Current Event

February 7, 2016

Los Angeles, California has been suffering from a natural gas leak since October 23rd. About 2.5 million pounds of methane leaked each day, about the same amount 2.2 million cows release. 2,500 people fled their homes once they began to suffer nose bleeds, headaches and vomiting. The leak is still not under control and the area has economically plummeted. The leak isn’t bad enough to be life threatening, rather it is just physically unpleasant, so it is not getting nearly the attention of Flint. As of January 24th the leak has released the equivalent 2.1 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

California’s government is now requiring SoCalGas and other utilities to conduct daily inspections of all wellheads and other steps that can help prevent future problems such as this. They are also working to create stronger legislation to require better safety regulations.

The moral of the story is leaks like this one (though maybe not so extreme) can occur anywhere in the U.S. and we need to ensure safety regulations and daily checks are being required in order to prevent this. As we look to elect a new president of the United States we need to keep these environmental disasters in mind. It’s not only a health problem but also a contributor to climate change.

You can find more information concerning the matter here


Todd D’Andrea: Bruckner Reading/Current Event Article/Project Update

February 7, 2016


In the span of 183 pages, Bruckner deconstructs the arguments presented by Ecologism and those fearful of the Earth’s future.  Then, in 3 pages he gives us a “solution” which is to seek out the trailblazers and stimulators among humanity.

Bruckner does make some very interesting claims however. . .

pg. 2 ‘. . . Western humanity, has taken a sudden dislike to itself.  We are exasperated by our own proliferation, and can no longer stand ourselves.’

I can empathize with this statement.  Given the constant bombardment in the media of of the consequences of our collective consumption and destruction their arises this sense of guilt and shame that comes with simply trying to live anymore.  A sort of hyper sensitivity to every action we take in terms of the environment.

At the bottom of pg. 9 Bruckner discusses greed within the context of a free market society.  This is an important ingredient to much of the distress that can be attributed to this planet.  Much in line with this “cardinal sin” is our selfish nature when it comes to self preservation and the tendency of always putting our individual needs first.  As Bruckner discusses, this constant appetite has led to wide spread inequality and disparity.

Question: pg. 12 Do you agree with Bruckner when he states, ‘. . . We are no longer connected because we are no longer separated: we lack the distance to be able to communicate, the depth to be able to sympathize with each other.’

pg. 56 ‘. . . Ecology calls upon us to adopt a rigorous diet in the name of future generations.’

This will never happen.  For most of us the idea of restraint and frugality is a thing of the past.  In Western life the majority of us live by the mantra: YOLO (You Only Live Once).  And why not? We have one fragile chance at happiness and it seems to much to ask of a collective society to concern itself with anything or anyone 40, 50, 60 years out.

Group discussion question: Bruckner, pg. 77 ‘. . .  Isn’t it rather our sensitivity to climate disturbances that has become exacerbated?

This line made me grin on pg. 78 ‘. . . The ancients used chicken entrails or the flight of birds to divine the future.  We scrutinize the sky to read in it the signs of our destiny: what isn’t global warming in this respect?’

‘Frugality is like honesty, it’s a poor, wretched virtue suitable only for small societies of good, peaceful people who are quite willing to be poor so long as they are not bothered; but in great active nations frugality is an indolent dreamy virtue that does not emloy workers and is consequently very useless in a country devoted to business.  What idiot, if he had a good bed, would have slept outside?’

-Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique

A lot of times in my head I think that someone from this time in history, the late 18th century would have little to relate to in our modern society.  The quote above I think captures the idea that there is “nothing new under the Sun”.  Some of these enlightened philosophers had the game figured out and they understood the way in which the world operated.

One of the key points in the entire book. . . 

pg. 177 ‘. . . The contemporary challenge. . . is the following: not renouncing any advantages of development and at the same time not suffering from the collateral damage it does.’

The difficulty is in the collective complexity of society.  There are so many actors and players in the game that organizing and executing meaningful solutions are nearly impossible.  Just look at the state of our congress in the United States.  Our over analysis and failure to do anything is what will lead to future demise if we do not compromise and at least take some measures of new thought and innovation to solve our global issues.

Recommended further Reading. . . 

Brave New World: Revisited, by Aldous Huxley

Huxley, in the late 1930’s predicted much of our current state in his second major work ‘Brave New World’.  15 years later he revisited the work in an extended commentary that discussed his perceptions in light of nuclear fission and the events that unfolded after WWII.


Current Event:

The term ‘denial’ has always stood out to me on the climate change discourse.  Those who use this word take on a tone of the judge and all knowing power in the universe.  It’s caustic and seems to hold one in a state of guilt and accusation.


Project Update:

February 4th, Thomas and I visited the Zion United Church of Christ to better understand the needs of the homeless community and better identify how we can help; providing supplies that are not present at the shelter.  We identified gaps that could be filled with our monetary resources.  For example, the shelter has no back packs or straps for travelling.  With the limited number of homeless in the area, I think a better plan going forward will be to get approval for the SIP grant, purchase the resources that the shelter needs, and ensure these resources are then passed along to those in need.  This seems like a better approach than trying to search for the homeless in the community.

