Category Archives: Clean Energy

Air

I’m not quite sure when it first began, but somewhere around the time when my daughter Claire was in pre-K we began a ritual of saying good morning to the sky as we drove to school. There’s this overpass we come to that presents a wonderful, wide-open view of the sky. From this viewpoint we can see big white billowy clouds, dark rolling storm clouds, or pure blue. It always speaks to me, this feeling of expanse before the busy day begins. And it seems to speak to Claire, too.

Four years later, though not every morning, we still greet the sky out loud in unison when we arrive at the overpass. This morning’s sky was sunny and blue with no clouds. Yet there seemed to be a brownish haze near the horizon that I found unsettling. Was I imagining that it was brown? Was my environmental-contamination-oriented mind making this up? It seemed too present to be a figment of my imagination. Of course, I kept this observation to myself, allowing Claire to solely indulge in the wonder she so deserves.

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The Insanity of the Tar Sands

Filled with stunning, sobering images, I have not seen a better presentation on the tar sands than this TEDx video by Garth Lenz. Every single one of us needs to understand what is happening with this extreme form of fossil fuel extraction and take action to stop this energy abomination. Watch at least the first ten minutes if you are at all able to. It will blow your mind. Do we really need energy so badly as to allow the dirtiest energy project on the planet to destroy the future for our children and all life on Earth? Seriously. No exaggeration. It may be happening in Canada, but it will affect us all. If the tar sands continue, we are literally committing suicide as a species. This MUST be stopped. It is so insane and absolutely unacceptable. What are we doing to the beauty and brilliance of the Earth? It breaks my heart…

Plastic Purge

Plastic! Ahhhhh!!

Plastic is everywhere. It is in every room of my house. The kitchen is especially brimming with this non-biodegradable phenomenon. Plastic can be found drying in my dish rack, piled in my pantry, and lined up under my sink. Most purchased food is in plastic. Thick plastic, thin plastic, hard plastic, pliable plastic. I think most people don’t see plastic. It just is, much like air. It is accepted as material essential to our lives.

Stepping away from the home and out into space, I now bring my focus to the Northern Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where an estimated 225 million pounds or 113,000 tons of plastic waste twice the size of Texas is residing. A similar patch of floating plastic debris is found in the Atlantic Ocean.

Because plastic is photodegradable, not biodegradable, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time which become easily mistaken for plankton. And so, the fish, swimming in their beloved sea, unaware of human life, eat this plastic plankton. Yum! And of course, we eat the fish.

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Tending to Things Small and Large

Sam in his habitat.

The day after Hurricane Irene, my husband, daughter and I spent a few days vacationing at the beach.  While there, our daughter Claire campaigned hard to bring home a new member of the family – a hermit crab.  Apprehensive at first, my husband and I concluded it would be an easy enough pet to take of, so we said yes.  Armed with bags of sand from the beach, a 2.5-gallon tank, various shells, a sponge, and a plastic palm tree, we headed home, already fond of the little hermit crab – now affectionately called Sam.

Once home, I looked more extensively at information on how to care for hermit crabs, as the pamphlet that came with Sam seemed inadequate.  It turns out that, though “hermit” is in their name, they are anything but.  Hermit crabs love to hang out with other hermit crabs, ideally in a pack of six to nine, though in their natural habitat they’ll hang out with a hundred of their kin.  I wish they had told us about this at the Sea Shell Shop.

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A Hit of Hope for Stopping Global Warming

This video helped remind me of the power of grassroots movements to change things when those in Washington won’t. It was a hit of hope, and I needed it.

I Can’t Stop Thinking About Fracking

I can’t believe how insane fracking is.  Call me naïve, but I am stunned that oil and gas companies are willing to poison our waters – and therefore ecosystems, wildlife and people – for the sake of profit, “that mean, mean green, that mighty dollar.”

Having written a post on fracking, I was gearing up to write an essay on the sweatshops in Bangladesh, but I’m finding it hard to move on to another subject because fracking is spreading at lightening speed across the Marcellus Shale.  Unless we can stop it, its toxic wastewater will permeate the waters of the Northeast and Mid Atlantic sooner than we think.  I find that thought horrifying.

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For Pennsylvania, 3000 to 5000 Fracking Wells Per Year

I am overwhelmed by the insanity of fracking.  According to this excellent investigative report by Earth Focus, the natural gas industry is planning on building 3000 to 5000 wells per year for the next 30 years in Pennsylvania, and in New York if they can.  We cannot let this happen!

What the Frack?

Up until a few months ago, I had never heard of fracking. If you had asked me what it is, I would have guessed it’s a substitute for a word that one should not use in the presence of children. As it turns out, that is not what it is, but it still has everything to do with something that should never be used in the presence of children.

Hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, is an extraction process for natural gas that is currently being conducted in 27 states in the country. Josh Fox, director of the award-winning documentary Gasland, is convinced that fracking is one of the country’s biggest environmental and public health challenges in history. After learning about it myself, I could not agree more.   Continue reading

No Top on Old Smokey

“Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…”

When I was in high school in the garden state of New Jersey, it wasn’t exactly cool to be into John Denver. What you listened to behind closed doors was one thing, but out in public you didn’t make a point of letting anyone know about it. Kind of like mountaintop removal.

Mountaintop removal is a jaw-dropping mining technique that few people know much about in this country, and the coal mining industry likes it that way. They don’t want you to know that they have blown up and leveled close to 500 mountains (an area the size of Delaware) in Appalachia, mountains older than the Himalayas – three hundred million years old, in fact. Well, they were, but now they’re dead and gone.    Continue reading

Blinding Me with Science

When I was fifteen I came across an animated film called “The Point” by Harry Nilsson which first aired on TV in 1971. It is about a boy named Oblio, the only round-headed person in a village where everyone’s head was in the shape of a point and where, by law, everyone and everything in the village had to have a point. Hence, the main activity of the village was making points.

Oblio is banished to the Pointless Forest and sets out on an adventure to discover what it means to have a point versus no point at all. Along the way he meets the Rockman and, as the Rockman puts forth his perspective, he explains to Oblio, “you see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.” I hear great truth in these simple words and often find myself quoting the Rockman when I am attempting to explain what’s going on in the world.

Take science for instance. There is a lot of scientific study being conducted in the world where the outcome is strongly tied to who is paying for the research. It appears you can always spin things scientifically if you desire to do so.

Like with climate change. Many, many scientists have determined that 1) the chemical composition of the atmosphere has been severely altered by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide pouring into it and 2) this is going to have a profound effect on life on Earth. There is enough scientific evidence and consensus to convince me that we need to be doing something about this ASAP.

Yet, there is other “scientifically proven” research out there that says climate change is not real. And there are people in government, business as well as regular citizens who are still not convinced that climate change is seriously worth addressing. Points are being made and, as the Rockman points out, people are seeing what they want to see and hearing what they want to hear.   Continue reading