Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Community Health in Rwanda

In the country of Rwanda, plastic bags are illegal. Instead of using one time disposable and cheaply made plastic bags, the entire country uses reusable cloth bags which can durably last much longer. It is no surprise that the streets of Kigali are so clean and void of plastic and other refuge. Traffic is also not allowed in the country, and many stores are not even open until after 11 a.m., which also limits the amount of pollution created from cars idling their engines.

During the last Saturday of each month, there is something called "Umuganda," which represents a sense of both community and a payment owed to society. It has been Rwandan law since 2005 that all able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 65 are required to clean their neighborhood streets and sidewalks. This reflects public health, environmental health, and gives people an incentive to not litter. it can also attract investment and development.

Though Rwanda has a long way to go before it is a developed country and has a full-fledged democracy, it has a great sense of community. This is even more surprising to find in the country because a few decades ago during the Rwandan genocide, approximately 500,000 to 1,000,000 people died.

A healthy community would not be the first thing you would think Rwanda would have after such a disaster, yet despite their past strife, Rwanda is getting it very right regarding a healthy community and environment. If a country such as Rwanda can have such a close sense of community and environmental health, than it is very believable that we, in a more developed country, can do the same thing. We are heading in the right direction with many places banning the use of plastic bags, but there is always more that can be done.


Renewable Energy

Renewable energy sources are naturally replenished in our environment, NATURALLY.  The main sources of renewable energy in use globally are wind power, hydropower, solar energy, geothermal energy, biomass, and heat pump with hydro, wind and solar being the most widely used.  But lets talk about the most visible in our society, wind and solar.

Wind power is an extremely clean and viable way to produce electricity without the pollution of traditional methods.  Wind turbines are the most popular choice for commercial use, and it has been recognized that wind turbines “offshore” could generate much more power than on land given the wind speeds “offshore” are much higher than inland speeds.  The estimation for the benefits of wind power on a global scale are immense but the time and resources needed to make these estimations a reality are nearly as incredible.

Solar energy seems to be the most attainable and realized not only by companies but by individuals and households.  With more people in progressive mindsets that are investing in solar panels to supplement the power supply to their homes.  Architects and contractors are learning the value of solar energy.  It doesn’t have to be a roof filled with solar panels to make an impact on the environment.  A buildings infrastructure can aid in using the energy of our sun for heat in the winter and to minimize its power in the summer, even be utilized to heat the buildings water supply.  These simple changes to the way we build our ever expanding societies are known as “passive solar energies” like orienting a house to face south or an office building to have many south facing windows.  Also, a development that chooses to make these decisions to conserve energy are offered a tax break from the government (incentive!)

All processes to harness and distribute these renewable energy sources do still have negative environmental impacts, but in comparison to the brutal abuse of global industrialization it seems like a necessary cost to start repairing the damage. In 2013 wind power generated 3% of the worlds electrical power and solar energy a mere 1% this is not enough for how capable these methods are and for how great their estimated benefits could be.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Big businesses can help Fight Climate Change too!

When people look at saving the climate they often look at stopping dependence on fossil fuels and other things that a select niche of companies can combat.  Any commercial businesses and even MNCs (Multi National Corporations) can fight climate change though.  These big businesses can even benefit from being part of saving the climate.  Their employees and owners will secure a brighter future for Earth but they will also get tax benefits and spend less money in the long run.

One of the best ways that commercial businesses can help to save the climate is to become more energy efficient.  Many big countries will give tax credits to companies that are able to produce their own power, sometimes they will even pay companies for extra power that is produced and sent back into the power grid.  Installing systems like solar power and wind power on company land will help companies start to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on harmful sources of power.

Businesses should also commit to having energy efficient technology and appliances in all of their offices and locations.  This will cut down on bills and aid the climate at the same time.  For example, LED light bulbs do not contain any chemicals and last longer.  Not only that but they are energy efficient.  Just replacing 500 light bulbs in your business has the potential to save you over $300,000 in 6 years or $1,971 in the first year.  This takes into account replacing the bulbs and the man hours replacing the bulbs along with annual replacement costs if any.  LED light bulbs last a lot longer.  Think if you replaced all of your appliances with items this efficient.  Your business could be making a lot more profit.  If you live in the United States the section that covers tax deductions for energy efficient company buildings is section 179D.

