The Problem With Plastic

Polluting Plastic Bags

Shopping for groceries at the supermarket is an inescapable part of our lives, some of us do it on a daily basis, some weekly and some monthly. Regardless of which store and in which country, what is guaranteed is that if you buy something you will get a plastic bag to carry it in. In Swaziland, plastic bags at till checkpoints are free of charge to customers, unlike in South Africa where plastic bags are sold to customers for a small fee, in part to encourage customers to either purchase durable reusable grocery bags, or to use plastic bags more than… read more

Lessons from Niger Delta

Niger Delta, Africa

The Niger Delta is an oil-rich part of Nigeria. Oil prospecting and extraction operations have been undertaken by multinational companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, which was part of the controversial case The Social and Economic Rights Action Centre and another v Nigeria (“SERAC case”) which was heard by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In a nutshell, the SERAC case was a lawsuit where the plaintiffs argued that the government of Nigeria was directly involved in oil production through the state owned Nigerian National Petroleum Company in a joint venture with Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, and that… read more

Saving the Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

The world’s largest coral reef with an eco-system is the Great Barrier Reef located off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The eco-system is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs, 900 islands stretching for over 1,600 miles over an area of approximately 133,000 sq. mi. More than nearly half the reef has vanished in the last 27 years. A coral reef ecologist, Katharina Fabricius, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science told LiveScience that she has been diving to the reef since 1988 and has studied the decline. To gather their data, Fabricius and her colleagues surveyed 214 different reefs near the Great Barrier… read more

The Problem with GMO’s

Genetic modification

Genetic Modification. GMO. Frankly, it sounds quite scary. What’s also scary is the fact that we need eight syllables to describe something quite simple: Fiddling about. The problem with modifying something that already exists in a state of modification (ie. evolution – meaning that the plant or animal was genetically modified through a natural process occurring over thousands of years to fit best with its surroundings) is that well, first of all, forcibly adapting another thing to our own benefits just doesn’t make any sense in the long term. Singling out a single species of wheat, for example, out of… read more

Emissions Track The Economy

Emissions Track Economy

According to a recent study released by the International Energy Agency (IEA), CO2 emissions in the United States have experienced the greatest fall since 2006. The study was conducted in a global perspective, comparing developed nations and regions to each other, including the United States, China, Russia, India, and the EU as primary sources. Global fossil fuel emissions increased on the whole, but U.S. emissions managed to drop by 1.7%. This is attributed to an ongoing switch from coal to natural gas, combined with a mild winter which caused less energy demand for heating. Further, there has been a drop… read more

Green Energy Policies

Green Energy Policies

The current trends in U.S. energy policy are encouraging, but also disheartening. There is reason to be encouraged by the Obama administration’s “green” energy policies. The New Energy for America plan proposed during the 2008 campaign, the recent plan for renewable energy tax credits, and the continued support for renewable energy production are all positive steps. However, all these progressive plans must make their way through Congress, which has been less than interested in acting on these policies. The attacks from those in Congress levied on the EPA, however legitimate or illegitimate on their own merits, damaged the popular perspective… read more

Fish Farming

Fish Farming

Rapid industrialization of the fishing industry has come at the expense of sustainability. If current consumption rates persist, some scientists have estimated that our fish stocks will collapse by the middle of this century, crushing the livelihoods of millions of people and eliminating a critical food source. Industrial fishing is associated with a number of problems, including overfishing of various species and unnecessary killing of commercially useless bycatch including dolphins, whales, sharks, other fish, and seabirds. Certain industrial fishing methods also damage ecologically sensitive areas. However, fish farming can also create problems. Ecologically valuable habitats have been destroyed and local… read more

Campaign Climate Silence

Campaign Silent On Climate

After the presidential debate ended last night, severe disappointment set in amongst many who had hoped climate change and the environment would be discussed. Despite over 160,000 signatures calling on moderator Jim Lehrer to ask the candidates about climate change, it wasn’t brought up at all. The closest any of them got to talking about it was Mitt Romney lying about gas prices and promoting the Keystone XL pipeline, and President Obama touting his “all-the-above” energy policy. It would nice if the reason was there “wasn’t enough time to get to climate change”, or there were “more pressing issues to… read more

Social Media Society

Social Media Society

The impact of social media on society’s development hasn’t fully been measured just yet, but we can see that its impression has spread worldwide and in places one wouldn’t expect. Recently, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have become the mediums through which revolutions rise and fall, the final say in political elections, and the grapevine for all of the world’s gossip to flow. This behavioral trend would explain why nearly 1 billion users spend their time on Facebook, how Twitter has nearly 200 million followers, and how social media is replacing traditional media in some instances as the… read more

Green Energy In Jeopardy

Green Energy in Jeopardy

Green energy is in jeopardy—this is not surprising or shocking, and certainly not new, but the degree to which green energy is in jeopardy is increasing, and the U.S. House of Representatives is one of the primary culprits. On September 14th, amidst the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, the House of Representatives passed the “No More Solyndras Act”, which aims to prevent post-2011 Department of Energy (DoE) loans to green energy firms. The act is named after the failure of Solyndra, a green energy firm which received a $535 million federal loan in 2009 and went… read more