John Bates: Think Globally, Act Locally

JohnBates

Like many of you, my work and faith are intertwined. I work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and use satellite data to study the global water budget. For the last 5 years, I’ve helped lead coordination of space agencies around the world to observe and understand essential climate variables through the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). I just ended my term as chair in our meeting in Kyoto, Japan, in the same international conference center where the Kyoto Climate Accord was reached 20 years ago to limit dangerous emissions of greenhouse gasses. That accord is up for renewal at the Paris climate conference that begins at the end of this month, the 21st Conference of the Parties or COP-21. You’ll be hearing a lot about COP-21 in the next few weeks as they negotiate a new treaty aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions. My role at the recent CEOS meeting in Kyoto was to present and win approval for our report on the use of satellite observations in climate monitoring, research and services.

RainGarden-web

UUCA’s Rain Garden

Kyoto also the home to numerous Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines and Mara and I had a chance to visit some of them and their Zen gardens. This gave me some time to reflect on the role each of us can play in improving the environment. I’m proud that UUCA is a green sanctuary and of the special effort of the Welcome Project to capture and reuse the rainwater that falls on our campus and to move to LED lights. The sum of a lot of small things we do every day can and does add up to something larger. So, as we watch and hope for a new accord on limiting dangerous global greenhouse gas emissions, take a moment to reflect on what more you can do individually to improve the local environment.