climate change

Are There Too Many Climate Change Deniers in Congress?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | January 14th, 2014 | 3 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: carbon emissions, climate change, democrat, environment, extinction, global-warming, Greenland, health, icebergs, Industrial Revolution, nature, ocean health, republican, travel, wellness

Recently, while reading the November/December 2013 issue of Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, I came across a graphic that startled me. It depicted two columns, labeled “House” and “Senate.” Under each of those titles were two more columns, showing the number of Democrats and Republicans in each branch of the legislature that are climate change deniers. Under the House section were 200 Democrats; none were listed as climate change deniers. Of the 233 Republicans, 128 deny climate change.

In the Senate, there were 52 Democrats (with two Independents), again with 0 climate change deniers. Of the 46 Republicans, 30 deny that the world is warming.

My goal here is not to cast aspersions on any one party but to look at the big picture. It is possible that we can make strides to protect the planet against the devastating effects caused by rapid climate change if our leadership fails to believe it is real?

Should Animals on the Brink of Extinction Be Used to Promote Tourism?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | November 25th, 2013 | 9 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: African elephants, animals, Antarctica, at-risk species, Belize, Canada, Churchill, climate change, Eco Travel, ecotourism, Egypt, endangered-species, environment, extinction, extinction tourism, Galápagos Islands, glaciers, global-warming, habitat destruction, Madagascar, Manitoba, natural-habitat-adventures, nature, poaching, polar-bears, rainforest, Tanzania, tourism, tourists, travel, travelers, UNESCO, wildlife, wolves, Yellowstone National Park

Greenland big ice

I have to admit it: last year, my traveling to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to see polar bears in the wild was motivated not only by a 10-year anniversary but by a fear that soon the animals could be gone. I go to see glaciers because I’m afraid we’re losing them. And this coming January, I’m returning to Yellowstone National Park to try to photograph our nation’s wolves before they almost completely disappear in the Lower 48 — again.

You could call me an “extinction tourist.”

I’m far from unique. In fact, today people are traveling in ever-greater numbers to see what they think could quickly vanish from the Earth. While just a few years ago travelers might have endeavored to tick off all seven continents or Africa’s Big Five wildlife species, today there’s a certain “cred” given to those who see the landscapes, animals and plants that are just managing to hang on. And tour providers are tapping into that desire with their marketing messages. “See [fill in your favorite endangered animals] before they’re gone!”

But should tourism companies use threatened species as marketing tools? Given our ability to tune out ads, does that minimize the dire circumstances that these animals and environments are now in and dilute the attention that conservation messages might have been able to muster?

Has Earth Day Lost Its Appeal?

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | April 19th, 2013 | No Comments
topic: Green Living, Green Tech | tags: bikeshare, carbon-footprint, carshare, clean energy, climate change, Earth Day, Earth Month, economic issues, energy efficient, environment, environmental issues, EPA, fossil fuel, Green Living, hybrid cars, plastic bags, politics, radio show, recycle, reduce, renewable-energy, reusable grocery bags, reuse, save money, solar panels, wind energy, wind turbines

Earth Day

I recently did an interview with a local radio station. I’d been invited on to talk about Earth Month and what we can do in our homes to reduce our carbon footprint.

I offered up my usual advice — neither new nor glamorous, but nonetheless worth repeating. We must, I said, remember that the three Rs start with “reduce.” We absolutely must reduce our consumption of fossil-fuel-burning energy. And then I outlined how incredibly simple — as well as economically sound — this is. If you’re doing it right, I said, living green should, overall, save you money.

The radio interviewer interrupted. “Hasn’t Earth Day lost its appeal?” he asked. “Didn’t it used to be trendy? Don’t you worry now that no one cares?”

Bringing Back Departed Species: Is De-Extinction a Good Idea?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | April 19th, 2013 | 1 Comment
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, burcado, Chinese river dolphins, climate change, clone, cloning, de-extinction, dinosaurs, DNA, Eco Travel, environment, ethics, extinct, extinction, frogs, gastric brooding frog, genetics, habitat, habitat destruction, harm to wildlife, Jurassic Park, loss of habitat, natural habitats, nature, oryx, passsenger pigeon, poaching, Pyrenean ibex, reintroduction of wildlife, science, species extinction, Tasmanian tiger, technology, wildlife poaching, woolly mammoth

Frog on a leaf

The image of the woolly mammoth, saber-toothed cat and dodo bird stepping out of a beaker on the cover of National Geographic’s April issue says it all. Science has found a way to bring back some long-extinct species — or at least, facsimiles of them.

In truth, the goat-like bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, is the only extinct animal scientists have actually revived. In 2003, biologists managed to clone an offspring from frozen skin cells from the last survivor, which died in 2000. The clone, however, lived for only a few minutes after its birth. Since then, advances in cloning technology have made it possible to bring back any species if there is a remnant of DNA.

But with so many habitat pressures on the wild species that are already here and with so many on the brink of extinction, is bringing back those we’ve already lost a good idea?

Idle Worship

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | March 4th, 2013 | No Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: AIDS orphans, anxious, apple, at-risk girls, baby building, barriers to productive, bike, bike trailers, books, burn-out, busy, busy people, busyness, climate change, concerts, creation, dinners with friends, down and up, education, eureka, exciting lives, father, get-ahead friends, goof around, google, growth, home, idleness, incubation, inspiration, kids, lazy days, marathon, not enough, not enough time, parents, parties, pet owner, play, popular, puritans, strength, the busy trap, tim kreider, time in demand, tired, toddlers, travel, wife, work commitments, work ethic, writers, yin and yang, youth

“Busy” has become the anthem of the anxious. And yet, when asked, most are hard-pressed to say what, exactly, they’re so busy doing. They shrug and say, “you know, with kids,” or an even more vague, “Not enough hours in the day.”

