A Teachable Summer

In our work with project partners, we will often note: “Any building can teach you about energy use if you pay attention.”

It is why we like focusing on existing buildings, whether it be a school, an office building, a church or a store. Pay attention to the energy flow through your building over time and how it compares to other similar buildings, and the stage is set to take action to improve performance.

The learning continuum: Awareness >> Understanding >> Change the Behavior >> Get the Results. It can take place overnight (consider: lights out in India the past two days), or it go on for years never moving forward (consider: the world climate change conferences the past 20 years).

The Summer of 2012 is certainly a learning event for those who are paying attention.  And given the record setting hot weather and wide-spread droughts in some parts of our country and the world, record rains in other parts, record fires elsewhere, or record-thin polar ice and rapidly melting glaciers it is pretty hard not to pay attention.

Awareness of the “weird weather” has been heightened, broadly.

So let’s take advantage of this opportunity — Planet Earth is shouting: PAY ATTENTION!

Whatever setting you are in — a student or a teacher at a school, an office worker in a business, a public employee, or a member of a religious congregation — ask yourself (and share the questions with others):

Why is this happening? Is it “normal”? Will it continue? What does it mean to me/us if it is not normal, if it will continue? Am I in a flood zone or a fire zone? Will our insurance rates go up? How will my business be affected? What are the threats or the opportunities? What type of education and skills will be useful 10 or 20 years from now?

The future is predictable and actionable if one listens accurately to what is happening today.

Then ask yourself a couple really serious questions: What is really important for us to do in the next year? Or if you have children or grandchildren, what should they know now so they will be prepared in the world when they come of age?

Is it sufficient for me to take my own bag to the grocery store and drive a Prius or should I show up at the next candidate’s forum and grill those running for office with these questions: What do you think is causing these really unusual weather events? And how would the address policy issues that affect them?

Big questions. Important issues. Challenging years ahead.

It is critical that we all understand what Planet Earth is telling us really quite clearly this summer, and how we need to collectively and effectively and quickly adjust our course to attempt to cushion what’s ahead.

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