August 8, 2013
On July 31, 2013, over 150 Phoenicians and 20 participating community organizations took part in the “I Will Act” on climate change challenge. The Act On Climate Change Phoenix event kicked off with an outdoor press conference in the Civic Space Park featuring elected officials, climate experts, and community members. Organizers of the event passed out red umbrellas, sporting the Twitter handle #ActOnClimate, as a visual demonstration against climate change. The red umbrellas were then donated to the homeless and public transit riders to be used for shading against the hot Phoenix sun.
Following the press conference, the public gathered inside the A.E. England Building lobby to interact with community organizers at their informational tables. The Act on Climate PHX event hosted many recognizable organizations such as Local First Arizona, Keep Phoenix Beautiful, the Sierra Club and more. ASU LightWorks communications team was also there and talked to the public about what ASU is doing to combat climate change by developing research in clean energy and clean energy technology. Check out event photos from ASU LightWorks here.
After engaging with community partners, event attendees gathered inside the A.E. England Building Auditorium for an informative speaker series. Highlights from the series included a lecture from Arizona energy policy advisor and consultant Nancy LaPlaca. LaPlaca opened her lecture with a powerful fact—Arizona is the sunniest state in the nation yet we get most of our energy from coal. Fossil fuels, like coal, have been contributed with speeding up the rate of climate change. “There is no reason for Arizona to continue getting the majority of our energy from coal” LaPlaca said. She believes that there is a great potential for solar but it takes effort from state residents. LaPlaca encouraged the audience to support solar energy development in Arizona by writing to their politicians. LaPlaca also noted the benefits of rooftop solar for homeowners. “The more time that goes on, the more you save money” LaPlaca said. She believes that installing solar on homes is an energy efficient way to individually combat climate change.
The keynote speaker Eric Corey Freed, Founding Principal, organicARCHITECT, also gave a powerful lecture about energy efficient building designs and architecture. Freed noted the need to eliminate urban sprawl and instead create spaces that allow people to walk to destinations instead of drive. Most of Freed’s urban designs are modeled after spaces that resemble medieval cities, where housing surrounds a bustling city center. He unveiled designs for a local community in Mesa modeled after concepts he discovered in Barcelona, where each housing unit meets at a public square. Although currently a victim of urban sprawl, all is not lost for Phoenix. Fellow speaker at the event Nancy SeLover, Arizona State Climatologist, stated “the urban heat island can be used as a test bed to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies that can be used now and into the future”. Below is a video of Freed discussing his work as an organic architect.
President Barack Obama issued the need to combat climate change in his speech at George Town University this past June. President Obama stated that “the question is not whether we need to act…the question is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late”. The time to be aware of climate change has already passed; now is the time to act with solutions. Being energy efficient and supporting clean energy development is a great step toward implementing solutions to combat climate change. Community outreach events like Act On Climate Phoenix allow members of the public to come together and discuss game-changing ideas to better impact our environment.
Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks
Photos by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks.