It’s Solar Appreciation Day, plus Keep Grand Bahamas Clean. Meet climate champion, Marilyn Waite, and climate champion gardener, Kofi Thomas.
Solar Appreciation Day, Climate Champ–Kofi Thomas, Keep Grand Bahamas Clean, Climate Champ–Marilyn Waite
KEEP GRAND BAHAMAS CLEAN
Last week, The Climate Daily reported on climate champion Lauren Ritchie. One of the programs that helped launch her career was Keep Grand Bahamas Clean. It was launched in October 2006 by the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s Environmental Department along with other public and private sector organizations.
KGBC advocates that keeping our environment clean and beautiful, should be a way of life, always remembering that our actions today affects the health and wealth of our people and our natural resources now and for generations to come. Various environmental projects have been created under the KGBC banner. The intent is to always stay innovative in appealing to and reaching the masses on environmental matters. Projects executed by KGBC include:
- Recycling and other Green initiatives
- Community and coastal clean-ups
- Erection of Signage
- Public Service Announcements (News, Radio and Television) – Environmental Tips and Minutes
- Beautification of Premises
- Poster Competition
- Essay Competition
- Debate Competition
- Native Tree plantings
- Trash to Treasure Competition
- Puppet shows
- Mentoring Eco-schools
- Civic Group & School Presentations
The KGBC program focuses on educating the wider community on the importance of achieving and/or maintaining a healthy environment and changing the culture of residents in the process on their response to the environment.
Why does the KGBC matter to us? It’s in their mission statement: “It’s everyone’s business and everyone’s responsibility to Keep Grand Bahama Clean. Our lifestyles, our economy and our future depend on it.” Now substitute Grand Bahamas for your neck of the woods, or hell just go for it—Planet Earth.
SOLAR APPRECIATION DAY
Today, it’s Solar Appreciation Day – the perfect opportunity to appreciate all of the great developments in solar technology in the face of energy transformation and climate change. So in appreciation of solar, we bring you the top 6 countries leading the way in solar as of 2021(according to NES Fircroft, an an award-winning workforce solutions specialist).
#6—Italy: 21.6GW Historically, Italy has relied on foreign imports for a large portion of their energy, but over the last 10 years solar power generation has increased rapidly; there are currently more than 730,000 solar panels installed in the country.
#5—India: 40GW The Indian government has set a target of 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030, and it’s expected that solar power will be at the center of this initiative. India has already established 42 solar parks to make land accessible to solar energy promoters.
#4—Germany: 53.7GW Germany in 2004was one of the first countries to reach 1GW of cumulative installed photovoltaics (PV) capacity. It’s estimated that more than 120,000 German households now have solar units combined with battery storage installed in their homes.
#3—Japan: 67GW Japan holds the record for constructing one of the largest solar power buildings in the world. Named the ‘Solar Ark’ the facility is a solar photovoltaic power station that is over 300 meters wide and 37 meters tall. It boasts over 5,000 panels that produce 530,000KWh on an annual basis.
#2—USA: 76GW The USA has a long history with solar power; construction on Solar Energy Generating Systems thermal power plants began as early as 1983.
#1 solar leader—China: 254GW This top spot goes to a global leader for solar photovoltaics usage since 2015, when it surpassed Germany. In 2016, China had 77GW. By the end of 2018, Chinese energy companies had 174GW of cumulative installed solar capacity.
CLIMATE CHAMPION, MARILYN WAITE–IN THE ROOMS WHERE IT HAPPENS
A civil and environmental engineer by training, Marilyn Waite started her career in Madagascar in environmental resources. Along a career path that took her into nuclear energy and energy and industrial space mergers acquisitions, Waite’s understanding of the problem evolved.
She realized that neither technology nor innovation were the problems to achieve faster progress on renewables in the face of climate change, it was a lack of educated investors. IOW, investors were often ignorant of the climate and climate solutions.
So in 2017, Waite published a book called Sustainability at Work: Careers that make a difference. According to its jacket, the book is a guide, “that through inspiring narratives helps the reader to learn how to incorporate sustainability into every imaginable career.” The aim is to impact four areas: environment, economy, society, and future generations.
In March 2021, Waite gave testimony on systemic climate-related financial risks to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Her testimony to the banking committee was clear: if the financial system doesn’t start working to implement low carbon transition, all sectors of the economy will be impacted by climate change.
Waite is now the managing director of the Climate Finance Fund at the Hewlett Foundation. Her charge is to identify ideas that scale, that disrupt, and that create a new momentum around climate solutions. In the last five years, it’s directed $600 million to projects in China, the European Union, India and the US.
Why does Marilyn Waite matter to us? She’s an example of the next generation of climate leaders–multifaceted, diverse, multinational, female, and highly fluent in the language of finance. Now that she’s in the rooms where it happens, Waite brings the diverse perspective required to foment climate justice.
Says, Waite, “It’s past time that climate leaders, policymakers and climate financiers provide the scale of support needed for community-driven, real economy-focused, wealth-building climate finance through the depository institutions that are best positioned to deliver: community-focused banks and credit unions.
CLIMATE CHAMPION GARDENER, KOFI THOMAS AND HIS GOOD LIFE GARDEN
Brooklynite Kofi Thomas got into the Brooklyn gardening scene in 2016. In 2017 he became aware of a trash-strewn, 13,000 square foot vacant lot in the Bushwick community that had been vacant since 1993.
Thomas said , “You can imagine what kind of toll it will take on you if you have this garden space that you see every day for years slowly become dirtier and darker and less welcoming, becoming more and more dangerous, and how you internalize that, how you feel about yourself and your neighborhood. You feel like nobody is coming to help you, and the city isn’t coming to help you, and when nobody cares, it affects you.”
So Thomas toiled through bureaucracy and red tape, finally gaining permission to turn the lot into the Good Life Garden. Then he and friends toiled to prep the land.
The community garden opened in April 2018. “All of the food that we grow serves as an educational tool,” Thomas said. “A lot of kids around here have never seen a tomato plant, or kale, or a roly-poly. It’s really cool to have the youth understand all of the health benefits of growing their own food.”
Additionally, the green space, maintained by a group of volunteers, serves as a hub for arts, culture, and educational programming. Why does Kofi Thomas matter to us? Thomas’ vision is to “build a community agrosystem that doesn’t rely on a supply chain” More than 14 tons of fresh, free organic food was distributed by the Good Life Garden to the community in 2021.
In December 2021, Ellen DeGeneres surprised Thomas with a $10,000 check. He also received a $5,000 check to pay forward to his favorite charities. The Good Life Garden also has a GoFundMe page, should you like to support the program. Click on the link in the Deeper Dive Section of this show at theclimate.org/episodes.