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82 posts from August 2010

August 27, 2010

Movie Review Friday: Edge of Existence

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Edge of Existence: Exploring Communities on the Edge of Civilization (2009)

Available on DVD

This journey stretches across the globe, its varying ecosystems, and four timeless cultures that are deeply rooted in - and appreciative of - nature. Edge of Existence, a four-part miniseries, transports viewers to another reality - and they go willingly, accompanied by Irish journalist Donal MacIntyre, who travels to "edge" civilizations - places so far removed from modern life they seem part of a different world.

MacIntyre sails for weeks with the nomadic sea gypsies of Borneo and searches for scraps of firewood across Oman's endless desert dunes, all in the name of documenting the lives of isolated peoples via observation and participation. In Papua New Guinea, he joins rainforest tribesmen on a crocodile hunt, which includes swimming in waters teeming with the reptiles. But perhaps the most intriguing adventure he embarks on is a dangerous ritual fight with male Quechuan Indians in Bolivia; he's forced to participate in a traditional brawl that often leaves people dead.

This fascinating but sometimes unsettling depiction of the planet's distinct cultures does an excellent job of documenting remote peoples, but also the environments that sustain them. Footage shows their homelands' extreme natural beauty, including sweeping shots of deserts and salt fields, impeccable closeups of plants and animals, and gorgeous underwater sequences in coral-laden seas. All this ensures that viewers remain fascinated until the very last frame.

--Sarah A. Henderson

August 26, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 26, 2010

Federal Aflutter: In conflict with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense has come out against wind-energy projects, claiming that turbines create flying hazards for aircraft and confuse radar systems. New York Times

Clear Water: The EPA ruled that starting next year, cruise ships and large cargo vessels can no longer dump sewage within 3 miles of California’s coast, a move expected to prevent the dumping of more than 20 million gallons of sewage per year in West Coast waters. Los Angeles Times

On the Rise: Global sea-level rise is inevitable, according to a group of international researchers, who predict the world’s oceans will rise between 30 and 70 centimeters by 2100, likely displacing 150 million people who live in low-lying areas. ENN

Parched Potential: U.K. scientists developed “dry water” – which resembles powdered sugar – that they believe can fight global warming by soaking up and trapping carbon dioxide. Daily Telegraph

Royal Renovation: Charles, Prince of Wales, plans to install 32 solar panels on the roof of his residence, Clarence House. The panels are expected to produce nearly 4,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Scotsman

--Sarah A. Henderson

A New Sustainable Seafood Guide

Use a seafood guide to find out if this tilapia is sustainable These days, seafood lovers are swimming in information about sustainable eats. We've mentioned the classic Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program, as well as other helpful fish-finding tools such as Fish2Fork, Greenpeace's Supermarket Scorecard, and Sustainable Sushi. Now there's a new guide on the block: Food and Water Watch's Smart Seafood Guide.

This resource is notable for its inclusion of the socioeconomic impacts of seafood production in addition to sustainability and health considerations. The guide is organized by region as well as by culinary attributes – a helpful distinction if your mouth waters for steak-like fish, but you're not too excited about mild fish, for example. There's also a quick list of the Dirty Dozen, types of fish that fail at least two of Food and Water Watch's criteria for safe and sustainable seafood.

--Della Watson

Governments Get More Serious About Cadmium, Kids

Remember when 12 million Shrek glasses offered by McDonald's earlier this summer had to be recalled because they had cadmium in them? And then you asked yourself, "What the heck is cadmium?"

There are signs that the government is wising up on this growing threat. California's legislature yesterday passed a ban of the metal in children's jewelry.

And the federal government took a small step last week toward doing the same. In recent years it has been found increasingly in toys, including kids' jewelery. Cadmium, a "cheap, unregulated alternative to lead," is also typically found in batteries, and can cause serious lung damage when inhaled. More serious cases of cadmium poisoning can lead to kidney failure.

Through the Federal Registrar, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has opened a comment period on potential regulations for the hazardous metal.

Continue reading "Governments Get More Serious About Cadmium, Kids" »

Green Your Crafting: Transform Everyday Items

Bottles Crafting is a great way to build community, revitalize seemingly useless items, and encourage creativity. This week’s tips will help you keep your crafting from harming our environment.

