My opinions of Red

September 26, 2007

I thought that Red, by Terry Tempest Williams, was a pretty good story but was kind of all over the place on numerous occasions. Though it was an easy read it was a bit confusing due to the scattered writing.

This story was pretty different from Ed Abbeys Desert Solitaire because in my opinion Ed Abbey was more of a rough and tough guy, while Red you can tell that it was written by a woman. It wasn’t as ruggedly written, it was quite the opposite. It seemed as if Williams tried to make everything that she talked about beautiful no matter what it was. But I liked the fact that we were able to see the desert through the eyes of a man and then a woman, it was different but you can tell that they both respect not only the desert but nature itself equally, just in different ways.

-Brandon Hunter-

Lake Erie “Dead Zone”

September 25, 2007

Tim RosendaulProject ProposalLake Erie “Dead Zone”              For my project I want to focus on the growing problem of Lake Erie’s “Dead Zone”.  Being a native from Cleveland, Ohio, I thought this would be an interesting topic to further my knowledge on this subject and inform others about this growing problem in Lake Erie.            The cause of the “dead zone” in Lake Erie is from the depletion of oxygen in the late summers.  The causes are believed to be the configuration of the Central Basin of Lake Erie, to many nutrients (phosphorus) from human activity, and presences of foreign organisms (zebra muscles, quagga muscle) that consume all of the oxygen and produce more phosphorus.            During the summer months, Lake Erie goes through this process of which the top layer of water in the Central Basin of Lake Erie produce this algae.  The algae are fertilized by all of the phosphorus in the water and eventually when the algae dies it sinks to the bottom of the lake.  When the dead algae reaches the bottom bacteria and fungus decompose the algae, which then uses up all of the oxygen that is dissolved in the water.            For my project I want to further go into the details about the dead zone and how it has huge effects not only to aquatic organisms but also to the population around the Great Lakes.  I would also like to talk about the foreign aquatic organisms not native to Lake Erie and what roll they have contributed to the Lake Erie “Dead Zone” and other numerous problems. Sources:Substantial Web Sources


Scholarly Sources


 Random Sources


Environmental Cleanup Procedures

September 25, 2007

Everyday chemicals are released into the environment because of different types of spills.  These spills are usually related to human error.  Because the chemicals involved may be harmful to humans and/or the environment it is necessary to the DEP to be notified of a spill and for them to hire somebody to clean the mess up.  This summer I got the oppurtunity to work for a company that specializes in environmental work.  The business started as a company that just removed oil tanks that were no longer in use and grew to the main contractor for spills in the state of Connecticut.  I got to experience different types of chemical spills from the simple oil spill, to gasoline, toxic paint, and even acid spills.  Each spill is ca little different and no two are the same.  For this project I am going to explain to the class the different ways of dealing with chemical spills.  For example, when oil leaks into a river that is contaminated with PCS’s (poly-chlorinated biphenyls, which cause cancer) the hazmat team that comes to clean it up must dress in level D personal protective equipment to clean up the mess.  I will demonstrate the different levels of protection needed for different chemicals as well as the different procedures for different kinds of spills.  Soil Remediation was another specialty of the company.  If an underground oil tank leaks oil due to wear and tear of the tank underground for many years, excavators must be brought in to dig up the contaminated soils.  In the State of Connecticut any soil containing more the 500 parts per million (ppm) TPH (Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon) must be removed and disposed of.  Many times this leads to holes the size of small houses being dug.  So to review what will be done, I will begin by talking about the dangers of chemical spills.  Next I will show what is required of the personnel involved to cleanup the spills.  Also, I will cover the different kinds of protection that must be worn by the people cleaning the spills and the different procedures related to each chemical.  This will show everyone the dangers of even the smallest chemical spill that many people would just look off.   

Possible Web Sources:

Possible Scholarly Sources:

Practical Techniques for Groundwater and Soil Remediation – Book (Denison Library)

Exxon Valdez oil spill : fate and effects in Alaskan waters – Book (Kenyon Library)

Possible Props and Enhancements:

Personal Protective Equipment

Interview with my boss

Review of Tempest-Williams Red and Abbeys Desert Solitaire

September 25, 2007

Terry Tempest-Williams gives a much more emotional view of the desert compared to Abbeys Desert Solitaire.  Tempest-Williams book gives many anecdotes of actual experiences in the desert.  Her book gives the reader more of an emotional feel to the desert and what it means to many of the people who have lived there.  Abbeys Desert Solitaire gave one detailed first hand account of an experience in the Desert that lasted for a few months.  I enjoyed reading Desert Solitaire more because I felt it was easier to read and read in chronological order.  While I did enjoy about Red was that along with emotional accounts of events that occured it also gave readers an idea of the political struggle over the lands.  Many outsiders want to build new homes and shopping centers, while local politicians and the people who live there are fighting to keep the desert the way it is.

 – Steve Fowler


September 24, 2007

 Cats and dogs alone contribute to make nearly 10 million pounds of fecal matter a year which accounts for nearly 4% of all of our waste products at landfills.  San Fransisco is the main city trying to make the jump to reuse all of its pet wastes.  This is done by putting the feces into whats called a methane digester where it is exposed to a certain kind of bacteria that turns the feces into methane gas in about 2 weeks.  There are a few cattle ranchers that have also picked up the technique saying its a lot cheaper to just reuse the poop.   This “methane digest-er” is actually called an Anaerobic digester and it has been used in sewage treatment facilities for some time.  This machine works by naturally biodegrading things in a chamber by extracting all of the oxygen from the chamber that forms a special bacteria that turns the feces into the same methane gas that runs your stove.  San Francisco is making biodegradable “doggy” bags to puts in the parks along with biodegradable containers so that there would be less chances for spread of disease with human contact.  A youngster somewhere in Canada has recently made a biodegradable “pooper scooper” to help with the clean up.  They are saying in the near future that we could be heating our homes with dog poop along with running our lights and even possibly driving on pet fuel.  This is such a huge problem because pet waste carries so many pathogens right now the only real safe thing to do with it is to through it in the dump because if you leave on the ground the pathogens will dissolve into the soil or be washed away into the streams so finding an alternative method than leaving feces in a plastic bag forever seems like a pretty good idea especially if you can make a profit off of pet poop.

