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50 posts from September 2011

September 09, 2011

Petrified Forest National Park Set to Grow

Petrified forestThe National Park Service just announced that Petrified Forest National Park will expand by almost 26,000 acres. While the newly acquired lands, which the Conservation Fund bought two years ago, are just now being thoroughly examined, a first look shows that the new property is rife with sites of interest.

The park, which is perched along the majestic Painted Desert, was established as a national monument in 1906 to preserve its rare mineralized tree sections. While the hunk of multicolored Arizona badlands was originally set aside to protect fossilized trees, its preserved animal specimens and Native American ruins make it a hotbed of paleontological and anthropological interest. Its living residents are pretty neat too.

The expansion comes at a crucial time for the park. Despite opposition from the Sierra Club’s Arizona chapter, Arizona's senate passed a bill that allows companies to mine potash, a salt used in fertilizers, right next to the national park. While the partnership between the NPS and the Conservation Fund shows that protection efforts for the park are still going strong, studies reveal that Petrified Forest sits atop an uber-load of potash valued at $1.1 trillion.

Continue reading "Petrified Forest National Park Set to Grow" »

Green Your Pest Control: Keep Cockroaches Away

Roach Sooner or later everyone has a pest problem. Whether you're contending with a small ant colony or a rat the size of your schnauzer, this week's tips will help you get rid of household vermin in humane, eco-friendly ways.

Tip #4: Clean and Caulk 

Prevent cockroach infestations by caulking all critter-sized cracks and keeping your kitchen clear of food debris. Remember to rinse out cans and bottles to prevent your recycle bin from becoming a roach hotspot. If the scampering critters are taking over and you must resort to more drastic measures, boric acid will do the trick — just make sure to keep it away from children and pets.

Tell us: How do you deal with roaches?

September 08, 2011

Daily Roundup: September 8, 2011

Heated Debate: During the most recent GOP debate, Rick Perry said that the idea of shifting the U.S. economy to acknowledge climate change is "nonsense." Jon Huntsman took the opposite position, arguing that the Republicans can't win if they're anti-science. FuelFix and New York Times

Love Through the Ages: A newly discovered fossil indicates proof of an ancient species that's most likely to be the human ancestor. Other new research suggests that our evolutionary ancestors mated with other hominin species, and that a few African populations still show genetic evidence of this. New York Times and NatureNews

Everything's Bigger: Wildfires are raging through drought-inflicted Texas. The blazes are especially threatening to an endangered toad species, and to historic structures. Los Angeles Times and Yahoo! Green

Andale! Mexico reduced its deforestation rate 34% over the last five years. MSNBC

Army Green: SolarCity won a federal bid to install solar panels on 160,000 military homes. MNN

--Avital Binshtock

Hotels Go Green in Denmark

Copenhagen Getting outdoors and trekking through unspoiled wilderness miles from civilization has always been the greenest way to vacation. But if you think that the only environmentally friendly lodging is a tent in desolate wilderness, think again. In Copenhagen, "ecotels" are paving the way for a new type of green vacation, with high-end chocolates and cosmopolitan comforts in place of freeze-dried mac 'n' cheese.

The most recent addition, the Bella Sky Comwell, is Scandinavia's largest hotel. The 812-room, 23-story behemoth is Green Key-certified, which means the building uses at least 25% less energy and water compared to similar structures. Along with the carbon-neutral Copenhagen Towers and the Scandic Hotels (a company that aims to combat everything from political oppression to PCBs), the Bella Sky features unique solutions to the problem of trying to make a big building into a sustainable, profitable enterprise.

For starters, if you sit down at a hotel bar and order a “Bella Be Sour,” your cocktail will come with a gob a honey harvested from the rooftop beehive, where 600,000 bees live. Like Copenhagen’s other urban beehives, the Bella Sky’s overhead honey factory provides much-needed pollination for the city’s many parks and trees. The building also has high-efficiency heating and low-flow showerheads, even on the ladies-only “Bella Donna” floor — where showerheads are enlarged and the minibar is stocked with extra chocolate.

Continue reading "Hotels Go Green in Denmark" »

Green Your Pest Control: Rat Relief

Rat Sooner or later everyone has a pest problem. Whether you're contending with a small ant colony or a rat the size of your schnauzer, this week's tips will help you get rid of household vermin in humane, eco-friendly ways.

Tip #3: Deal with rats effectively.

Rats may be very intelligent (even adorable) but you simply don't want them rummaging through your food. The first step should be to rodent-proof your home. Then try simple repellent tactics, like soaking a rag in ammonia and placing it near the rat's home, or buying "predator pee" to head off their trails. If you're creature-conscious, forget the rat poison and snap-traps. Instead, buy live traps and set your "visitors" free elsewhere.

How do you keep rats from becoming a problem at home?

