The 2009 film Garbage Dreams, which is currently airing on PBS, documents the Zabbaleen a tribe that lives off of collecting and recycling trash from Cairo. They manage to recycle 80% of trash (vs 32% in the U.S.), the highest level in the world, well above most first world recycling levels, using primitive techniques shown in the film. As depicted in the film, and on NPR, since 2003 Cairo has been hiring foreign companies, who recycle much less, taking away their livelihood. They are trying to raise enough money (you can donate, buy a t-shirt or help) to grow their Recycling school, to teach more of their children their practices. Good interview with the film director here.
The fire is out on the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. But since the rig sank last Thursday, Coast Guard officials believe about 13,000 gallons (7,400 bbl) of crude oil per day is coming out of the exploratory hole drilled by the rig, about 41 miles offshore from Plaquemines Parish, LA. "An early suggestion that damage would be minimal because the fire was consuming most of the fuel 'does have the potential to change,' BP official David Rainey told the New York Times." [more inside]
Da N-Viro Thugz Present "The Answer", examining the plastic coffee cups sold at Humber College along with your drink. [more inside]
How does an ecosystem rebound from catastrophe? Thirty years after the blast, Mount St. Helens is reborn again. Interactive Graphic: Blast Zone. Also see National Geographic's feature article from 1981, chronicling that year's eruption. Previously on MeFi [more inside]
New York Magazine has crunched the numbers, Park Slope has taken the title of most livable neighborhood of New York. [more inside]
In 1954 the UK Atomic Energy Authority established a research campus at a distant, disused airfield in Caithness, Scotland. The mission: develop fast breeder reactor technology. In 1988, they chose to conclude the research and in 2000 to decommission the site. This 32-year cleanup now underway is chronicled at a most snazzy website... [more inside]
40 years ago, a small crew of filmmakers set out to document some of the more pressing issues involving wildlife in America. They made eight half-hour films around the country and in doing so made what is believed to be the first environmental TV series in the US. Entitled Our Vanishing Wilderness, all eight episodes are now online and free to view here.
8 Unconvential Ways to Be "Buried." We've all heard about strange practices surrounding the remains of the deceased, but even I (who am morbid to a fault) hadn't been aware of half of these.
Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, long nicknamed the "Lavender Lake" for its copious oil slicks, has gained a new title : Superfund Site. New Yorkers respond with really cool photography. While some developers bow out in light of the recent news, other area developers, hoping for a speedy cleanup of the industrial waste and, uh ... other things ... vow to continue their plans to revitalize the formerly-industrial corridor.
Bjørn Lomborg is well known as the author of Cool It and The Skeptical Environmentalist, books which challenge the scientific consensus on climate change and global warming. Howard Friel, previously known for his book The Record of the Paper, a critical look at the New York Times' coverage of American foreign policy, has a book coming out in March which asserts that Lomborg's Cool It lies constantly, citing sources which contradict or are irrelevant to his points. Lomborg, in response, has posted a rebuttal to Friel (PDF).
How much life could you find in one cubic foot? With a 12-inch green metal-framed cube, photographer David Liittschwager (of the Endangered Species Project) surveyed biodiversity in land, water, tropical and temperate environments around the globe for National Geographic. At each locale he set down the cube and started watching, counting, and photographing with the help of his assistant and many biologists. The goal: to represent the creatures that lived in or moved through that space. The team then sorted through their habitat cubes and tallied every inhabitant, down to a size of about a millimeter. [more inside]
And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour
Governments around the globe are opening up their data vaults allowing us to check out the numbers for ourselves. This is the Guardian’s gateway to that information. Search for government data here from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand — and look out for new countries and places as they are added. Read more about this on the Datablog. [more inside]
From 1980 - 1988, a science education series called 3-2-1 Contact ran on PBS. Produced by Children's Television Workshop, the series was geared toward an older audience than other popular CTW offerings Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and focused on teaching kids about science, math and the world around them. [more inside]
Rising up from deep within the aquifer, cool clear water flows from hundreds of springs that dot the Florida landscape. Florida springs are natural wonders that are threatened constantly. [more inside]
A short piece in the Guardian from Mark Lynas: sitting in on the final climate negotiations at Copenhagen. [more inside]
