Delanie – Desert Solitaire

January 31, 2018

Man, that got weird. Read the rest of this entry »

Week 3 blog post

January 31, 2018

Desert Solitaire is an incredible book written by Edward Abbey. This book is based off of his time as a park ranger at Arches National Park which is right by Moab, Utah. I love this genre of nature writing and have read many other books of the like. He lives in a house trailer that was provided by the park service.

I found Abbey’s writing to be rather comedic, for instance when he writes about how Floyd gave him a silver badge that he is supposed to wear, and can use to arrest malefactors and evildoers. He writes “I place both Floyd and Merle under arrest at once, urging them to stay and have supper with me” (Abbey 12). He just seems to be a very lighthearted person, or at least he writes as though he is.

One of my favorite lines from the book is when Abbey is discussing the use of a flashlight, “There’s another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If i switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light which it makes in front of me; I am isolated. Leaving the flashlight in my pocket where it belongs, I remain a part of the environment I walk through and my vision though limited has no sharp or definite boundary” (Abbey 13).

I found this line to be especially compelling. I thought back to the multiple times that I have camped and how if I do any sort of camping trip the only “mechanical gadgets” I bring are a headlamp and a camping stove and a lighter, not to light fires but in case bow drilling fails.

I think one of the more saddening parts of the book, yet a part that is nonetheless realistic of the outdoors and the problems that people can encounter is when Abbey has to assist the authorities in locating a man who was missing. This was a rather sad part of the book as it turns out that the man was dead. This part of the book was super realistic because death in the wilderness is mostly avoidable, yet it does happen from time to time. 

Environmental News: 

Illinois’ only National Scenic River has toxic waste seeping into it. This comes seven years after Dynegy Inc. scrapped one of the last coal plants in downstate Illinois.



Lucas Farmer- Desert solitaire

January 31, 2018

This book has a very interesting style. The description of what Edward saw during his time was very detailed. For me it was easier to picture the landscape of this area because not only have I seen pictures of this area, but I understand the weathering processes that have sculpted the area over many many years. The interactions with visitors from the park he met were intriguing. He met someone from, I think, Ohio and talked to him about the water. Something on the lines of this place being better if there were more water. If there were more water at this area then it would be what it is and Edward Abbey made the argument that its fine the way it is. There are somethings we do as humans that alter our landscapes, a lot of things, but should we do anything to prevent natural occurrences from changing landscape. Thats how these arches and such were made were from natural weathering. Do we have the right to stop natural occurrences from happening? I may not have worded that very well, but it was just a quick thought.

Environmental Interests and Mathematical Model of Self-Heating in Large Scale Compost Piles

January 31, 2018

Within a matter of weeks or even days (after the accumulation of materials) compost piles see an increase in internal temperature (50 to 70 °C) due to biological self-heating. In some cases biological self-heating has initiated spontaneous combustion, but there is very little information that describes the relationship between these two phenomena. It is important to investigate this relationship, because biological-heating has also been observed during the storage of municipal solid waste, industrial fuel waste, and landfills in addition to large-scale composting operations. Using the single first-order ODE (ordinary differential equation) with few fit parameters describing the generic steady-state behavior of the system (compost pile) determined by Nelson et al. (2003) researchers considered a two-dimensional, spatially-dependent model containing biological and chemical activity, which ignored the depletion of cellulosic materials, biomass, and oxygen, reducing the model to an energy equation.

Sidhu HS, Nelson MI, Luangwilai T, Chen XD. Chemical Product and Process Modeling. 2007, Vol. 2, Iss. 2, 1070.,P200_LAST_PAGE,P200_LP_ITEMID:321660861,240,

This is super interesting and I might be able to use it to develop my project!


Environmental Interests:

1. Effect of Remediation Strategies on Soil-Bioactivity

Polyak et al. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation2018, Vol. 126, 57-68.,P200_LAST_PAGE,P200_LP_ITEMID:350150515,240,


2. Increased Degradation Rate of PLA (polyactide = biodegradable plastic)

Stepczynska and Rytlewski. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation2018, Vol. 126, 160-66.,P200_LAST_PAGE,P200_LP_ITEMID:350150580,240,


News: An environmental performance report

January 31, 2018

2018 Environmental Performance Index: Air quality top public health threat

Yale News: Zachary A. Wendling

Two Dimensions of Environmental Performance

Tracking two fundamental dimensions of sustainable development: (1) environmental health, which rises with economic growth and prosperity, and (2) ecosystem vitality, which comes under strain from industrialization and urbanization.

Caroline Hamlin – Blog Post: Desert Solitaire

January 31, 2018

Desert Solitaire is an autobiographical work based on Edward Abbey’s time working as a park ranger in the Arches National Monument area in Utah in the 1950s. Abbey’s book is very similar to Thoreau’s work, Walden, by writing short stories that explore his time in the desert, including vivid descriptions of the plants and animals around the Colorado Plateau, his exploration of the river area, the role of people on the environment around them and Abbey’s interactions with other park and government authorities. His observations include analysis of declining numbers of some species of animals and plants. He talked about the increasing presence of human development in the area has affected the delicate ecosystem. Abbey spends time in his book describing the unique geological formations found in the park, especially the Delicate Arch and Double Arch formations. I was very interested in his point of view about covering the Delicate Arch with plastic to protect the arch from natural and human impacts.

Matthew Yung Week 3 blog post

January 31, 2018

Desert Solitaire gives a vivid description about the fragile ecosystem located in Utah’s Arches National Park. Abbey was a park ranger for six months and experienced adventures with Native Americans, the Grand Canyon, and found a connection and spirituality to the region. Abbey explored the concept of wilderness and human development through the book. He observed human development’s negative impact on larger animals in the ecosystem including wildcats, coyotes, and mountain lions. Abbey experienced periods of solitude in the national park and was drawn to the idea of conservation and sanctity. A common human experience, which Abbey had, is to dislike human interaction in the wilderness because we destroy the delicate ecosystem of the region. I can understand how Abbey perceived a connection to the desert and was drawn toward its spirituality while being alone in the wild.


The arches and rock formation peaked my basic knowledge of geology. I was curious as to how the arches formed and how long it must have taken. I discovered the region was covered by sea about 300 million years ago but evaporated resulting in desert conditions. Then, layers and layers of sediment were deposited in the area and caused anticlines (hill) to form under the surface. After a couple million years of rain, wind, and transportation, the newest sediment slowly eroded away leaving the arches on the surface of the Earth. These arches are actually layers of rock that formed from millions of years of erosion.


Evolution of Alpine landscape recorded by sedimentary rocks

New digital technology has allowed engineers to measure a large number of pebbles to picture how V-shaped valleys in the Alps formed. By observing the relationship between size of gravel and stream power, scientists were able to gain new insights about the area’s geological past. Many believe the Alps formed their current shape between 25 to 30 million years ago.