You are viewing stuff tagged with environment.

Canadian Oil

Alberta’s Tar Sands and the High Cost of Oil — read this and you’ll feel blinding white-hot rage. Tribal lands, guaranteed for perpetuity, ruined. Sky-high cancer rates. A river made worthless. Wholesale, short-sighted environmental destruction. Half a billion gallons of water polluted daily. A physician trying to alert others to cancers, threatened with the end of his career. Government sitting idly by, interested only in the profits of the tar sands industry. This scar on the land will take hundreds of years to heal, all this damage done for money.


Life Itself

Roger Ebert, in a review for the movie Samsara:

On this ancient and miraculous world, where such beautiful natural and living things have evolved, something has gone wrong when life itself is used as a manufacturing process. I read that in 50 years, we must adopt a largely vegetarian diet or die, and forgive me if I take that as good news.

Stairs Master

Zen at Home: Working Out in a Small Space; here’s a gem from the comments:

My company offers every employee a free Stair Master for personal use, 24/7. It’s double wide and you can do an “up” or “down” workout. The best part about it is that it serves the added function of access to all six floors in our building.



The great thing about the internet (and in this case, twitter) is that it gives folks with grievances a voice. Sometimes a very potent voice:

I’ve read a bunch of articles and blogs about this whole situation by publicists and marketing folk wondering what BP should do to save their brand from @BPGlobalPR.  First of all, who cares?  Second of all, what kind of business are you in?  I’m trashing a company that is literally trashing the ocean, and these idiots are trying to figure out how to protect that company?  One pickledick actually suggested that BP approach me and try to incorporate me into their actual PR outreach.  That has got to be the dumbest, most head-up-the-ass solution anyone could possibly offer.


Pollenocalypse 2010

This year is apparently pretty unusual for pollen. Pollen Aplenty Triggers Allergy Explosion - NPR:

In Atlanta, a recent pollen count registered 5,733, the second-highest level ever. The usual bar for high pollen levels is set at 120, so hitting the thousands is pretty much through the roof and to the the moon.

Lawn Chairs Aren’t Just That

Mykala and I went on a weekend quest for lawn chairs. But, after watching The Story of Stuff on Friday, (which seeks to illustrate the wasteful, unsustainable, dead-end process generating the crap we buy) — we were less than enthusiastic about purchasing crap. You start to think about the stuff-making process. Oil that can’t be replaced is drilled for plastic. Raw plastic is shipped around the globe in container ships, which spill millions of pounds into the sea. Floating on the water, plastics follow currents and congregate in focal points the size of states. The oceans are trashed, the resources exhausted. Even worse, people are trashed. The latter is a contentious, ongoing issue. In this article about Chinese workers assembling Microsoft products, Chinese factories sound unbearable:


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Word of the day: phenology:

Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate.

It turns out that phenology rose to prominence amongst scientists in the early 1700s and then took off as a general pastime in the mid-1800s. What better way to show off your wealth (I’m not so busy that I must always work) and interest in science (I am recording numbers) than to help other scientists track the data underlying the seasons? But then:


Widgets from China

I don’t fully understand what’s going on in China. I do have some dispiriting facts, though.


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Conspicuous Expression

As promised: extremely heartening piece declaring online social networking as the beginning of the end of conspicuous consumption, and the start of something significantly more environmentally sustainable. Conspicuous, but not Consuming, by Stephen Linaweaver:


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Cleaning Beijing for the Olympics

Because Beijing is so polluted, the performance of athletes could suffer due to the poor air quality. China has decided to take drastic measures to clean up the air:

Under rules to curb smog and traffic congestion that will last from July 20 to Sept. 20, owners of 3.3 million private cars can drive only on alternate days in China’s capital, based on whether the last digit of their license plates is even or odd.

Freight trucks that don’t meet minimal emission standards were banned July 1…

Over the weekend, the city also opened a $2.3-billion subway line linking the northern Zhongguancun area, the capital’s high-tech neighborhood, with its central business district.

Beijing has gone on a spending spree, relocating factories, seeding clouds, retiring old vehicles, planting millions of trees and halting building construction amid concerns that athletes and visitors could suffer breathing problems.

The prospect of competitors wearing masks during events has spurred authorities to set a goal of 256 “blue-sky” days this year, up from 100 in 1998. World record holder and asthma sufferer Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia has opted to pull out of the marathon and concentrate instead on the 10,000-meter event. Other teams are training for as long as possible outside China.


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Wall-E for President

I submit this to you: the movie Wall•E is an instant classic. Instant. New York Times columnist Frank Rich, in “Wall-E for President”:

Indeed, sitting among rapt children mostly under 12, I felt as if I’d stepped through a looking glass. This movie seemed more realistically in touch with what troubles America this year than either the substance or the players of the political food fight beyond the multiplex’s walls.

While the real-life grown-ups on TV were again rebooting Vietnam, the kids at “Wall-E” were in deep contemplation of a world in peril — and of the future that is theirs to make what they will of it. Compare any 10 minutes of the movie with 10 minutes of any cable-news channel, and you’ll soon be asking: Exactly who are the adults in our country and who are the cartoon characters?


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Reflections on Our Future

In this calm before an approaching intellectual storm of more school, I find all the energies of my brain bent on the Big Questions™. I’ve always found it interesting that I only begin to ponder these questions when the day-to-day worries of my life are at a local minima — indeed, the vast majority of folks are just too busy to care. Sadly, I’ll soon rejoin that majority. That reminds me of a piece from a great article (certainly the best item I’ve read about higher education since Nussbaum’s “Cultivating Humanity”) entitled “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” by William Deresiewicz:


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Knut the Polar Bear

Knut the polar bear is very very cute. Born in captivity late in 2006, he was abandoned by his mother and raised by zoo keeper Thomas Dörflein:

Knut’s need for around-the-clock care required that Dörflein not only sleep on a mattress next to Knut’s sleeping crate at night, but also play with, bathe, and feed the cub daily. Knut’s diet began with a bottle of milk every two hours before graduating at the age of four months to a milk porridge mixed with cat food, vitamins, and cod liver.


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Hong Kong fitness club partially powered by its members

Hong Kong fitness club partially powered by its members - Well, this is nifty, a fitness club that harnesses its members athletic exertions to help supply electrical needs.

I can see this concept being really helpful in a place like Texas where air conditioning in health clubs is essential. The more work you did and therefore heat you produced, the more you would contribute towards air conditioning the place. Interesting.

Solar power becoming more affordable

Solar power becoming more affordable - “Last month, Japanese electronics giant Sharp Corporation showed off its new system for focusing sunlight with a fresnel lens (like the one used in lighthouses) onto superefficient solar cells, which are about twice as efficient as conventional silicon cells.”