Along the same lines of thinking many states and countries will provide tax benefits for companies that utilize hybrid, all electric, or alternative fuel cars.  This is because these companies are using vehicles that don’t deplete the o-zone.  There are a wide variety of vehicles that fall into these categories available today from compact cars to pickup trucks.  Buses are even made with alternative fuel capability.  No matter your commercial businesses needs they can be met by a vehicle that can get you a tax deduction.

Every commercial business and MNC should look into combatting climate change and become more energy efficient.  All businesses and corporations are about saving money and there is no better way to do that than by supporting the climate.  Becoming energy efficient is a good start for businesses looking to help the climate.  It is their planet too after all. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lighting the Home and CFL's

Thinking about slowing climate change can be quite overwhelming to the individual. But rather than throwing your hands up in frustration, changing your incandescent light bulbs (the old school normal kind) for compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s) is a really easy and positive step towards making your very own carbon footprint a bit smaller. The technology for CFL’s in the home has come a long way since the early 2000’s, you can now get the bulbs in many different shapes, sizes, glow type, and fixture type. When your incandescent bulb dies, you simply match the lumen output of the incandescent and get the same lumen output CFL bulb, and you can choose the type of light that you want, if you prefer soft light, CFL’s have you covered.  

There are many reasons to switch to CFL’s, you can help save the environment and also help save yourself some money! Replacing just one incandescent bulb with a CFL prevents 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emission from power plants. Saving electricity by using CFL’s reduces CO2 emissions, sulfur oxide, and high-level nuclear waste; they use about 50-80% less energy overall compared with incandescent bulbs. The bulbs are also more efficient for your pocket book by lasting up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Not only that, but CFL’s generate about 70% less heat than incandescent bulbs, saving money on cooling your home.

Are you worried because you heard that there is mercury inside CFL’s? Don’t worry, it is a very small amount, and is unlikely to cause any harm to you if it happens to break in your home. And, there are many ways to dispose of the light bulbs to make sure the mercury stays out of the landfills. Read this information from the Environmental Defense Fund if you are worried about mercury: http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2007/07/31/cfl_mercury-2/?_ga=1.210947285.1701918196.1439003602

It is very easy to recycle your CFL’s, Home Depot and IKEA both take the bulbs for free, plus many other stores and agencies. You can check this website to find the recycling center nearest you (it will also tell you where to properly dispose of your electronics): http://search.earth911.com/

More great links to answer any compact fluorescent light bulb questions you may have:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cattle Farming and Climate Change

Beef - It’s What’s For Dinner.” Most of us have been introduced to this famous slogan popularized in media by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association—an organization aimed at increasing the domestic and international demand for beef. Americans have been hearing this message for over 20 years and, it sunk in. Americans consume 85.5 pounds of beef per person each yearthird in the world only behind Uruguay and Argentina. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Saving Dollars on the Rack Pt. 2

Sustainable fashion, also called Eco fashion, is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of environmentalism and social responsibility.
Eco fashion is a relatively new industry as of 2007 that is dedicated to use innovation in order to help reduce the amount of carbon emissions affiliated with the textile industry. Some of the benefits this new industry are the ways in which the process for growth and manufacturing of textiles.

Practices are currently changing in this new industry and growth of the fabrics is being reutilized. Organic cotton although needing lots of water is arguably a decent fabric choice because it does not contain hazardous pesticides and fertilizers. Hemp is another fabric being looked at because it is highly productive and very easy to cultivate and is resilient to pests. Another reason hemp is being thought about is because its deep roots actually help to rejuvenate soil. Bamboo is on the brink of becoming the next hit in textile industry due to its ability to absorb greenhouse gasses while growing, however is very tough to make soft without the use harsh chemicals. A futuristic approach of recycled polyester has also made an appearance in the industry using recycled water bottles as a means

                As of recent times there have been two new advances in the way clothing is dyed which are bringing us to a more ecofriendly textile industry. The first one is for silk alon unfortunately. However silk is made from silkworms, and scientists have been feeding these worms different dyes with their normal diet, strange right? But it’s working! The process is called “Intrinsically Coloring” and the worms produce the color they were fed this is so recent that companies aren’t using it quite yet however we can expect to see it used in the silk industry soon!
                A little bit more common of a practice and one for more than just silk wearers is the technique of “Air Dye”. The process works on synthetic fabrics by heating up dye so much that it vaporizes and then sprayed on the fabrics. Results are better than you might expect as they have been featured on the Mercedes-Benz fashion week!

