Rio+20: the Earth Summit that wasn't

Article: Rio+20: the Earth Summit that wasn't

Did you know that there was a big meeting of world leaders and environmental organizations last week in Brazil? It’s OK if you didn’t: judging from the outcomes, neither did most of the participants. Billed as “Rio+20,” a recognition of the monumental Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, this meeting could only come up with a reaffirmation of the goals set at the earlier event. That’s right: three days of meetings involving 100 world leaders and 50,000 participants total could only say “Yes to what we said twenty years ago.”

EXTINCTION: It's all around us

Article: EXTINCTION: It's all around us

How long will it take a plastic bottle or bag to biodegrade? How long will it take for greenhouse gas emissions to raise atmospheric temperature 2-4 degrees? How long can we ensure the safe storage of nuclear waste? All of these questions are central to current environmental debates, and, of course, all involve consequences that none of us will live to see. The “seventh generation” approach to judging our actions gives us a sense of the long view, but may not ultimately provide a ton of motivation: we don’t know those people, after all.

Of course, not all environmental issues revolve around long-term impacts: it’s taken a relatively short amount of time to create ocean dead zones because of increasing nitrogen pollution, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from larger amount of plastic in our waste streams. We’ll see other species go extinct in our own lifetimes while we watch our own population balloon. Sure, we should consider the needs of future generations, but we can look around ourselves right now and see the consequences of refusing to consider ourselves a part of the greater natural order.

St Matthew Island: what happened to 29 reindeer?

Article: St Matthew Island: what happened to 29 reindeer?

“St Matthew Island” is a parable based on a true historical event that asks, “What happens when you introduce 29 reindeer to an isolated island of untouched natural resources?” It’s told in an online comic format by Stuart McMillen and is an awesome quick read. [Via]

Sundance environmental films: nature and the journey

Article: Sundance environmental films: nature and the journey

Stories involving journeys through mysterious, and potentially hostile, natural environments are as old as… well, stories themselves. This year’s Sundance Film Festival features two such narratives in the Spotlight category: Christopher Munch’s LETTERS FROM THE BIG MAN, and Kelly Reichardt’s MEEK’S CUTOFF. Though quite different in terms of historical setting, each bases its narrative on a trip into the wilderness… and the struggles and discoveries (both internal and external) inevitably accompany such undertakings.

Environmental education now required in Maryland schools

Article: Environmental education now required in Maryland schools

Environmental education initiatives are popping up at schools around the US; few places, however, require them. The state of Maryland yesterday joined Washington as one of the exceptions to this rule: according to the Baltimore Sun, “The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to make environmental education a part of every student’s education…”

Smart wastebasket

Article: Smart wastebasket

In my bachelor pad, I demonstrate my eco-friendly greenness by reusing plastic grocery bags as a substitute wastebasket. Or at least that’s what I like to say in public. I appreciate and desire good design obviously, but the real reason for my plastic bag usage is that I’m lazy when it comes to furnishing my…

The environment as art studio: Nexus' "Ground Play"

Article: The environment as art studio: Nexus' "Ground Play"

Ground Play: NEXUS at The Schuylkill Center from Jennie Thwing on Vimeo.

Most environmental art exhibits and displays take place in fairly conventional settings: galleries, museums, or coffee shops. Nexus, a Philadelphia-based artist collective, has accepted an invitation from the the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education to use its Brolo Hill Farm site as both studio and exhibition space in order to “consider both the agricultural and cultural conditions that might have existed on the site when the farm was active, and examines the implications of those dynamics in today’s environmental climate.”

