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65 posts from December 2010

December 17, 2010

Israel Unveils a Plastic-Bottle Christmas Tree

Israel Christmas Tree Still reeling from the devastating forest fire that recently ravaged northern Israel, the country is gearing up for Christmas celebrations by showcasing a tree made from recycled bottles. The eco-friendly display in the port city of Haifa was built with 5,480 recycled water bottles donated by locals.

Israeli designer Hadas Itzcovitch and her father, Ernest Itzcovitch, created the tree to raise awareness of environmental issues. The green tree should have plenty of admirers — some 90,000 tourists are expected to flock to Israel for Christmas celebrations.

--Della Watson

Movie Review Friday: Island of the Great White Shark

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.

Island of the Great White Shark (2008)

Availabile on DVD

This 43-minute documentary opens in San Diego, where researchers gather to embark on a 22-hour boat ride to Isla Guadalupe, an island off Baja California's coast. Many of the marine scientists and eco-tourists on the expedition have studied great whites, but for the first time in their lives, will observe them in the wild. They're headed to one of nature's dwindling sanctuaries for the shark, an ideal place for diving and study. The group hopes to better understand the sharks' daily activities and migratory patterns which, in turn, should help inform how to better protect the feared animal from slaughter and extinction.

Upon reaching the island, the researchers wait for the predator's arrival; the film succeeds in depicting how much waiting is involved, how much patience and persistence is required. After much anticipation, the massive creature finally surfaces and the scientists express awe.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: Island of the Great White Shark" »

December 16, 2010

App Puts Sustainable Seafood on the Map

Seafood Watch App
That little place on 2nd Street has sustainable sushi on the menu, but the corner restaurant on 6th doesn’t. Go for the pole-caught albacore tuna from British Columbia, but not the imported swordfish, which might contain contaminants including metals, dioxins, and pesticides. Remember: Less than 2% of imported seafood is inspected. And, please, avoid the monkfish.

Don’t worry, you shouldn’t be taking notes. Since its debut in 2009, the Seafood Watch iPhone app has helped 325,000 people find a sustainable menu with the touch of a finger. This week, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is introducing a new version of the app with a bonus feature — Project Fishmap — to encourage user participation. “Anyone who finds sustainable seafood can share their discoveries,” says outreach manager Sheila Bowman. “Each time they do, they’re helping others make better seafood choices.” Contributors earn badges as they add to the nationwide map. (Before dismissing the badges as child's play, consider that "Sushi Master" does have a regal ring to it.)

Continue reading "App Puts Sustainable Seafood on the Map" »

The National Christmas Tree: A Tradition in Conservation

AmericanForestsNationalChristmasTree2 Before local tree farms were established to provide Christmas trees in a sustainable way, people cut them from the wild, and forests suffered greatly.

In 1924, a nonprofit called American Forests stepped in. Dan Smith, currently the organization's spokesperson, said, "They were concerned about the extensive cutting that was going on in forests, parks, and public lands. They wanted to encourage the use of living trees, and one way to do that was to go to the top. So they donated a tree to the president."

President and Mrs. Coolidge accepted the gift of a living 35-foot Norway spruce, which was planted near the White House on Sherman Plaza. And so began the tradition of a living National Christmas Tree.  "With the gift came an increased public awareness of the impact of Christmas tree harvesting on  forests, " Smith said. "It was meant to spur interest in this new industry of people growing Christmas trees like crops and harvesting them like corn and other agricultural products."

Continue reading "The National Christmas Tree: A Tradition in Conservation" »

Cold-Weather Comfort: Give a Coat

Donate your coat

Now that you've winterized your home, what to do to wait out the snowstorm? This week's tips provide a few ideas to keep you busy without hurting the planet. 

Tip #4: Organize a Coat Drive

Rather than throwing out an old winter coat, or even just dropping it off at the local thrift store, try giving it to someone who really needs it. The national project One Warm Coat is a good place to start if you're interested in simultaneously sparing a landfill and clothing a neighbor.

Tell us: What do you do with your old clothes?

