energy_consumption
One of the most glaring inefficiencies in the campaign against global poverty is a lack of fiscal intentionality among citizens of developed nations.

Even amidst economic recession, there is a tendency among citizens of the world’s most privileged nations to spend large amounts of money on nonessentials and engage in irresponsible consumption of resources such as clean water and energy. These practices deplete funds that could otherwise be channeled into a more effective fight against global poverty.

Unnecessary energy consumption is one of the biggest money drains in America. Business Insider estimates Americans waste $146 billion in energy annually. If consumers take some simple and practical steps in energy conservation, the amount of money spent on energy could easily be cut by 33 percent. Here are some easy ways to cut back on energy consumption and save money:

(1)   Regularly replace your air filter. A dirty air filter makes air conditioning and heating units far less efficiently. It requires the units to work harder. The units require more energy to run properly, thereby driving up utility costs.

(2)   Schedule regular tune-ups for HVAC equipment. This ensures the equipment is operating properly and efficiently. It prevents unnecessary energy consumption and saves money.

(3)   Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats adjust heating and cooling based on predetermined settings that minimize energy consumption. Energy Star estimates that this can save $180 per year in energy costs.

(4)   Make sure that heating and cooling ducts are airtight. If air is leaking through the ducts, equipment will not be efficient and will work harder. This drives up energy costs.

(5)   Reduce the temperature on your water heater thermostat. According to Business Insider, decreasing the preset temperature by just 20 degrees can save in excess of $400 annually.

(6)   Use more efficient light bulbs. Energy Star estimates that inefficient lighting accounts for $9 billion of the $146 billion that Americans waste on energy.

Abolishing poverty can often seem like a daunting task – and rightly so. There is still much work to be done. However, by being more selective with discretionary income, it is possible to save billions of dollars that could be contributed to the cause. Conserving energy is easy if these practical suggestions are followed. It requires little effort and can have immeasurable global impact.

– Matt Berg

Sources: Business Insider, Energy Star

Make a Difference
The world is a big place filled with billions of people. It can be easy to think that one person couldn’t possibly do enough to change the world. When the weight of global issues simply feels too huge for one person to handle, we have to remember that we do have power to make a difference, even if it starts on a small scale. Below are ten things you can do that may not change the whole world, but will change someone else’s world.

 

Simple Steps to Make a Difference

 

1. Smile: Who knew that a smile could go so far? Being friendly to others is a great way to brighten up someone else’s day. Whether it’s at the store, work, or simply walking along the street, a nice gesture like a smile could go a long way for someone having a bad day.

2. Do Some Volunteer Work: Volunteering is an amazing experience that gets us out of our daily routines and allows us to turn our efforts outwards. Go out and help feed the homeless, volunteer at local events – even picking up trash in your city is a great way to give back to the community!

3. Sponsor a Child: There are tons of organizations looking for people to sponsor children in need in countries around the world. These organizations are literally only a click away, and don’t take much time to sign up for. It is a small price to pay to make an incredible difference in a child’s life.

4. Invest and Listen: Society has become so drenched in the buzz of technology that real face-to-face interaction and relationship is growing scarce. Next time you throw out the standard, “Hi, how you doin?” make an effort to really invest in what is going in that person’s life. Ask questions that show you really care and want to listen.

5. Teach!: Go out and teach a skill to someone who wants to learn. Whether it’s teaching someone how to drive, or helping a student with their homework, your lessons will make a huge impact on their lives.

6. Donate: If you’re anything like the typical American, you probably have a lot of stuff. When it comes time to get rid of something or buy something new, make a donation instead! There are many ways to make donations online and in your community.

7. Stop What You’re Doing and HELP: It’s easy to think that our priorities are the ones that matter the most. When you’re driving and see someone along the road struggling with a flat, stop to help. Wouldn’t you want a person to do the same for you? There are tons of ways for us to lend a helping hand throughout our day.

8. Team Up with Someone to Live Healthier: Oftentimes having a workout partner is the best kind of motivation out there. If someone you know keeps talking about how he/she wants to get in shape, join them! This will make a huge impact on their lives, and together, you’ll both be on your way to a healthier life.

9. Make a Care Package: Care packages are easy and affordable to make and they can be used in so many different ways. They can be sent overseas or used locally! Next time you’re out and about and see a homeless person, offer them a care package. Keep a supply of the packages in your car and they can go a long way.

