Forum Speaker Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels shared his plans to transform Seattle into one of the world’s most sustainable cities
Read the Final Sustainability report (pdf) 13,692 kb
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Metropolitan Atlanta continues to be one the fastest-growing regions in the nation, adding more than a million people in the last seven years alone. The region is currently facing numerous challenges associated with growth, as well as national and global challenges that are likely to shape future growth. We must look ahead and envision a preferred future that insures our success as well as sustainability for future generations.
Challenges associated with air and water pollution endanger our precious natural resources. The health and quality of life of future metro Atlanta residents is put at risk if we don’t seriously address our water supply and quality, land consumption, development patterns and commute options.
Historically, air pollution is one of the region’s more pressing challenges. Air quality challenges the Atlanta region faces results from both stationary sources such as power plants, as well as mobile sources such as automobiles. Roughly 63 percent of Georgia’s electricity generation comes from coal-fired power plants, which emit mercury, precursor to ground level ozone; and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to climate change. On the contrary, less than 10 percent of Georgia’s electricity generation comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar or tidal power.
As a result of its fast-changing growth patterns, resource conservation is another challenge metro Atlanta faces. Between 2001 and 2007, almost 100 acres of agricultural and forested lands were converted to another use every single day. Paving and building over greenspaces and greenfields exacerbates the region’s air and water quality challenges, negatively impacting habitat diversity and creating urban heat islands.
These are significant issues, but it is increasingly accepted that addressing these issues within a framework of sustainability offers new opportunities - green jobs, maximized efficiency, less waste, a healthier population and a cleaner environment.
Leaders in the Atlanta region are recognizing the positive potential of a focused effort to create a more sustainable region. Sustainability can be an overwhelming concept, but in short, it should be thought of as a systematic way to understand the economic, environmental and social consequences of our individual and collective actions.
There isn’t a playbook to follow that can guide us towards a sustainable society. But, we are exploring the concept through ARC’s Fifty Forward initiative.
At the first Fifty Forward program, held April 10 in partnership with the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, more than 500 Atlanta leaders and residents, either onsite or online, listened as Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels shared his plans to transform Seattle into one of the world’s most sustainable cities.
Mayor Nickels’ address began a conversation that’s at the cornerstone of the Fifty Forward effort: to visualize metro Atlanta’s preferred future and then plan the steps to make it happen. You can watch the forum in its entirety right now and join our online discussion on sustainability.
There’s no single solution that will lead us to sustainability. We’re going to have to rethink recycling and waste, energy, land use, transportation and our water use. Learn more about the problems and potential solutions that apply to Georgia.