Developing a Healthy Relationship With Fear

I once heard a woman being interviewed on the radio say “I know I’m on track when I can smell my own fear and walk right through it.” Fear can be absolutely debilitating or with a little fine tuning, it can be transformed into excitement and exhilaration, much like a roller coaster ride. In these times of such challenging economic and environmental changes, it seems that approaching problem solving with a sense of adventure will be more fruitful for us than remaining in panic or fear. There are plenty of individuals and organizations that are excited about our old structures breaking down just for the opportunity to get to participate in creating the new structures with more sustainable values.

We have a profound yet simple choice before us: to let fear claim us or to develop a relationship with fear that empowers us to take action. The interesting thing about fear is that energetically, it is dense and rigid rather than fluid and flowing. Creativity can only be explored and expressed in the flow of free thought. And since solutions can only be found within creativity, the survival of the human race actually depends on how we relate to fear.

Creativity is not the only gift of fear. Having our fears triggered brings forth our insecurities for us to examine and release, which is at the heart of healing our soul. Developing a healthy relationship with fear is also part of developing a positive relationship with the Self.

So what does a positive relationship with fear look like?

First of all, we become acutely aware of when we are allowing ourselves to be fed by fear or unconsciously absorb it when watching the media or by buying into the fears of others. Filter the type of information that you expose yourself to. Listen to National Public Radio and local community based stations that offer news without sensationalism and provide equal amounts of good news. Listen to the news with discernment to filter the fear based messages and seek out solution based news.

Second, we learn how to become aware of our unconscious fears that choose our behaviors and reactions by recognizing when our ego is active. The ego’s job is to protect our insecurities, so developing a positive relationship with the ego strengthens self-honesty and self-awareness. Befriending the ego actually allows us to let go of shame and guilt and heals insecurities.

Third, we develop our core strength to actively release fear and intentionally increase the fluidity and flow of our energy system. This is a practice that can be performed daily by intentionally releasing fears with your breath as they arise. Unconscious fears can also be proactively sought out and released.

The gifts of developing a positive relationship with fear are infinite. As you increase the fluidity of your energy system through healing fear, flow and harmony will infuse your relationships, projects, and your overall perspective on life. Clarity, solutions, and inner peace present themselves underneath each fear turned over.

Political Process & Urban Youth Development In Niger Delta

At in-dependency in 1960, the Nigerian population was about 50 million. Currently we are an estimate 158 million, meaning that 120 million Nigerians are below the age of 43 years. If those above 60 years are only about 38 million, it therefore means those between the ages of 18- 43 years are the majority. That is about 110 million. Registered voters are currently 130 million according to Electoral Commission of Nigeria, clearly more than half of those eligible to vote are 18 years and above. The pertinent question is therefore: where are the rest of potential voters as out of the 110 million registered voters, only less than 80 million voted in 2007?

The hard fact cannot be bailed out, as more than 142 million people by the Nigerian law are eligible to vote, excluding the ex-convict and the de-franchised.

Then the following ethical summations are put down figuratively:

o 20 million youth aged 18 and above have no Identity cards automatically eliminating them from the voting process.
o A significant number of them have no birth certificates therefore they do not exist.
o Majority (34.3%) of the youth who have votes are apathetic to the whole process. They feel their voting would not make a different.
o For the youth that vote, majority (32 million) vote for the wrong reasons such as: electing leaders from their ethnic groups even though they do not merit, electing those who have dished out the most money, peer pressure and often pressure from one’s family to vote for particular leader as a block.
o A large percentage of the youth watch at the periphery as they are ignorant of the importance of being in political party specifically in the mainstream politics were crucial decisions about a nation are made.
o Civic education has yet to fully incorporated and emphasized that there are youth who are great leaders and merit a chance.

As for those youth in mainstream politics, they face the following:

o Patronage; where senior party members do not create spaces for the youth to play crucial roles in the political parties.
o Lack of clear political party ideology and value system that guides the operation of the party and the conduct of its members indiscriminately especially on age and gender.
o Ethnicity where membership of most political parties is dictated by ethnicity stemming from the founders of the parties or the individuals that are funding it. This has caused chaos, and a lot of heartache for youth who find themselves barred from progressing or participating in crucial roles. The shift of loyalty, distrust, corruption and vertical solidarity determines who gets what within the political parties.
o Gender discrimination has had a negative impact on young ladies within the parties whose participation is limited and their contribution unrecognized. The culture of violence, mud slinging and character assassination has discouraged many competent young ladies from fully engaging in politics.
o Lack of resources, especially funding political activities and maintaining the required mechanisms.

In terms of the employment process, just like the political process and structure development paradigm, young people have the highest rate of unemployment and in many ways are the most vulnerable to the social depredations that are caused by unemployment and poverty. At the same time they are the promise of the future, and failure to invest in the young generation imposes great constraints on the potential for future development. Whether it is investing in the creation of decent work for young people which boosts the economy and lowers the demand for social services, or whether it be supporting peer to peer models of HIV/AIDS education, or supporting youth in creating food security for their community, research has shown that investing in youth brings about healthier youth and healthier communities

STRATEGY AND MOBILISATION FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

The federal Government and its Amnesty group of trustees, and other stakeholders such as NGOs, CLO and other Private donors are a multi-faceted strategy that focuses on recognizing the on-going work of youth on the key urban issues of: economic development; urban peace and conflict; HIV /AIDs; and environmental degradation. These four areas that has become paramount a leverage to resolving the unending national and regional conflicts both religious and economically motivated, that 73% perpetuated by the Youths. The core of the SC strategy is the recognition that youth have the capacity to be meaningfully engaged in urban development programmes. The SC through various youth development initiatives will be a vehicle to mobilize resources to support those most marginalized youth populations in initiating and sustaining youth led programmes.