10. Having an Outward Gaze: We live in a pretty self-centered society. Many of us are taught at a young age to do what is going to make us most successful; this can lead us to do a lot things that are only self-serving. It’s time for a change of perspective! Start thinking in ways that turn that self-centered gaze outward. See what it’s like to put others needs before yours. You won’t regret it.

– Chante Owens

source: Zen Habits
Photo: ActionAid

 

gambia_power
Imagine living in a medical world where there are hospitals, doctors, and nurses, however there is no electricity. This world is currently Gambia. Gambia is a country in western Africa, and one of the only things holding them back from having a successful medical field is a lack of electricity.

The electricity shortage results in many problems such as nurses having to assist patients by candlelight, emergency surgeries are impossible, drugs and vaccines dependent on refrigeration are ruined, and people cannot get supplemental oxygen from oxygen concentrators.

Kathryn, a U.S. medical student visited Gambia to help provide medical assistance and witnessed the devastating effects of the electricity shortage first hand. Kathryn was observing a routine caesarean section, however when the baby was delivered it was only 3.5 pounds and was unable to be revived. The doctors said that if the hospital had proper electricity, this death could have been avoided, because they would have had the ability to have used an ultra sound machine and detected that the baby was underweight. The baby could have also survived had the hospital had access to incubators.

Gambia has been working towards establishing solar energy, and they have high potential in the development of solar power and solar thermal technologies. The Gambia Renewable Energy Centre has been established, and their goals include promoting the use of renewable energy, advising the government on renewable energy techniques and carrying out adaptive research.

However, Gambia is facing quite a few financial constraints. Their constraints include high capital cost, high transaction cost, and lack of dedicated financing for renewable energy in the banking institutions. The financial resources necessary for Gambia to have electricity for the next three years is $112.5 million.

In comparison, the U.S. is the world leader in energy waste. On average the U.S. wastes 57 percent of the energy they use, and this costs businesses and households an estimated $130 billion yearly. However, the U.S. is also spending billions of dollars on green initiatives and sustainable energy, though only within the country’s limits. President Barack Obama created a green stimulus package, and from 2009-2014 it is estimated that the government will spend over $150 billion on green initiatives, including $100 billion going directly towards renewable energy in the U.S.

With such an abundance of energy in the U.S., it is shocking to see the lack of energy globally. U.S. leaders need to recognize the need for electricity worldwide and consider applying the developments being made towards renewable energy to countries such as Gambia that are in dire need for it.

– Olivia Hadreas

Sources: Power Up Gambia, CNN, Forbes, UN

finding_internships
Working for an organization that stands for an important cause is very appealing to many people. Nonprofit internships are great ways to be a part of something bigger, while gaining experience in the world. With the opportunities so vast, it’s hard to know where exactly to start. Below are the Top 10 sites for finding internships with a nonprofit organization.

1. Encore

Encore is a powerful resource in the nonprofit world. With a listing of over 5 million opportunities in nonprofit sectors, Encore is one of the biggest sites for navigating jobs and internships in encore careers.

2. Idealist

This site is a huge resource with close to 80,000 nonprofit organizations and 10,000 job/internship listings.

3. The Foundation Center

Known for bringing forth developing information about philanthropy, The Foundation Center has an easy-to-navigate job board featuring openings at nonprofit organizations.

4. Internmatch

Internmatch provides a comprehensive listing of nonprofit organizations across the world, and the internship opportunities therein. The site is tailored to meet visitors’ needs, making it easy for an individual to choose a nonprofit organization based on his/her preferences.

5. Commongood Careers

This search firm helps nonprofit organizations hire and recruit individuals based on their skill set and talents. Boasting a 93 percent successful hire, and retention rate, Commongood Careers is a great resource to help people find the right nonprofit for them.

6. Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group operates the online Nonprofit Jobs Center with approximately 350 open positions. Their site also provides people looking for leadership opportunities within a nonprofit the necessary tools to get started.

7. The Nonprofit Times

This site provides visitors with a newsfeed that tracks events in the nonprofit world, and a huge database in which visitors can enter key search terms to find the nonprofit of their choice.

8. Greenlights

Greenlights is home to a large number of nonprofit members whom they help support by giving people a way to join their organization. Along with offering training and other services to nonprofit organizations, Greenlights makes the process in finding a job/internship position very informative and easy.

9. The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Another site that provides news and information on philanthropy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy also has a jobs listing with over 1,000 positions in various fields in the nonprofit sector.

