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86 posts from September 2010

September 30, 2010

Daily Roundup: September 30, 2010

"This Ain't Chernobyl": The BP oil spill has yet to produce meaningful consequences, or even discussion, for the future of oil as America's blood source. Washington Post

Billions Not Served: About 80% the world's population lives in areas where freshwater supply is insecure, according to a new global study. BBC News

Baby Leadduce: The soil in urban gardens may contain lead, an element that's especially harmful to children, a recent study has found. NPR

Cuban Drilling Crisis: Cuba is eyeing sites for offshore oil wells near its coast, some 50 miles from the Florida Keys. New York TImes

Bear Woman: A California woman was arraigned on misdemeanor charges after feeding as many as 15 black bears 6,000 tons of food each month for 25 years. The bears are not likely to survive without the food, and the arrest has raised concerns about California's black bear population. San Francisco Chronicle

--Ronny Smith

Land Art Goes Big . . . Really Big

Some ideas are just too small for a canvas. Artist Jim Denevan, whose striking circular designs have temporarily marked the ice, the sand, the dirt in far-flung locations around the world, is now making his mark in the field of environmental art just with the sheer size of his artistic vision. His latest work, a 12.5-square-mile design on the frozen surface of Siberia's Lake Baikal, is the world's largest land-art installation.

Rather than creating permanent landmarks, Denevan makes his breathtaking drawings with the knowledge that they'll eventually be erased by weather. He recently told MutualArt that "large things that disappear is more the condition of the world, that's the phenomena that we experience every day, whether it's traffic becoming dense then easy, or here at the beach in California, tide coming in, covering the rocks and then it goes out later in the day, that's the way of things . . . I like the everydayness of creating artworks in a place that's constantly refreshed."

Read the rest of the MutualArt interview here.

--Della Watson

Dig Deeper?

Florida beach It would appear that Navarre Beach, "Florida's Best Kept Secret," is oil-free.

"What I found was a beautiful white sand beach with no visible tar," blogged Ron Stern, editor of the travel website Just Say Go. "I waded out into the emerald-green water and looked for any signs of smelly, slimy oil. Nope, nothing except for some swimmers, seagulls, and families enjoying the sunshine, gorgeous water and clean shores."

According to the Pensacola News Journal, Stern was one of six out-of-town reporters invited to visit the area by the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council. The trip, which included a beachfront stay at the Summerwind Condominiums and a tour of local sites in a stretch limo, was funded by BP to get the word out that in the the wake of the oil spill, the Gulf's beaches are clean and ready for tourists.

Continue reading "Dig Deeper?" »

Silly Car Trip!

What's your most ridiculous car trip? Is it that time you buckled up to roll to the mailbox? Or when you drove to get to a stationary bike at the gym?

That's what city officials in Malmö, Sweden, dared drivers to confess when they learned that about half of all car trips traversed fewer than 3 miles. The respondents with the goofiest stories won a bicycle (and the chance to redeem themselves).

Meanwhile, the city pampered its cyclists, outfitting their parked bicycles with orange seat covers and, on rainy days, with drying cloths. The campaign's organizers also sent out cyclists — dressed in eye-catching orange vests and silver helmets — to time popular urban routes, proving that biking really is a quick way to get around. The city even showcased a pedaling cyclist on the platform of a downtown billboard. (But don't try that one at home.)

And the campaign worked. Since 1995, the number of cyclists in Malmö has jumped from 20% to 30%. That's also thanks to improved biking infrastructure, including new paths and railings for cyclists to hold on to at red lights.

U.S. commuters could also use a nudge. Americans drive 72% of trips shorter than 3 miles, which account for half of all commutes. Bicycles make only 2% of these jaunts.

To learn more about the Malmö campaign, watch the above video and read about it on Grist.

--Natalya Stanko

Green Your Football Season: Cruisin' for a Boozin'

Whether you're rooting for a team in the NFL or the NCAA, it's possible to enjoy the games a bit less wastefully. This week's tips are about how to do just that.

Tip #4: Watch the game with an eco-friendly brew

Plenty of NFL cities have fiendishly green breweries — and a mediocre-at-best football team. Seattle is Seahawk country, but it's also where New Belgium Brewing Co. switched to solely wind power. Denver is not to be outdone, with Odell Brewing Co., which uses recycled glass to bottle its product. And after gutwrenching NBA and MLB seasons, nobody needs a beer more than Cleveland. Great Lakes Brewing Co. is up for the task, running all their trucks on biodiesel. Better get another round. . .the Browns are 0-3.

Bonus: Watch Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli speaking about how you can help protect kids from toxic coal ash.