Strategy 1

Creation of urban based youth resource centres that directly support youth led development issues, such as the Youth Development and rehabilitation, a program set up by various states and local government in Nigeria, especially glaring in the Nigeria Delta, Western, Northern and Eastern geopolitical zones of the country. The focus of these hubs will be a space for youth to organize youth-led programmes in the area of economic development, prevention of violence, and delivery of education and services on HIV /AIDs. This strategy is further outlined below.

Strategy 2

Training youth as peace builders: The World Youth Report 2009 states that a majority of warfare takes place in developing countries, particularly in Africa, where an estimated 200,000 young soldiers between the ages of 10 and 24 risk their lives in the course of armed conflict willed by adults. Even in countries not plagued by armed conflict, the youth have often been misused in the political arena. While their energy and enthusiasms are powerful tools in promoting social or political issues, they are also vulnerable to being misled and misused, often leading to disruptive results. Youth need to be involved in violence prevention strategies, not just conflict reaction strategies. Youth can take the lead. There is also an implementation strategy through collaboration between Federal government agencies (MYA) and their subs, local and national youth organizations, NGOs and local authorities focused on creating effective and sustainable models for urban youth development and employment in Nigeria.

Plans are now in place to assist in the design of other regions/states of the country since by virtue of its implementation in Niger Delta with the following objectives:

Objective of the SC Youth Centres Project:

- To encourage partnerships with relevant stakeholders in the delivery of youth development;
- To increase knowledge, skills and attitude change of young people;
- To respond to educational, socio-economic, recreational, emotional and psychological needs of young people in an integrated way;
- To encourage youth to have greater ownership of development;
- To offer leadership and mentorship to young people.

Six Key Areas of Intervention:

1. Employment and Entrepreneurship: To build capacity of youth to participate effectively in urban poverty reduction through training and by offering employment opportunities in self-employment, formal and informal sectors.

2. Governance and Advocacy: To enhance youth contribution towards better governance by promoting increased youth participation in local government matters, particularly those concerning youth development.

3. Health: To provide services aimed at preventing and solving reproductive health problems amongst the youth by provision of information, skills training, education on reproductive health, counseling and referral services.

4. Communication and Information: To establish mechanisms to effectively communicate and disseminate information to youth, youth organizations and other partners involved in youth work.

5. Environment and Resource Management: To strengthen youth engagement in the protection and improvement of the environment by promoting their participation in environmental justice and governance initiatives.

Needs for financial support:

- Establish satellite resource centres in informal settlements
- Define and initiate employment creation programmes, micro-credit programmes
- Enable more health services to be offered free
- Build more networks and partnerships both locally and internationally
- Provide the library with books and information
- Provide computers for office work and internet access
- Build employment training programmes including global mentoring and monitoring
- Establish a youth trust/small grants programme for entrepreneurship

This partnership has been constructed in order to learn from each other best practices regarding how to address the diversity of challenges facing youth today in urban communities, systems to enable them to make sustainable decisions, and the inter-generational transfer of values.

THE OBJECTIVE OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT IN NATION BUILDING

A nation will add a feather to its cap and process of its development will continue if its ambitious, agile, virile and strong youths are guided on the right direction. The youths of a nation are powerful. They are agile and are inclined to work, but it is usually seen that the youths are unable to yield desired results for want of proper guidance.

Consequently, whatever they do neither it gives satisfaction to them nor does it fulfill the needs of the nation. Under these circumstances to speak of the welfare of Youth in Nation Building, and Human Capital Development is meaningless; until priority is giving to its articulate program that will set them in vogue.

The fact is that after independence the successive generations failed to carve the path of progress on right lines, simply because of the innocuous poor articulation of youths in government’s actions to make certain future decisions in terms of continuity. The moral question is, how can a nation be developed if its youths, those who are willing to undertake any kind of work, one would only but imagine how strenuous it will be, if they are not guided properly?

It will ultimately result in a chaotic situation like the one we are faced with, such as the issues of youth restiveness in the Niger Delta and in other parts of Nigeria and Africa. The society is divided and trapped in the cob-web of problems. Self interest has become dominant, corruption is rampant and what alarms us most is that the national character is on decline.

In order to attend to the problem prevalent with youth restiveness and their role in nation building in the region, there is need for overall human capital development. Because development brings together the production and distribution of commodities, and the expansion and use of human capabilities. For youth to lead a long and healthy life there is need for intellectual and socio-economic enlightenment on their rights, thereby creating those articulate acumen to navigate their paths in accessing resources needed for their decent living, and their involvement in Nation Building. This is where investing in human resource development amongst the timid youths of the Niger Delta, as part of the Federal Government’s “Operation Youth for Nation Building” strategy is imperatively of utmost concern and urgency. There is no gain saying nevertheless that the productive capacity of youths is wider than all other forms of wealth taken together, which perhaps is the centerpiece of this caption.

In my earlier paper presented on the lunching of the Edo State’s Directorate of Youth Affairs and Social mobilization; part of the paper quotes as follows:

The problem of youth restiveness is a mirage until recently when a coalition of civil liberty Organization, NGOs, Government and other international agencies expressed largesse concern over Youth Global development as they collectively and genuinely seek to address the ills and disproportionate spur of Youth affairs in government and their apartheid in Nation Building; such as in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country, with regard to Militancy, sectarian and religious violence, Illiteracy, unemployment, disempowerment etc.

Generally speaking, several militants and youth leaders might not hold the ace on how the solution to the economic, socio-political and environmental problems of the Niger Delta region and its timid youth. However if the region’s leaders and representative of various organization are truly sincere in the ongoing peace process, their actions are capable of creating a vacuum in the economic mainstream and survival of our federal hegemony – Nigeria. In order to facilitate steady and speedy youth capital and human development; there is need to address the following:

a. Provision of sufficient mechanism and infrastructure to boost youth capital initiative and sustainable development.
b. Initiate programme for youth interactive sessions and intellectual model in the discussion of issues such as youth restiveness, the society and economic development of youths in nation building, an agenda that reflects on the youth.
c. Discussing and articulating programs to quell corruption, political irresponsibility among political representative, and inefficiency within government systems and weak social safety.
d. Solution to uplifting the meager status of the youths in issues such as hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and economic disempowerment should be resolved, and programs should be set up at various quarters to attend to these problems.