September 07, 2011

Daily Roundup: September 7, 2011

March of the Crabs: King crabs are moving into warming Antarctic waters. The ecosystem is filled with creatures that haven't evolved defenses against the crabs' sharp claws. Washington Post

You Talkin' to Me? New research shows that dolphins don't whistle, as previously thought. Instead dolphins communicate by vibrating connective tissue while adjusting muscular tension and air flow, which is similar to the way human vocal cords work. Daily Tech

Footprints in the Sand: Footprints left by astronauts are visible in new photos of the moon's surface. Scientists say the prints won't last forever, however. In "10 to 100 million years" the moon will show "no traces of Apollo exploration." MSNBC

Iced Tea: Only 34% of Tea Party members believe that climate change is occurring. New York Times

Wild Ride: A bear broke into a Toyota Prius in Lake Tahoe, California, and accidentally knocked the vehicle into neutral. The hybrid car then rolled down a sloped driveway before crashing into a neighbor's house. Treehugger

--Della Watson

How to Turn an Old Blazer Into a New Backpack

DIY blazer backpack Rob Czar over at ThreadBanger.com taught me how to fashion an ill-fitting dress jacket into a one-of-a-kind backpack.

Before starting this project, I hadn't used a sewing machine since a seventh-grade home-ec class, where I'd stitched together a stolid, beige shopping bag, an odd choice for a 13-year-old, which I still use. This early success wasn't enough to get me over my phobia of that sharp-toothed, fast-moving machine. But hey, people swim in the ocean even though it's got sharks, right? I got my own machine for Christmas two years ago, but only recently decided to bust it out.

If you're an experienced sewer, this project should be a cinch. If you're a novice like me, find an alpha sewer to guide you. Don't be shy — these people love to initiate others. The alpha sewer in my life was a bit like a therapist, coaxing me and my machine past our initial missteps. The evenings we spent together transforming a blazer into a compact backpack — cutting the fabric, chalking and pinning hemlines, stitching the seams — got me thinking about how I most often spend time with friends in some consumer-oriented way, like eating out or going to a movie. There's a unique pleasure in making something with someone, in finding camaraderie while building fresh neural pathways. Now I have a cool backpack and a good friend.

Want to learn how to make this yourself? Click below:

--Wendy Becktold

Book Review Wednesday: Children's Picture Books

Book Roundup Wednesday Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week we're recommending children’s picture books about nature.

Mardy Murie Did! (by Jequita Potts McDaniel, Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle,  $16, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2011): This short storybook celebrates the life of Mardy Murie, known as “the mother of the American conservation movement.” Textured, inspiring paintings of wild Alaska and the West illustrate her life, and the author asks children if they’ve ever heard a wolf howl, or if they’ve ever asked a friend to be kind to nature. Not only is the art nostalgia-worthy, the message for little ones is powerful. Living with nature is joyful, and you can do something to protect it, just like Mardy Murie did.

Leo the Snow Leopard (by Craig, Isabella, and Juliana Hatkoff, $18, Scholastic, 2010): Written by New York Times bestselling author Craig Hatkoff and his two daughters, this book follows the life of a orphaned snow leopard named Leo. From where he was found by a Pakistani goat herder to his adulthood in the Bronx Zoo, bright, lucid prose and adorable photographs illuminate the story for young readers. For the older, fact-hungry crowd, an appendix clearly describes the ecology of snow leopards, captive breeding programs, and international laws regarding endangered species.

Water, Weed, and Wait (by Edith Hope Fine and Angela Demos Halpin, illustrated Colleen Madden, $16, Tricycle Press): Miss Marigold, her skeptical students, and a grumpy neighbor band together to grow a school garden in this funny and colorful book. The cheery faces of kids cleaning an abandoned lot, building raised beds, and weeding make gardening look fun, and the “water, weed, and wait” mantra is simple enough to inspire even the youngest children to stick a tomato plant in their backyard. At the end, kids can learn how to start their own school garden.

Continue reading "Book Review Wednesday: Children's Picture Books" »

Green Your Pest Control: Bed Bugs Begone

Bedbug Sooner or later everyone has a pest problem. Whether you're contending with a small ant colony or a rat the size of your schnauzer, this week's tips will help you get rid of household vermin in humane, eco-friendly ways.

Tip #2: Make it Hot

Bedbugs are hard to get rid of, so prevent an infestation by checking all secondhand purchases, storing luggage on provided racks in hotels, and encasing mattresses in a protective cover. If you've woken up with the dreaded red bumps, take action quickly. Though there are more than 300 EPA-registered pesticides, use chemicals only as a last resort. First, bag all the affected items to keep the bugs from spreading. After removing any visible bug or egg, wash all linens and dry them; heat higher than 113 ºF for an hour can kill the critters. If your own efforts don't work, hire an Integrated Pest Management exterminator.

Tell us: How have you dealt with bedbugs?

September 06, 2011

Daily Roundup: September 6, 2011

Microscopic Mohawks? Scientists have discovered that some species of bacteria use hair-like strands called pili to extract uranium from their environments, making them potentially useful in cleaning up contaminated waters. Scientific American

Stemming the Tide: Frozen skin cells taken from critically endangered white rhinos and drill baboons have been transformed into stem cells. The cells may soon be used to produce embryos. ARKive

King of the Drill: BP is looking to reassume the lead role in oil well drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Reuters

Crossing the Line: China is moving ahead with plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Burma, igniting armed conflict with indigenous groups and sapping critical resources. TreeHugger

Living Legends: A twenty-foot-long saltwater crocodile — perhaps the largest ever captured alive — will become the centerpiece of an ecotourism park in the Philippines. A larger crocodile is reportedly still at large. Guardian

 --Colin Griffin

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