The eco fashion industry is working diligently to provide safer alternatives to making sure we stay clothed and recommend that we wear the clothes we own now for longer, including repairing damaged articles, and guess what? Recycle through that of Thrifting! 

Additional links

-Gregory Mallon

The Clean Power Plan: What it is and why it’s important

On August 3rd of this year, president Obama passed The Clean Power Plan. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the plan, which, aims to limit carbon pollution from power plants. To put it in perspective, the electricity sector accounts for 32% of the U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions—more than transportation, industry, agriculture, and commercial & residential.

Do You Know What Foods Are Season? Find Out and Do Your Part to Reduce Climate Change.

In an earlier blog post, Eating Your Carbon Footprint we covered actions you can take right now to lessen your carbon footprint. One being: Eat Local. Eating local is great for a variety of reasons - you support your local economy, create more jobs, and of course lessen your environmental impact – but an equally important shopping habit to adopt is choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Food Waste in America: What You Can Do Today

Sometimes you can acquire knowledge from the most unlikely of places.

A few days ago, I found myself sitting on my coach trying to figure out what to watch on television. I have my go-to “mindless” shows like Game of Thrones, Homeland, and Chopped (what can I say; I have an affinity toward reality-style cooking shows). Anyway, I had pretty much exhausted my go-to options so I began to click around On Demand; this is where I stumbled across a show called Last Week Tonight, an HBO show centered around delivering the news on a weekly basis. I decided to give it a go.

Write off the bat, the subject matter caught my attention: Food Waste. I quickly found that I had no idea how wasteful Americans actually are.

“In the United States, 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten. The estimated value of this food loss was $161.6 billion using retail prices.” - USDA Study

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Saving Dollars on the Rack

The clothing we buy also has carbon emissions and how often we wash, dry and replace them effects the planet. The first thing to know is that this carbon footprint falls under the secondary type.  This type measures the carbon footprint an ornament of clothing will damage the environment over the course of its life. Before you receive a piece of clothing there is an assigned footprint. For even just a t-shirt the carbon emitted to make it, can be 20 time the weight of the shirt itself. The second part is that we will release emissions washing and drying the piece of clothing for however long we own it. One more thing we have to watch out for is the discarding of old clothing because once it reaches the landfill it sits, when instead the fabric could be recycled!

The textile industry is also the third largest consumer of water. Growing fibers is the reason cotton plant takes about 8,000 gallons of water in order to get 2 and a half pounds of cotton. From there it must be dyed which takes about 150 gallons of water for that same bit of cotton. Currently the textile industry is making steps to reduce their half of the emission due to economic reasons, we could do the same!

Ever been to a thrift store?
They are great, hunting for style in a place that articulates best the ideals to reuse while simultaneously saving you money is style to be appreciated. Reduction is always the first step in the system to lower carbon emissions and if you can’t do that then Reuse is next up. The pitch perfect way of doing that is thrift shopping and giving that lovely garment a new home.