With the above paradigm, different strategic indicators should be put in place to assume its full mandates of youth capital development by ending restiveness, militancy, violence and all forms of crisis in the Niger Delta region, both internally motivated, nationally alleged, or some sort of ‘International Oil Conspiracy’. Although it is also pertinent to remark that at the root cause and effect of youth conflict in the Niger delta and elsewhere in Nigeria is due to the high incidence of state failures over time to address certain economic, political and sociological issues affecting and reflecting albeit Youth Development. National leaders instead of focusing more on the federal process that brings about equitable development across the nation. The National Leaders are over indulging in paraphelia Federal structure which is suppresses the concept of peace building, and reneging Youth development in Nation Building.

The inability of the Niger Delta states to meet its primary social obligation notably youth and other socio-economic development provision and maintenance of internal order as well as its unconcealed order for misrule, epitomize a total failure of national leadership process and structure within and without.

Even though the youths of Niger Delta is wholly or partly marginalized and displaced, the historical pivotal causes of youth restiveness, which comprises of 96% youth force in Niger Delta region is nonetheless caused by the antecedent of greed, political ambition and individualized cause. This of course is an emphasis on the disunity that has rocked the region’s leaders, and basically for the lack of various established organization’s commitment in the region’s politics, as the leaders are not accountable and transparent; or simply, militant groups finds it difficult to focus on a common goal, vision and ideology of the region’s long national and economic deprivation over time, that makes the crisis seem even more complex, tactical and dangerous.

Let us give a helping hand to the young generation, uplift their morale to enable them to revive the national character and to carry on the process of national upliftment. It is also our duty and if we are indifferently disposed to it, we are certainly disregarding our duty towards the society and nation. Under such circumstances, we have no right to initiate peace process, because if we cannot find people in ourselves, therefore finding peace in others is impossible.

Encourage the youth in nation building is something that is character oriented, and if our leaders in government despise these salient issues, then it is glaring that they are profiting from the violence, and the current national quagmire.

YOUTH AND NATION BUILDING NETWORK

From the above analogy and largesse, the reason for CLO, NGOs and government participation in the facilitation towards ending the conflicts in the region between militants and multinational corporations on one hand, Government and Militants/Youths Leaders on the other hand, and coalition of the willing to prevent further crisis in the region, which houses the leaders and representative from Multinational Oil Corporations, Stakeholders in the peace process, the Government, civil liberty organization and the international community on another end, is to put an end to the violence and under-development in the region. The State and Federal government demonstration of amnesty initiative is a welcome development, and should be embraced by all stakeholders in the area in order to sue for dialogue.

The political independence is essential for the upliftment of a nation, but it is not the end. Much is to be achieved on social and economic fronts. Probably, the political independence was regarded as the ultimate goal. Therefore, the contemporary generation of youths was not given any definite guide-line; with the result they had no knowledge of their duties towards the society or the nation. To avoid further deterioration of the situation, it is necessary to guide the youths in right direction, so that they may engage themselves with the task of completing the unfinished process of upliftment of their nation.

The responsibility of preparing the background and creating a congenial environment in this respect lies with the intellectuals and the leaders of society. But if the leaders through pride and personal ego fail to realize these facts, then we will continue to embark on the enslaved marigold problems.

Separately, the government, NGOs and CLOs have been trying to mediate and facilitate peace process in the area through several MDGs projects, sustainable initiative with communities in the region, and to negotiate with youth leaders, warlords; who because of lack of cooperation and misplaced agenda have been fighting themselves over ethnic, religious and political matters and not because of the plight of their people (Asakitikpi, 2007). These are indeed reasons why any form of peace process in the area has failed, why the Amnesty initiative of the federal government and genuine stakeholders in the Niger Delta will not work, if these leaders through a forum of sincere peace builders in line with government’s plans for development do not come together through consensus.

Asakitikpi went further:

“The headline which quote Alhaji Dokubo as stating that ‘we must control our resources’, suggest the he – Dokubo is not fighting for the rights of his people to have control their resources, but for powerful individuals like himself”.

Going by Asakitikpi’s analogy, it is to say that while there are no genuine youth leaders, other than illustrious personalities like Isaac Adaka Boro, Professor Ake and their likes; the manner in which some of the claimed freedom fighters, Militants (MEND) and co, Youth Leaders and their various administrative structures are composed is not to say beyond measure, unacceptable. Literarily we are all aware of the bunkering episode that brought some of these leaders to financial fame, and the criminal activities to convert federal and state laws into personal enterprise. One must quickly re-visit the differentiation between legitimate leadership structure and a mob operated scheme, which at certain time terrorized the inhabitants of their communities those who stood in their way of justices and legality. These Militants leaders that preaches irrelevancy of the amnesty package today were also instrumental to the building of the foundation along with militarized economic misnomer of the antecedent of military regime, the inability of a decent society across the region. Will it not be refuted with regard to the rationality of these leaders’ genuine course for development in the area, when they were actors in the vandalization of the moral and economic good of their host communities; while circumventing their people and playing the gimmicks with Multinational Corporations and shady government officials? In my Ernest opinion, those leaders that will reject the amnesty initiative of the Federal government are the real terror of the region, and they should face the full blow of the law.

This is indicative of Alhaji Asari Dokubo’s recent nationwide activities as per the crisis in the region, and his docile and incurrent acumen to fully comprehend the dynamics and sincerity as an in-depth mythology of the peace building and Youth development initiative of the region. The reason for this exercise is, for both the Federal Government, MNCs, NGOs, CLOs and Militants Groups to admittedly compensate the people of the region of the havoc melted on them, for the long years of economic degradation, political marginalization, economic deprivation, and barricading terror weighed on them by both Military operations of the Federal Government in their drive to eliminate Militants, and Guerilla warfare on them by Militants.