10. Interns.org

Interns.org is an easy-to-use site that directs volunteers looking for internship opportunities with nonprofit organizations that suit them the best. It also provides those in search of an internship with a way to communicate with one another.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Interns, Greenlights, Internship Match, Huffington Post

Fair_trade
Fair trade is the act of fairly compensating workers and working in developing countries in order to create a sustainable business climate.  Fair Trade USA teaches disadvantaged communities to use their own resources to better their situation.  Instead of buying everyday items from big businesses that have already been established, consumers should try buying fair trade items to help local economies in need.

Some 12,000 fair trade-certified products come from 70 different countries and can be found in 100,000 retail locations across the U.S.  Items like coffee, tea, herbs, sugar, apparel, bedding, and tech products are all available through fair trade.  According to research by George Washington University, “farmers and workers around the world have now earned over $175 million in additional income, including $35 million in fair trade development premiums” due to fair trade products.

In fair trade, proceeds go to the social, economic, and environmental development of the country where the product came from.  A network of community activists decides how the funds are used.  Past projects include schools, wells, agricultural education initiatives, and entrepreneur training.

Another benefit of fair trade is that it sets up non-discriminatory, democratic structures in the businesses of local communities.  This prevents corruption and exploitation.  Workplaces must be safe and up to code and any chemicals used must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.  There can be no child labor or discrimination, and workers must have access to collective bargaining.

– Stephanie Lamm

Sources: George Washington University, Fair Trade, Fair Trade USA

three_cups_of_tea_book
No matter what your political leanings may be, these books cannot help but convince readers of the importance of global development. As you read the anecdotes and arguments presented in these books, remember that only 1 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid – and change begins with you.

1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

After traveling and mountain-climbing in the Himalayas, Mortenson launched a mission to bring schools and education to children living in remote regions of central Asia. His moving book outlines the importance of local development projects targeted at education, capacity building and sustainability. Through Mortenson’s activism and writing, the Taliban’s hold has been reduced over previously unprotected and disempowered communities.

2. Partner to the Poor by Dr. Paul Farmer

World-renowned doctor, anthropologist and humanitarian Paul Farmer defines the term “structural violence” and explains its connection to global health in this gripping book. Farmer writes about the structural elements of political and social life that systematically undermine access to healthcare in rural Haitian, Rwandan and Peruvian communities. His arguments on political instability’s effect on population compel readers to see the vast impact of foreign policy and aid.

3. The Practice of International Health by Ananya Roy and Daniel Perlman

This book offers a series of personal accounts from physicians and humanitarians providing healthcare around the world. More so than other anecdotes, these stories provide a detailed picture of the logistical and cultural challenges international development projects face. However, rather than discouraging such projects, “The Practice of International Health” demonstrates how such barriers can be overcome in order to achieve remarkable success.

4. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Journalists Kristoff and WuDunn cover a lot of ground in this entertaining and heartbreaking collection of stories. Similar to Mortenson’s work, “Half the Sky” emphasizes the importance of grassroots organizations, illuminating the tireless efforts of individuals in India, China, Afghanistan and Ethiopia on the behalf of women. In the book’s epilogue, Kristoff and WuDunn also provide an extensive list of nonprofits doing amazing work around the world, as well as easy steps for getting involved in female empowerment and global development.

5. Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

Microfinance has both supporters and critics, but after reading this autobiography by the founder of the Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus, readers might find that their opinion has changed. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in providing small-value loans to women in rural areas in order to promote economic growth among families and villages.

Shelly Grimaldi

Sources: GoodReads, Banker to the Poor
Photo: Wishes 4 Life

land_grabbing_and_hunger
There are approximately 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today, with hunger and malnutrition as the leading causes of death in the developing world. Yet, despite the overwhelming magnitude of this problem, global hunger can be solved. By addressing the factors behind widespread hunger – poor agricultural systems, poverty, environmental exploitation and economic crises – we can come closer to ending it. Below are just five practical ways to end global hunger.

1. Decrease the production of meat.
The intense rate at which many countries focus on producing meat has taken a serious toll on resources. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s valuable agricultural resources go towards feeding livestock. If the production of meat was reduced, those resources could go toward ending undernourishment instead.
2. Food for Life and the human responsibility. 
Food for Life is an organization committed to putting a stop to world hunger. Based on simple, yet powerful, principles of human spirit, humility and compassion, Food for Life has developed a number of programs that bring both food and education to malnourished countries.
3. Stop land grabbing. 
Wealthy countries without extensive landholdings have started seizing land in underdeveloped countries to use as allotments. This “land grabbing” prevents people living in the region from using that land to grow crops and sustain their communities, further perpetuating hunger and malnutrition in the area.
4. Small-scale farming. 
Family farmers play a vital role in the development of food sustainability. Small farmers are more likely to produce crops rich in nutrients as opposed to conventional agribusiness that grow mostly starchy crops. Organizations such as AGRA, which works towards a green revolution in Africa, focus heavily on small farmers, providing them with education, quality soils and the seeds necessary to build a prosperous farm.
5. Eliminate infant malnutrition. 
Infant malnutrition is rampant in underdeveloped countries that lack the resources and education necessary to nourish healthy children. Educating families and mothers living in these regions on proper feeding techniques and providing them with the right nutrients at every stage of the pregnancy will make a huge difference in alleviating infant malnutrition.
– Chante Owens

