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The Cap vs. The Tap

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People who drink from the bottle do so for different reasons. Some do it simply because of convenience. Others drink it because it tastes better.  More think that it’s cleaner than the tap. In almost every country plastic bottled water is preferred. But all that should be irrelevant when it comes to the environment that’s deteriorating quickly.  According to, in 2013, bottle waster reached a high exceeding 10 billion gallons, but we should all be making an effort to decrease our intake of bottled water.

We’re being tricked!

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According to, most bottled water comes from the same supply that tap comes from. Companies aren’t even required to list the source of the water so customers are tricked into believe they are drinking healthier.  So basically it is “glorified tap water” because it is treated and then sold for a large profit.

In addition, labels can be very misleading. The bottled could be stamped with “spring water” or “water from the mountains” but that’s just a name. The water probably comes from a regular tap supply treated to taste better or in a worst case scenario, it could come from a source near a landfill. also stated that in 1999 the NRDC tested about 103 brands of water bottle and found that most of them were safe to use but about a third of them have contaminants in them making the companies’ claims that they are selling pure water false.

Why the tap is better! (Environmentally)

Elizabeth Royte’s Bottlemania stated that about 50 billion water bottles a year, and most of those aren’t even recycled and end up in landfills, wasting space and the materials that were used to make it.

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The act of actually transporting the water bottles to all their various destinations also burns fossil fuels, which is awful for the atmosphere. Those same fossil fuels are used to actually make the plastic in the first place. Now we’ve noticed that in the past water bottle companies have tried to decrease the amount of plastic they use by changing the shape of the bottle and size of the cap.

Bottled water is a huge contributor to excessive waste, and soon the Earth will run out of space to store our lazily thrown out recyclables. Sacrificing the environment you live in is not worth the convenience of grabbing a water bottle or the small difference in taste. It is especially unacceptable when there is an alternative: drinking from the tap.

Why the tap is better! (In general)

First of all, National Geographic says that globally we spend about $100 billion on bottled water! In a world that complains about the economy constantly, I feel like we could all save a little money and just use tap water and refill reusable water bottles with tap water.

The plastic water bottles aren’t even reusable! This Huffington Post article says that with each reused the plastic used in plastic water bottles can be more of a contamination threat than the actual water. They leak chemicals like DEHA and benzyl butyl phthalate and create destructive bacteria that you likely injest with every drink you take.

Let’s not forget that tap water is just way cheaper than bottled water like we discussed above! Tap water is treated. Water sources cannot just send contaminated and unhealthy water to houses without being purified or treated in some way. Even if you believe in these contaminants, filters are great to invest in! You get the “quality” of bottled water directly from your tap.

How does that work? I learned this in my chemistry class! Within the filters, there is charcoal, which is made of Carbon atoms. These are ideal for bonding with most other atoms because it has four lone electrons available to bond with the one, two of three pairs of lone electrons of the contaminant ions). When the water runs through the filter, the charcoal attracts these ions and you have much better quality water!

Tip: When buying that reusable water bottle, it’s a safer bet to go with a stainless steel water bottle rather than a plastic reusable water bottle, since it has the potential to degrade over time and release chemicals into the water you drink. Even better are the glass water bottles with a silicone sleeve. Glass won’t degrade from over use.


Why this matters

I am going to go off-topic in this last blog and talk about why climate change does matter and much more importantly especially to our generation. The effects of climate change have yet to hit drastically. However, according to the scientists there is very little doubt that the effects of climate change will take hold in the years to come. In fact that there is little doubt that if the current pace is kept there will be severe consequences not even twenty years down the road.

Although it seems that climate change is always getting talked about in the media and even on the world stage there seems to be very little action taken in order to combat it. Take for example what many people called an historic climate agreement between the United States and China, negotiated at APEC, which calls for only small reductions in the increases of carbon dioxide emissions. If this is supposed to be considered an historic deal on climate change then how low can our standards be for progress. If we do not demand more then how can we expect to enact real change on the very important and pressing issue of climate change? If we continue to congratulate the most basic of agreements, how can we expect to gain a truly transformational deal that is needed to affect the change that is necessary?