Through Nation Building, empowerment of Youths in its entire ramification is likely to lead to human capital development which in turn is expresses to reduce the tendency towards anti-social behaviours that affects societal norms, ethics and values. Youth development is not about increase capacity in terms of knowledge and skill acquisition as pronounced in so many organizations’ mission statements nowadays, rather it equally requires that individuals have access to capital so that their means of livelihood could be sustained and realized. A decent society where there is a wide gap between the rich and poor creates the condition for desperation and the undermining of societal values as individuals will do anything possible to avert poverty by any means. This should be discouraged by creating a forum for filling these society gaps, such as government’s concentration on youth development in nation building, as they are the leaders of tomorrow, and the workforce of present and very near future.

POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

This project conception was initiated, in part, to describe why a “shift in approach” has been advocated for how we address youth issues in this country. We are going to be focusing on the ways in which differing points of view have converged to form the field of positive youth development in recent Nigerian centric polity. With the twenty first century’s “discovery” of childhood and adolescence as special periods in which children should be given support to learn and develop, society assumed an increased sense of responsibility for the care of its young people.

Increases in juvenile crime and concerns about troubled youth led in the 2007 of the commencement of the Yar ‘Adua Administration in the beginning of major federal funding initiatives to address these issues, which is collectively packaged and address in several initiative to booster youth sensitization and National identity. These trends accelerated during the 2008, as did national rates of poverty, economic degradation, and other bad government policies which indeed has been instrumental to violence; hence unfortunate returns to Nation building. In the summary put forward by (Nicholas Idemudia et al (2006) An Essay on the Nigerian Political society :)

Yet again, with the impressive research conducted in the early part of 1995 – 1996 by tow foremost American scholars and researchers;

Changes in socialization forces that have historically nurtured the development of children – especially in the family – necessitate reconceptualization of school and community practices to support the family in its mission to raise successful children (Hernandez, 1995, from Weissberg & Greenberg, 1997: 5).

Any Youth Development and Outreach Program should seek to promote the participation and leadership of Nigerian Youths and young people in the development process of nation building. The purpose wherefore should be to highlight the value that young people can play in the effort to build a region with stable democracies, sustainable economies, and equitable societies. By establishing alliances with the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and youth, the government and all stakeholders should emphasize participation and leadership, entrepreneurial development, technology, and community service to the end of:

Empowering young people to become involved in their personal development and that of their communities, and advocating youth development and participation as an integral part of development; mainstreaming youth development and participation throughout the nation’s Ministry of Youths Affairs operations, and promoting inter-organisational partnerships to advance youth development and participation.

Although is difficult to implement at first hand, yet with systematic efforts to enforce actualization, the government through what this research material can offer give attention to issues which will turn out as effective than any other implementation one may think fit for Youth awareness campaign strategy.

Activities should include:

(1) YOUTH AND CAPACITY BUILDING: Capacity building, which involves creating training, initiatives and projects that develop the managerial, technical, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills of youth, so that they might become actors in the development process rather than the subjects of that process. Facilitation of communication among youth in the form of a regional network of more than 13.5 Million youth leaders and social entrepreneurs across Nigeria actively engaged in socio-economic activities who will serve as agents for development in their communities should be a government at all levels investment planning. In the area of outreach and communications, the creation of public awareness among the general public, government agencies, and the non-profit and private sectors on the contributions and value of youth participation and development. In addition, the programme should develop communication tools and promote the best practices and model programmes of youth development through conferences, audiovisual materials, publications, television programming, press articles, a quarterly newsletter, and The Youth Development and Outreach website such as those of the National Youth Council of Nigeria and several others.

(2) INTER-ORGANISATIONAL COLLABORATION: The creation of strategic alliances with public, private, and non-profit sectors to advocate for effective youth participation as agents for development in that region through information exchange, project collaboration, resource mobilisation, and dissemination of best practices promotion of the importance of Inter-Regional collaboration and inter-agency partnerships to better respond to the needs of youth representation of the MYA in the Geopolitical Working Group on Youth Development (GPWGYD)), a consortium of National donor agencies (such as philanthropist, Governments, and national NGOs) that supports new approaches to positive youth development and participation in Niger Delta and Nigeria as a Nation. Intra-agency mainstreaming, that is, the development of internal alliances with other departments and MYA parastatal Offices to integrate youth development and participation into the Federal government through the MYA’s mission and project pipeline, and Policy advocacy and formulation that promotes a supportive policy environment for youth development and participation by engaging in policy formulation initiatives with other partners.

YOUTH ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN NATION BUILDING

It is now obvious that the future of Nigeria lies in good leadership and those responsible are without dispute young leaders. We all agree that good governance, democracy, constitutionalism and nation building are heavily shaped by the quality of a country’s politics. If the future of Nigeria lies in the youth, how then can space be created in the mainstream politics to realize it? Let us take the antecedent of Ghanaian political scene for example.

The overarching goal of the present Administration’s initiative is to mobilize and harness the abundant resources of Nigeria’s youth towards improving the quality of life in cities and towns with a view to empower vulnerable urban youth groups for improved socio-economic inclusion and development.

Imperatively, a new dawn has emerged where the luxury of comfortably sitting back and complaining as youth has long gone. Nigeria cannot continue being a continent of succession without successors, youth leaders are the best alternative. With regard to the researches conducted over time, both in Nigeria, United States, Europe, Asia, The Caribbean and South America, some of the forward include:

o Legal backing through Political Party Bills, a strong National Youth Policy and lobbying for Affirmative Action Bills for the youth (The MYA has through the Federal initiative calculated efforts to make this possible amidst its National Agenda).

o Strategies on resource mobilization to support potential youth election candidates, civic education with a special focus on the critical role of youth, networking and coordination of youth activities to form a platform where we speak in one voice and push our agenda, working with media for the benefit of youth and building their capacity as leaders who work with and for the people they represent and thus, the community at the grassroots. Encourage youth to join sound political parties.

o Youth have to develop good leadership skills and learn from others. Practice leadership that enables positive transformation in our countries.

o Focus and scope of leadership should not be limited to politics and national level; it should transcend boundaries into regional and international levels. We should be able to have competent youth representatives in such bodies. It is imperative to adapt universally accepted value systems, broaden our knowledge by exposing ourselves to what youth leaders and leaders from other age-groups and countries are engaged in, learn and adapt what works best.