Visions of the Earth

Article: Visions of the Earth

I did a double take at this photograph taken by Amit Dave that was published by the National Geographic as part of their “Visions of Earth” series which features breathtaking photos from around the world “as seen through a photographer’s eye.” National Geographic explains this photo above: Parched people mob a vast well in the…

Big Picture: Earth Hour 2010

Article: Big Picture: Earth Hour 2010

Favorite photo blog The Big Picture at the Boston Globe posted a gorgeous series of 26 before-and-after photographs from cities around the world participating in this year’s Earth Hour where lights are turned off for an hour on Saturday March 27 at 8:30 PM local time to “to raise awareness about climate change and the…

Earth Hour: 5 landmarks that will go dark on Saturday

Article: Earth Hour: 5 landmarks that will go dark on Saturday

On Saturday, March 27th, at 8:30 local time, the lights will go out in millions of homes, businesses, and schools in celebration of Earth Hour 2010. Started in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour is now a global event organized by WWF in which people show their support for environmental action by turning off the lights for one hour. This year, 120 countries and territories will take part in this show of solidarity (up from 88 last year).

Sustainability books: Cambridge ranks the top 50

Article: Sustainability books: Cambridge ranks the top 50

Got a favorite book on sustainability? One that changed your view of our relationship to the environment? In my case, Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael series, and Ray Anderson’s Mid-Course Correction all opened my eyes to ideas of more sustainable relationships between the economy and the environment.

Trend-spotting at Sundance Film Festival 2010

Article: Trend-spotting at Sundance Film Festival 2010

Image from HOWL

Journalists at film festivals invariably find themselves with the task of connecting the dots among dozens of disparate movies — looking for the big picture, whether in the form of a new fad or a larger cultural moment (e.g., last year’s elusive search, during a Sundance that coincided with a historic inauguration, for the quintessential Obama movie). Expect lots of trend-spotting once Sundance 2010 kicks off on Thursday night, and expect these three topics to get plenty of play:

Sundance environmental films: the natural environment

Article: Sundance environmental films: the natural environment

They’re big! They’re ugly! And they might give you warts! They’re cane toads… in 3D! Mark Lewis’ CANE TOADS: THE CONQUEST, which premieres at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, isn’t your typical nature documentary. This follow-up to 1988′s CANE TOADS: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY portrays the “horror” of an invasive species with a heavy dose of comedy, but still provides a provocative illustration of the ecological damage a non-native “invader” can wreak. Imported to Australia in the 1930s to deal with pests decimating the Queensland sugar crop, cane toads represent “Australia’s most notorious environmental blunder”: they didn’t eat the Greyback Cane Beetles, but did multiply like crazy…

Root for Trees

Article: Root for Trees

On a typical day in NYC you walk by as many as 45 different species of trees, but can you name more than one of them? Far from launching another demanding and guilt-ridden campaign for a charity, Jessica Schweifel, founder of Root for Trees, is asking very little of New Yorkers this year. All she wants…

Environment & religion: Middle Eastern bloggers cross faith lines

Article: Environment & religion: Middle Eastern bloggers cross faith lines

Despite its rich history and culture, when Westerners think of the Middle East, two things likely come to mind: oil production and religious conflict. A small group of bloggers and journalists from the region, and from Islamic, Jewish, and Christian faith backgrounds, are out to address those perceptions, as well as the real issues behind them, by gathering in Jordan on December 20-21. Responding specifically to the United Nations’ call for more reporting on environmental issues in the region, the bloggers will discuss a range of topics, including “…activism, design, urban health, religion, and clean technologies.

Environmental education and at-risk kids: 4 programs making a difference

Article: Environmental education and at-risk kids: 4 programs making a difference

If you’ve read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, or looked into the detail of “No Child Left Inside” legislation and initiatives,you know that broad health issues (obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and even depression), and concern over environmental awareness, tend to drive the idea of getting kids outdoors more. For a number of programs around the country, though, the stakes are even higher: environmental education is becoming an integral part of working with kids at risk of falling into lives of crime, addiction, and poverty (which make the above-mentioned health issues a bigger likelihood).