Sources: The Guardian, Food for Life, Living Green Magazine
Photo: Greenpeace

Location_of_Syria_Map_Importance
The conflict that has ravaged Syria since March 15, 2011 has had worldwide ramifications. The civil war started as a response to the Arab Spring, government corruption, and the abuse of human rights. The government responded to this uprising with lethal force, and as of June 2013 the death toll has been suspected to surpass 100,000 casualties. By late April 2013, President Bashar al-Assad began launching full-scale military operations upon city enclosures, officially opening the country for civil war. The Middle Eastern country’s conflict could potentially rock the entire world, and for one seriously misunderstood fact: the location of the country.

The location of Syria holds significance not because of the country’s resources, but of the countries located around it. The Middle East is the oil production giant of the world, and is a sensitive spot for intervention. The location of Syria brings out legitimate reasons to be wary of intervention, as the civil war must be contained at all costs. The addition of a foreign power may allow the war to spill over into neighboring countries, inciting a deadly Middle Eastern war that would be devastating.

Not only is Syria close to the Middle Eastern oil titans, but the continent of Africa lays not far away. Africa is one of the most vulnerable places on earth, one rocked by poverty, hunger, and disease. The feeble economies of the poverty-stricken Africa could not take the outcome of a war spilling into its borders. Containing the war to the country of Syria is a precaution that must be taken carefully. If the conflict somehow spreads to Africa, the continent and its emerging countries will face the fallout of a war they had no stake in.

The majority of citizens in the United States do not support military intervention in Syria. Citizens do not want another drawn-out affair like the wars of the previous Bush administration. Whether military intervention is agreed upon or not, the effects of the decision upon Syria could be monumental. The civil war has reached a deadly number, as evidenced by the 100,000 casualties already listed. This number could exponentially increase, regardless of intervention. If the United States does intervene, it could potentially lose control of the situation, or allow the other Middle Eastern to beef up their weaponry with Western troops in such cl0se proximity. But by leaving the conflict to fester on its own, the United States takes any convincing power out of its hands. Not having a say in which way the conflict heads could be as potentially dangerous as being directly involved. By not intervening, the neighboring countries and poverty-racked Africa could be left in the fray.

The Syrian situation has become one of great interest. Understanding the location of the country, and what ramifications the location could have, is crucial to fully comprehending the condition. Not only will the war have complications upon the Syrian government, the neighboring countries and Africa could become involved. Stay tuned, because the land is hot with anger and strife, and only time will tell where these emotions will take the warring country.

– Zachary Wright

Sources: dailyprincetonian, Maps of World
Photo: Al Hdhod

Green_Cross_International_20th_Anniversary
According to the World Bank, by the year 2050 the planet’s GDP will reach $200 trillion a year. The world’s population will also pass 10 billion, and we will need three earths to provide the resources necessary to sustain our current way of life.

Since its founding in 1993 by former Soviety leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Green Cross International has been working to define a sustainable and secure world future, seeking solutions through dialogue, mediation and cooperation.

By analyzing and responding to combined challenges of poverty, security, and environmental degradation, Green Cross International hopes to “help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity’s relationship with nature.”

In Green Cross’s 20-Year Report, Gorbachev notes that “the burning issues of climate change, the water crisis, the situation in the Middle East, and the overall state of the global security system, we can see that we clearly need to intensify our efforts.”

Green Cross is particularly concerned with environmental and sustainability issues, and has recently begun making forays into China. They have launched a task force on climate change and is developing a road map in the hopes of resolving the situation of dimishing resources.

Businesses in the U.S. and Europe have begun implementing energy-saving policies, while the layperson can participate by thinking more closely about how we live, how we consume, and how we can live differently. Even slight symbolic changes, such as unplugging unused appliances and avoiding drinking bottled water, can make a significant difference when enough people participate.

– Michael DeZubiria

Sources: South China Morning Post, Green Cross International