Additional Links

-Gregory Mallon

Methods to Cut CO2 Levels in the Atmosphere

In an effort to curb the effects of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, Richard Branson, the chairman of Virgin Group Ltd., has offered a $25 million dollar prize for the best solution to our CO2 problem in the field of geoengineering. These efforts are made with a sense of urgency, as scientists wish to curb the negative effects to limit the warming of 2 degrees Celsius. Branson's prize involves the best method of mitigation, rather then attempting to tinker with the planet's climate. "Climate intervention involves techniques that are of high and unknown risk, but the risks of mitigation and adaption are understood and manageable," says David Titley, a professor in Pennsylvania State University's department of meteorology. One finalist for the $25 million dollar prize is an organization called Smart Stones. This group is working with olivine (shown above), a mineral which can absorbs CO2. according to Olaf Schuiling, an advisor of Smart Stones, one ton of olivine can absorb one ton of CO2. If olivine was crushed and scattered across the land, Schuiling says that "each year as much CO2 is absorbed by this method as is emitted by humans." Another finalist is Climeworks AG, which is working on capturing CO2 in filters an using the gas for things like injecting greenhouses to promote plant growth or carbonate drinks. Biochar Co. is working on a method to take waste wood and turn it into a material called biochar, which locks CO2 into soil for hundreds or even thousands of years. With the sense of urgency that scientists now have for finding methods to curb the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere, as well as the $25 million dollar incentive to find the best way to mitigate CO2, many good ideas are coming from the scientific community. It might soon be possible that everyday homeowners will be able to take olivine or biochar and put it in our backyards, or even something else entirely that has not been conceived yet, in order to do our part for our planet.


Composting 101

Composting 101

In our blog survey, about one fifth of respondents stated that they do not compost. I, too, did not use to compost. But then when I learned how big of an impact composting can have on my local community and on the environment, as well as how little time it took and how easy it was, I easily switched to composting. Explore these websites to learn what composting is, and how you can start today!

For information on composting, including interactive games (for all ages), check out here.

For info on the composting program in Portland, Oregon, view this cool webpage.

For an awesome website on composting programs worldwide, explore this link.

Remember, food scraps are a significant source of waste produced each year, but can easily be diverted to compost for a better garden, reduced waste, and a greener world!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Airplanes: Skyrocketing our Carbon Emissions

The popularity of air travel have been rising rapidly since the 1980’s and the greenhouse gasses that go along with them has as well. Currently airplanes work by burning kerosene a form of petroleum. When the engines burn this fuel a few different things happen. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the major thing released however, water vapor, nitrous oxides, sulfate, and soot are also released into the atmosphere. It’s a bit worse than that though The IPCC which stands for the (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has estimated that the climate impact of aircraft is two to four times greater than the effect of their carbon dioxide emissions alone. This is because at high altitudes or “cruising” heights there are atmospheric chemical reactions that take place with the chemicals released further damaging the environment. Part of the water vapor we can see know as condensation trails, The condensation trails are long bits of what we see as clouds but is water vapor and little bits of ice. They trap heat causing more global warming. Surprisingly during the day they are less damaging than at night. By no means are they good but during the day they reflect sunlight back into space temporarily helping us however at night only pollute and change the atmosphere.

Regulations In the near future!!
As of June 2015 The Obama Administration had a press release stating that they would be taking action against airplanes and the greenhouse gasses affiliated. The EPA will be in charge of creating regulations for airlines, however this will be a process that will take years to be put in practice in order to wait for international negotiations to be made. The EPA is currently receiving criticism for not acting faster by proposing regulations for just the U.S. and letting the international regulations be set based upon the U.S. regulations. 

So what can we do in the meantime?

Individually we can make the conscious choices to not use airlines unless completely necessary until new technology provides solutions for high greenhouse gas emissions! This means drive to the place you want if near enough or try a staycation! Really anything that will result in fewer planes launching!

Additional links
-Gregory Mallon

Eating Your Carbon Footprint

 The food system is responsible for approximately a quarter to a third of greenhouse gasses.  What can we do? More than you might think. First we have to look how and when carbon is emitted.

Eat local! We’ve heard it before and we will hear it again. However eating in season is also a major player, the reason behind it is that foods grown out of season in a colder climate typically take a greenhouse which uses energy or need more fertilizer either way adding unnecessary emissions. So learn your climate and eat what your climate can provide, eat local!

Organic food shopping is NOT necessarily the same as sustainable food shopping and although claims have been made that organic foods produce fewer carbon emissions claims have also been made that conventional farming release fewer. Fortunately there is talk of a new label coming soon to grocery stores near you certifying sustainable food practices. Until then there is an app which you can download called HarvestMark Food Traceability By YottaMark, Inc. which will be your friend in identifying the groceries you buy tomorrow. Other ways you can help reduce your footprint is by not using an oven or stove as it is kind of a double whammy when heating up the processed food we sometimes eat, one whammy at the cannery and one in the home!

