Big ships, big shits.

August 31, 2010

This article covers a proposed regulation aimed at banning  near-shore waste dumping by large ships off the California coast. If enacted, the ban would create a three-mile buffer zone around California’s coast wherein ships cannot void their sewage. The idea is that if ships dump their sewage at least three miles off shore water will dilute the waste  enough to protect the coastlines and their ocean ecosystems.

At face value this appears to be an environmentally positive regulation. However, I think it raises more questions regarding mid-ocean dumping.  Should ships be allowed to dump their untreated waste anywhere in the ocean?  This regulation seems to affirm that dilution is the solution. Perhaps more research is needed to determine whether or not diluted sewage is environmentally safe.

What are people thinking? Tiger Cub in carry on bag. Bangkok.

August 31, 2010



For my Environmental news this week, I can’t help but do one that kind of hits home for me. I found it in the ” Sydney Morning Herald” today. It’s one of those stories that kind of leaves you in disbelief. A 31- year old woman trying to go through security in Bangkok was stopped when her bag weighed in too heavy. Further investigation on the X-ray machine revealed what look to be a live animal inside. Airport Authorities found inside a 3-month male tiger cub inside, who’d be sedated with human antidepressents. The woman faces up to 4 years in prison and $1400 in fines.

 Stories like this are in the news all time it seems now and that hits me in two ways, for very different reasons. The first and probably least important of the ways, is that as someone who loves animals and have owned exotic animals I want to know how these people do this! I mean this not in a sense of how do they do this to the animal ( not because I don’t care just because that’s my second reason) but how the Black Market world of operations works when it comes to these animals. I’ve gotten into some interesting discussions in my life with some people just because of my interest in animals. Terry Wilkins who owns “Captive Born Reptiles” in Columbus and is famous to reptile lovers in Ohio, once told me if there was any animal you wanted to take $6000 dollars and travel down to Florida, where all the boats come in. I could buy anything he said. I can’t say I don’t want to go just to see what its like.

Then there is a whole other part of me that isn’t intreged, that just thinks it’s wrong. The reason exotic animal trades like this exist is really only something based on the demand for the product. I’m not surprised people want to own these animals, I can imagine there is a rush that comes with the fear, and power of owning many of these exotic animals. The reality is it’s just not right, but for some this message doesn’t click. I recently met someone else who owned a Sulcata tortoise around 50 years old, she’d found it on the side of Route 40 in Colorado eating some grass. Someone had simply dumped it with a note taped to its back saying “I just got too big for my family”.  This happens all the time people thinking these animals will be easy or have short-lived lives. Many live for over 50 years and require considerable attention. Its sad, and it’s a problem that people are just buying these animals with little thought about the life ahead for them.

link to article

Project Ideas: Heather

August 31, 2010


1) I have always been interested in where our food we eat on a daily basis comes from (like in Smith dining hall…) and maybe try and figure out carbon footprints? They have been using a lot of local foods this year, so maybe a comparison of carbon savings this year compared to last year?… someone already kind of said that so I feel kinda unoriginal, but…..

2) I like pets? the impact on the environment of owning a pet?

3) I am interested in the rehabilitation of wild animals, but I am not familiar with places around here that do that…I don’t really know what to do with that interest as a project though.

4) the Frisbee sub-culture, I am on the women’s team and somehow the team from last year is made up of environmentally and socially conscience ladies; many are vegetarians, live in the tree-house/ peace and justice house, ect. This year we have the largest incoming group of interested players and I think it would be interesting to see what all of their interests are and who ends up being on our core team and trying to figure out why. Is Frisbee a environmentally conscience sport? or is it just our team?

Hi I’m Kate O’Keefe…

August 31, 2010

I’m a senior Humanities and Classics major who lives in Connecticut. My favorite colors are cobalt blue, sea-foam, and I appreciate all things green. I consider Australia my home and hope to return there soon after graduation for either graduate school or just for a visit.  I work at Buns Restaurant during the school year, and meet a wide variety of characters from around the Delaware area every day, and  the restaurant business has really been something I enjoy. 

I love all animals including bugs. This summer I became fascinated with dragonflies and butterflies as I spent my summer in Connecticut exploring the woods, and the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. But usually I have a love for the larger and more mysterious animals. I just got a pretty cool bike that  I’m excited about, and a 32-inch flat screen that my brother lost in a bet before I came to school. It feels good. I’m hoping after I graduate to eventually go to Grad school for something like Landscape Design or Landscape Architecture. But I’ll be taking a year off either for some traveling or an internship. So yeah that’s a brief get to know me! And I posted a photo of Petunia below, my two-year old African Spur thigh tortoise..

 " Petunia"

Thoughts on The Meadowlands and Cronon

August 31, 2010

I would say I enjoyed this book by Robert Sullivan. The stories from people from the area and what they thought of the meadowlands made the book even more enjoyable and pretty easy to relate to. Sullivan’s creative writing and  descriptions of the areas also made it possible to easily picture the area. The one idea that really stood out in the book to me, but wasn’t elaborated on too much, was the idea of what we as a society think of as productive land and what is worthwhile to keep and protect. I have always thought that it was strange how society could say one type of land was more beneficial for the preservation of our environment than another area of land, like the meadowlands. In the United States, the amount of wetlands that have been destroyed because people think wetlands are wastelands is huge, Ohio has lost about 90% of their original wetlands. Today we have a better understanding and appreciation for wetlands and are trying to protect and restore them now, but a lot of the land loss is irreversible. If humans can’t find a specific resource in the land that benefits them,  it shouldn’t automatically allow the destruction of it, that the land is beneficial to the whole ecosystem and in turn beneficial to us, even if we cannot see it on the surface.

