environment | pg.4

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?

What’s Your Water Footprint?

Gaiam Staff by Gaiam Staff | March 21st, 2012 | No Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: agriculture, America, conserve, crops, drinking water, environment, fishing, flooding, grey water, infographic, job loss, lakes, numbers, outdoor tourism, reduce, river basins, rivers, statistics, streams, United States, water conservation, water footprint, water pollution, water quality, water table, water use, wildlife habitat, World Water Day

Water Footprint Did you know that the average American is responsible for the use of 751,777 gallons of water a year? (That’s enough water to fill more than 15 thousand bathtubs!) Or that depleting the water in rivers and streams can actually lead to flooding?

Sure, we could tell you all the facts about water use, but we’d rather show you, courtesy of this infographic from The Nature Conservancy and The Water Footprint Network.

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? 

Earth Hour 2012: Will Giving 60 Minutes for the Planet Matter?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | March 2nd, 2012 | 5 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Beyond the Hour, biofuels, carbon offsets, climate change, Earth Hour, environment, environmental awareness, fluorescent light bulbs, global-warming, Green Living, interconnectedness, nature, polar-bears, sea turtles, social-media, Tigers, travel, twitter, wildlife, World Watch Institute, World Wildlife Fund

Sea turtel

To support what’s being billed as the “largest environmental event in history,” all you have to do is turn off your lights for one hour on Saturday, March 31, at 8:30 p.m., your local time. That’s it. It’s probably the easiest thing you’ve ever been asked to do for the planet and the natural world.

The request is a simple one because the World Wildlife Fund, the organizer of Earth Hour, is counting on millions of other people to do the same thing in a cascade around the globe, from New Zealand to Hawaii. And by using the power of our digital interconnectedness throughout the world, it’s hoped we’ll make a bigger statement — via social media — to those in positions of power about our concern regarding the Earth’s changing climate and the effect it’s having, especially on wildlife such as polar bears, tigers and sea turtles.

But in the end, will Earth Hour — and the 60 minutes you spend in the dark — really make a difference?

Freaking Out Over a Juice Box

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | January 20th, 2012 | 4 Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: eco guilt, eco-friendly, environment, family, go green without guilt, green guilt, juice box, organic foods, perspectice, plastic bottle, plastic bottles, recyclable, recycling, save the planet, straw that broke the camel’s back

A friend recently reported to me that she was taken to task by a green-leaning colleague for selecting a juice box to drink at a networking function. Juice boxes, the eco-narc proclaimed, were NOT recyclable in their municipality. My friend sheepishly sucked on her tiny plastic straw, convinced that all her attempts to live green — riding her bicycle to work, growing her own organic produce — were wiped out by this one transgression.

Are Social Media Sites Fueling a Growing Disrespect for Wildlife?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | November 21st, 2011 | 25 Comments
topic: Eco Travel | tags: "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, bison, blue whale, Eco Travel, environment, ethics, facebook, Great Barrier Reef, humpback whales, kayakers, nature, nature photography, photography, social-media, southeast Alaska, Steller sea lions, taking pictures, travel, twitter, video, wild animals, wildlife, Yellowstone National Park, YouTube

zodiac with whale

Two kayakers paddling off Redondo Beach, south of Los Angeles, got the thrill of a lifetime recently — the kind that most of us will never experience. They met a blue whale, the largest creature on Earth.

The 50-foot cetacean came within arm’s reach of the small kayak. But, not content with this closest of encounters, Rick Coleman, one of the kayakers, plunged into the water for a face-to-face session with the whale — all the while keeping his video camera running. Of course, that video soon appeared on YouTube and the inevitable interviews on TV news shows followed.

In many of those interviews, the Colemans (Susan Coleman was the second kayaker) made the comment that it is important to remember to always approach wild animals with the “utmost respect.”

But is pulling your kayak up to a blue whale and then jumping into the water next to it showing respect for wildlife — or is it more indicative of a desire for renown?

The Little Things

DailyFeats by DailyFeats | October 27th, 2011 | 1 Comment
topic: Green Living, Personal Growth | tags: africa, Daily Feats, DailyFeats, environment, Green Belt Movement, Kenya, Nairobi, Nobel Peace Prize, positive action, positive change, reforestation, transformation, trees, Uhuru Park, Wangari Maathai

President Obama and Wangari MaathaiKenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Wangari Maathai wouldn’t suffer a single tree to be cut down for her coffin; her body was laid to rest in a casket made of hyacinth, papyrus and bamboo. At her funeral service this September in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, which she fought to save from obliteration by a 60-story skyscraper, her family planted a tree in her honor. That brings her total up to roughly thirty million and one.