-John Belleau


Website Resources

1)Human Feces Powers Rwandan Prison

-by taking the inmates wastes and putting them in these biogas where the methane gases are abstracted and it is these very gases that cook the food that the prisoners have been eating.  This new method has cut energy costs to the prison by 60% and this makes sense because the prison is ten times overcrowded.



2)This Green Life

-Talks on how San Francisco is one of the first to actually make a push to use pet feces as renewable energy.  Also explains how the methane digest works.  Talks of how biggest risk are pathogens from the fecal matter so biodegrade-able bags are starting to be put into the parks for the convenience of dog owners.


3) San Francisco Plans to Harness Power of Dog Poop,2933,185618,00.html

-San Francisco was named after St. Franci the Saint of the animals so it makes sense that this pet poop deal starts there.  These methane digesters however have been around in Europe and parts of the United States for the past 20 years but they are not too popular being 1 million dollars each.


4)New Animal Control.Org

-this article touches on the glitches of the methane combuster.  This will  not work for all societies because a lot of societies don’t produce enough food and animal wastes to make it worth their while to use a methane combuster.


5)SF Going to the Dogs for a Little Energy


-Norcal trash hauling will be setting up a pilot with one of the larger dog parks in the area to see how successful this program is.  Around this park will be biodegradable disposable baggies to pick up the pet waste.  In Europe there are already 600 of these machines in use. So roughly 600 million dollars worth of technology just to get energy from poop. Amazing.


7)Experts Explore it’s Energy Potential

-San Fransisco is aiming to export no trash by the year 2020 and right now nearly four percent of that waste is animal feces.  Some officials would like to see methane digesters in peoples homes however I’m not sure how hip to the idea of keeping all your fecal matter in a bucket to use for methane gas later would be to most people


8) Biomass and Biogas


-In landfills the natural gases that come from these fermenting organic matter need to be released otherwise there is a real risk of  a serious explosion.  So if you can get all the fecal matter out of the dump then you can cut down on the risk of exploding your landfill.


-This actually had to do with pig feces rather than pet because pigs are more commonly used in experiments.  However the results were that of what one would hope to have for the pet feces to become methane gas for pig feces had high and fast yields of methane gas as well as ammonia.;,”JSTOR_XML”,”OHL02084 gas


Blake Ovali – roommate from San Fransisco where most of this is going on so he’s heard about more close hand


Project Proposal: Coal to Liquids as an alternative liquid energy source.

September 24, 2007

Oil Prices have been at a premium for the past few years and have gone up significantly in the past 15 years.  In turn, there has been an increased demand for other sources of liquid fuel to power our cars, boats, and planes.  For years, scientists and engineers have been working hand in hand to develop new sources. There is an interesting process that is converting coal into liquid energy, which could solve the above problem.  In the past thirty years there has been much research associated with converting coal into liquid energy. Using a patented Fischer-Tropsch method of liquefying coal,  this fuel is totally interchangeable with other petroleum fuels.  It has been estimated that the U.S. has 250 years of coal reserves.  With that said, one still must be skeptical in how cost efficient, practical and safe this process is.  There are a few questions that I plan on addressing in my project.  Is this process practical in a cost-benefit type analysis? Could this potentially be one of our solutions to our shortage on oil?  How efficient and is this going to be significantly cheaper than other fuels?  How clean does coal-to-liquid fuel burn?  Are there greenhouse gases that are emitted in the process, and how can they be managed to minimize the impact?  If anyone has any further scepticisms about Coal-to-Liquids, let me know and I will do my best to research it and include it in my project.


Media Articles 

Coal-to-Liquids Boondoggle

Coal to Oil: Same System Nothing Newby David DuByne

Fill’er Up: With Planet Busting Liquid Coal

By: Jim Motavalli

Scholarly Articles

Liquid Fuels from Coal: From R&D to Industry.

By: L.E. Swabb Jr.

Coal Research (III):Liquefication Has Far to Go

Allen L. Hammond

A New Route To Liquid Fuels With Coal

By: S.L. Meisel

Website Sources:


Max Penning

A Review of Abbey & Tempest-Williams

September 24, 2007

Edward Abbey is commonly described as an anarchist, who is berating, spontaneous, and unpredictable.  Williams is commonly described as a transcendentalist, whose enigmatic, flowery prose describes an illusory depiction of Utah’s canyon-lands.  Both have extremely different writing styles, and it has been brought up in discussion that perhaps this is due in part to the differences among the sexes.  It could very well be the subject of self-suggestion, but when one takes a closer look at the two books, Abbey’s elicits a feeling of “machoism” as Tempest-Williams elicits a feeling of harmony and femininity associated with nature.  Be that as it may, both are writing to reach the same means: to exult the desert wilderness of SW Utah.  Because the two books are very different in how they approach their wilderness subject (for whatever reason that may be), I have found them to be complementary in my understanding of the American Southwest.  I would urge the instructor to keep these two readings in the syllabus for the future.