Shell Oil Keeps Digging

An oil rig

At a certain point, any decision which backfires stops being excusable. Stops being inexcusable and eventually becomes embarrassing. Shell Oil has managed to transcend even the embarrassing stage and is now existing in a pure lunacy stage where embarrassing cannot reach it. Further, embarrassment requires that one knows better from worse, right from wrong, and ultimately, it is difficult to discern if the executives of Shell Oil do know basic tenants of morality. On the last day of 2012, December 31st, the Shell oil rig “Kulluk” ran aground off the coast of Alaska off of Kodiak Island, prompting a 500-plus… read more

Starbucks Reusable Cup

Photo Credit: Starbucks

Starbucks is selling reusable plastic cups in its stores in the U.S. and Canada. Starbucks is charging $1 for the cup, which will hold tall or grande drinks, and entitle the user to a 10 percent discount. Nearly 2 percent of its beverages are served in their customers’ own cups, a number it hopes to raise to 5 percent by 2015. An important component of our overall waste reduction strategy is the use of reusable cups. When Starbucks outlined this strategy in 2008, they set a goal to serve 25 percent of all beverages in reusable cups by 2015. Whether… read more

Waterways Pollution

An artist's concept of eco-friendly boating

Springtime will be upon us in a few short months, which means boating, fishing, and other aquatic activities aren’t far behind. Setting sail on the water, be it the open sea, the river, or the pond out back, is a fun experience for everyone, but can become quite dangerous for the environment if one is careless. Illegal dumping, accidental poisoning of rivers, and oil leakage contribute to wildlife damage each year, and much of this can be avoided if boaters were to be a little more conscious of their actions. Simple tips such as properly disposing of waste, litter, and… read more

2012 Hottest on Record

Temperature rising in USA

Preliminary data suggested 2012 would be the hottest year on record, given the extreme weather which plagued the U.S. for large periods at a time, and now that the final sets of data have been reviewed, it is official: 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous states. The extreme weather certainly had an effect: the surreal March heat wave, a severe drought in the Corn Belt, and Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the Middle Atlantic States. Simply stated, it was the perfect situation to become the hottest year on record. How hot was it? The average was 55.3… read more

Green Jobs for Veterans

Green jobs for veterans

Despite the gratitude we have towards veterans and the courageous acts they perform, there is not enough being done to honor their services when they return. It is refreshing, then, to learn of organizations like Veterans Green Jobs, who connect veterans of all eras with employment opportunities in the green sector. Veterans Green Jobs was founded in 2008, in Denver, Colorado and seems to be the perfect union of veteran job placement and environmental protection.  They strive to equipped veterans with skills that can transfer to meaningful green jobs. Helping veterans gain stability with careers that serve an important role in creating a better environment… read more

Sustainable Liquor

Rum distillery

The Serralles Rum Distillery in Ponce, Puerto Rico, which has been owned by the family for 147 years, produces DonQ, Palo Viejo, and Caliche rums. They knew their challenges of disposing of millions of gallons of wastewater. While its competitor in Puerto Rico, Bacardi, dumps in the sea, the Serralles distillery has long routed its by-product to nearby fields. This was fine, until the rainy season swept in. During that May-to-November stretch, the fields would often get saturated, causing the waste to run off. Run off can cause dead zones in the ocean. Fearful of rousing the EPA, the distillery… read more

Obama Wants Smarter Windows

President Backs Smart Window

In the first quarter following his re-election, President Obama’s administration is working to emphasise its ‘green’ credentials. President Obama has come up with a Better Buildings national energy efficiency initiative, and building windows are front and center in the plan. Windows have been a thorn in the side of energy efficient building designs, and though they have gotten better at insulation, they are still not at a capability which can be accepted. The Department of Energy is leading the way, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (APRA-E), which is part of the DOE, has awarded a grant of $3 million to… read more

Toxic Clean Up

Toxic Clean Up

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig experienced a devastating oil spill in 2010. The Gulf of Mexico residents thought the damage done was just going to be from the 4.9 million barrels of oil which were floating around in the water. The Gulf ecosystem was nearly destroyed, tourism shot down in the area, and marine sources of food were scarce, resulting in one of the worst man-made disasters in recent memory. However, BP promised to be the knight in shining armor, and to come save the residents and ecosystem of the Gulf. Through poking and prodding from the Gulf residents and… read more

Young Activists

Young activists

There have been many waves of environmental activism, each gaining a broader demographic as climate change becomes more apparent. Because the Internet and other forms of electronic communication are accessible at a younger age, children not only have the means to express their views about the environment – their ideas are finally being heard and applied. As a result we are seeing more teen and kid activists, as well as young entrepreneurs of green ‘enterprise’. The following examples may illustrate why our youth make the best activists, as they are the inherit-ants of the current ecological mess. We will begin with Alex Lin, who was only eleven… read more

Fracking Follies

Hydraulic fracturing

As it turns out, the short-term solution to combat rising costs and foreign dependence on energy, along with attempting to limit environmental damage, hydraulic fracturing, i.e. fracking, may be doing the opposite: costing the United States more, and driving up carbon dioxide emissions. It has been debated whether fracking leads to earthquakes, pollution, and disease, among other things, but the scale of the damage may be much larger. While no judgment on fracking based on merit should be made, given the small sample pool of functioning fracking sites, a trend does appear to be emerging suggesting fracking isn’t what was… read more