I would argue that we have been too complacent with such an important issue and that has hurt the speed in which green policies have been enacted. In fact in my mind there is no doubt that in order to create real change we have to do it at the voting booth. I know that many people, especially in my generation, has found apathy in politics because it always seems like the people matter less than the lobbyists, but it is still the very best way to create change in the direction the country is going. I say this because there will always be a better candidate by no means a perfect one but a better one that will enact the policies that will help solve the fundamental problems surrounding big issues like climate change. For our generation we need to use our voice to affect change on the big issues, like climate change, that will affect us the most by far.

This is an important point because many people voting or enacting policy today feel that climate change is so far removed from them and they will never have to deal with the consequences of their action, so therefore why bother. This is of course ridiculous because although climate change’s effects are weaker now than what they will be there is no doubt that there are negative consequences going on right now. For example, the drought in California, which is slowing the agricultural sector of the economy, showcases the very real negative effects of climate change. However, the line of thinking that this problem is not going to be mine therefore I am going to do nothing about it is unfortunately much more prevalent than we think and it has been the main roadblock in policy progression on the issue of climate change.

This is a problem in progressing climate change policy but it can easily be overcome by showing not only the environmental and moral reasons to advocate for climate change policy, but more effectively articulate the economic reasons why good policy on energy and agriculture will help put more money in the everyday person. The reason why we should argue more on the economic benefits of climate change is that there are many people out there who are unwillingly to pay any economic cost in order to stop the effects of climate change. However, there is nobody out there who would argue against an economic benefit and if that goes hand in hand with reversing the effects of climate change then it becomes a win-win.

We have already seen this strategy succeed when Ronald Regan (by no means a liberal environmentalist) got the international community to enact policies that would help protect by arguing the economic case if we did not take this policy prescription. Overall, there is no doubt in my mind that the costs of not taking action are huge, so I suggest that we understand that this debate if not won will have huge consequences in the future. A video about the effects of climate change,, check it out.

In the News: Nature vs. Power in the Amazon

There has been a great amount of controversy over the construction of a new hydroelectric dams in South America. The dams would provide a lot of new jobs, but it would also displace many families and animals. There has been a great amount of dam construction in the South American countries recently. According to National Geographic, “About 150 other dams already exist in the Amazon basin, with other controversial projects underway and hundreds more planned.” The dams are providing a great amount of energy to the surrounding areas supporting the economic growth in the region. Hydroelectricity is also the cheapest form of energy for these countries. Unfortunately, every time there is a dam built there is a greater cost to the environment.

Indigenous people that live along the river are fighting back against the construction. They have suspended the construction temporarily but there is no guarantee the Peruvian and Brazilian governments won’t continue with the construction of the dams. One of the indigenous leaders commented,”The project would bring more hardship to families—including her own—already uprooted by political violence.” Over 60 villages got together recently to issue a statement to the government arguing that  they must take into consideration their argument as well, when planning for these dams. One of the chiefs stated,”The government must recognize our rights, not just those of others.” The issue if these dams are constructed then these villages will be flooded. All of these families will have to relocate. There has been no consideration until now, of the indigenous people and their homes.



A poster in support of dam affected peoples.


The construction of these dams will also have a great biological impact. The Amazon is known for its one of a kind biodiversity. Currently, scientists are looking at what effect the dam would have on the present nature of the biodiversity. They believe that the construction would cause more harm to the Amazon basin. By building a dam, the country will be blocking fish spawning runs, reducing the flow of vital nutrients, and clearing forests. A biodiversity expert from George Mason University is also concerned,”I think these countries should take a fresh look at energy generation from the Amazon. Most of the decisions being made are essentially heedless or unaware of that bigger picture.” It is interesting to note that the United States is actually dismantling dams to return rivers to their natural courses. There are however many developing countries in Africa and Asia that are expanding their construction of dams.


This is because hydropower is one of the cheapest and largest forms of energy. For countries that are growing at great rates economically, hydropower is a great way to increase the amount of energy being generated. In fact about sixteen percent of the world’s energy is hydropower. In Latin America seventy percent of the energy is hydropower because of the great size of the Amazon basin. Usually dams have a small footprint if they’re in the mountains, but in the Amazon basin the dams need to be much larger so the water level can be raised to an acceptable level. Since the dams are so much bigger, there is much more displacement involved. More trees are cut, more people need to move, more animals lose their natural habitat.

