Thursday, February 25, 2010

tampa global sustainability

--climate happenings are at the data bank--

In 2006 the previous Provost, who now plays for the Houston Oilers, destroyed the Environmental Science & Policy department, killed its accreditation, funds, and tenure lines, and downgraded the cold leftovers to an environmental option in the Geography Department. In 2010, two weeks ago, the present Provost, who does not play for the Oilers, unveiled the School of Global Sustainability in a big time event. The ceremony, in theOval Theater of the Marshall Student Center, lasted two days, and featured a university president from South Korea, three distinguished keynote speakers, a panel of a community leaders, and four panels of a half-dozen USF professors each: on climate change & sea levels, regional policy, climate change & health, and grand environmental questions.

Alpha females and top dogs of the university showed up in force. The dedication of the School of Global Sustainability signaled new priorities at USF. Next to the provost, nine university administrators participated: the president, three vice presidents, and deans from five colleges: Marine Science, Fine Arts, Arts & Sciences, Public Health, and Engineering. Twenty-five professors from fourteen disciplines joined in: Anthropology, Biology, Business, Earth Science, Education, Engineering, Geography, Geology, Marine Science, Medicine, Philosophy, Public Health, Sociology, and Wetlands Archeology. (If one added Religious Studies, whose supporting faculty is on a well-deserved sabbatical, one could count fifteen.) One topic kept popping up: climate change. Some disciplines were represented by more faculty than others; engineering and public health stick out. Think about it: climate change as subject, and engineering and public health as areas of expertise. It fits, and it shows level-headed realism. People are finally getting up to speed. And I can freely paint the future.

An impression was left by George Luber, Associate Director for Global Climate Change at the National Center for Environmental Health. He spoke about climate and health. Forget about polar bears huddling on melting ice floes as symbols of global warming, he said. With all due respect to our ursine cousins, consider another symbol of climate damage done: the Asthmatic Child.

And then there was this: a mother, walking hand-in-hand with her two kids to school, on a slide, black-and-white, very nineteen-sixty-three. There are synergies, Luber said, of climate mitigation and public health. Boy was this dude right. Look at people now: overweight and harried, without time for kids or anything, since they’re on their phones, in their SUVs, skyping away, blackberrying away, frittering away. And when they pick up kids from school, here in Tampa, then it ain't a pretty picture: an ugly queue of oversized cars idling away at the school driveway waiting for the kids to come out. The kids, of course, are clumsy spongy maggots, pre-diabetic, hyperactive, suffering from ADD, because they sit in school and sit in the car and sit at home, fed on corn byproducts and sugar. But recall the grainy black-and white again: a mom, walking hand in hand, with kids, crossing a lawn. Can you imagine parents actually doing this? Parents so forward-looking and loving and sane that they would have the power and the honor to walk with their children?

Yesterday I talked on the climate revolution and the paradigm shift in the college of public health. Among young Americans there is deep anger against the generation of their bourgeois shallow parents who stole the future from their children. One can turn this anger into constructive energy. As well it should be, because this ripped-off youth is tasked to create a new Renaissance.

Eighty-two months left.


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