Editor's note: Juan Sostheim is owner and founder of Rancho Margot, an eco-resort, educational facility and sustainable farm in Costa Rica. Sostheim is the subject of Sunday's episode of "The Next List," on CNN at 2 p.m. ET.
By Juan Sostheim, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Almost 40 years have gone by since I graduated from the University of Florida and started my professional career. I remember being relieved that the Vietnam War was nearly over and the threat of someone pushing "the button" and starting a nuclear war was becoming an unlikely scenario.
As terrible as these issues were, we always felt that we could somehow it behind us.
Today, we face a very different problem and it’s one which most people feel powerless to do something about on an individual level. I’m referring to climate change.
There have always been and will always be naysayers, but no one can stay on the sidelines and hope someone else will do the right thing. We all must become eco-literate. We all must participate.
In the scientific community, there is no doubt about where we are heading and what is causing it. There is some legitimate debate about how long the devastation due to climate change will take, how much damage we can expect or where, but the situation as a whole is clear; global warming is real and if we don’t change, life will forever be different. I’m an optimist and I know we can change. We must adapt and mitigate but most important of all we must let everyone know where we stand or it will continue to be business as usual.
When I built Rancho Margot, an eco-resort in Costa Rica, I had to make choices. I wanted to have the smallest possible environmental impact - but at the same time I needed to get tourists to come and support what we were doing. How was I going to sell my vision to people who don't believe in climate change? My mission became to get people to realize that small changes in lifestyle can have a big impact. There is no need to sacrifice.
So what is it that we as individuals can do? First and foremost, we must demand that the true cost of all products and services be visible for all to see. This is only possible if we demand that carbon footprints be measured under strict international norms. At Rancho Margot, we chose the PAS 2060 norms from the British Institute of Standards. We emit 115 tons of carbon dioxide per year and, through our mitigation efforts, sequester 1,375 tons. That means we had a minus-1,260-ton carbon footprint in 2011. As consumers, we need to demand this information.
Forget, for the moment, the global picture. This is about us. I want to know how much carbon we emit. I need to know. If this is not consumer protection, I don’t know what is. In the UK, all public companies are now required to report and certify their carbon footprint. It’s a start. It is a slow process and we have little time. In the absence of this consumer protection we need to make common sense choices. We can buy locally produced fruits and vegetables. We can buy quality that lasts and things that can be locally repaired. We need to stop supporting our own destruction. There is a whole sustainable future out there and it’s up to us.
The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of Juan Sostheim.
By Olivia Smith, Special to CNN
New York (CNN) - Imagine wallpaper that does work for you and for your electronics. Wallpaper that doesn’t only protect your walls, but also protects your health, equipment and data.
Researchers at France’s Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble have worked with the Centre Technique du Papier to develop Wi-Fi-blocking wallpaper. The product, also known as metapaper, claims to selectively filter, reduce or reflect electromagnetic waves.
Metapaper not only protects against intruders stealing Wi-Fi from buildings, but also ensures that signals inside a building are more secure and stronger, the group says. Benefits include data security for companies or people that need dependable Wi-Fi. The wallpaper can also be used to create quieter spaces for places like hospitals and movie theaters. FULL POST
Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. CNN's "The Next List" will feature Hauger on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
By Simon Hauger, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Working with teenagers is wonderful. They are a joy and a challenge. They are youthful optimists who believe in their power, and have boundless energy. Young people don’t know what they don’t know, and rather than making them arrogant, it fills them with hopeful idealism. As teachers, it is our job to make direct and audacious demands on their idealism.
My journey began 14 years ago in an after-school program I created at West Philadelphia High to engage kids around math and science. My students entered and won the Philadelphia Science Fair, something kids from West Philly weren’t supposed to do. Then we grew the program into the Electric Vehicle (EVX) Team. We built a full-size electric vehicle that outperformed top universities in the nation’s largest alternative fuel vehicle competition, the Tour de Sol. We went on to create the world’s first hybrid super-car: an awesome hybrid vehicle that was fast and environmentally friendly. At a time when most people had never heard of hybrids, West Philly students were building cars that were greener than the Prius and hotter than the Corvette. The EVX Team was gaining traction and recognition. FULL POST
By Heather M. Higgins, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) – There's a monstrous industrial eyesore that sits ominously along Philadelphia's Delaware River waterfront. However, behind the cobalt blue gates at the southernmost tip of Broad Street is a booming energy innovation center that has the potential to put the City of Brotherly Love back on the national map.