In order to implement the youth initiative both nationally and locally, all the stakeholders in youth awareness and mobilisation should kick-off with their own style of campaign coupled with statutory funding; where agenda are specified and accessed by a committee. A key focus of these partnerships will be to take the local initiatives of youth nationally as expression by the Mission statement of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) and the National Youth Initiative Forum (NYIF), and this is to ensure it bring them all, collectively to a level in which they can be shared with other youth, researchers and policy makers. This effort is unique in its approach in that it starts from the belief that youth are agents of change within their communities. Most development programmes see youth as being the problem, on whom development programmes can fix. They treat youth as passive receptors, unable to act, and needing to be acted upon. This in recent time have been refuted, gnashed at and fought with the last youth blow ever known. It is unacceptable, and any political process that encourages such a misconception and misrepresentation of the ideology of the youth as the fountain of nation building is doomed to fail, and research indicates that such a process will continue to fail.

Top Environmental College Degrees For Green Collar Jobs

This is the right time to be searching for a green collar job, because the world is investing heavily into the environmental sciences. With petroleum prices as high as they are governments are finally giving incentives to companies who invest in alternative energy, in eco-friendly packaging, recycling, and other green initiatives. But getting a job in this ‘green’ niche isn’t easy without the right kind of college degree. Here are the top college degree programs for people interested in getting on the green train:

Environmental Science Degrees

What is it?

This is a large scientific field which includes some well known areas of study such as ecology, forestry, geology, and hydrology. Over the years, this arena has grown to also cover such areas as the soil sciences, natural resource conservation, atmospheric science, and some aspects of oceanography. And, no matter what area you choose to study, conservation and sustainability is the ultimate goal.

Course of Study and Curriculum

These degree programs provide a broad field of study natural and social sciences. This allows students to create their own focus of study as the progress in the department. Many college programs offer an interdisciplinary curriculum which incorporates courses from the natural and social sciences, as well as technology, business, law, and other fields. The knowledge from these courses allows students to have a better understanding on problems such as pollution, the human population, waste management, and wildlife conservation.

At the Graduate level, a Master of Science allows students to develop a specialized field of study. This advanced degree increases job value and is sometimes necessary for more advanced careers.

Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of jobs for environmental scientists will grow more rapidly than average over the next 5-10 years.

With people focused on the environment, the work of scientists will remain critical to the goals of sustainability and conservation. Scientists are needed not only as watchdogs of the environment, but also as consultants when it comes to the education of the community. Their expertise is needed in areas of water quality, recycling, waste management, and various public and individual efforts to “go green.” Also, the continued implementation of federal and state policies and corporate regulations will continue to increase the need for trained workers.

Most professionals in the field find work in environmental protection, research, and natural resource conservation. And, as the need for workers increases across many employment sectors, scientists are now found working for government entities, public and private agencies, and non-profit companies, as well as in the world of academia as teachers and professors.

Environmental Studies Degrees

What is it?

This is an interdisciplinary field focusing on the interaction of humans and the environments, mainly the ecosystems of the planet. A wide ranging field, it can include various ecosystems and habitats, such as the natural and social environments, planned environments (urban), and the interrelationships among them.

Course of Study and Curriculum

Degree programs incorporate the natural (biology, physics, geology) and social sciences (philosophy and ethics, history, sociology, anthropology) and many fields in humanities, with the focus on learning about humans, society, and the relationships to the natural world. This is another field where students have the opportunity to develop their own course of study and academic focus.

Samples of courses offered at the University of Oregon:

- Climatology
- Physics of the Atmosphere
- Forest Biology
- Wetland Ecology & Management
- Human Ecology
- Population and Environment
- Political Ecology
- Ecological Energy Generation
- Environmental Alteration
- Geological Hazards
- Human Adaptation
- Human Population

Careers

The job market for professionals is expected to grow. As public consideration of issues concerning the environment and the management of natural resources increases, and as more government agencies and corporations are pushed to comply with environmental regulations and policies, the need for trained workers will increase.

Graduates find careers with large businesses and corporations, mainly focusing on policy compliance, or working for smaller companies in the field of resource management and conservation. Professionals also find work in panning, policy administration, and analysis.

Environmental Policy and Management Degrees

What is it?

This field relates to the use of natural resources and the connection to human and economic factors. It is an interdisciplinary field of study, incorporating everything from eco-related issues and policies to sustainable development and planning. It involves the supervision and control of the environment and natural resources, while optimizing sustainability and minimizing negative impacts.

Course of Study and Curriculum

The field focuses on the delicate relationship between the environment and its ecosystems and the development of business and industry. It is a broad field that can incorporate Urban Planning, EH&S, and even Environmental Science programs. Due to this wide range of study, students in this major study topics in the natural and social sciences, humanities, business, and law.

Careers

With the attention now paid to green concerns, there is an increasing demand for trained professionals to oversee movements to improve the quality of the environment, and to guide public efforts on the local, regional, and national fronts.

Graduates enter careers that focus on the financial and social aspects of business and eco-friendly practices. Careers are found in a wide range of areas including, advocacy and policy groups, and smaller business and non-profit entities, and as consultants for government agencies, public and private companies, and large corporations. People devote their careers to ensuring that governmental policies and regulations are strictly enforced.

Green Law Degrees

What is it?

Due to the increase of federal policies and regulations (there are now over 15 federal environmental statutes) that have been enacted to protect the environment from the problems of pollution and resource misuse, Green Law is a growing field. The field includes the application and enforcement of policy, the overseeing of corporate responsibility, the treatment of waste and the regulation of the sanitation industry, the testing and improvement of water and air quality, and the manufacturing of household goods, to name a few.