There was a time I envied those “busy” people. Thanks to a youth spent largely ignored by my more-popular peers, I equated “busy” with “popular.” At home with my books, I imagined “busy” meant parties and concerts, dinners with friends, and interesting work commitments. The lives of “busy” people struck me as exciting. Their time was in demand, and their busyness seemed an indictment of my own busy-less life.

Artificial Reefs: Ocean Junk or Help for an Endangered Ecosystem?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | February 8th, 2013 | 8 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: climate change, coral reefs, Eco Travel, environment, environmental awareness, environmental impact, environmental toxins, Florida, green, Green Living, Gulf of Mexico, health, marine creatures, marine environment, marine habitat, nature, New York, ocean, ocean health, PCBs, reefs, save the environment, travel, World Wildlife Fund

Sea turtle

Coral reefs around the world are in trouble. According to the World Wildlife Fund, about one-quarter of coral reefs are considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat. Some suffer from heavy fishing pressures, while others are succumbing to pollution or careless tourism. Climate change, with its attendant rising sea temperatures, is exacerbating the problem, speeding coral deaths.

More than half a billion people live near corals, relying on them for food, shelter from storm surges and the income that tourism brings. With natural reefs diminishing, artificial reefs are increasingly gaining favor. These structures usually take the form of sunken ships, decrepit oil platforms or other human trash.

But is depositing more human refuse in the oceans in order to create artificial reefs healthy for the environment — and for us?

Is Another Mass Extinction Imminent?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | September 27th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: Anthony Barnosky, biodiversity, birds, climate change, conservation, conservation efforts, die-off, Eco Travel, endangered, endangered animals, endangered-species, environment, extinction, frogs, global-warming, habitat fragmentation, International Union for Conservation of Nature, invasive species, IUCN Red List, loss of habitat, nature, science, scientists, species extinction, Tigers, travel

Pronghorn in Yellowstone National Park

We could be on the brink of a mass extinction — the Earth’s sixth — according to a paper published last year in the journal Nature. First author Anthony Barnosky, an integrative biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, says Earth has experienced five mass extinctions during the past 540 million years, and another extinction could be around the corner. During each of the five previous events, three-quarters or more of the world’s animal species died out. One of the mass extinctions — which occurred 65 million years ago — ended the dinosaurs.

Some say, however, that this isn’t much cause for alarm. Species have always come and gone over long periods of time; and given the five mass extinctions we’ve already had, it’s a natural event. But will this sixth one be a “different animal”? 

Is Neuro-Conservation the New Hope for Environmental Messages?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | April 24th, 2012 | 12 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: attention deficit disorder, climate change, conservation, Eco Travel, environment, environmental media, environmentalism, forests, fossil fuels, global-warming, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, green, Green Living, green settings, happiness, health, HOPE, hopeful, hopefulness, nature, neuro-conservation, public health, travel, well-being, wellness

Letourneau Creek

Big wads of plastic in the ocean that stretch for miles and disintegrating polar ice caps are the kind of news stories that tend to make us feel hopeless regarding conservation efforts. Why bother to change our light bulbs to compact fluorescents if our planet’s imminent demise is a speeding train that can’t be stopped?

The reason we have these feelings is probably the work of environmentalists themselves. They’re sending the wrong messages, if you ascribe to the new field of neuro-conservation.

Instead of focusing the spotlight on results of scientific studies that prove our planet is rapidly warming, or on statistics about alarming species extinction rates, they should be talking about how an ocean view will make us feel happy or standing among trees will arouse our feelings of peacefulness.

After all, selling us emotions is what marketing professionals have been doing for decades. They know that we don’t just buy a car; we buy how that car makes us feel — wealthier, greener or more in control. Using the tenets of neuro-conservation may just be the boost that environmentalists need to gain support for their causes in a world that’s overrun with more scientific data than we know what to do with — or pay attention to.

Going Geothermal with Ground Source Heat

E.B. Boyd by E.B. Boyd | March 29th, 2012 | 1 Comment
topic: Green Living, Green Tech | tags: carbon emissions, clean energy, climate change, Department of Energy, electricity, energy efficiency, energy efficiency rebates, environment, fossil fuels, geoexchange system, geothermal, geothermal system, global-warming, green energy, green home, green incentives, ground source heat pump, GSHP, HVAC, renewable-energy, solar-power, sustainability, tax incentives, the grid, wind power

geothermal heat

Sure, you’ve thought about adding solar panels to your roof as a way of reducing your home’s carbon footprint. Maybe you’ve even given wind power a gander. But what about ground source heat pumps?

Hydropower Dams: Clean Energy Source or Threat to Wildlife?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | March 17th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: American Rivers, bald eagles, carbon dioxide levels, carbon emissions, clean energy, climate change, damming, dams, electricity, environment, fish, fossil fuel emissions, fossil fuels, global-warming, Hetch Hetchy Valley, hydropower, increasing energy demands, renewable, river otters, salmon, save the environment, water, waterways, wildlife watching, Yosemite National Park

Bald Eagle

Your city or town probably either has a large, brand-new hydropower dam or you know of an old one, located on the outskirts; a crumbling relic from an earlier period in your state’s history. I know this because according to the national nonprofit conservation organization American Rivers, on average our country has constructed one dam every day since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers counts approximately 75,000 dams that are greater than six feet along the waterways of the United States. In addition, there are at least tens of thousands of smaller dams spanning our rivers and streams.

Whichever version of the structure is in your area, it seems that dams divide us. While some regard them as a clean energy source, others view them as a danger to river otters and fish populations.

So, are our dams good for the environment, or a threat to wildlife?