“This area was lifeless and look at it now – it's really special,” said Dave Ziel, chief development officer of Urban Outfitters, Inc, which, along with others, is helping revitalize the Navy Yard area. “The isolation is what gives it the opportunity itself.”
The hipster-friendly retailer, which also operates the Free People and Anthroplogie brands, moved its headquarters into the 19th century red brick workshops at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard in 2005. The workspace promotes a culture of socialization and connectivity while maintaining the integrity of each brand. FULL POST
Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. Hauger will be featured on CNN's "The Next List" this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
By The Next List Staff, CNN
(CNN) – Some call Philadelphia educator Simon Hauger a “revolutionary teacher,” but his students say he’s just “a really, cool guy.” He’s an engineer turned public high school teacher who is inspiring kids to stay in school by offering an innovative approach to learning. “Students need to be engaged in solving real life problems. What we discovered was that when kids are trusted to make real decisions, a ton of learning occurs,” says Hauger, who is 42.
Hauger’s passion was fueled by the highly successful "Hybrid X Team" he formed at West Philadelphia High School thirteen years ago. In this after-school program, inner-city students built hybrid, bio-diesel and electric cars that have won multiple national competitions, beating out cars from prestigious universities like MIT. FULL POST
Editor's note: Taylor Wilson was the subject of CNN's "The Next List," airing Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
By The Next List Staff, CNN
(CNN) - Taylor Wilson is an applied nuclear physicist. He is also 18.
A recent graduate of Davidson Academy, a school for profoundly gifted kids in Reno, Nevada, Wilson has been captivated by nuclear energy and nuclear power since he was 10 years old..
Among his many achievements:
Wilson became the youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion when he was 14 years old. He began the project in his garage in Arkansas but finished it while a student at Davidson, which is located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
He has built a device that can detect nuclear materials in cargo containers and is currently being field tested.
He entered that project last year in Intel’s premiere science fair and won $50,000.
He also showed his counter-terrorism device off to President Obama at the White House Science Fair this year to great effect.
Wilson's latest achievement is developing a working prototype to make radioactive isotopes in a much smaller, more portable, device. It could revolutionize how and where cancer treatments are administered.
The teen-ager was inspired to work on medical isotopes by his grandmother, who died of cancer.
He has won a dozen awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) the Super Bowl of science fairs, over the past four years.
Despite offers from the top universities in the country, he’s chosen to take a fellowship offered by Peter Thiel, of PayPal fame. The fellowship pays him $100,000 over the next two years. Wilson plans to start a company to further develop and market his devices.
Taylor Wilson is a prodigy who could do just about anything he wants. His goal is to use his gifts to solve some of the biggest scientific and medical challenges facing mankind.
Editor's note: Taylor Wilson is the subject of CNN's "The Next List" on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
By The Next List Staff, CNN
(CNN) - At 18, Taylor Wilson has probably accomplished more than most people will in a lifetime.
He is the youngest person in the world to build a nuclear fusion reactor. And he won national acclaim for a counter terror device that sniffs out nuclear material in cargo containers. If that’s not enough, he built a prototype for a device that generates medical isotopes - a feat that could make diagnosing and treating cancer cheaper and more widely accessible to patients.
Wilson has won a dozen awards at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the Super Bowl of science fairs, over the course of his high school career. Not to mention tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.
Editor's note: Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D. is the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Best Bees Company™ . Best Bees™ delivers, installs, and manages honey bee hives to residents of eastern Massachusetts. 100% of their profits go to fund their research to improve honey bee health through their Apivax™ line of products. Their motto is, “Together, we can save the world, one honey bee at a time.”
By Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D., Special to CNN
To all of the readers who don’t think that honey bees are one of the most important concerns of our modern times, let me admit that I know where you’re coming from. I wasn’t the sort of kid who played in the dirt. I was terrified of insects (ew! bugs!), and never forgot my first run-in with a bee that stung me on my sacred pillow as a toddler. But if you eat food and if you enjoy flowers, then you need to pay attention to this.
Honey bees are of vital importance, and their declining populations are an incredibly critical issue. As pollinators, they are responsible for over 130 different fruit and vegetable crops that we eat. As an economic commodity, the cost of some of these crops has already increased because the numbers of honey bees has gone down. This basic supply and demand tilt has already impacted the over $15 billion dollar industry.