Course of Study and Curriculum

Green Law students study an interdisciplinary curriculum of law and science, which often includes courses in economics, ethics, and urban and regional planning.

Areas of Focus at Pace Law School:

- Pollution Control and Enforcement
- International and Comparative Environmental Law
- Land use
- Energy
- Climate Change

Courses Offered:

- Compliance and Enforcement
- Animal Law
- Protection of Cultural Resources
- Conservation Law
- Energy and Natural Resources
- Historic Preservation
- Ocean and Coastal Law

Careers

The growing awareness and concern over eco-issues has resulted in an evolving field of green law. Due to this, the demand for lawyers in the field is expected to increase over the next few years.

Lawyers are now found in major law firms across the country, in federal, state and local environmental agencies, and on staff at many nonprofit eco-organizations (Greenpeace). These lawyers represent public interest and advocacy groups (EPA), concerning adherence to federal policies.

Environmental Engineering Degrees

What is it?

This type of engineering involves the application of scientific and engineering practices to prevent environmental damage and to correct existing problems. People in this field are involved in the design, construction, and maintenance of structures and methods aimed at protecting the environment and sustainability. Involved in this is water and air quality control, waste management, alternative energy development and research, pollution research, and many other environmentally based practices.

Course of Study and Curriculum

Programs incorporate the natural, social, and physical sciences to analyze, correct, and improve the interactions society, technology, and the environment. While many schools are developing Environmental Engineering programs, most are still found in the main Engineering departments of universities across the U.S.

A bachelor’s degree is required for most engineering positions, however, engineers often continue their education with graduate degrees and certificate programs to stay updated on industry changes and to attain advanced positions.

Areas of Study at the University of Connecticut:

- Water Supply and Resources
- Systems Modeling
- Green Chemistry
- Waste Management (Solid, Wastewater, Hazardous Wastes)
- Atmospheric Systems and Air Pollution Control
- Environmental and Occupational Health
- Hydrology of Earth Resources

Careers

As the shift to alternative fuel and power sources increases and as more corporate regulations and eco-policies are enacted, personnel are needed to build, operate, and maintain technologies and machinery according to regulations. Over the next decade, the need for recent graduates in the field and transitional engineers will increase.

Green engineers work in the fields of waste water treatment, hazardous waste and materials control, and air and water quality control.

Home Wind Turbines: An Economic and Environment Friendly Way of Producing Electricity

Traditional sources of energy are becoming very expensive which has resulted in to tapping the alternative energy sources like home wind turbines. These renewable sources of energy are becoming more and more important as the conventional energy prices are rising at a very fast pace. As per the experts the current reserves of oil will last for few decades due which these alternative energy sources like solar energy and home wind turbines energy sources are becoming popular. Fortunately, the current scenario is very progressive in the field of developing alternative energy sources.

Home wind turbines are still a fairly new option for most of us. Using such environment friendly solutions is definitely a wise decision. It is simple enough to build your own wind generator turbine or a solar power generator which makes it even more useful for the users. These energy sources have various benefits over the conventional ones. These generate less greenhouse gases which help in keeping the environment clean. Secondly, they are renewable resources of energy which are in abundance. Seeing the consumption these resources are going to be really beneficial and will never fall short. Additionally, these wind generator turbines require very less maintenance which reduces the cost on long term. The cost associated with these wind turbines are mainly of constructing and setting up the turbines.

Home wind turbines are very feasible yet cost effective. Overall, using a wind generator turbine is an excellent way to decrease your energy bills and a positive step towards environmentally-conscious living. Mostly these natural sources of energy are utilized at specific locations due to the different climatic conditions like residents of sunny locations opt for solar panels but within no time these wind power sources are going to become very popular. The installation can cost you somewhere between $500 and $22,000, depending on your energy requirement.

Well, the fact is that these home wind turbines can completely compensate for your energy needs, but there are still many technical improvements that need to be made before making these energy sources a simple and a more viable option.

Sustainable Construction: The Future of Commercial Development

Sustainability is a significant issue of our times. Considering the social as well as the environmental benefits resulting from sustainable development, it is a no-brainer to direct all concerted efforts towards this notable cause. Sustainability can be defined as the ability to fulfill today’s needs without affecting the ability to fulfill tomorrow’s needs.

Sustainable development is recently being actively pursued by several developers and planners; the following are the primary factors that have contributed to its relevance, awareness and prominence:

o Some countries have made it a legal requirement and included sustainable development in the regional and local policies.

o Agencies are setting standards for sustainable development and are making efforts to promote it.

o The UK government has included sustainable development in its policy among other environmental issues like carbon dioxide emission reduction.

The UK government has made some remarkable progress in light of the recent trend towards sustainable development. It has defined a set of indicators that measure the quality of life; these include social, economic and environmental issues. The ratings on these indicators help measure how well a project is faring on the sustainable development scale.

Sustainable development is not an option for high-profile projects alone; efforts are being made to make it increasingly more feasible for all project types and budgets. Sustainable development includes the use of sustainable materials, resources, and design which includes the location, orientation, structure, systems, construction, use and also the eventual disposal of waste. All these elements are significant and in order for sustainable development to initiate and flourish, all or at least a few should be sustainable.

Sustainability does not indicate that the elements should simply have the “recyclable” label. Each person involved at every step of the process should work to ensure that the recyclable products actually get recycled.

