May 21, 2014

The Throwaway Phenomenon

Characterized by the 5 Gyres team as a dangerous cycle of careless consumption, disposal, and contamination, the “throwaway mentality” of today’s consumers is becoming increasingly prevalent and destructive.

Photo taken from 5gyres.org

Once discarded this plastic waste aggregates into immense oceanic whirlpools referred to as “gyres,” and five major ones having been identified worldwide. These slow currents allow hazardous plastic pollution to continue circulating, trapping oceanic contaminants and pollutants, and endangering both marine wildlife and humans. Marine animals are likely to consume this contaminated plastic debris, passing toxic waste on to human consumers of seafood.

In order to combat this large-scale environmental problem, the 5 Gyres Team is working to research the oceanic gyres, educate the public on recycling efforts, inspire legislation on plastic manufacturing and waste, and implement solutions to the plastic pollution problem plaguing the world’s oceans. With the goal of urging our society toward a more sustainable future, the dynamic staff of 5 Gyres collects and analyzes ocean samples, develops curriculum and solutions kits for use in schools, and generally fights the lack of concern surrounding this pressing issue of public health.

To learn more about the problem and possible solutions, click HERE.

To get involved with the 5 Gyres initiative, click HERE.

 


February 19, 2014

Americans Want Policy Change

The Center for Climate Change Communication At George Mason University recently released the third report from their latest national Survey, Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies

I was heartened (ecstatic, elated!) to learn that the majority of Americans support national global action on global warming. Here are some of my favorite findings:

  • Most Americans (83%) say the U.S. should make an effort to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs.
  • A majority of Americans (71%) say global warming should be a “very high, “”high,”, or “medium” priority for the president and Congress.

The support of several climate and energy policies even crosses party lines!

  • Providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (82% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans support this)
  • Funding more research into renewable energy sources (84% and 60% respectively)
  • Regulating CO2 as a pollutant (85% and 55%)
  • Eliminating all subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry (67% and 52%)

Not enough environmental statistics? Need more? Check out the original music video for the song “Margin of Error” from THE GREAT IMMENSITY over here. It’s currently on never-ending-repeat on my iPod.

What do you think? Which climate and energy policies do you think are most important?


March 7, 2013

Crowds Demand “Forward” on U.S. National Mall

An estimated 35,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. on February 17th in freezing weather to rally against the development of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project designed to carry oil from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast, passing through Cushing, OK on the way. The rally pulsed with thousands of citizens waving flyers bearing the words, “Forward on Climate” and “Clean Energy.” This decision will be the first major climate change decision Obama will make this term.  In the pipeline’s defense, TransCanada, the company hoping to construct it, has said that a more sustainable energy source is needed, but that transition would take decades. An email excerpt from a company spokesperson on the day of the rally reads as follows: “The oil sands and their greenhouse gas emissions’ impact have been overstated. As the respected Nature Science Journal stated the other week, Keystone XL will not determine whether or not the oil sands will be developed. Nor is oil from the oil sands as ‘dirty’ as many believe.”

The protest was organized by the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the Hip Hop Caucus and has been billed as the largest climate rally in American history. Founder of 350.org Bill McKibben addressed the crowds at one point, saying, “All I ever wanted to see was a movement of people to stop climate change and now I’ve seen it. I cannot promise you we’re going to win, but I’ve waited a quarter century to find out if we were gonna fight. And today, at the biggest climate rally by far, by far, by far, in U.S. history — today, I know we’re going to fight.”

No matter what side of the issue you fall on, it’s thrilling to see so many people uniting to talk about the impacts of human decisions on the environment. It’s a visceral demonstration that people are really starting to care about the decisions their political representatives are making regarding issues of global climate change. I’d love to see something like this on an international level next, calling for clean energy across the board. I also just really love the slogan “forward.” It implies an almost never-ending campaign for addressing the climate, a movement larger than protesting this single construction and dedicated to constantly reevaluating and progressing. The decision is expected to be reached in March. I’m interested to see which side Obama will land on and how this blossoming movement will respond.

 

For more info, click HERE!