For those of you that are willing, going vegetarian or vegan can reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses by about one quarter.  This has to do with the amount of land cleared for the animals and the land cleared for the animal’s food. However there is a snag if this choice is viable in your life and you are willing to give it a shot not all calorie intake "replacers" are equal and some can still have a high carbon emission rate when comparing calories offered from the food item

To ensure a carbon footprint lower than before a combination of these steps and awareness is necessary. Using these tools one can influence a diet and as the community grows of “in the know consumers”, we can influence a market.

The link to the app for sustainable practices
Additional Links

-Gregory Mallon

Animals Effected By Climate Change More Than Humans pt. 2

The constant heating of the world has led to harmful conditions for many animals, in fact most animals are more affected by climate change than we are.

The polar bear is the poster child for global warming because they are large and cute and almost everyone knows about them.  Normally polar bears use the ice caps to hunt and fish but every year the ice caps are starting off smaller and melting earlier.  With this their natural habitat and hunting territory is gone.  It has been theorized by many people that the polar bear will be able to adapt to live more like the traditional bear but there has yet to be any evidence of that. Reindeer’s are another type of species having trouble surviving the warmer temperatures.  This includes the caribou as they are classified as the same species with one being domesticated and the other being wild.  Reindeer have adapted to their climate by growing more fur and not having sweat glands.  The problem with this is that there is no way for them to vent their heat during the summer, making it extremely hard to survive the summer.

There have already been a small number of species that have become extinct recently.  Take a look at the golden toad from Central America, it and the Montverde harlequin frog have recently become extinct and it is thought to be that they were killed off due to the climate.  These could just be the first of many species if they can’t learn to adapt to a different climate.

Many animals in the wild kingdom are being threatened by climate change.  These animals vary from fish, to reptiles, to mammals.  In most cases the most we can do is hope that the animals learn to adapt to a new climate as we fight to slow down and stop climate change.  There is the chance that there will be animals that our kids will never see that we used to think were commonplace.

Conclusion: Climate change does not just affect us as humans, but it impacts all the creatures around us as well. With government policy put in place and a public initiative for change,   it is up to us to make the world a better place for these animals and for society as a whole .  

The Clean Power Plan

As some may have heard, earlier last week, President Obama announced a proposal to help combat climate change. He mentions that the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency will set standards for the amount of carbon different power sources can release into the air. Currently there isn’t a cap on how much carbon pollutants can be release by the power plants, and by setting the proposal into action, the nation will be able to lower the amount of carbon pollutants from power plants into the air by 32% of what it was releasing a decade ago. This combined with simple steps made by individuals can have a large impact on slowing climate change-which is important because climate change isn’t slowing down and time is of the essence. This change isn’t going to be easy for some power plants, but it’s not something that will happen overnight either. Each state is in charge of setting up their own plan and following through. The individual planning per state is very important to note because some states are already changing their main power source to something more green. Also certain states can easily start using a new power source based on the geographical location (such as hydropower, wind energy or solar), other states are not as lucky and rely mostly on coal or nuclear power-a very non-earth friendly power source. Even though each state gets to come up with their own plan, they will have a deadline to submit their plan.
Across the United States there has been both praise and criticism about the new plan. Some are saying it’s a great idea and will ultimately do a lot of good, as well as look good on the Obama legacy. Others are saying it’s too costly to change and isn’t worth the cost. Overall, one needs to analyze the plan and figure out for themselves if it’s something they agree or disagree with. To see for yourself, check out http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/02/politics/obama-climate-change-plan/ to view the video and write-up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Plastic Problem

Would you believe me when I say that the amount of plastic we dump into our oceans each year could stretch halfway to mars? according to the journal Science, humans release between 5.3 million and 14 million tons of plastic into the ocean annually.

