad urgente de tomar acción sobre el clima, me siento orgullosa de poder unirme al presidente Obama para reforzar nuestro compromiso.

 

Este pasado año trajo toneladas de progreso, incluyendo el propuesto Plan de Energía Limpia de EPA para limitar la contaminación de carbono de nuestra fuente principal—las centrales eléctricas.
Esta semana, estaremos comunicando un mensaje claro: una de las principales economías del mundo depende en un medio ambiente saludable y un clima seguro. La labor de la EPA consiste en proteger la salud pública. Mayores riesgos a la salud significan más costos para todos nosotros. Nosotros no tomamos acción pese a la economía, sino tomamos acción debido a ella.
Hoy, estaré hablando con líderes gubernamentales y organizaciones de salud de alrededor del mundo sobre cómo la acción climática ayuda a reducir los riesgos a la salud global. El martes, me reuniré con los principales ejecutivos de algunas de las empresas más grandes del mundo para agradecerles por la acción climática que ya están tomando y para discutir maneras en las cuales puedan hacer más. Y luego esta semana, hablaré con Recursos para el Futuro en la Capital Federal (Resources for the Future) para exponer cómo una economía fuerte depende de la acción climática.
Sabemos que el cambio climático sobrecarga los riesgos a nuestra salud y a nuestra economía. El director de la Oficina de Gerencia y Prespuesto Shaun Donavan habló la semana pasada sobre los costos de las condiciones extremas del tiempo, especialmente en las ciudades costeras de Estados Unidos, que se espera que asciendan a miles de millones de dólares. Y vamos a escuchar al Secretario del Tesoro Jack Lew luego hoy sobre los “Costos económicos del cambio climático” —y el precio elevado de la inacción para las empresas y contribuyentes estadounidenses.
Las buenas nuevas son que podemos trasformar nuestro reto climático en una oportunidad para desarrollar una economía baja en carbono que propulsará el crecimiento para décadas futuras.
Un ejemplo perfecto sobre la acción climática inteligente son los estándares de eficiencia de combustible de EPA para autos y cambiones. Estamos reduciendo la contaminación de carbono, ahorrando dinero en las gasolineras para las familias, y fomentando una industria automotriz resurgente que ha añadido 250,000 empleos desde el 2009. El número de autos que están siendo fabricados por trabajadores en Estados Unidos ha alcanzado su nivel más elevado en 12 años. Y no nos olvidemos que desde que el presidente Obama fue juramentado, EE.UU. usa tres veces más energía eólica y diez veces más energía solar, lo cual significa miles de empleos.
El Plan de Energía Limpia de EPA continúa esa tendencia. Ya hemos recibido una gran cantidad de insumo a nuestra propuesta, con más de 750,000 comentarios de grupos de salud, grupos industriales, grupos de fe, padres y muchos más.
Damos la bienvenida a todas las buenas ideas que podamos recibir y por eso hemos extendido el periodo de comentarios públicos hasta el 1ero de diciembre.
Es cierto que el cambio climático necesita una solución global. No podemos tomar acción por otras naciones, pero cuando los Estados Unidos de América toma la batuta, otras naciones seguirán su ejemplo. La acción para reducir la contaminación no disminuye nuestra ventaja competitiva, sino la fortalece. Si queremos hablar sobre el rendimiento de la inversión: a lo largo de las pasadas cuatro décadas, la EPA ha recortado la contaminación atmosférica por más del 70% mientras la economía se ha triplicado en tamaño.
En la actualidad, tenemos más autos, más gente, más empleos, más negocios y menos contaminación. Podemos—y tenemos—que tomar la delantera sobre el clima. Y al estar en Nueva York esta semana, rodeado de cientos de miles de ciudadanos que están haciendo un llamado a favor de la acción climática, es obvio de que el pueblo estadounidense está abrumadoramente de acuerdo. Cuando tomamos acción para afrontar el clima, estamos aprovechando una oportunidad para reorganizarnos y resurgir con nuevas tecnologías, nuevas industrias y nuevos empleos. Se lo debemos a nuestros hijos para dejarles un mundo más saludable, más seguro y rico de oportunidades para generaciones futuras.

 

 

Gina McCarthy es la administradora de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Estados Unidos. (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés)

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Seeing the Whole Picture

By Malavika Sahai

huntersview

I was in my freshman year of college in the spring of 2013 when I took my introductory Environmental Policy and Planning class. Although my professor covered a wide range of topics that fit under the umbrella of U.S. environmental policy, one lesson really stood out for me: her overview of environmental justice considerations in policy enforcement. She told the powerful story of Bayview Hunters Point, a low-income community of color in southeast San Francisco that had been home to a former naval shipyard and other industries that had polluted the area, severely impacting the residents. Despite decades of cleanup and redevelopment efforts, their struggle continues. I became inspired and emotionally involved in wanting to help other communities like Bayview.

Untitled-1Growing up in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, I had witnessed instances of low-income and minority communities being plagued by pollution problems. I saw that for residents living in urban areas with aging infrastructure and minimal green space, the impacts seemed worse. I had considered myself a budding social justice advocate, but it was not until that day, that lesson, that I realized there was a vibrant, working movement to achieve justice in such communities.

After that lesson, I had an epiphany about what I wanted to do with my career. Suddenly, all my papers for my other environmental classes incorporated discussions about environmental justice. I spent my free time searching the internet to learn more about environmental justice and how and where people were impacted. I wanted to talk about these issues with anybody who would engage in the conversation. I didn’t want to stop learning more.

In my sophomore year, my interest in environmental justice led me to declare a Geography minor, so I could better understand the connection between social issues, place, and the environment. I want to learn more about the way that social geography impacts environmental decision-making in different places, to preserve local culture and adapt to be more equitable and sustainable. As I continue to learn, I keep challenging myself to learn more about the intersection of environmental justice and other related social issues, such as using ecofeminism as a framework toward global justice and planetary health.

malavika

Learning about environmental justice issues as a critical component in policymaking decisions has inspired me to pursue it professionally. I want to ensure that a clean environment and good public health are not mutually exclusive. Being an intern in EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and collaborating with other environmental organizations as a part of my internship has broadened my understanding of the amount of work that’s already being done to address environmental justice issues across the nation, as well as what remains to be done. Learning about environmental justice has helped me realize that people have the power to make a change in the world and help one another. Learning about environmental justice in a classroom setting has helped me realize that environmental justice and environmental policy should be intertwined.

I am eternally grateful to my freshman environmental policy and planning professor for introducing environmental justice in the classroom, and my hope is that as time progresses, all environmental policy and planning programs in universities, and even high schools, teach their students about environmental policy and justice side by side.

About the Author: Malavika Sahai recently was a Summer intern at EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. She is studying Environmental Policy and Planning and Geography at Virginia Tech, and plans to graduate in Spring 2016.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.