Posts from Russia
- To Sum It All Up on January 20th, 2013
I do not know where to begin about this trip. It has been the experience of a lifetime full of wonderful memories that I will soon not forget. Even though this has been my second study abroad experience in Costa Rica, I have definitely not experienced the same things. The last trip was to learn about the culture and traditions of the indigenous Bribri people and this one focused on renewable energy and sustainability. In both of my experiences I have learned a great deal, but there is much more to learn out there. I look forward to continuing my education at Stony Brook, in the time before that however I have a well-deserved day at Tamarindo beach ahead, along with a flight to JFK and a week to spend with my family and hometown friends. To anyone reading this that is not on this trip, I cannot wait to see you again!
My experience in Costa Rica has brought me great knowledge of renewable energy production and sustainability. Thanks to the GREEN program, the Sustainability Studies Program and Dr. Sperazza I have been given the honor to go on this trip. I cannot thank you enough!
New chapters in our lives can begin at any moment, there is a lot to change and of course it can always be done. I have been through many new experiences on this trip, all of which were revolutionary and different than the conventional way of things in America.
First off, Costa Rica has a completely different mentality when it comes to running itself as a country. Most impressive is the fact that it has not had a military since 1948, that is unheard of in the rest of the world! After WWII the United States was rivalling the Soviet Union for its place as the most powerful nation, its military expanded to treat lengths and weapons of mass destruction were developed. While the military was bulking its arsenal, Americans were buying into consumerism and amassing into suburbs. To my knowledge the Costa Ricans were at peace and chose not to worry about nuclear onslaughts, they set out to improve the sustainability of their nation. Phasing out their military was a bold move, it showed that they were satisfied the way they were and stood for world peace. Building an excessive nuclear arsenal capable of wiping out millions of people is not sustainable, it is destructive and builds worldwide fear and distrust. Living in a nation that had no worries must gave been great, from what I have seen the Costa Ricans are still worry free and Americans live to work and are hard to please.
I really enjoy the fact that at least 85% of Costa Rica’s energy comes from renewable sources. It represents commitment to sustainability and appreciation of nature. In the area around Lake Arenal we visited a wind farm, a hydroelectric plant, a geothermal plant, a biomass processing facility and a house that is off the grid. All of these different sources of energy are being harnessed because in there respective area they are the most efficient option that takes advantage of their natural surroundings with minimal impact. The diversity of the landscape allows for all of these methods to be used to harness energy. In the United States, we act oppositely with few exceptions. The majority of our energy comes from non-renewable sources such as coal, natural gas and oil and we have built our national infrastructure to appease our addiction to these dirty resources. It is both scary and disgusting how far expansion of civilization has hurt the planet and us as well.
Just on the bus ride back from the Brasilito Beach I had a wonderful discussion with my friend Tom who I met on this trip. We have pretty similar interests and have both really enjoyed this trip, the GREEN Program and what we have been doing brought up the topic of sacrifice. The example he told me was about having instant access to the internet on our phones and how we miss out on experiencing moments of our lives when we look at our phones to distract ourselves. Whether the reason be useful, productive, or for entertainment we spend a lot of our time being distracted by what we think is more important than the big picture. The grand fullness of the world around us cannot be captured and displayed on a screen or delivered through a window, instant gratification is not a way of life, it is a fallacy. When I compare my experiences between being at home, school and Costa Rica I find that instant gratification is not a thing in Costa Rica and it has done them a whole lot of good. It is rare to see people on their phones or doing much other than simply enjoying whatever moment they are experiencing. A pet peeve I have is when someone pulls their phone out when they do not need to, or when there is seemingly nothing else to do but watch TV or be on facebook. Nature is important to me and appreciation of it should be encouraged greater than it is in the United States. To finally connect it all to sustainability I think that human progress has severely disconnected us as a species from the rest of the world. We think of ourselves as dominant but in truth we are young compared to everything else and our resources are taken for granted.
What I really like about this trip is the fact that we experienced a whole lot of different things, all of which had to do with nature and sustainability. I always enjoy going out and seeing things, ziplining yesterday was a whole lot of fun. There’s nothing like flying through a rain forest and having howler monkeys growl at you from five feet away. Earlier today in Tamarindo, we were swimming and riding the waves and we noticed 50 terns were diving into the water eating fish. We got close enough that the fish were nibbing at our legs, it was fantastic! I witnessed even more of that just a few hours ago at Brasilito when an even larger tern colony and a bunch of pelicans were feeding. Those kind of things are the best. I have grown up experiencing more and more nature as I go along, it is part of why I chose my major and how I obtained a passion for protecting it. As I have blogged about earlier in my adventures, there is great potential within all of us that if utilized has the ability to change the world. Being on this trip has encouraged me to do better and tap into my potential. As a race we can change our ways, and we should if we want the world to be a better place.
- Wind Wonders on January 19th, 2013
The sun may have been shining but no one felt its heat when we reached the Movasa wind farm. It was full powered winds all around and a few hard hats almost got blown away just while getting off the bus! It was great to see the turbines up close and talk with one of the managers. He graciously spent a lot of time with us, talking and answering all of our questions even though occasionally there was a language barrier when it came to technical terms. We also rode around the facility and saw the cell of these 44 meter tall towers up close.
Throughout this trip, I have been able to see the many wind farms across the tremendous mountain landscape. It is an incredible feeling to simply look out my window and feel as though I am looking into the new world. Progress is right in front of me everywhere I turn. I can only say that it really brings a smile to my face when I see those blades turning beyond the hills. It is amazing what has been accomplished in Costa Rica and the U.S. has so much potential to harness the renewable energy that I have learned so much about during this trip. It is really beautiful how the people here want to use technology to preserve the country’s resources and enhance the environment’s beauty.