Time Freaking Magazine covers green sex accessories

Article: Time Freaking Magazine covers green sex accessories

Earth Angel Hand-Powered Vibe featured in Time’s eco sex piece Damn it! Why, or why, didn’t we get off our asses and pitch Time the “Sex and the Eco City” piece in this week’s issue? It’s all stuff we’ve covered before! [Shameless self-promotion alert:] Vegan condoms? Check. Hand-powered vibrators? Check. JimmyJane products? Check. Phthalates? Check?…

The Red Rock Wilderness Act: Our Chance to Be Present at the Creation

Article: The Red Rock Wilderness Act: Our Chance to Be Present at the Creation

This week marks an historic turning point for people who love the wild canyon country and sweeping mesas of Southern Utah. For the first time, the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands will consider a bill designed to protect millions of acres of spectacular Utah lands as wilderness.

All of these lands—some of the last great places on earth—are owned by the public, but most of them remain vulnerable to industrial development. America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would protect them from oil and gas development, uranium mining, and off-road vehicle use. Meanwhile, hunters, anglers, hikers, and families could continue to enjoy them, including the renowned Cedar Mesa, San Rafael Swell, and the Book Cliffs.

This is our chance to be present at the creation. If we pass the Red Rock Wilderness Act, we can tell our grandchildren we helped birth the latest Yellowstone. We can say we preserved treasures equal to Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks. We can add to the wilderness inheritance of future generations, and they will thank us for it.

Teddy Kennedy's environmental legacy

Article: Teddy Kennedy's environmental legacy

As commentators, politicians, and friends mourn the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, much of the discussion has focused on the issue that the Senator himself described as “the cause of my life”: health care reform. A tweet from fellow green blogger Chris Baskind reminded me that Kennedy also had a strong record on environmental issues.…

Berlin brothel encourages johns to go green

Article: Berlin brothel encourages johns to go green

photo by Tony the Misfit

Urban Outfitters aren’t the only ones trying to make bicycles sexier. A brothel in Berlin, Germany, where prostitution is legal, is now offering discounts to customers who arrive by bike or a verifiable form of public transportation: 5 euros off a 70-euro 45-minute sesh.

Celebrate the Earth with HOME, a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Article: Celebrate the Earth with HOME, a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

HOME is a travel notebook, showing landscapes captured from a bird’s eye view above. This film calls for a new awareness, inviting the viewer to stop for a moment in order to look at our planet and realize how we treat her treasures and her beauty.

Directed by internationally renowned French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, produced by world famous director Luc Besson and narrated by five-time Academy Award® nominee Glenn Close, HOME aims to change the way people see the planet and their impact on it. Shot in high definition in 54 countries and 120 locations over 217 days, the unique and first-time ever all-aerial filming style highlights the Earth’s wonders as well as its wounds and provides a necessary perspective to approach the changing environment.

Fighting for space

Article: Fighting for space

This graphic visualization posted by the Daily Dish depicts the amount of street space taken up by different modes of transportation–bicycle, car, and bus–per person. As this demonstrates, cars are not only a crime against the environment but one could argue, also against the availability of the urban public space, which is so crucial to…

10 futuristic green corporate buildings

Article: 10 futuristic green corporate buildings

Some of these buildings exist only on paper (or rather a computer hard drive), but this is a list of 10 large office buildings “that are not only bold, beautiful and futuristic, but ‘green’ too.” I’m especially impressed by the “Cactus Building,” a new government building in Doha, Qatar. As the name suggests, it “draws…

Kill your toxic vibrator today

Article: Kill your toxic vibrator today

photo: Little Chromas by Jimmyjane In honor of Earth Day, high-end sex toy creator Jimmyjane is asking you to kill your toxic vibe: post of photo or a description on their Facebook page by next Wed, April 29th, of what they’re calling a “decommissioning ceremony” of any crap sex toy you may have (i.e. it’s…

Rock It Green: 3 musical acts with an environmental message

Article: Rock It Green: 3 musical acts with an environmental message

Sure, you’ve heard about environmental efforts by Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, and Neil Young. But Eco Elvis? That’s right, babuh: a handful of lesser-known acts have gone “all green all the time,” with music focused on lightening their (and our) footprint on the planet. Eco Elvis: “Born” in 1997, this Kansas City-based Elvis impersonator has…