Design of a project is the chief consideration that establishes whether a project will really meet the sustainable development requirements. The various decisions involved throughout this comprehensive and cumbersome process will determine the quality of products and resources that will be available to the project team. As we are still early in the course of sustainable development, an approach of trying and learning from the results is needed to arrive at the “perfect” combination for a sustainable development project. The following are among the various considerations for sustainability:

o Resource extraction and depletion

o Land use

o Waste disposal

o Contamination of ground water and surface water

o Global warming

o Pollution of air, water, noise etc.

o Economic development

o Impact on communities

o Environmental degradation

o Habitat destruction

Our current method of construction and approaching a development project is taking a toll on the environment. To name a few impacts:

o Extraction of required materials consumes the rapidly-depleting non-renewable resources

o Waste generated is disposed into the sea or landfills

o Resulting pollution affects the atmosphere and the quality of life

o Waste of energy due to poor construction and rapid failing designs

The major factor that drives people towards or away from a sustainable development project is the cost. In an attempt to compete and win a contract, builders offer extremely low prices. This strategy, however, has some very adverse affects and, if not checked immediately, can lead to extremely harsh consequences for the environment and for the people.

Solutions to this problem have been ascertained and the implementation of these solutions requires a strong will and a commitment to improve the conditions and thereby, make a difference in the world. Although the economic cost of alternatives to sustainable development is low, the costs to the environment and the people are much higher. These costs include a reduced quality of life, dangerous health impacts, polluted air and many more. The sooner we realize the relevance of sustainable development, the better we will be at taking steps to flip the situation in our favor. Either we choose to get away with the monetary costs and pay the environmental costs or we learn to take responsibility and consequently, pay the economic costs for a better and healthier environment. Soon, the costs shall disappear into a better and healthier quality of life.

Another way to look at the costs might provide the required motivation to commit oneself to this approach. The economic costs that seem additional at present will transform into nothing. In a matter of a couple years, sustainable development will be the norm and the way of life and at this time, the owners of sustainable projects will be enjoying the edge. The extra costs will become savings then. Realizing the potential and benefits of sustainable development is an asset in itself and those who act intelligently on the available information will benefit.

The sustainable development solution is a choice at the moment but soon enough, this choice will turn into a mandatory obligation. And perhaps, then might be too late to reverse the damage that has been done and to correct the actions. We should take responsibility for our actions and should follow the sustainable development approach as this is a decision we will be proud of. Acquiring this approach is not just the rightful decision that will prove rewarding for ourselves but it is also the selfish decision. In no time, sustainable development will become the required standard for urban, suburban, residential as well as commercial development.

How Will People Without A Lot of Money Survive the Coming Economic Turmoil?

I have been reading and hearing a lot of discussion lately about the very real potential for a serious economic collapse of the U.S. economy. This discussion is not coming from government, industry or the wealthy one percent. For them this is an inconvenient discussion, and does not work with their plans and positions of wealth and power.

When you look at what is happening around the developed world, you see very similar economic issues, mostly tied to debt. Along with Greece, other European countries are also struggling with the real potential of economic calamity.

The U.S. is definitely not immune to the possibility of what is know as hyper inflation. This is where the costs of everyday goods go through the roof. The result is the loss in value of the American dollar. If this happens, the dollar will only buy a fraction of what it can buy today.

The scary issue here is that this collapse can happen rapidly.

The big question is what can an average person of average means do, to stay afloat.

Let me tell you a story about how I believe it is possible to minimize the discomfort that will occur from hyper inflation and a serious economic collapse.

I do not have a lot of money, I do have some equity in real estate and a little savings. I have been a self employed artist for most of my adult life. The income from my art business slipped down and away a few years ago during the Bush era. Since then I have survived by doing a little of this and little of that. My wife and I have a home based network marketing business. I have created some income from buying, selling and remodeling real estate, but that stopped being reasonable a couple of years ago with the housing crash. I have come to realize that due to this downward economic spiral, I needed to re-look at my already simple lifestyle. I looked to see what else I could do to lower the cost of my lifestyle. Admittedly, being an environmentalist I also want to live as softly, with as small a foot print as I can, so the simpler the lifestyle, the better.

In order to do more than just barely survive, first we have to simplify our lives. We must learn to need and want less. We can learn to get our enjoyment and entertainment from lower cost or free sustainable sources. We live in a time of unbelievable over consumption of all kinds of goods, including expensive food from all over the world. We will need to rely on local products and local food sources. Part of the change that will be coming has to do with the transportation of goods across the world. We will see that slow way down and goods from far away will be extremely expensive. At least until new sustainable energy sources are implemented that change the cost and environmental damage from worldwide transportation of goods.

We can cut our energy use way down by being super conscious about conserving. Where ever possible we can use systems that do not require a lot of electricity or fuel. Consider walking or riding a bike instead of exclusively driving everywhere. Use a clothes line to dry clothes instead of only using a dryer. Recycle everything possible. If you have the space and ability, grow a garden and do some food preparation and storage; like drying fruit and vegetables. Grow extra food to trade for things you need. Create community around you and develop a system for sharing and trading.

If you have some assets, consider converting them into cash, land or precious metal like gold or silver. You will need assets that are less effected by the crash of the currency and hyper inflation.

Having your own home business offering something people need and want will prepare you for a possible loss of employment. The unemployment rate is going to go way up. In some European countries there is now 30 and 40% unemployment. In the U.S. 9% unemployment is already causing a lot of pain and discomfort for a lot of people. Imagine 40% unemployment. Do not think because it has not happened in your life time that it cannot happen.

This may all sound like extreme paranoia or the rantings of a nut. It is not. Look around and start reading and educating yourself about all the signs that are out there. We are quickly reaching tipping points that will cause a domino effect.

To be very clear, I am not talking about the total end of the human race or the end of the U.S. culture. I am talking about some serious hard times for the vast majority of the world population. Those that heed the warnings and create some sort of plan to prepare themselves, both mentally and physically, will be in a much better position to ride through these changes.

I have heard it said that in one measure of the effects from global financial instability, people in the third world will suffer the most. Another measure says that actually much of the third world poor will not suffer as much, because they already live such simple lifestyles that the coming changes will effect them less. They do not depend on a vast complicated infrastructure that is based on massive material consumption and energy use. It is people of moderate income and the poor, living in the modern high tech culture that will feel the most dramatic changes. Especially in the big cities.

Making plans to understand and deal with these changes makes total sense if you are looking at the whole picture of what is happening world wide.

