May 2008 Issue
Solving today’s environmental and economic problems will take more than recycling papers and plastics: It will take redesigning cities to bring them in better balance with nature and make it easier for people to live environmentally friendly lives. For 16 years, David Beach has been at the forefront of addressing northeast Ohio’s ecological problems by conducting research to find and reverse the damages of pollution and urban sprawl, as well as working with organizations to rebuild Cleveland neighborhoods.
Beach has taken that commitment a step further, merging his nonprofit organization, EcoCity Cleveland, with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The result is a new center for sustainability called the GreenCityBlueLake Institute. “It’s a positive vision for the future, a new way of thinking about northeast Ohio,” says Beach about the moniker. “People have embraced the motto. It has really caught on.”
The organization itself, however, hasn’t changed focus. Plans call for long-term thinking about how the region can address problems such as climate change while strengthening the economy. The institute will help communities, businesses and other organizations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This will require energy conservation and new sources of clean, renewable energy, such as solar and wind. Over time, buildings will become more energy-efficient; people will live in walkable neighborhoods, thereby depending less on automobiles; and food will be produced locally and organically, which will result in fresher, healthier provisions requiring less transport.
Looking ahead to 2050, Beach says carbon emissions can be reduced by 80 percent if people take action now. Every incremental action today “from switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs to buying a more fuel-efficient car,” he says, “saves money and contributes to the transition to a more sustainable world.”
For more information, visit www.greencitybluelake.org