The SIP grant has been drafted.  All that is needed are the appropriate signatures and then I will be submitting it to the university.






Amanda Marshall – Current Event Week 5

February 6, 2016
Morocco launches first solar power plant



The world’s largest solar panel was officially switched on this year. Located near the city of Ouarzazate in Morocco, the section named “Noor 1” is now operational. The solar panel is larger than the countries capital city and even the one currently running section covers 9.4 square miles. This is not only a leap in solar usage, but in solar technology. Most traditional solar panels use photovoltaic cells. This solar technology utilizes solar thermal energy. This allows the cells to continue to generate energy hours after the sun has set. Thermal mirrors track the movement of the sun to concentrate solar heat rays to heat oil in pipes. In turn, the oil is used to create steam to power turbines. The panel is expected to run 20 hours a day. In its current operative state it will provide full power for up to a million homes. When the entire panel is activated it will meet all of Morocco’s electricity needs and enough leftover to ship surplus to Europe. The plant has had approximately 3.9 billion dollars in funding, and the hope is that more of these plants will be built in the future to mitigate countries dependence on fossil fuels. It is in hopes that this plant will help Morocco meet its goal of having 42% of their electricity needs from renewables. Good on ya Morocco.

Current Event: February 3rd, 2016

February 3, 2016

Only Known Jaguar In U.S. Filmed

Featured in National Geographic Magazine, By: Bryan Handwerk

Jaguars are one of my sore spots when it comes to animals, so naturally I felt like this article needed to make it on our blog.

In this article and video, a rare sighting of a jaguar occurred in Arizona. The video captures a adult male jaguar who has been captured by cameras hundreds of times over the past three years, his name is El Jefe-“the boss.”

To be able to film El Jefe conservationists used dogs to sniff out his scat, and afterwards installed motion sense cameras in various areas to catch a glimpse of him. Being listed under the Endangered Species Act, as near-threatened this was an especially rare treat to see. Here I have attached a link to the video that was recorded.


Current Event

February 3, 2016

– Lonnie Barnes

china pollution

Beijing during “red alert” in December 2015. NBC.

In a recent study by Greenpeace, over 350 of China’s cities did not meet the standard for air quality set by the World Health Organization.

Particulate matter (PM2.5) can penetrate deep into the lungs, and while many Chinese cities have lowered the levels in their air, Greenpeace reported that the national average was 50.2 parts per cubic meter – far higher than the recommended 10 parts per cubic meter.

This level showed a 10% from the previous year, though levels are still dangerously. Beijing, for the first time in history, issued two “red alert” warnings in December due to the toxicity of the air.

PM2.5 is released into the air as a result of coal burning and motor vehicles.

Current Event: Plastic Bottles for Eco-Housing

February 2, 2016

Eco-housing has reached a new level as the newest trend in building materials is used plastic bottles. Walls for these houses are created by filling a used bottle with sand, sediment, or human/animal waste and making a mud cement to hold the “bricks” together.

Becoming quite popular in Nigeria, these houses have also become common in rural parts of South America, including Honduras and Argentina. They are especially valuable in tropical temperatures because they keep an internal temperature of roughly 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, these houses are bulletproof, fireproof, and earthquake resistant. They can be built up to three stories high and they are found to be more sturdy that those built by cement bricks.


Some builders have made further advancements to these homes by adding solar panels and water filtration systems. Many also have “green roofs” to make them even more environmentally friendly.


These houses have become great alternatives as they have helped with shelter shortages in Africa and South America while offering an output for plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. In some places, these houses have been made to be more appealing with painting and strategic bottle placement.

So, could these practices be utilized in the U.S. as solutions to the current homelessness and waste problems? The answer: maybe. It takes an average of 14,000 bottles to build one of these 2-bedroom houses. The U.S. throws away 1,500 plastic bottles per second (not including those that are properly recycled). This means 3,600 bottles per hour or 129,600,000 per day! Therefore, with the 47.3 billion plastic bottles that go to the landfills every year, the United States can build 9,257 2-bedroom houses a day, or 3.37 million a year. There are 3.5 million homeless people in the United States.

While this may seem like the perfect solution to both homelessness and plastic waste, there are complications such as building codes in the U.S. that make this improbable.

For more information, go here, here, and here.

Amanda Marshall: Week 4 Current Event

January 29, 2016

On January 14 in what could be described as a horrible oxymoron, environmentalist and major contributor to coral reef protection Paul Allen’s (co-founder of Microsoft) yacht destroyed 14,000 square feet of coral reef in the Caribbean. While sailing, the cofounders 162 million dollar yacht’s anchor was lowered and dragged behind the yacht. When the crew was alerted that the boats chain might be causing damage they were cooperative with authorities, but it was too late. It had already destroyed 80% of the areas coral. Even though Paul was not on board, it has been estimated that he will be fined 18 million dollars for the incident. Smart tourism and recreation is important for preserving our planets highly traveled habitats. As areas become more popular, they are at risk of being damaged by humans traveling through. An increase in trash and litter due to tourism has become a huge issue in Costa Rica. Hopefully others will learn from this incident. They will realize that they need to be smart tourists and learn about the area they are traveling and future destruction will be avoided. Coral Reef


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