I also thought it was very interesting trying to imagine all of the dumps burning and the types of toxic waste that was dumped into the meadowlands without a second thought of the health and environmental damages it was causing then, and the damages and problems it is still causing today. I also couldn’t imagine how much corruption and the mafia played a role as to what was being put into the meadowlands. The idea that the mafia owned dump would take just about anything that other dumps deemed toxic, and then use the toxic-ness of their dump to hide and dispose of any incriminating evidence against them was amazingly disturbing.

So, The Trouble With Wilderness. I thought that his point on “uninhabited wilderness” was pretty enlightening. I never really thought about it that way, but in reality I know when I think of wilderness, I never put people in my picture, and people have been inhabiting the “wilderness” of North America for at least 15,000 years (and I don’t put Woolly Mammoths or dinosaurs in my pictures either so I’m not thinking prehistorically). Cronon says, “If we allow ourselves to believe that nature, to be true, must also be wild, then our very presence in nature represents its fall”. So in theory we cannot ever see nature in its true form, which I think is kind of depressing. I also think that it’s not really true either. I believe that “wilderness” is so far removed from society and our day-to-day lives that nature for our purposes can be an area free from any human disruption (by disruption I mean permanent changes to the area). Honestly, as far as Cronon goes… seems all over the place to me, bringing God and religion into it and all…

Project Ideas

August 31, 2010

1) Since I’m already doing an Independent Study with Dr. Hickcox, I could summarize the work I did and relate it to the class (I’m tracking and collecting data on hurricanes).

2) I could do another weather-related project (since I’m so weird about storms) like what is going to happen with the weather as the global climate changes.

3) An expose on the environmental impacts of a popular food or meal, from start to plate.

The Meadowlands and Cronon Notes

August 31, 2010

The trouble with wilderness is that it is almost entirely a cultural construct. I’m not saying that remote places untouched by humans don’t exist, I’m just saying that “wilderness” means different things to different people in different times. Is present day American wilderness the same as what Columbus would have called wilderness? Is Chinese wilderness the same as Australian wilderness? Probably not. And we don’t have a good way of objectively comparing these different places because we cannot talk about wilderness without language, which in itself is a cultural construct.

Are the Meadowlands “wilderness”? They are certainly not remote or untouched by humans. But they are chaotic and apparently leave people with a similar sense of awe (I say it this way because I’ve never been there myself).

Where the heck are the Meadowlands anyway? I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with New York area geography… I found this picture (from to be incredibly helpful:

Here you can clearly see Central Park, so we know that’s Manhattan, so that large uninhabited area must be the Meadowlands. It’s a lot bigger than I thought… But I’m bad at visualizing numbers.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the way this book was written. The author didn’t write in chronological order, and this was especially annoying in the first few chapters when he was giving a history of the place. Some may have appreciated the anecdotes, but I would have preferred they were written in some kind of order. The jacket also claims that the book is sarcastic and hilarious, but I thought it was really pretty dry. There were several ironic bits, but I never laughed out loud while reading or anything. Sullivan’s redeeming factor is his descriptive ability. He really painted a picture of these places  with their goofy names that I’ve never been to (I mean really… Moonachie? Bayonne? Seacaucus? Kearny?). He’s not a great author, but the book was readable simply because the places he was writing about were so horrible. It’s like a train wreck, you can’t stop looking.

While I was reading, I found myself repeatedly thinking, “Who ever thought that was a good idea?” We can’t go into the forest and kill the pirates? Let’s burn the forest down! We can’t plant any crops here? Let’s drain the whole dang place! Where are we going to dump our garbage? In these beautiful meadows! I don’t get it…

Also, there are a TON of crazy people in New Jersey.

Not really related, but I just have to say that I read the chapter on mosquitoes on Monday night right before I went to bed, and that was a TERRIBLE idea. My apartment is currently infested with ants, termites, and fruit flies and I’m already paranoid about the creepy crawly things… You know how you keep feeling something touch you and you freak out even though nothing is there? Ugh, it was terrible. Don’t read about bugs then expect to fall asleep in a bug-infested apartment.

Even the Statue of Liberty turned her back on New Jersey…!

They say it’s safe, but…

August 31, 2010

This article from the beginning of the month raised concern about the wildfires in Russia reaching areas contaminated by the Chernobyl incident. Wouldn’t it just be awesome if massive amounts of radiation were released into the air, to be potentially spread around the globe by the global circulation patterns? This more recent article claims that radiation levels have not increased above “normal” anywhere in the country, but the wildfires are still burning. The Russians really love to be secretive about disasters such as these, so the fires may have already reached Chernobyl and they just haven’t told us yet… :-/

This clip shows thick smog blanketing Moscow and Sarov, which contains high amounts of carbon monoxide (and radiation?).

[Insert Creative “Intro to Sam” Title Here]

August 31, 2010

So my name is Sam Mulkerin, I’m a senior Zoology/Environmental Studies double major, and I’m from Medina. I’m mildly obsessed with storms and plan to make it my career (hopefully… crossing my fingers that I’ll get into grad school!). I also enjoy knitting, reading, naming inanimate objects, and long walks on the beach.

Yea that's a squirrel hangin out upside down on a window screen

mike jones

August 31, 2010