The economic collapse will be a result of a variety of issues that are coming together like a perfect storm.

The following are are some of the Issues and events that are likely, possible or already exist:

They include:

Over population is one of the main drivers and is a tipping point.

Rising national and world wide debt.

The exhausting of the worlds resources, including fresh water.

So far, there is no real plan for implementing alternative sustainable energy sources on a mass scale.

The effects of global warming and the potential economic fallout from major natural disasters is very real.

Hyper inflation and the failure of the U.S. dollar will effect economies all over the world.

Our completely out of control dependence on oil will come to haunt us.

An out of control healthcare system with no real safety net is an economic nightmare.

The potential massive disruptive effects of any wide spread electrical failure will cause a massive economic freeze.

Most of these issues are happening or have a serious potential of happening as I write this article. They all amount to massive economic out put that is unsustainable.

There is a lack of will to promote any serious lifestyle changes on the part of the political leaders. Even average people seem to be in denial. Unfortunately it appears that people in the U.S. will have to suffer to a very extreme degree before they decide to take action and demand change.

If you heed the warning signs that are all around us; if you take a critical and honest look at the sustainability of the direction in which we are headed; it is clear that we are headed for some serious changes in how we live on this planet. Being prepared by making preparations now, will make a huge difference in how you and your family are personally effected by these changes.

I chose to write this article because I am concerned for my fellow citizens and the population of our planet. It takes time to institute lifestyle changes. We have to mentally change our perspectives and physically change how we live day to day. It takes time to make changes, we are all up against some time lines for action.

I don’t plan on waiting till it is to late to start making changes. Learning to live with lifestyle changes also takes time. Now is the time to take action.

Recycling Plastic Makes Economic and Environmental Sense

Plastics products are ubiquitous throughout the world. As dependency upon these light weight and durable products increased, so too has the need for global innovation in recycling technologies. Over the decades recycling companies developed a variety of processes to turn discarded plastics into hundreds of products from paint brushes to rugs and pillows, boat hulls and railroad ties.

Calling the Consumer
The greatest challenge to recycling manufacturers is educating and engaging the public. About 75 percent of Americans recycle newspaper and cardboard while little more than 25 percent recycle plastic. Industry analysts think this low response rate might be due to a lack of understanding about the coding on recyclable plastics – the small triangle with a number in the center – that identifies what kind of plastic an item is.

The most frequently recycled plastics of the seven groups of polymer plastics are PET 01,used in soft drink bottles and smaller jars; PE-HD 02, a harder and more durable plastic used in milks bottles and large trash bags; and PE-LD 04 that’s tough yet flexible and used in frozen food bags, flexible container lids and squeeze bottles.

Although the recycling rate of these and other products is not yet impressive, the numbers have been steadily rising since 1990. In 2006, about 2.2 billion pounds of PET plastic bottles were recycled and 928 million pounds of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) containers made it to recyclers.

Innovating PET Production
As awareness of the environmental damage done by polymers increased, so too did the urgency to encourage recycling. At the same time, experimentation with processing and application rose. For example, according to a CNN report, a Ph.D. in India, Dr. S. Madhu, included shredded and melted plastic in a roadway surfacing mix. Working for the Kerala Highway Research Institute, Madhu mixed the plastic with aggregate and bitumen to create a surface that withstands the pounding of annual monsoon seasons.

Working in a highly regulated environment, conventional recycling manufacturers focus on producing a long list of common products. Although processes vary, they generally follow a common methodology. First, plastics are sorted according to their PET identification number. This is often done before the recycled products reach the manufacturer. The “dirty” PET containers are also cleaned of labels, glue and other residual materials. A dirty regrind of the PET then goes to re-claimers who process the material into a form that can be used by manufacturers. Re-claimers further clean the materials of contaminants and materials that are lighter than the plastic. The final flakes of PET are washed with a special detergent that gets rid of glues, food or dirt.

Next, the PET materials are further treated with processes that separate the heavier PET particles from the lighter ones – this is called the float-sink stage. The plastics are then dried and ready to become new products in the hands of manufacturers throughout the world.

But, new methods are constantly being developed to recycle PET products, including a de-polymerization process that “reverses” the chemical process used to make the polymer. There are pilot projects using this method, as well as other innovative processes to make plastic recycling more environmentally friendly and economical.

Demand for Recycled Products
The importance of recycled PET and HDPE cannot be ignored. The latter, heavier PET is used to make building materials that become backyard decks that last longer than wood; it becomes lawn furniture, trash cans, office products, buckets, safety cones and much more. HDPE can also be used to manufacture above and below ground water storage tanks that withstand decades of use.

Of five major classes of PET plastics, the most high-end use is to manufacture new PET bottles and containers. Other classes include plastic sheeting or plastic that’s used for molding small items such as scoops for laundry detergent; strapping materials for packaging and transportation; resins that are used in molds for automobile components; and material that’s combined to make fibers for carpeting, fabrics and fiber fillings.

Recycled PET can show up in unexpected places such as business cards, sleeping bags, baseball caps and the welcome mat at your front door.

In the Hands of the Consumer
Ultimately, it’s all up to the consumer. Awareness of the environmental benefits of recycling plastic and the viability of manufacturing with recycled PET can mitigate environmental damage and support a global industry that returns economical and useful products to the marketplace.

In the U.S., many municipal governments have made it easier for consumers to recycle plastic. Cities accept all plastic products with the recycle symbol and do the sorting themselves before shipping off for further processing. The consumer doesn’t have to deal with separating PET numbers or peeling off labels. Many states have passed legislation commonly known as “bottle bills” that charge a small fee for plastic containers. There is greater value to the consumer to recycle when there is the incentive of a redemption value. Some communities have “drop off” recycling centers and others have “buy back” centers that pay consumers for recyclable materials.

Whatever the method of recycling or the process that recreates value from discarded PET products, it’s clear that the public, governments and industry share a financial and environmental stake in the practice of plastic recycling.