Tip #4: Turn Trash into Treasure

Before tossing anything, imagine how it could be transformed into something useful. You can make a reusable sandwich box from a plastic milk jug or convert a soda bottle into an irrigation system for your flowerpots. Try turning leftover tiles into coasters or clothespins into a photo display.

Tell us: How have you transformed household items into useful things?

August 25, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 25, 2010

Bad Blood: Though bald eagles are making a comeback in the Great Lakes region, a recent discovery of pesticides and flame retardants in nestlings' blood presents new concerns about their future. DiscoveryNews

Acting Out: Demonstrators were arrested yesterday in Edinburgh during protests against the Royal Bank of Scotland’s funding of the oil and mining industries. Guardian

Coastal Concerns: L.A. officials, in an aggressive move, are overruling new regulations that protect the California coast from environmental damage caused by power plants. Los Angeles Times

Long Time Coming: India's government finally decided to protect a sacred, forested hill from plans to mine bauxite there. Guardian

Bamboo Benefits: A bamboo fence may be installed in West Oakland to help protect residents there from a nearby Superfund site. Bay Citizen

--Kristin Baldwin

Book Roundup Wednesday: Sustainable Farming

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week, we're recommending books about sustainable farming.

It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life (by Keith Stewart, $19, The Experiment, Aug. 2010): In this updated and expanded second edition, Keith Stewart has added five new essays to his tome about the pains and joys of organic farming. A great read for anyone planning a move into the field of sustainable agriculture, Stewart's book unveils specific aspects of "the hidden cost of farming" while keeping readers engaged and eager to learn more.

Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food (by Wendell Berry, $15, Counterpoint, 2009): Renowned Kentucky poet Wendell Berry brings mindful eating into focus with eloquence and authority, his contemplative essays drawing from decades of experience with farming and food. Bringing it to the Table is sure to be a classic in culinary literature.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Sustainable Farming" »

First Steps: On-Campus Environmentalism in China


illustration by Aesthetic Apparatus
The subdued, leafy campus of China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in suburban Shanghai is the site of a green crusade. A walk around reveals amenities you won't find on most campuses in China or elsewhere in the developing world: recycling points amid pleasant colonnades, reminders to shut off lights, and name-badge recycling stations.

In America, where energy conservation and recycling have been campus staples for decades, these would hardly be worth mentioning. But in China, CEIBS is on the cutting edge of a movement that's growing slowly by the numbers but greatly in influence.

In Beijing, China Youth Climate Action Network cohosted the International Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change in July in part to convince Chinese colleges to reduce their emissions by 20% by 2012.

Continue reading "First Steps: On-Campus Environmentalism in China" »

Green Your Crafting: Paper Creations

Scrapbook Crafting is a great way to build community, revitalize seemingly useless items, and encourage creativity. This week’s tips will help you keep your crafting from harming our environment.

Tip #3: Look Good on Paper

Scrapbooking is an ideal way to preserve memories, but paper-heavy crafting can hurt the earth. Consider, then, transforming an old book into the base of your next scrapbook, and decorating it with spare scraps of paper, fabric, or broken jewelry. Fill in your scrapbook with recycled-paper pages or even paper made out of coffee, mangoes, or bananas.

Tell us: How do you keep your paper crafts eco-friendly?

August 24, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 24, 2010

Plastic Mystery: Scientists are crediting the decrease in the amount of plastic in the North Atlantic garbage patch to animals eating it, and to the plastic pieces breaking down. National Geographic

MisLEEDing Info: A LEED-certified building in Salem, Oregon has been declared "structurally unsound" and will be closed within 30 days. ENN

Wilting Over: Drought caused by climate change is decreasing plant productivity around the world for the first time in decades, new research shows. New York Times 

Silver Lining:
Environmental groups say the BP disaster has dramatically increased national awareness and funding of the region's environmental issues, so that more of Louisiana's coastline could possibly be restored than was destroyed. Times-Picayune

Gaining Momentum: The Oxford Dictionary added "carbon capture and storage" and "geoengineering" to its latest edition. Grist

--Allison McCann 


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