Dams don’t just affect the primary area they’re in, but also surrounding areas because a river and its flow are the source of nutrition for many forms of life. An ecologist from the University of Washington said “If you cut off that sediment flow, the area of floodplains downstream will have highly reduced amounts of sediment and reduced nutrients.” Upstream, the dams could dry out wetlands, affecting the reproduction routine for fish that travel miles to congregate at a certain spawning habitat. If the reproduction cycle of these fish is compromised then we could see these fish go into extinction. There have been attempts at building channels around the dams for the fish, but many of these fish may be unable to actually find the channels.

rio samana

Not only is the construction of the dams affecting the rivers, but also the surrounding forests. If dams are constructed then biologist WIlliam Laurence argues, “Construction roads for dam projects attract land speculators, farmers, ranchers, drug crop growers, and wildcat gold miners.” This means there will be even more deforestation. Deforestation makes it easier for wildfires to occur. This would dry out the understory of the forest reducing the amount of rainfall. If there is less rain then the hydroelectric plants would be a waste of money. There are already many dams that are not performing at capacity.

Countries like those in Latin America, need to find alternative methods of generating energy that will actually be sustainable and avoid harming people and the environment.


Potential Presidents on The Environment

As I have discussed previously on this blog, fixing the environmental problems that we currently face will require political action to fix. Lucky for us, there is a major election coming up in 2016 that may really foster in some political change. With an open Presidential seat anything is possible.

As of the day I am writing this, there are four candidates that are definitely running for President. There is one Democrat that has announced and three Republicans. The Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton. The Republican candidates are Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. I thought it would be interesting to look at these candidates and ascertain their perspectives on the environment because one of these people may be the next president of the Unites States.

 Ted Cruz:

While Ted Cruz recently acknowledged that climate change does exist to some degree. But Cruz still has his doubts that climate change is happening right now. Also, Cruz holds that cUnknown-3limate change is definitely not a human caused phenomenon. In fact, recently Cruz said on Late Night with Seth Meyers that debates upon this scientific issue should rely on scientific fact. According to Cruz satellites show that the globe is not warming (although climate scientists disagree).

Cruz also believes that Cap-and-trade has no impact of global temperatures. He also supports investment in know energy resources rather than alternative energy. Cruz also voted no to protecting ocean, costal and Great Lake ecosystems.

 Rand Paul:

As a true-blue (or rather red) conservative libertarian, Rand Paul thinks  Unknown-4that the government should not have a role in regulating the environment. Paul is against the EPA and does not think that it should be able to put regulations on any private citizen or corporation. He also has voted against animal-welfare legislation multiple times. Basically, Rand Paul wants no part of environmental issues, because in his opinion the government should not have any responsibility to the environment.

 Marco Rubio:

Marco Rubio, like his republican contenders, agrees that climate does not exist. If it does, he definitely does not believe that climate change is caused by human activity. Rubio also doubts that any actions that we take now would not change the future of the climate or the world. In Florida, the state that Rubio represents in the Senate, the citizens see first hand the eUnknown-5ffects of climate change. With rising sea levels and saltwater contaminating drinking w ater supplies. Floridians are tired of Rubio denying the very climate change that is affecting their lives.

Additionally, Rubio has said he wanted to support fossil fuel industries and would not support alternative energy initiatives. Rubio is also against the regulation the EPA. On the bright side, Rubio does support tax breaks on energy efficient appliances.

 Hillary Clinton:

As the only Democrat in the race thus far, it is to be expected that she will have quite a different stance on environmental issues. Clinton believes the science of climate change. Clinton believes that global warming is real and that humans cause it. Clinton supports many of the environmental issues that President Obama has introduced. OnUnknown-6e example is Obamas power plant rules that aim to reduce carbon emissions. In addition, Clinton also realizes the connection between empowering women and climate change. Clinton realizes that the secret to stopping climate change is empowering women and if elected she would continue those initiatives.

There are some troubling parts of Clinton’s environmental policy as well. She supported fracking world wide while Secretary of State as a way to decrease poverty worldwide. Clinton’s charitable foundation also takes a lot of donations from oil companies. Further, in the past Clinton supported offshore drilling. Finally, Clinton has stayed silent about the Keystone XL Pipeline making environmental activists wonder whether or not she would allow it to be built.

But as expected, Clinton is generally more accepting of government initiatives to preserve the environment.

