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.
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.
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.
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.
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.