Afternoon Plenary Notes

The afternoon notes were much, much less sparse than the morning notes. Quite honestly, I was too utterly fascinated by the presentations to take good notes. We heard an amazing presentation from a couple of middle school kids that makes much of what I do day to day look silly. More importantly, we heard an extremely moving presentation from a Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. She gave a wonderful presentation concerning her organization The Green Belt Movement. Most of my notes center on that presenatation.

Tomorrow I will post my notes from the sessions I attended today, which were pretty extensive. Keep alert for more!

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The Green Belt Movement
. We’re watching a video from the Green Belt Movement. It’s a movement dedicated to planting trees throughout Africa. The problem is that Africa is having problems with deforestation, which causes water loss, soil erosion, and nutritional problems. The Green Belt Movement has started planting trees to reverse some of these trends. Professor Maathai started the movement in Kenya and ultimately won a Nobel Prize for the effort. She is talking about issues about how do trees relate to peace? The idea is shift our thinking of what constitutes “peaceâ€?. The Nobel committee shifted the definition of “peaceâ€? from the “absence of warâ€? to “the respect of human rights and human lawsâ€?. She’s noting that in 2004 the committee wanted to make the case the the shift has also moved to include those who respect “natureâ€? and the “environmentâ€?. Much conflict is based upon the control of limited natural resources (coal, oil, diamonds, water rights, etc). Perhaps the conflict isn’t about guns and bullets, but in fact about how we disproportionately allocated these scarce resources. Thus some seek just allocation violently. Others seek to do so non-violently. Yet others seek to grow these resources. The Green Belt Movement attempts to change the geopolitical system to address the inequitable distribution of resources that leads to conflict. She is now talking about the critical need to have political leaders who are responsible to their citizens. Therefore it became necessary for citizens to stand up for their rights to their government. You have to generate a critical mass of people to stand up to their government for change to happen. This sounds oddly applicable to WV. Education is mandatory to changing the environment. Education elevates the citizens who thereby put pressure on government to elevate standards of living and environment and poverty. One of the better points of the presentation “Sometimes professionals have a problem becoming simple.â€? It was said in relation to having foresters teaching them how to grow their own trees. Now we’re seeing some GIS of the work the Greenbelt Movement has been doing. We’re looking at a map of Kenya that is zooming into layers. It looks like ArcReader. There’s a nice 3D view of Kenya showing the tree areas with the 5 major mountains that are the lifeblood of Kenya. Now we’re in Mt. Kenya. There has been widespread deforestation in Mt. Kenya. This mountain provides upwards of 30% of Kenya’s water. Now on to ArcMap. There’s a site map showing a deforested area. Using remote sensing data, the map attempts to identify areas that were most deforested in the country. He’s showing now land use data that shows areas that have been logged into extinction. Between 1990 and 2000, there was widespread deforestation in this area., shown with remote sensing data. In conclusion, some ideas about what we can do locally. Reuse, reduce, recycle can be extended to include the Japanese idea of (I missed the word… darn fingers can’t type fast enough) which means, “Respect resources and reuse resourcesâ€?. She is now showing a nice “clothâ€? that they use to wrap products that is made of recycled plastic. Kenya has baned thin plastics, which was just announced. Check out “plant for the planetâ€?. It’s a website managed by the UN to plant 1 billion trees. Finally, she challenged GIS people to get involved in planting these tress and mapping where these trees are planted.

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