In many ways, the future of our planet will undoubtedly be affected by who is chosen as the next leader of the free world. That is why I implore you all to stay informed on all candidates that are introduced to the race. And then on that first Tuesday in November I implore you all to go out and make your voice be heard. It is possibly more important now than it has ever been before.

Save Energy, Save Money


Light bulbs are the first thing many people think of when it comes to energy efficiency. Generally, a picture of the twisted tubes of a florescent light bulb comes to mind, but there are other ways to save money on lighting. One such method is by using LED light bulbs. These bulbs last up to five times as long as normal CFLs (florescent) and use 20-40% less electricity.  The downside to these bulbs is the price tag that comes with them. LED bulbs cost about twice as much as CFLs. However, this upfront cost can be recouped by electricity and replacement costs.

Courtesy of S-Tech

In addition to the cost savings, LED bulbs do not have many of the issues that CFLs suffer from. CFL bulbs contain Mercury and other hazardous substances and must be disposed of differently than most garbage. CFLs also have a delay when turning on and are known to flicker. LEDs do not have any of these problems and can be a much safer, cheaper way to light your house.

But what is the cheapest way to light your house? Use natural light! It’s solar power at its finest, and it does not cost a thing. Never pull down your blinds and turn on a light. It’s just plain wasteful.


Courtesy of Wikimedia

The easiest way to save energy and money on appliances has been made easy. Federally regulated ENERGY STAR ratings are given to devices that use 10% – 50% less water and energy than traditional appliances. Many of these certified appliances also come with government incentives to help with the generally larger upfront cost that comes with a more efficient model. Even without any incentives, these appliances will pay for themselves with the added energy efficiency in many cases. According to the HBAGC, appliances with the energy star certification save 30% in energy costs on average, which really adds up over time. One of the best appliances to look at upgrading is your washing machine. Front-loading machines use about 40% less water and 50% less energy than traditional washers. This is estimated to save $75 – $100 per year for a family of four.

Refrigerators and Freezers

Courtesy of Audubon

While refrigerators and freezers are technically appliances, they deserve their own category. Like other appliances, they can get energy star certified if they are at least 10% more efficient than the federal standard. These refrigerators and freezers take advantage of better temperature control, better door sealing, more efficient compressors, and better overall insulation. Like other appliances, spending the extra money to get an efficient refrigerator or freezer can save money in the long run. By replacing a ten-year-old refrigerator with a brand new energy star rated refrigerator can save the owner over $100 per year in electricity.


Courtesy of USA Aircare

Heating and cooling account for a large portion of the average homeowners electricity expenditures throughout a year. This makes it imperative to make efficient use of the HVAC system in your house. Generally, the best places to use insulation are the basement and attic which have the largest exposed surface area to the outdoors. Insulation is especially useful because it helps seal in cool air during the summer months as well as keep warm air inside when temperatures drop in the winter. Insulation comes in many different types that can fit almost any part of the house. explains that air sealing is also a very important part of insulating your home. The site states, “any air sealing efforts will complement your insulation efforts, and vice versa.”

High Performance Windows

Courtesy of AngiesList

One of the hardest places to insulate in the home are the windows. Glass is a very poor insulator, but covering the glass with foam insulation completely destroys the aesthetics and function of the windows. To combat this, most windows are now double paned with high performance or low emissivity glass. These double panes are filled with gas and help to provide a layer of insulation between the air indoors and outside. Low emissivity coatings can also be applied to windows, and have become the norm in many areas of the country. Improving window insulation can make a big difference. In a simulation using a Boston home, replacing inefficient windows with low emissivity, double paned glass saves $103 per year.

Improving energy efficiency in the home can be an expensive undertaking. However, improving the efficiency of your appliances and insulating cold walls and windows can save a lot of money in the long run. Sometimes you can earn green simply by going green.

Alternative Travel Project

I think most people know by now that I am a bit of a TV junkie and right now one of my favorite shows is Castle starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. By now I imagine that you are asking why I am talking about my favorite tv show a blog entitled “Perspectives on the Environment” and admittedly that’s a good question. I’m glad you asked. Well sometimes stars of TV shows are in excellent places to advocate for meaningful change as they have a built in fan base. Stana Katic is a star that has used her platform in a way that has the potential to have a meaningful impact on the environment.