To put this into perspective, nine million tons of plastic is equivalent to 136 billion plastic milk jugs which, if you stack on top of each other, can reach halfway to our red planetary neighbor. Nine million jugs is also equivalent to piling five grocery bags full of plastic on every foot of coastline in the world, according to onEarth.org. The figure below shows the figures of plastic from land into the ocean.
One thing that is clear is that there is way to much plastic going into the ocean every year. The same research from the journal Science also discovered the origins of the pollution from the land. According to the study, Asia is the most prolific of polluters, creating an estimated 63% of the plastic released into the oceans annually. China creates more than a quarter of the world's oceangoing plastic, making it the worlds worst polluter. The United States is 20th on the list, but the U.S. is also the only fully developed economy in the top 20. 

According to the NRDC, the United States only recycles 14% of plastic packaging, leaving substantial room for improvement. This leaves an effect on both the environment and the economy. besides the plastic going straight to the ocean and polluting it, "recyclable post-consumer packaging with an estimated value of $11.4 billion is landfilled in the U.S. annually instead of being recycled," says Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist at NRDC. President Obama recent made a speech speaking to our generation saying that "we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it." 

Every single one of us can make a difference. this could include creating less plastic in the first place, and the plastic that we do create should be recycled. The sea turtles, sea birds, and other marine animals would be very grateful for our efforts.

What is the GOP Climate Plan?

The first GOP presidential debate has come and gone, and while we are all entertained by the antics of Donald trump and others, these debates are also very important. We are so often distracted by the scandals of these people, that we forget that these candidates are vying for the position of leader of the free world. That kind of power and influence is no joking matter, and it is important the the person who gets the job has their priorities straight, especially on something as important as the environment. during the debate, many important talking points seemed to be neglected, and one was climate change.

I was not surprised, it is clear to the country what side of the argument the GOP supports. Even with substantial evidence and other world powers accepting it, it is unknown what will sway the minds of these individuals. The only talk of anything environmental was Jeb Bush discussing the Keystone Pipeline where he said "give me a break, of course we support that," even though it could be a potential catastrophe for the environment. while hurting the economy is never a good thing, ignoring the environment because it could have a negative impact on the economy is counterproductive. Democrats have been on the offensive against republicans who have denied climate change, asking GOP members what their climate plan actually is.

Though some republicans do acknowledge the fact that climate change is manmade (at least partially), it is not in their political interests to go against their political party platform. Imagine a world where one of the strongest countries denies that there is a problem with climate change. This is a very important issue for not just the United States, but for the world as a whole, and the fact that a great portion of our government denies it is very disconcerting.


Good News from World Leaders

 World leaders representing the world's largest economies have come to an agreement to limit the increase of the global climate to 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists agree that if the global climate is kept at this level, we will avoid the worst climatic consequences. Member states that met at the environmental summit in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany have committed to a zero-emission energy system before the end of the century.

This landmark decision will certainly change the urgency of the environmental movement, due to the fact that before this summit, discussions of lowering the percentage of use was discussed, which would still include some use of fossil fuels. This most recent summit has agreed to enact policy within the world's most influential nations that will totally eliminate fossil fuel consumption in the next 85 years. the G7's statement, which consists of the seven most advanced economies in the world (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States), "reflect the growing national security and the quality of life of people everywhere. Statements denying that climate change is real or arguing that controlling emissions is less important than economic growth are being viewed as ridiculous, irresponsible, and dangerous.

The conversation has shifted to one about investment in renewable energy solutions and reduced reliance on fossil fuels for transportation through improved public transit networks and electric vehicle use." (David Suzuki Foundation). This is good news for the world as a whole, as the leaders of the the strongest economies in the world are in agreement that it is irrational to not believe in global climate change, and an understanding that change from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy must happen.


Animals Effected By Climate Change More Than Humans pt.1

There are still people out there that deny that the weather is getting warmer and warmer.  Most of the West Coast is experiencing problems with droughts from California to Washington.  These droughts are abnormally dry to exceptional drought, which is the worst.  A good portion of the California is in a stage of exceptional drought.  The East Coast isn’t without areas of abnormally dry and moderate drought too.  The country has experienced droughts before but none this bad.  The constant heating of the world has led to harmful conditions for many animals, in fact most animals are more affected by climate change than we are.