The Edge, AKA David Evans, wants to build a little comppound in Malibu, on "the most prominent landform along the coast between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and the Ventura County line." "In bringing together the very best environmental, architectural and design principles, the owners have sought to create homes that will both set new standards and withstand the test of time," Evans says on the website he created as part of his lobbying effort to move this project through. (Turn your sound on for the video.) [more inside]
During the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, The Yes Men put out a statement in which they purported to be the Canadian environment minister, Jim Prentice. The statement pledged to cut carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. The statement was followed by a response from the Ugandan delegation, praising the statement, that was also faked. A fake statement was issued on behalf of Environment Canada celebrating the fake Ugandan statement. Another fake statement was then put out blasting the falsehoods of the original fake statement. A fake story in a European edition of the Wall Street Journal was also posted online. Jim Prentice (Canada's Environment Minister) described the hoax as "undesirable". [more inside]
Manufactured Landscapes: Photographer Edward Burtynsky captures haunting and beautiful images of landscapes devasted by industy and by waste. He has won numerous awards including the TED prize. [more inside]
Ahead of the global climate talks, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of that carbon culture. Warming threatens lifestyle of Russian herders | Refugees flee drought, war in East Africa | Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts natives [more inside]
The public's opinion of the field of climatology has been shaken by the leaked CRU emails. While it's arguable that the messages show any wrongdoing, many pundits have now reached the conclusion that global warming is a hoax, coverup and conspiracy, years in the making with millions of faked datapoints. Sarah Palin has written an editorial saying Obama should boycott the Copenhagen COP15 summit.
Whole Tree Architecture - if you'd like a house built by pioneering architect Roald Gundersen, your first step might be to hike in your nearby woods to choose some young, wind-bent, and diseased "Charlie Brown" trees. Small diameter round trees have 150% the strength of milled lumber and twice the strength of steel in tension. Besides structural and environmental advantages, whole trees make for some beautiful and naturally sculptured environments. [more inside]
Google is rolling out free PowerMeter software that works with the TED 5000 smart meter to transmit near real time utility usage to Google servers. This data can then be securely displayed on your Android or iPhone. With stimulus money earmarked for smart meters they will eventually become ubiquitous as standards evolve from the current patchwork. [more inside]
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Polar Discovery team has documented science in action from pole to pole during the historic 2007-2009 International Polar Year, and covered five scientific expeditions. The science projects explored a range of topics from climate change and glaciers, to Earth’s geology, biology, ocean chemistry, circulation, and technology at the icy ends of the earth. Through photo essays and other multimedia, they explain how scientists collected data and what they discovered about the rapidly changing polar regions. From the awesome folks at WHOI.
Your cafefully separated recycling heads to the dump. Reporters in D.C. follow some of the trucks around town and watch them dump the trash and the recycling together into the same truck. (previously)
“Oh, it’s all bullshit. The high design? That has nothing to do with reality. That’s just architectural self-indulgence.” The greening of architecture is quite a contentious subject. Because of a renewed emphasis on traditional home-building methods, The Green Home of the Future is in many respects not dissimilar from The Green Home of Yesterday. A tornado in Greensburg, Kansas provided the impetus for a vote to decide on what green methods would define the movement in that small town. The competition's results stymied many architects' conceptions of what "green" should mean. But in New Orleans, larger-scale destruction by Hurricane Katrina has provided a unique opportunity for proponents of distinct conceptions of green innovation to bring their ideas to life. Opinions among residents are mixed.
Should owning a great dane make you as much of an eco-outcast as an SUV driver? Yes it should, say Robert and Brenda Vale. Article about the environmental impact of pets.
Lu Guang, a freelance photographer, took disturbing photos of the effects of pollution in China. [more inside]
The native British white-clawed crayfish is threatened by extinction from the signal crayfish. Today's Guardian features George Monbiot with one approach to the problem: how to catch and prepare signal crayfish, the brash American cousin. Nice use of recycled materials and beer, but needs more paella recipes.
Redwoods: The Super Trees. "They can grow to be the tallest trees on Earth. They can produce lumber, support jobs, safeguard clear waters, and provide refuge for countless forest species. If we let them."
For hundreds of years, mariners have dreamed of an Arctic shortcut that would allow them to speed trade between Asia and the West. Two German ships are poised to complete that transit for the first time, aided by the retreat of Arctic ice that scientists have linked to global warming. Arctic Shortcut Beckons Shippers as Ice Thaws.