December 15, 2010

Daily Roundup: December 15, 2010

Pay Up: The U.S. Justice Department is suing BP and eight other companies involved in the Gulf catastrophe. Huffington Post

Justice Served: The White House hosted its first environmental-justice forum. New York Times

Long-Term Impact: New research revealed that survivors of World War II's Nagasaki atomic bomb could develop radiation-related diseases decades later. Reuters

Medicated Meat: In the first-ever FDA accounting of antimicrobial drug use by the American livestock industry, it was found that, in the past year, the animals we eat took in 29 million pounds of antibiotics. Los Angeles Times

Interrupted Cycles: Some amphibian species are breeding later in autumn than usual; while others are breeding earlier in winter. The reason for the schedule change? Climate change, researchers say. ENN

--Molly Oleson

Book Review Wednesday: Career Inspiration for Recent College Grads

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 to inspire and advise idealistic young job-seekers.

10 Ways to Change the World in Your 20s (by Libuse Binder, $15, Sourcebooks, 2009): From blogging for a cause to installing low-flow faucets to interning on an organic farm, this book details a wide variety of paths for young people wanting to do good. Actions are rated based on three factors: time, cost, and lifestyle impact. The book also provides success stories and an extensive appendix of web resources a lot of information's packed into this one volume.

Green Careers for Dummies (by Carol McClelland, $20, Wiley, Jan. 2010): This how-to guide will help job-seekers clarify focus, discover new career opportunities, and learn the necessary steps toward attaining career goals in the evolving green economy. It's a good tool for people who have plenty of initiative but aren't sure where to start.

The Next Eco Warriors: 22 Young Women and Men Who are Saving the Planet (edited by Emily Hunter, $20, Conari, Apr. 2011): Compiled by the daughter of Greenpeace co-founders Robert and Bobbi Hunter, this book introduces readers to 22 young, diverse activists whose voices come through in their own words.

Continue reading "Book Review Wednesday: Career Inspiration for Recent College Grads" »

Exxon Takes the "Clean Air" Out of Its Act

IStock_000012763105XSmall The Clean Air Act passed in 1963, and has been tooled with and amended at many points since. Recently celebrating its 40th birthday, the law has fought through its share of detractors and figureheads while keeping us safe from a rogues' gallery of offensive elements in our oxygen and water.

So when a company like ExxonMobil sets up show and blatantly spits in its face, amounting a comically obvious collection of violations, and faces zero accountability for their actions, there's a lingering sting in the environmental community. The 8 million pounds of unlawful pollution for which Exxon has been responsible for over the past half decade won't just disappear.

Continue reading "Exxon Takes the "Clean Air" Out of Its Act" »

Cold-Weather Comforts: A Snowy-Day Activity

Animal tracks in snow Now that you've winterized your home, what to do to wait out the snowstorm? This week's tips provide a few ideas to keep you busy without hurting the planet. 

Tip #3: Go Animal Tracking

We know it's cold out there, but there's still more to do in the natural world than you can shake a frozen stick at. Winter, for instance, is one of the best times to track animal footprints, especially in snow. U.S. Search and Rescue's website about animal tracking can serve as a great help.
Tell us: What are your favorite outdoor activities during winter?      
  Animal Tracks in the Snow 2 Now that you've winterized your home, what to do to wait out the snowstorm? This week's tips provide a few ideas to keep you busy without hurting the planet.
Tip #3: Go Animal Tracking!

We know it's cold out there, but there's still more things to do in the natural world than you can shake a frozen stick at. For instance, winter is one of the best times to track animal footprints, especially in the snow. Check this website about animal tracking from US Search and Rescue. While you won't see any grizzlies, there are plenty of other wonderful critters to gander at.

December 14, 2010

Daily Roundup: December 14, 2010

Illegal Emissions: The Sierra Club and Environment Texas are suing ExxonMobil for allegedly releasing 8 million pounds of pollution in the last five years. Huffington Post

Erin Brockovich II? In the 1990s Pacific Gas and Electric pledged to clean up water pollution in Hickley, California, thanks to activist Erin Brockovich's efforts. But the toxic chemical chromium 6 is still contaminating the water supply, and Brockovich is back in town. NPR

Radioactive Touring: Next year Ukraine will open the Chernobyl nuclear plant to tourists. The plant, which was closed in 1986 after spewing radiation, is maintained  by 2,500 employees. Vanity Fair

Sweet or Sour? The EPA concluded that saccharin, which was deemed a potential cancer-causing agent in 1980, is not a harmful substance. The artificial sweetener is added to diet sodas, chewing gum, toothpaste, and pill coatings. Yahoo! News

Animal Rehab: Since the BP spill, 2,079 birds, 456 sea turtles, some terrapins, and two dolphins have been rescued from the oil. AP

--Natalya Stanko


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