With the hotter climate the natural habitat for many animals is changing much faster than it ever has.  Many species have experienced an extreme change in the weather before but it has always been a much slower process.  The food sources for many animals in the wilderness are also at risk as plants are being affected by the change in the weather too.

The salmon is experiencing major effects of climate change recently.  In Washington State and elsewhere the water levels are lower than they usually are and the temperature of the air is warmer.  This results in warmer water temperatures that the salmon simply isn’t used to.  Salmon rely on the cold water of their streams to go up river to mate and then swim make down river.  The problem is that the temperatures are above their normal and the fish are being cooked in the rivers, their normal habitat at this time of the year.  Hundreds of thousands of salmon have already died this year due to being cooked in the rivers.

Conclusion: Climate change does not just affect us as humans, but it impacts all the creatures around us as well.  It is in the power of the people to stand up for the animals and have a voice in government policy when touching on the issue of environmental protection for animals.

The Effects of Excess Consumption

When people's income rise, they consume more; oftentimes they consume in excess and they become wasteful of our finite natural resources.  In an article written by Daly et al (2007), the authors emphasize the economic problem of growing human population and the resulting scale of economic activity as paramount factors that will determine if sustainability can be achievable.

Daly et al argue that the marginal costs of resource consumption continues to rise while the marginal benefits from extra population and production continues to decline.  For Daly et al, the most important questions become: is full scale production too enormous comparative to the physical environment even if efficient allocation between the ultimate uses of investment and consumption takes place? Are we investing and consuming in excess?  They stress that the physical environment is not capable of sustaining the growing human population and its associated growing production and consumption activity at greater magnitudes; moreover, they argue that the current pace of population growth and the increase in economic activity can only jeopardize the standard of living of future generations.  According to Daly et al, no similar satisfaction can be handed down to future generations when environmental degradation is taking place as the result of resource exploitation, depletion of non-recoverable resources, a loss of biodiversity, and a reduction in the quality of ecosystems vital to the survival of future generations.  They argue that offsetting consumption with increased investment is not an efficient solution to solve environmental problems because such an approach only places a greater stress on environmental resources.  Daly et al argue that environmental resources are a constraints to our survival and a lot more effort has to be put for the preservation of the tangible world of biodiversity, matter, entropy, energy, as well as the generative ability of ecosystems.

We can do our part to protect the environment by becoming less wasteful of our natural resources, recycling more, conserving water, driving smaller cars, carpooling to work, using public transportation.  If you would like to learn more about how to pollute less and become less wasteful of natural resources, click on the links below.




Daly et al. "Are We Consuming Too Much: For What?"
Conservation Biology Volume 21, No. 5, 2007 1359–1362

Make a Change - For Yourself and Our World!

Global warming is everywhere; on the news, in political discussions, and even in the already shifting local weather patterns. It can seem daunting for any one person to feel that they can make a significant difference, but the great news is that any one of us right now CAN! Our actions in aggregate - be it driving cars, using electricity for our homes, or producing material waste - has had the far reaching effects to cause global warming, which in turn holds the answer: if we are causing global warming, then we can also reverse it. Together, our individual actions can champion the cause to fight global warming and conquer it. There is no need to wait for politicians or business leaders; it is our planet and we can start today.

Check out this first link, which goes to an interactive website showing a basic summary of your individual carbon footprint, and how many trees need to be planted to offset that footprint. Put in your numbers: it takes less than a minute and you can see your current footprint on a global scale!


This second link is for a more in-depth look of not only your carbon footprint, but also of changes you can make that would reduce your foot print at home and on the road. It also compares your carbon with the national average. Check it out and see how you can be more green!


After going through the first two links, we see how much carbon we produce every month and year, as well as how to reduce it by using alternative options in our lifestyles. However, even if we drive a hybrid and use solar electricity for our homes we still produce some carbon, so the final step is to plant carbon soakers - aka, trees! There are many ways to support this carbon offsetting cause, whether to physically volunteer and physically plant trees, or - for those of us less into physically connecting with Mother Earth - you can donate money to these organizations, or share information about them with family and friends. Offset that carbon and get involved. It is easy, improves the quality of your life, and helps the Earth that contains all of our loved ones and future generations to come.