Most people have heard about how rising CO2 levels are resulting in a changing global climate. Fewer have heard about the other consequence of rising CO2 levels- when the CO2 is absorbed into the oceans, it disassociates into carbonic acid. This alters the pH of our world's oceans, and it's called "Ocean Acidification". This changing ocean chemistry has many important and devastating consequences. [more inside]
A car graveyard in Kaufdorf, near Bern is home to 500 abandoned and decaying cars mostly from the 1930's to 1960's. It has not been touched for over 30 years and has some rare flora and founa. The opportunity to take stunning photographs is unparalleled, but it is causing environmental issues which results in an auction this September. It was a struggle between history, nature and European law. History and nature lose. [more inside]
How green was my valley: California's economic meltdown The fields of wheat, cotton and cantaloupe that sustained his family for three generations are gone. The land is a mess of fallow fields, cracked earth and swirling dust. (PDF - By some estimates, 12.8% of the United States' agricultural production (as measured by dollar value) comes from California, and the majority of that is in the Central Valley). However, his particular scene of devastation, Mr. Allen argues, has nothing to do with the credit crisis, the housing crash or the downturn that has California in a vice grip. It has to do with a seven-centimetre-long, semi-translucent, steel blue fish known as the Delta smelt. [more inside]
"Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist, flourish and naturally evolve..."
The story of stuff and how it's currently being played out between the political economies of China and the US (G2 'Chimerica') in an illuminating Fallows vs. Ferguson cage match. [more inside]
Worried about the environmental impact of your book buying habits? The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina suggests you consider how your books are being shipped.(SLYP)
A mysterious black blob of something is floating along the Alaskan coast... and it's biological. According to the Coast Guard, "It's definitely not an oil product of any kind." The strange goop even has a taste for flesh... "[S]omeone turned in what was left of a dead goose -- just bones and feathers..."
Recently, John Michael Greer has been exploring a little known idea of the deceased economist E.F. Schumacher (a student of the oft-discussed Keynes). "Schumacher drew a hard distinction between primary goods and secondary goods. The latter of these includes everything dealt with by conventional economics: the goods and services produced by human labor and exchanged among human beings. The former includes all those things necessary for human life and economic activity that are produced not by human beings, but by nature. Schumacher pointed out that primary goods, as the phrase implies, need to come first in any economic analysis because they supply the preconditions for the production of secondary goods. Renewable resources, he proposed, form the equivalent of income in the primary economy, while nonrenewable resources are the equivalent of capital; to insist that an economic system is sound when it is burning through nonrenewable resources at a rate that will lead to rapid depletion is thus as silly as claiming that a business is breaking even if it’s covering up huge losses by drawing down its bank accounts." [more inside]
Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus want to change the way countries think about global warming. Instead of treating carbon as a pollutant, and legislating our way out of a climate crisis, they suggest a "challenge" approach to the problem—igniting a creative fire under companies and even the federal government to create new and cheaper solutions instead of more loophole-filled legislation. [more inside]
In a talk titled Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation given at The New Emergency Conference, Peak Oil activist and writer Dmitry Orlov (previously 1 2 3) shows how he has come to the conclusion that the oil price spike of summer 2008 was the trigger for the financial collapse that occurred later on in the fall. He goes on to summarize (from his point of view) pretty much everything that has been happening in the past year or so, and what he thinks is coming up next. [more inside]
The Global Oneness Project is exploring how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness can be lived in our increasingly complex world. They travel the globe gathering stories from creative and courageous people who base their lives and work on the understanding that we bear great responsibility for each other and our shared world. [more inside]
Ice — Nick Cobbing features stunning photographs of the Greenland Ice Melt and a stormy voyage to Greenland on an old sailing ship. [more inside]
June 5th was established in 1972 as World Environment Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Home, the movie by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, which premieres today for the occasion, has some nice aerial visuals. [more inside]
Imagine nature's most elegant ideas organized by design and engineering function, so you can enter "filter salt from water" and see how mangroves, penguins, and shorebirds desalinate without fossil fuels. That's the idea behind AskNature, the online inspiration source for the biomimicry community. The featured pages are a good starting point. Cross-pollinating biology with design. [more inside]