September 29, 2010

Daily Roundup: September 29, 2010

Great Wall of Water: China is embarking on a $62 billion project to re-route water from the nation's southern flood plains and mountainous west to the capital city of Beijing. Los Angeles Times

Cost of the Coast: Fines collected from BP should go to Gulf economic and environmental restoration efforts, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told Congress. Under current law, the penalties would be used to clean up future oil spills. Houston Chronicle

Going, Going, Gone: More than 22% of the world's plant species are threatened with extinction, says a recent study. Reuters

Soaking City: Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan to reduce New York City's sewage runoff by installing green roofs, porous pavement, rain barrels, and wetlands to absorb storm water. New York Times and Reuters

Avatar Activist: Director James Cameron spoke out about the enviromental impacts of tar-sands oil after touring Alberta's tar-sands developments and meeting with oil-industry advocates, indigenous leaders, and Canadian politicians. Sierra Club and Vancouver Sun

--Della Watson

Earthbound Farms Wants to Be in Your Kitchen

Cooking organic With the way that Earthbound Farms capital has ballooned since the company's inception, it's hard to ignore the numbers: $9,800 represented its earnings in their 1984 rookie season. These days, they make closer to $400 million annually.

California-based owners Myra and Drew Goodman are in charge of the largest amount of organic crops in the U.S. Their company invented those bagged salads. And now, they're behind a giveaway that could land their expertise in your kitchen for free.

Penned by Myra Goodman, The Earthbound Cook (her second cookbook) details organic recipes, tips for a greener kitchen, and widespread know-how for all levels of culinary skill. Whether you can already cook a halibut or don't know how to turn on the oven without starting a small fire, Goodman's comprehensive knowledge can turn an organic-cooking beginner into a success story.

Continue reading "Earthbound Farms Wants to Be in Your Kitchen" »

Book Review Wednesday: The Great American West

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week we're alerting you to reality so that your dreams may be reignited; taking you on a journey through the Western U.S.

Rewilding the West: Restoration in a Prairie Landscape (by Richard Manning, $25, University of California Press, June 2009) From its opening line, the reader can tell that Manning's story of the West's transformation will be a sobering one. This book is at times whimsical, but more often brutally honest about the condition of the Great Plains, having been changed by Europeans from wild nature to lifeless and empty farmland; from vast land of motion to expanses of stagnation. Not to be completely downbeat, Manning's book leaves us inspired to change the agricultural and political policies that have held back nature's real wonder: its, and our own, self-continuation. This book is compelling, inclusive, and, in the end, hopeful.

Of Rocks and Rivers: Seeking a Sense of Place in the American West (by Ellen Wohl, $25, University of California Press, June 2009) This thoughtful collection of nature essays from geomorphologist Ellen Wohl sheds light on her lifelong love affair with the American West. The essays are wide-ranging, covering topics as diverse as wildfire suppression to what defines "natural." All, however, paint a portrait of landscapes and describe an affinity for place. Wohl doesn't reveal to you what lessons the American West can teach, but does point you in the right direction.

Continue reading "Book Review Wednesday: The Great American West" »

In the Water: Out With Mercury, in With Fluoride?

Clean waterThe EPA just announced that it'll propose a rule next year to reduce mercury waste from dental offices (liquid mercury is one of the main ingredients in dental fillings).

Some 50% of mercury entering waste-treatment plants comes from old fillings being replaced with new ones; the mercury that dentists flush into chair-side drains enters wastewater systems and ends up in rivers and lakes. There, certain microorganisms convert the mercury into methylmercury. This highly toxic form of the element builds up in fish, shellfish, and fish-eating animals — including humans.

Until the EPA's rule is final, dental offices are being encouraged to install amalgam separators, which can parse out 95% of the 3.7 tons of mercury discharged from dental offices each year.

Continue reading "In the Water: Out With Mercury, in With Fluoride?" »

Green Your Football Season: Wasting Energy is Maddening

IStock_000010236964XSmallWhether you're rooting for a team in the NFL or the NCAA, it's possible to enjoy the games a bit less wastefully. This week's tips are about how to do just that.
Tip #3: Green Your Madden '11 Tourney

Obviously, you got your copy of Madden '11 on release day this year, but try to take a page from the green playbook: Remember that overheating game consoles are a cry for help from your machine — it means you're using way too much energy, so take a break. With a new Madden debuting annually, trade in your old version at sites like GameStop or, even better, give 'em to charity. And though the Wii version isn't as cool, know that the X360 and PS3 use nine times the energy of Nintendo's creation. 
Tell us: How do you green your video-game playing?

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