Out the window to my right a patch of fog is nestled in a verdant West Virginia valley, a perfect postcard cliché. The highway snakes back and forth through wildflowers and Freightliners. I’ve formally abdicated my role as driver, and now Rachel is barreling us toward Washington, DC, where tomorrow I will meet the other Peace Fellows on the first day of The Advocacy Project’s pre-departure training.
For lunch we stopped at a joint called The Blue Moose Café. Halfway through my roasted red pepper sandwich I noticed on the bulletin board an oddly affecting poster. A black and white photograph depicts a half dozen men dressed in flannel, Carhartts, hard hats and boots, wielding lunch pails and thoroughly soiled from a day’s work. They stare with purposeful solemnity at the camera. The bold yellow caption had something to do with jobs and climate change. This being the epicenter of coal country, I expected to find, upon closer inspection, a fear-mongering slogan about devastating job loss that would result from moving away from coal-fired power.
I was wrong. The text was actually a quote from the mayor of a nearby town: “A carbon cap can be summed up in one four letter word: JOBS.” The poster then described how new, “green collar” jobs for these men could be created by a carbon cap-and-trade program in the U.S.
For me the poster (and my initial misread of it) served as an apt metaphor for the simultaneous promise, misunderstanding, conflict, and hope that surround the prospects for clean energy in the U.S. and abroad. On Saturday I’m off to New Delhi, where I’ll spend the summer as an AP Peace Fellow with Chintan Environmental Action and Research Group. The brunt of my internship will be spent telling Chintan’s story and helping them formulate a white paper on the role of waste recycling in greenhouse gas emissions. We’ll also explore models for including and incentivizing New Delhi’s informal wastepicker and junk dealer communities in a community-wide carbon trading system. The clean energy and landfill waste story is a thorny one in the Indian context. In future blog posts I’ll try to make sense of it.
I’m thrilled to be working alongside Chintan, an organization that has for years defended the rights and dignity of Delhi’s informal wastepickers. Together they’ve fought for identity cards, educational opportunities, basic sanitation facilities, and respect. I’m also lucky that AP Peace Fellow Jacqui Kotyk will be joining me at Chintan this summer.
Though I’ve traveled widely in other parts of Asia without incident, at the suggestion of my doctor, in the last three weeks I’ve put on some serious biological armor, inoculating myself against Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid, Polio, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Doxycyline? Check. Cipro? Check. Mosquito repellent? Check. Copies of stuff that proves I’m alive? Check. Excitement? Double check.
Here’s a quick introduction video…
Posted By Ted Mathys
Posted May 10th, 2009