Stana Katic developed the Alternative Travel Project in 2010. According the Alternative Travel Project website, the organization is described as follows:

“The Alternative Travel Project is a global initiative to encourage people to GOcarFREE for just one day.

ATP also encourages public planners and policy makers to provide safe, viable alternative travel infrastructure to support alternative travel choices.

ATP aims to create a worldwide community of people looking to enjoy the social, health and environmental benefits of car-free travel. ATP believes that the steps an individual takes toward alternative travel, even for a single day, can have a global impact. While cars are often a necessary part of our modern existence, they don’t have to be a part of our EVERY day.

ATP highlights opportunities for individuals to volunteer days outside the bubble of their cars and move into an integrated, powerful and positive future for themselves, their community and our planet as a whole.”

The Alternative Travel Project is an exciting movement for a variety of reasons! First of all, the Alternative Travel Project focuses on a practical change that each person to make to help the environment. Often times, groups attempt to solve large sweeping problems through large sweeping changes but unfortunately this does not always result in change. For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists developed what they call a “realistic plan to cut projected U.S. oil use in half in 20 years. By increasing fuel economy, producing better biofuels, and investing in electric vehicles, we can cut our oil use, reduce global warming emissions, and clean up our air.” The realistic plan then goes on to tell readers to buy a fuel efficient or electric car and to consider their vacation plans based on the environment. But this is not always realistic especially for low income families.

In fact the Union of Concerned Scientists actually requests that a Family of 4 take a motor coach for 1,000+ miles if they are going on vacation. Let’s be realistic… no family in their right mind would travel 1,000+ miles with small children on a bus.. that would be hell. Saddling people with such requests unfortunately has the effect of individuals feeling that they can make no difference at all.

The Alternative Travel Project succeeds in impacting change as it makes a small request that everyone has the power to fulfill. Stana Katic’s organization simply requests that every person go car free when traveling. This is a mission that could have a serious positive impact on the environment.

According to the ATP, “if everyone in the world went car free for one day, 11.7 million tons of CO2 would be saved! On average, 1 car emits about 1 pound of CO2 per mile.” Since 1 tree absorbs 20 pounds of CO2 each year, it takes 365 trees to absorb the CO2 that 1 person emits driving 20 miles a day for a year. That’s a big deal! Put simply, one day of being car free could equate to saving 1 billion trees!

This is the impact of the little things. While we as citizens have little to no control over making sweeping change in the field of environmental protection, we can certainly make an impact in small and meaningful ways. I urge you to consider spending one day without a car when your home for the summer or (if you use a car now).

Additionally, consider walking to save the environment using the app charity miles. Through this platform we can donate to The National Conservancy Fund which actively works to limit greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging conscientious living and by working to plant trees which limit our emissions. Additionally, while you are here on campus choose to walk or ride the CATA bus instead of driving a car.

Keep it Green.

E-Waste Dumping

Today, electronics are a normal aspect of life. In fact, electronic technology is practically required to live comfortably and to work efficiently at the developed world’s standards. New and improved technology appears every single year, like Apple’s iPhone upgrades or the ever expanding Samsung Galaxy phone/tablet line. While those of us living in a consumer economy willingly buy the latest gadgets year after year, how often do we think about what happens to our old equipment?

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Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a modern problem that takes a toll on both the environment and on humanity. This “high-tech trash” includes, but is not limited to, televisions, computer monitors, keyboards, mice, processors (CPUs), printers, scanners, fax machines, pocket computers (PDAs), walkie-talkies, baby monitors, certain kinds of watches, and cell phones. Anything digital that is no longer being used qualifies as e-waste. Trash of this sort is actually the most detrimental, in regards to both its growth rate and its toxic decay. As told in a National Geographic examination, “Added together, this information-age detritus makes up the fastest growing category of waste in the U.S. And the more complex the circuitry, the more complicated the equipment’s disposal, since electronics contain toxic substances such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and beryllium that pose a hazard to both humans and the environment.”

Facts on E-Waste

  • We throw out about 130,000 computers every day in the United States
  • Over 100 million cell phones are thrown out annually
  • E-waste amounts are expected to rise 21% by 2018 (to 50 million metric tons)
  • Cell phones, microwaves, and dishwashers are the most common e-waste
  • The main driver of e-waste is a growing middle class in places like China and India as well as short lifespans of tech equipment
  • E-waste is advertised as being recycled within origin countries, but this typically is not what happens in reality

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According to a report by the United Nations University (UNU), the world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014. Combined, this trash would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. When lined up, those trucks would stretch from New York to Tokyo — and back.

