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Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day 2012: Garnering The Power Of Technology To Protect "Nuestra Tierra"

By Mark Magana
Executive Director
National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC)

This Sunday marks the 42nd observance of Earth Day, commemorating the first massive nationwide protest against the degradation of our environment. Across the U.S. close to 20 million people held demonstrations to place environmental protection on the national political agenda. Over the years, Earth Day has turned into an event of global proportions, raising public awareness about pollution, conservation, sustainability and more importantly, urging world leaders to translate environmental concerns into public policies that will curb the threats of climate change and decrease our reliance on dirty and harmful sources of energy.
For our organization, the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC), environmental protection is about safeguarding the health and quality of life of the Latino community, a population that is heavily concentrated in areas where pollution from industry and vehicles are not only accelerating climate change but also making our air harmful to breathe. Through research, policy, and educational outreach, we are building the knowledge base about environmental issues among Latinos. We are informing Latinos across the U.S. about the stake that we have in protecting the environment, promoting a clean-energy economy and ultimately, making local and national environmental goals work for our families and communities.
The question now is, how can individuals take action to stand up for our environment, nuestra Tierra. Luckily there are some exciting new technologies and devices that can amplify our efforts and help make it easier for individuals, communities, and businesses to work together for the good of the Earth, particularly reducing carbon and greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases.
There are now a variety of “green” apps available for mobile devices, which can help people choose the best energy-efficient light bulbs, discover nearby walking and biking trails to explore the outdoors, and even find locally-grown foods with a smaller carbon footprint. The list doesn’t end there: Eco-friendly apps are available to help people learn about recycling, monitor fuel efficiency, and locate green products (and even verify product label claims).
Individuals and families can use technology to enhance green lifestyles and to improve their conservation efforts, but there are many technologies available to help Latino businesses be more efficient and environmentally conscious too. For example, Machine to Machine (M2M) technology allows companies to connect different systems and use a smartphone or tablet to monitor operations remotely. M2M technology can save companies money and help save the Earth by making it possible to monitor warehouse stock and maintain just-in-time inventory, which means less product to store. Additionally, M2M makes it possible to monitor and regulate thermostats, air quality measurements, irrigation, and even pollutant levels—and from remote locations.
More and more companies in a variety of industries are discovering that telecommuting— eliminating the commute to work by giving workers the flexibility to work from home or a location of their choice— is both cost-effective and good for the environment. By reducing traffic and pollution, telecommuting—even just a few days per week—can drastically diminish the environmental impact of the daily rush-hour commute and may even increase worker productivity. In many cases, video teleconferencing can eliminate the need for long-distance travel to achieve “face-to-face” meetings.
All of these innovative Earth-saving technologies rely on wireless communications technologies. And wireless technologies run on spectrum; however, the amount of available spectrum is running out even as more and more green technologies and wireless devices are being developed. A “wireless traffic jam” will halt progress and it’s imperative that more unused and underused spectrum is freed up. In doing so, more and more people and businesses can use the available wireless technologies to help conserve energy, reduce costs, and make smart ecological choices. That way it can be Earth Day everyday.
MARK D. MAGAÑA is the Executive Director of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC) and founder/Principal of Magaña Associates and Hispanic Strategy Group. He is the first Latino to serve as senior staff for both Congressional Leadership and the White House. Mr. Magaña has amassed over 20 years of high-level governmental, legislative and policy experience in the nation's capital, advocating for policies beneficial to the Latino community.