For planting trees in Portland: http://www.friendsoftrees.org

For planting trees in major cities in the U.S.: http://actrees.org

Why wait? Be your own Superman and start saving the world today!

Oceans in Distress

       When discussing climate change topics, we often focus our efforts and energy towards the depleting rainforests and the negative effects of overpopulated urban cities.  Rarely does our attention shift to one of the bigger players in the climate control space: our oceans.  These vast bodies of water cover over seventy percent of the Earth's surface.  Plentiful with marine life, the oceans' depths contain an unknown number of species still yet to be discovered.  And they're in trouble.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Please give these lives a chance to live

Climate change effects on ocean animals!

The polar bear, is affected both by the reduction in sea ice and by reduced stocks of its primary food, the ringed seal. Sea ice is decreasing throughout their Arctic range due to climate change. Ice reduction decrease the abundance of seals, and increases the amount of energy and time needed for hunting, leaving less energy for reproduction. Rising temperatures means that large areas of the ocean that were once frozen throughout the year now become open water.
Climate change directly affects the reproduction of sea turtles in three ways. First, sea level rise will affect significant nesting beach areas on low-level sand beaches such as Bonaire, the Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef. Second, rising temperatures increase the chance that sand temperature will exceed the upper limit for egg incubation, which is 34 degrees C. Third, rising temperatures bias the sex ratio toward females because temperature during incubation determines the sex of the egg. Loggerhead turtle nests in Florida are already producing 90 percent females owing to high temperatures, and if warming raises temperatures by an additional 1 degree C or more, no males will be produced there.
North Atlantic right whales, which can grow to more than 55 feet long and weigh 70 tons, range from Nova Scotia to the southeastern United States and migrate the length of the East Coast. Today there are fewer than 500 right whales left in the world. These animals have been protected since 1935 and listed as endangered since the early 1970s.


by Hanxiang Yu

Do you pee in the shower? You are saving the planet!

Peeing in the shower, some of us do it, some of us think it is gross. I am going to show you why peeing in the shower could help save the planet, and hope you learn to see some situations in life for more than face value. There are so many things that all of us can do to help mitigate the effects of climate change. There is a lot of great suggestions regarding how each individual can pitch in to reduce our impact on the planet:

For some it can seem daunting; many of us are overwhelmed by the vast amount of information out there, and all the perceived steps required of us in order to make a difference. When presented with the effort required in order to minimize the effects of climate change, one can feel burdened and afraid that they are not able to drastically change their lifestyle. But let me remind you of the power of aggregate effort. If we all make at least a little effort, the additive effect will be great. Consider a penny, it doesn’t seem like much money; if every United States citizen added a penny to a pot of money, that would be equivalent to over three million dollars! So I hope you realize that a little effort can make a big difference. There are numerous ways to help mitigate the effects of climate change without having to completely change your lifestyle:

One simple way to minimize your impact on the climate and save money and time, all from the comfort of your home is to change the way you use water. Increased water usage means higher water bills, heating bills, carbon emissions associated with warming and transporting the water, and a worsened drought that many areas are currently experiencing. There are copious actions that will reduce water usage; the one that I hope gets you interested is peeing in the shower.

The next time someone berates you for peeing in the shower like George Costanza, you can refute his or her claims with your own - you are saving the planet. In 2014 the University of the UK started a campaign, urging the students to urinate while they shower. They determined that if a household urinated in the shower rather than flushing the toilet one extra time a day, they would save 1,157 gallons of water a year. If you were worried about hygiene, the university released with the campaign a list of literature that suggest there is no hygiene issue pertaining to urinating in the shower. Not only will you help save the planet, you will help your wallet with les water usage. So the next time you shower, remember the peeing can help prevent the plight of the planet.

In addition the above suggestion, there are many other small ways to reduce water usage and save money - including but not limited to:

-Reduce the amount of time you are in the shower
-Turn off the shower as you wash up and turn it back on to rinse off
-Get low flow showerheads and toilets
-Use rainwater-collecting containers for watering gardens
-Don’t leave the water running while washing dishes
-Use yard landscaping that requires less water
-Use your washing machine on the cold setting