Unsurprisingly, the United States and China are the biggest producers of e-waste. Together, the U.S. and China produce over one-third of all e-waste. Wealthy nations in northern and western Europe, like Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, are also big contributors. Conversely, the lowest producers are located in the developing world, including Africa and Oceania.

However, the people who generate the least amount of e-waste actually face the brunt of the issue and its worst consequences. Much of the e-waste created in wealthy nations is shipped oversees, often illegally, in enormous quantities. Many times, promises of recycling and green renewal to this type of trash are made, but such hopes are often not fulfilled. Only one-sixth of e-waste is actually recycled or reused. The rest, as has long been documented, ends up in landfills, mostly in Africa and other parts of the developing world.

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This dumping is not just environmentally harmful and ethically horrid; there is a purely anthropological health concern tied to it as well. Overseas shipments of electronic waste -mostly to Africa and Asian – has created a market for parts scavenging and valuable mineral extraction. These tech products hold bits of precious metals within them, like silver, copper, platinum and gold. E-waste and mines are therefore comparable to urban mines, located right within cities at the disposal of anyone willing to hunt for desirable parts. Scavengers salvage worthwhile components and minerals from this waste – which is an extremely time consuming and dangerous process. Many discarded electronics contain toxic materials. When such items are opened up for part-picking, the toxic substances are released and terrible adverse health effects ensue, like increased cancer cases, miscarriages for women, and high levels of lead in the blood.

The illegal shipment of waste to underdeveloped Southern nations has caused global uproar. Waste facilities and even entire countries are labeled as criminals who practice bioracism, the purposeful targeting of poorer world areas consisting predominantly of colored communities. In 2005, the Basil Action Network found 500 shipping containers of electronics arriving in Lagos each month.

Mountainous e-waste accumulation is a current problem in places like Africa and Asia, but this issue will have global implications. Unless consumption habits change dramatically and e-recycling improves significantly, our world is going to be overrun by garbage. There will be no space left to dump our disposed goods anymore. Serious attention needs to be given to this area of concern and major policy changes must be implemented before irreversible damage is inflicted upon ecosystems, economies, and humankind.



How cows are so important to climate change

Cows on average release about 70 to 120kg of methane a year, which like carbon dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas. I know many of you are thinking that cow farts cannot be the pressing issue that climate policy makers and scientists have to deal with surely there are more pressing topics like renewable energy and energy efficiency in general. However, there are many inconvenient facts about cow farts that make it a much higher priority than one may want to concede.

For example, methane has 23 times more negative effects than carbon dioxide and cows alone account for 2.8 metric tons of methane a year. Unfortunately because cow farts are such a non-serious topic there is very little serious attention and solutions offered to solve the problem. In fact in Japan there was a study done to see how much a kg of different meats contributed to kg of carbon dioxide produced to make it. I will leave the link here,, but I think it is interesting that a kg beef produces over 34.6 kg of carbon dioxide. Considering all the tailgates just here at Penn State those are some dangerous numbers.

However, my main concern is that apathy will take hold and no solutions will be offered to the very complex problem of feeding the entire world and at the same time curbing carbon emissions by improving the environmental quality of our agricultural processes. However, there lots of push back against the latter of these two issues because many people have argued, and justifiably so, that feeding the hungriest people in the world is much more important than tackling the climate changing effects of our current agricultural practices. This is hard to counter when part of your argument is centered around the fact that too many cows are farting too much. This is also hard to counter considering the terrible and just flat out awful lives people who do not have access to clean and sanitary food have.

However, I simply do not believe that this is an either or scenario rather I think that this could be a win-win scenario, if policies are enacted correctly. The problem that many farmers are facing is that green technology for farming does not have enough research into it and therefore farmers who engage in the practice of green farming will see a reduction in their profits and not an increase. This is a problem for two reasons one is that if the private sector does not get behind a green farming movement then there will never be a change in how agricultural practices are carried out. The next reason is that green technology can be the next great technological revolution that saves hundreds of millions of people by making food cheaper and more accessible.