As the founder of the Green Belt Movement — a reforestation project that paid impoverished Kenyan women to plant seedlings in order to renew the environment and increase their access to firewood and clean water — Maathai was responsible for the growth of some 30 million trees. Her battle with ovarian cancer ended on September 26; since then, environmentalists, feminists, and democracy advocates have voiced their grief and admiration.

Should the Wealthy Buy Wild Lands to Save Them?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | October 13th, 2011 | 45 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Canada lynx, conservation, Douglas Tompkins, Eco Travel, environment, environmental protection, environmentalism, environmentalist, French Polynesia, Marlon Brando, national parks, nature, parks, Paul Allen, preservation, private islands, Pumalin Park, Richard Bailey, Tetiaroa, Washington State, wild places, wildlife

Patagonia

When one of America’s best-known and finest actors, Marlon Brando, bought his own private island in 1966, people generally wrote the news off as just another eccentric act by the rich. Until his death in July 2004 at the age of 80, Brando “owned” Tetiaroa, a 2.5-square-mile atoll in the South Pacific, 37 miles north of Tahiti. (He obtained a 99-year lease to it from the French Polynesian government.)

Brando was a nature purist and hoped Tetiaroa would be part environmental laboratory — mostly for sea turtles — and part modest eco-resort. In a will he signed in 1982, he put Tetiaroa in a trust so it could be preserved for posterity. “If I have my way,” he once wrote in a memoir, “Tetiaroa will remain forever a place that reminds Tahitians of who they are and what they were centuries ago.” His wish was to keep the island from becoming overly developed and in as natural a state as possible.

Would You Live Next Door to a (Non-Human) Predator?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | September 16th, 2011 | 54 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: alaska, animals, bear attacks, biodiversity, bison, bison attack, coast, coastal habitats, Eco Travel, ecosystems, elk, encroach, encroachment, endangered-species, environment, food chain, forests, grizzly bears, habitat destruction, humans, Montana, mountains, National Science Foundation, nature, Nebraska, Northwoods, population, predators, sea otters, sea urchins, sharks, shellfish, terriroty, threatened species, travel, trophic cascade, wild, wild animals, wilderness, wildlife, wildlife corridors, wolf, wolf attack, wolves, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bears

This summer — like almost every summer for the past decade or so — was rife with headlines about people being assaulted by wild animals. “Seven teens attacked by grizzly in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains,” read a headline in the Anchorage Daily News on July 25, 2011. And, “Two teenagers have life-threatening injuries after being mauled by a grizzly bear while on a survival skills course in the Alaskan wilderness,” the first line of a Guardian feature informed us.

The italics on the words “mountains” and “wilderness” above, however, are mine. I think it noteworthy where these events took place. Against our ever-increasing penchant for developing remote areas and fragmenting wildlife corridors, the world’s largest predators have been squeezed onto smaller and smaller pockets, with nowhere to go but the mountains and the wilderness. Today, grizzlies, wolves, tigers and lions are having trouble finding room to be grizzlies, wolves, tigers and lions. And, without them, our planet is in big trouble.

Are You Willing to Lose Trees to Gain Views?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | August 16th, 2011 | 6 Comments
topic: Eco Travel | tags: Ansel Adams, bats, birds, British Columbia, conservation, cutting trees, Eco Travel, ecology, El Capitan, environment, giant sequoias, Half Dome, John Muir, nature, protection, scenic views, Scenic Vista Management Plan, tourists, travel, trees, Tunnel View, visitors, waterfalls, wildlife, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

“These darn trees are in the way of my view of nature,” joked one of my guides on a trip to British Columbia a few years back. We had stopped during a hike on a forested esker and were trying to look through the woods to a lake far below. We couldn’t see it through the dense foliage. Of course, his comment made us all laugh. Little did we know then that such an absurd idea would years later — this fall, in fact — become a reality in Yosemite National Park.

Starting later this year, thousands of trees will be cut down in Yosemite to provide better views of the famous granite faces, such as El Capitán and Half Dome, and the breathtaking waterfalls, such as Bridalveil or Yosemite Falls, that ring the valley. But the sounds of lumberjacks and the sights of downed trees — felled only for the purpose of providing better photo ops — are somehow discomfiting in a national park, prompting some to ask, “Why must so many succumb to the saw?”