November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

For such a sweet name, Hurricane Sandy wasn’t one to play nice. Sandy wreaked havoc on much of the East Coast last Monday, and for many people things still aren’t quite back to normal. Subway lines in New York City are still being reopened little by little, and New Jersey- one of the hardest hit states- is slowly working to clean up the extensive damage Sandy left in her wake. Power outages and lack of heat and other utilities made it a rough week for many, and are still on-going issues for people living in New Jersey and some parts of New York City. But there may be a silver lining to this monster of a storm.

Hurricane Sandy has brought the discussion of climate change back into the political realm, and more importantly, back into the issues being debated in the current election (did you see the cover of Bloomberg Magazine this week?). This election season, climate change has been absent from the presidential debates with issues such as jobs and the economy taking precedence. Political pundits and opinionators have stepped up and spoken out on the matter bringing the issue to the forefront of current political discussions. However, some say that this new surge of political interest in climate change is a fleeting one. While scientists can confidently say that global warming contributed in some respects to Sandy’s devastating power, it is impossible to pin the entire cause of the storm on global warming.

Nevertheless, for most people climate change is becoming more real everyday- especially when they are first hand witnesses to mega storms like Sandy which are becoming more of the norm rather than the exception. HERE is a cool article about the climate modeling that allowed scientists and government forecasters to predict the path and intensity of the storm so well! HERE is another article from CNN that quotes some amazing scientists about climate change, the hurricane, and urban planning.

But not to fear! Even if Sandy doesn’t keep climate change on the political agenda for long, there are campaigns out there continually reminding the political minds that climate change is a concern to watch out for. Just check out this amazing campaign that’s working to illustrate the effects of climate change on the everyday lives of kids. It’s called the TRUST campaign and features videos of youth from across the country talking about how shifts in climate have directly affected their lives, and trying to bring attention to these issues.

If you’re interested in volunteering for hurricane relief efforts, here are some helpful resources for ways to get involved: Occupy Sandy, recovers.org

And here is a photo from the Atlantic. See lots more HERE. Our hearts go out to all those in need, and our thanks go out to all those who are out helping.

From the Atlantic, link to the article above. Robert Bryce walks with his wife, Marcia Bryce, through destruction from superstorm Sandy on Route 35 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, on October 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

 


July 30, 2012

Super Dry Ain’t Super Fly

Well maybe this humungous drought is an indication of what scientists were talking about when they said our climate was going to drastically change due to our massive CO2 emissions! The government has declared one-third of the country’s counties federal disaster areas – even my home town of Detroit, Michigan is considered in a “severe” drought – hang in there guys! This is one of the most widespread droughts the US has ever experienced as it’s impacting 80 percent of the country. The last time it was this bad was over half a century ago in 1956. Here is a handy drought map to help you see the severity of the situation. What this means in plain and simple terms is that a huge number of crops have been burned by dry heat or aren’t growing as well as they should, so farmers are reaping less which means produce prices are going to skyrocket. Not great news when we’re just starting to come out of our economic depression, huh?! The drought is also drying up bodies of water left and right – here’s a picture of one particularly bone-dry lake:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anything quite so dry, especially not something that was once a lake!  Another pretty scary effect of this seemingly endless drought is the trend of wildfires in Missouri, a state that doesn’t often find itself on fire.  There have already been 117 wildfires in Missouri’s Mark Twain National forest which is considered a record-breaking number.  There was even a case of a hay stack spontaneously catching on fire…I mean, seriously?!

One of the things that’s really crazy about this is how fast it happened. Click on this map for a really striking GIF that shows how fast the drought came on this year. The article also has lots about what the climatologists think about the whole thing.

So what can we do about all this dryness besides put on extra moisturizer??  Sadly not much.  It’s looking like the high pressure system that’s squatting on our Nation’s breadbasket isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  People living in the worst drought-affected areas are encouraged to water their lawns very sparingly, take shorter showers, and if at all possible, keep slip and slide parties to once a week.  No seriously though, don’t do that last one. How are you or your community responding to the drought? Let us know in the comments!


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    "The Next Forever" is a song from The Great Immensity. The footage was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by videographer David Ford. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
     
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