I was looking at some data from the U.S. Energy Administration and ran into this interesting statistic from Wisconsin. The state leads the country in turning animal waste into fuel (natural gas). Overall, Wisconsin gets 10% of its energy from renewable sources like hydroelectric. While the animal waste fuel is only a fraction of this total, the potential is there to make it a larger portion of the state's energy resources. Given that the state gets about half of its electricity from coal, it makes sense to look to greener sources of energy to try to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from coal burning power plants by capitalizing on its abundant animal wastes as a source of energy.
Check out the video below from Canada to see how these systems work.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
|The five water management districts in Florida.|
Water must be managed within each region to ensure
long-term sustainability of the aquifers. Heavy users
are permitted for the amount they can withdraw.
With California's current drought, pumping is hurting the aquifer and causing salt water intrusion. Of course, farmers are between a rock and a hard place. They either have to pump water, thereby doing long-term damage to the aquifer and limiting its use into the future, or they will lose their crops. It is a short-term vs. long-term outlook at play and a good case study for anyone interested in long-term sustainability of a region.
Florida figured this out a long time ago. They set up several drainage basin regions that are managed within a governmental water management districts. These organizations are responsible for ensuring that the aquifers and surface water bodies are not harmed by too much withdrawal. They permit large water users and work with public and private organizations to ensure that problems do not occur, particularly during droughts. While the system is not perfect (what system is?), it is far better than the "take as much as you need" approach that California has been employing for generations. California built an agricultural landscape that is very much out of step from the dry natural environment of the thirsty central valley of California. In the long term, Florida's water planning is a much more sustainable system that ensures water for farmers and residents that is in step with the local water budgets.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
|Click for photo credit.|
The show is especially interesting if you live in the New York and Long Island area. The format of the show follows an interesting organization. There are four main parts to the show. In the introduction, she often provides and update on what is happening in her world. She then moves on to provide a vegan or vegetarian recipe--often using seasonal local ingredients. She also provides a calendar of events of major food related events happening in the area. However, the main part of the show is an in-depth interview with guests--often some heavy hitters in the food and sustainability field. For example, on her last show she interviewed two-time Chopped winner, Marc Anthony Bynum, who is opening up a new restaurant, called Hush Bistro, in Farmingdale New York this year. The restaurant will have a strong focus on local Long Island foods.
I'll be on the show this coming Thursday to talk about sustainability, the upcoming People's Climate March, and the Long Island Food Conference we are helping to organize for this spring. Listen in!
Thursday, August 28, 2014
There are many people and organizations to thank, but I'll save that for the front pages of the book. You know who you are (Mario, Hofstra, National Center for Suburban Studies, students, faculty, colleagues, Oxford University, John Wiley and Sons, and many others).
One of the things that happened to me while writing in a very concentrated way over the summer was that I became a bit obsessive and superstitious about my writing activities. I always had word goals for the day and I would find myself repeating the goal over and over in my head until I had it done. 4000 was an odd mantra and companion. While I could write anywhere (and did), I found myself truly productive in libraries.
All of that writing also led to other writing. Over the summer, I wrote or finished up 4 articles that will go out for peer review and several opinion pieces. After I finished the draft earlier this week, I found myself missing the activity of writing and wrote this for Huffingtonpost. I feel like I am on a writing train that won't stop and I am really okay with being on board.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
|Click for photo credit.|
As you know, almost all of the nations of the world signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, which sought an international agreement on climate change. The U.S. never ratified the treaty. In many ways, it was a bad treaty in that it didn't limit the greenhouse gas emissions of major polluters in the developing world. However, because the U.S. never agreed to the treaty, the U.S. became the "bad guy" in the climate change discourse, even though we are now no longer the #1 polluter. It sounds like the new agreement includes some broader assessment of all major polluters, not just those in the developed world.
The second article from the Huffingtonopost reports on the leaked IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that summarizes previous reports. The article notes that their is widespread agreement in the scientific community that climate change is occurring and causing dangerous conditions in various parts of the world. With time, conditions are expected to worsen.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
|Click for photo credit.|
I met Stewart several times. He was a legend in the area. He had a reputation as a no-holds barred advocate for the environment. With the Tampa Bay area doubling in population every 10 years during his time as head of the organization, he had to deal with issues like air pollution, wetlands protection, storm water pollution, and sewage treatment. It wasn't an easy job. He got fired after appearing on 60 Minutes, but was reinstated when it was clear that his firing was politically motivated. He called out politicians for their hypocrisy and shed light on bad practices. He was strident in the application of the rules established by local, state, and federal agencies. Many developers and polluters hated him for stopping projects or fining their polluting activities. However, everyone respected him. While many people were misusing the land during the boom years of the second half of the 20th century, Stewart was there trying to protect the area as best he could.
Stewart serves as a reminder to us that one person can make the world a better place--or at least keep it from being destroyed.