However, this will only work if certain policies are taken to incentivize green growth in the agricultural field by making going green not just popular but also profitable. The first of these policies would be to incentivize green farmers with tax credits in order to get the agricultural wizards on board with the green movement. The next step would be to incentivize green energy companies by to invest research and development into the agricultural field.

This is being done to a certain degree by the Obama administration who has invested into different green energy projects throughout his administration by using his all of the above energy policy that has produced quality energy jobs. The combination of these policies would help to partner both the farmer and the private sector as partners in a green farming movement. This partnership will not only promote solid job growth but it would also finally help incentivize private industry to get behind quality climate change policies.

However, this is not enough we are going to need increased research into the green agricultural field. This would be perfect for our own country because we have the best university system in the world and some of the brightest minds in the world researching there. Although there is always research going on at our colleges there can always be an increase and there are few issues that are more important to invest research dollars in than the effects of cow farts on the climate

Here is an article on climate changing cow farts,, check it out.

It’s Not All Science

  1. Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world’s population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning — by far the largest share of any country.
  2. Since 1870, global sea levels have risen by about 8 inches.
  3. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the temperature in the U.S. has increased by 2 degrees in the last 50 years and precipitation has increased by 5%.
  4. Each year of the 21st century is among the hottest in history.Slide23
  5. According to IPCC 2007 report, sea levels will rise by 7-23 inches by the end of this century due to global warming.
  6. By the end of the century, around 150,000 people will have died of heat related causes.

These statistics are horrifying… yes. So horrifying it makes a reader just want to shut down, thinking that there is little that can be done to actually effect change. Too often I find the conversation about the environment surrounds statistics like this, simplified for the average joe shom to understand. But in attempting to express the seriousness of the matter, scientists and advocates fail to connect with the average person.

Spewing facts and figures at me does not affect change. An advocate needs to spur an connection for me between me and an issue. So how do we make a connection? Emotion

I want to be shown what the result of sea levels rising by 7-23 inches by the end of this century due to global warming.

This video while it comes close to forming the emotion connection it still falls short. While I agree with Hank Green in that the secret to being green is understanding but emotional understanding is equally important to spurring change.

For me, science facts do not help me connect with the environment, what does help me connect with the issue of Global Warming is imaging the beauty of the outdoors being soiled by my own selfish actions.

I’m an avid biker and whether or not the weather is good, I enjoy taking recreational bike rides. As I spend my time largely at the business building, I frequently take my wonderful bike rides in arboretum.


The arboretum is a beautiful place… simply stunning in it’s simplicity and wonder.

Why would I want to live in a world that I may not be able to enjoy the beautiful wonder of the arboretum and demonstrations of nature similar to the arboretum? I wouldn’t. I am emotionally connected to the arboretum and the nature that love to observe while I am on my daily bike rides and that is how I have become connected to the environment.

Studies have shown that “fifty percent of every buying decision is driven by emotion” which demonstrates that our actions are truly connected with our emotions.

So what can we do? We need to re-frame the conversation. Environmental advocates and politician must approach the public with a sensitivity to what helps consumers make decisions… emotions.

I would like an environmental advocate to help me connect the reality of global warming and increasing CO2 levels with imaginable real world effects. This is how we will impact real change.

EXAMPLE: Below is a clip of an article taken from the article: Climate Change will ruin Hawaii

  • “Higher average temperatures, stressing native animals and plants and causing an uptick in heat-related illnesses in people (think dengue fever or cholera), as well as a higher concentration of invasive species;
  • A decrease in trade winds, which would disrupt the rainfall patterns across each of the islands and create periods of drought and heavy rain and flooding;
  • Warmer oceans and higher ocean acidity, which could trigger massive coral bleaching, marine migration, and affect the ocean’s circulation and the way it distributes nutrients.

Perhaps the most obvious change around the state will be the rise in sea levels, which have risen about 0.5-1.3 inches per decade throughout the last 100 years. The study projects this rate to accelerate, resulting in a 1-foot to 3-foot rise (or possibly more) by 2100.

That would mean most of Waikiki and its famous beach would either be underwater or highly eroded by it. The animation above, taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Viewer, shows what sea levels would look like around Waikiki and Honolulu in a worst case scenario: if sea levels rose 6 feet. The new shoreline would be almost a full mile inland (past the Waikiki hotel strip and into neighborhoods such as Kakaako, downtown Honolulu, and even Moiliili). Such a scenario would impact hotel revenues by as much as $661.2 million, with a scary $2 billion lost overall, each year.”

