Florida Gulf Coast University Sustainable Energy Discussion



One big problem I find with discussions around sustainable energy is the focus on individual actions. I like to encourage my students to think bigger. By all means, buy a new Tesla if you wish, but individual actions like this are not going to make much of a difference if you have no say in the source of electricity powering that car. Individual actions like taking the bus and walking can be near impossible if the surrounding infrastructure doesn’t support it.

We need big change to solve the climate crisis. But you only have a week to do this assignment, so I won’t ask you to upend the global economy. Let’s just focus on your neighborhood.

For this assignment, think about what your hometown/city government could do to reduce its carbon emissions. Think of the two pathways: Alternative Energy and Energy Conservation. Think about the major activities of a government: Subsidizing good things, taxing bad things, building stuff, tearing down stuff, and regulations (outlawing or mandating certain things). Now, put these two things together: What can your city do to reduce the amount of fossil fuels it uses.

In your initial discussion post, describe your hometown/city. This can be where you are currently living or where you grew up. What is the population? How are the neighborhoods designed? Is it urban/suburban/rural? Is it walkable or car oriented? Where does its energy come from? Can you easily take transit around town or into a downtown area?

Name 3 things that your current town could do to reduce energy use.

seattle climate goals are not being met


There are SO many environmental problems, and it seems as if many of them are getting worse, not better. Because we focus on the science and less on social/political aspects, it can seem as if no one is doing anything to help!

But there are people out there helping! There are a LOT of people doing great work out there. There are a lot of people who are making a difference. These people are the Hummingbirds: People doing the Best. They. Can.

For this week’s discussion assignment, I want you to find an example of a hummingbird: A person who is making a real difference for the environment. In your initial post, I want you to tell us about that person’s work:

What environmental problem are they tackling?

How are they tackling those environmental problems?

Who do they work with?

What are the results are so far?

Remember that hummingbirds* don’t work by themselves: Many of them are leaders within organizations. Many of them have identified environmental problems and brought together other people interested in the same issue. So make sure to give a shout out to the people the hummingbird works with: no one is successful on their own.

The hummingbird you choose should be currently alive.

You might have come across a hummingbird during the course that you’d want to write about. For inspiration, you might want to peruse through an environmental magazine like Grist or (Links to an external site.)Treehugger (Links to an external site.). There might be hummingbirds in your own community that you could tell us about. One student wrote about her dad, who worked for the Department of Ecology. One rule though: You can’t write about a hummingbird that someone else has already posted. If you do, you won’t get credit for the assignment. Submissions are time stamped, so I can see who didn’t read through all the current posts.

Your post should be at least 1 paragraph long, but aim for 2. *Ruby Throated hummingbirds are solitary so the metaphor breaks down here.