April 24, 2015


Another Olympics for Beijing in the Works

April 22, 2015


China recently just submitted a bid to the International Olympic Committee to host the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing. If your not familiar, Beijing has some of the worst air quality in the world, four times  the standard set by the World Health Organization. So what do they need more industrialization and construction? That’s the same thing some environmentalist are pondering. Since the area is semiarid, they only receive about 20 inches of rain annually, just barely enough for all of its residents to use. So while Beijing has bad air and a lack of water, the government thinks it’s the perfect time to build new facilities and courses in the mountains and around the city for the Olympics. They promise to use “green methods” that are defined in their filings with the I.O.C. This seems like a bad decision on Beijing’s part, because while I understand they are trying to stay on the world stage, this feels somewhat like giving a sufferer of emphysema a cigaratte hoping things will get better.

Spork Overview- SP

April 22, 2015

GEOG 360 Pres

Bridget and Meig’s Composting Presentation!

April 21, 2015


People Using Water Trucks to Combat California Drought

April 21, 2015


While last week we saw the anti-water bottle structure put up to combat the excessive use of water bottles and promote the more environmentally conscious method of simply using tap water, people in California seem to be having the opposite problem in some parts. The drought which has been going on for four years has gotten so bad that in some cities where there have been restrictions put on tap water usage, residents have resorted to buying water from water trucks. The water truck owners will fill up their trucks with tap water from their own town, and then drive to nearby towns with water restriction and sell the water for about a dollar or two per gallon. Some cities are trying to restrict this; the truckers are, after all, taking the water for free and making a profit off of it, which doesn’t go to the city. But this restriction would have grave consequences for people in surrounding towns who depend on the water.

Environmental Article

April 15, 2015

Picture of bighorn sheep being released in Yosemite California

Big Horned Sheep Are Helicoptering Their Way Back From the Brink

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to help Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep by transporting them into open territory—and it’s working. The population of this endangered subspecies of North American bighorn was down to as few as 100 individuals. Now it has increased to about 600, half its estimated historic level. California wildlife biologists are aiming to restore robust herds in 12 adjacent chunks of habitat. Instead of using captive-bred animals, it’s extracting wild sheep, mostly pregnant ewes, from healthy herds and using them to start or augment other herds.


April 15, 2015

America is full of junk. Like, a lot of junk. Like we generate more trash per capita than any other nation in the world… an average of 102 tons per person over the course of a lifetime. When author Edward Humes started out to write a book about America’s trash legacy he thought the number was closer to 64 tons — but while researching the book he found that the real number was much, much higher. In fact, the average person throws out close to 7 pounds of garbage each day.

World o fWaste Infographic

Humes’ popular novel, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash takes a close look at how and why we throw so much away, what alternatives exist, and what it all means. Surprisingly, while Humes takes what you would think would be the non-controversial position that “waste is bad,” he points out that there’s actually plenty of space in the US to bury all the trash we generate… over the next thousand years.  All we need to do is find neighborhoods that want to put up with enormous landfills. Good luck with that.

Another surprising fact he sheds light on is that almost nothing that goes into modern sanitary landfills decomposes. You can read newspapers that were thrown away 50 years ago, and identify food items that were dumped in more than a decade ago. Landfills essentially preserve items indefinitely by smushing everything together and kind of mummifying the remains of plastic bags, food scraps, and even toxic materials such as battery acid and half-full paint cans. The good news he says, is that toxic chemicals don’t leach out of landfills at nearly the rate that was once expected. The bad news is that they’re still in there and it means problems associated with improper disposal of hazardous materials is just a long-term problem now instead of a short term one.
In the first half of Garbology, Humes identifies and describes the problems that lead to our 102 ton per person trash legacy, and in the second half he looks at possible solutions including trash-to-energy facilities that burn trash to create electricity (they’re cleaner than they used to be, but wildly unpopular in the US), and ways individuals can reduce their own footprints.
In many ways, Garbology makes me feel rather guilty about my life choices, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Humes’ writing opened my eyes to the tremendous amounts of trash human society produces and helped me identify areas in my life where I could be less wasteful. While I doubt I’ll be going zero-waste anytime soon, I’ve already decided to make a few changes. For example, I am now more careful when throwing items away and make sure that the correct things make it into the recycling bins.
It was a throwaway example in the book, but Humes also pointed out that potato chip bags will last for thousands of years in landfills. The same is probably true of candy bar wrappers, pretzel bags, and thousands of other items we throw away.Reducing plastic bags and potato chip bags won’t save the world from trash. But if everyone thought a little more about the packaging that comes with the products they bought maybe there wouldn’t be so many items (like plastic shopping bags) manufactured to be used just once and then thrown away.