Blah blah blah. I want to see passion. As a consumer I don’t really care that hotel revenues will be impacted…. I want to see powerful rhetorical descriptions of how this incredibly popular and beautiful site in Hawaii would be destroyed and how the memories of millions of people’s honeymoons would be erased by the excessive carbon use of the United States.

Strong emotional rhetoric is the clear path to environmental change.

-Keep it Green

When Did the Oceans become Garbage Bins?

There is a growing problem in our oceans that many people don’t know about or don’t think about when they toss a plastic cup or bottle in a trash can and not in a recycling bin. Huge trash vortexes have formed in the oceans major and minor gyres because of negligent human disposal of plastics. Plastic is “ a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that we throw away.”  These non-biodegradable materials are ruining our water systems and hurting marine habitats because people do not realize the consequences of buying products that have plastic packaging and worse, the majority do not even bother to recycle the plastic. People need to become aware of the ever-increasing pollution problem and take measures to alleviate and eventually rid the oceans of this hazardous waste. 4df633_b75aecdb5b8f4a9395a7452f4cdffaf1

Gyres are massive whirlpool-like currents in our oceans that are caused by wind and the earth’s rotation. See the flow of the Pacific gyres here. There are five major oceanic gyres across the world and they are all believed to have piles of plastic trash circling in them because of the water bottles, utensils, plastic bags, and other plastic waste humans dispose of into the environment on a regular basis. The largest one, the North Pacific Gyre, is nicknamed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the trash area is approximated to be twice the size of Texas. In the Pacific Ocean alone, it is estimated that 11 million tons of floating plastic covers 5 million square miles between California and Hawaii and those numbers are still increasing. This is just one major trash gyre out of many larger and smaller ones that persist and collect plastic waste worldwide.


5 major gyres

Out of all of the plastic we produce, only five percent of it is recycled, fifty percent goes into landfills, and the other forty-five percent disappears into our water systems and eventually finds its way to these whirlpools of trash. The plastics in these currents resist biological and chemical degradation and some of it has sunk while some floats on the surface. Sunlight causes some of the plastics to break apart into small particles the size of confetti, but they never full degrade and the small plastic pollution is increasingly becoming a danger to the marine wildlife. “A single one-litre bottle could break down into enough small fragments to put one on every mile of beach in the entire world.” Plastic pollution now outweighs zooplankton six pounds to one. To make matters worse, there are actually hazardous chemicals that are in these vortexes as well. Gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, and fertilizers are just a few of the “Persistent Organic Pollutants,” or POPs, that are not only carcinogenic, but they are also absorbing into the insoluble plastic particles in high concentrations.


Plastic particles remain as bird decomposes

The biggest concern with the trash gyres are their effects on the marine animals who mistake the toxic pollution for food. This is causing major problems in the food chain that potentially are cycling all the way back around and contaminating human seafood. Small marine animals mistake the tiny pieces of plastic for phytoplankton and the toxic compounds build up in the organism in a process called bio-accumulation. The plastics cannot be broken down and impact the entire food chain. Larger animals also consume the plastic because they think it is food. Sea turtles and birds are two animals who are largely impacted by the plastic because they consume  the plastic which then is stuck in their digestive systems. The animals starve to death because there is no room left in their stomachs for their normal food and after the carcass decomposes, the intact plastic still remains behind to harm more unsuspecting victims.



The plastic pollution in the water is estimated to take anywhere from 400 to 800 years to break down, but people cannot stand by and wait for that to happen because there is continually more waste being added to the gyres. This is an enormous and growing problem, but that does not mean it cannot be solved through hard work and the changing of human ways. Small-scale efforts are now being made to attempt to clean-up the trash gyre in the Pacific Ocean and people need to be more aware of the issue so that plastic trash can be kept out of the water in the first place. People need to make personal changes in their own lives to reduce their plastic usage, start recycling everything, use non-toxic chemicals in their homes and gardens, and spread awareness about this serious issue. If people are more conscious about the plastic and chemicals they use and dispose of, then maybe the world will see a day when toxic plastic and foam trash doesn’t litter the beaches and marine life will thrive once again.