TAG: Environment

Two Different Paths

Greener communities

Since the federal government in the United States has been met with its fair share of delays and inaction, the opportunities for individual communities to take action on conserving the environment and combating climate change have largely increased. Cities and neighborhoods are able to bypass a lot of the red tape surrounding implementing “green” strategies and programs, which makes it much easier for small-scale success. There are expected green cities, such as Portland, OR, which has excellent public transportation and an extensive network of bike trails; the city also offers financial incentives to homeowners and businesses which use solar energy; Boulder, CO,… read more

Real vs Fake Xmas Trees

Real or fake Christmas trees

Many people choose fake trees over real ones because they believe that plastic trees are better for the environment, but are they really the more eco-friendly option? Fake trees are convenient and reusable. However, they’re made from PVC plastic, which creates a number of environmental problems. Production of PVC triggers the release of toxic chemicals such as dioxin, vinyl chloride, and ethylene dichloride, and additional chemicals that are used to make plastic trees more pliable have caused damage to the kidneys, livers, brains, and reproductive systems of laboratory animals. Many fake trees contain lead, which can cause brain damage if… read more

Mother Nature’s Children

Children living with nature

“I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are” (A fourth-grader in San Diego, cited in Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods”) As a young child, I spent most of my days living and playing outdoors. I lived part-time with my grandparents on a small farm in the Waikato, then a rich agricultural region in the central north island of New Zealand. Days were spent playing in the fields, navigating elephant grass, and no doubt tormenting the fowl and pigs and lambs and calves that I considered my best friends at that time. I… read more

Green Engineering

Development in Africa

Swaziland like most African states is a developing economy with ambitions of attaining first world country status in the future. These ambitions are pursued in numerous ways, one of which is the improvement of infrastructure in the country. The improvement of infrastructure includes numerous construction and excavation projects throughout the country. Currently, the iron ore deposits are being mined, a new international airport is under construction, new tarred roads are being built, electricity is being made accessible to remote areas, and water pipes are being installed to ensure that rural communities also have access to water. All these projects are meant to increase the economic standing of the… read more

The Future Of Coal

Future Of Coal

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal demand is growing everywhere but the United States. Coal demand in the United States grew 4.3% (304 million tons (mt)), compared to Chinese demand growth of 233 mt. The amount is misleading though, because despite the demand growth, it is less than the growth in previous years. Unfortunately, from an environmental advocacy perspective, the decrease in coal usage is a result of the increase of shale gas production and usage, specifically in the United States. Additionally, a decrease in domestic usage of coal will have negative impacts on employment in the coal… read more

Sustainable Wine

Vineyard, Jennifer Copley

Sustainable and organic are not necessarily the same thing. A wine that is made using organic methods may not meet sustainability requirements. Organic vineyards must be managed without using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. However, sustainability requires a systemic approach that goes beyond simply eliminating toxic chemicals. Sustainable wines are developed so that the vineyards can continue producing the same product for generations to come. Therefore, sustainable growing must take into account the environmental, social, and economic impacts of viticulture and favor approaches that do no harm not only in the present but also in the future. This means that sustainable… read more

U.S. Oil Independence

US oil independence

The U.S. will rid itself of the long-standing dependence on Saudi Arabian oil within the next decade by increasing domestic oil and gas production, but there is the inherent risk, and rising likelihood, of worsening global warming. In a report released on Monday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the United States will benefit from “unconventional” sources of oil and gas, including shale gas and oil, derived from blasting rocks apart to release the fossil fuels trapped within, i.e. fracking. Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to increases in seismic activity, but it has been difficult for geologists and seismologists to… read more

Combating Greenwashing

Corporate dishonesty

In an era where corporations find themselves under immense pressure to conform to environmental expectations, dishonesty and manipulation are bound to appeal to unscrupulous manufacturers. Greenwashing is one deceptive practice that some corporations have resorted to. Greenwashing is a term used to describe corporate dishonesty where the corporation concerned attempts to conceal the negative impact their products have on the environment by making what can be described as misleading claims pertaining to the environmental benefits of the product or service it offers. Greenwashing is more a claim geared at deceiving than it is a marketing strategy. Thus for instance, a… read more

Biodegradable Plastics

Biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastics have been promoted as revolutionary environmental products, but some have questioned whether the hype is nothing more than greenwashing. Biodegradable plastics, made primarily of pesticide-laden corn, are used in a variety of products ranging from bags to bottles to gift cards to cell phone casings. Biodegradable does not necessarily mean compostable, though many people assume that they are the same, and a number of biodegradable plastics claim to be compostable as well. The trouble with claims of compostability is that they may refer only to large-scale industrial composting whereby materials are shredded and composted at 140 degrees Fahrenheit,… read more

Looking Forward

President Obama and the Environment

Now that the election is over and a candidate has been selected, it is time to begin looking forward at what kind of second term president Barack Obama is going to be, especially regarding the environment and climate change. Over the course of the campaign, President Obama dodged questions about the environment and was vague in those he did answer, but there was mention of a “warming planet” during his acceptance speech, amidst the plethora of other issues a president must concern themselves with. He made an effort to tell the American public he will be concerned about climate change… read more