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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

If you need a little inspiration as end of the semester work intensifies, head on over to the Goldman Environmental Prize website, where today the 2010 winners were announced:

Thuli Brilliance Makama, Swaziland
Tuy Sereivathana, Cambodia
Małgorzata Górska, Poland
Humberto Ríos Labrada, Cuba
Lynn Henning, United States
Randall Arauz, Costa Rica

“Grassroots environmental heroes too often go unrecognized. Yet their efforts to protect the world’s natural resources are increasingly critical to the well-being of the planet we all share. Thus, in 1990 San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman (1924-1996) created the Goldman Environmental Prize. The Goldman Prize continues today with its original mission to annually honor grassroots environmental heroes from the six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. . . . The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.” —Goldman Environmental Prize

Every year the winners remind us just how much can be accomplished by individuals committed to protecting the environment and their communities. They also remind me of folks in our own community doing great work providing psychological services to communities in disaster areas, establishing environmental studies education in Rwanda, helping small businesses develop sustainable practices, among so many others.

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I think many folks at ANE would agree with the premise of the video below–especially our solid waste coordinator and vermicomposter extraordinaire, Jess Skinner.

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Celebrating its 20th year, the Goldman Environmental Prize has announced the 2009 winners, selected for their grassroots activism in “protecting endangered ecosystems and species, combating destructive development projects, promoting sustainability, influencing environmental policies and striving for environmental justice. Prize winners are often women and men from isolated villages or inner cities who chose to take great personal risks to safeguard the environment.”

This year’s winners are:

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The New York Times Magazine has published their 2009 green issue. Articles include, “Why Isn’t the Brain Green?” and “Natural Happiness.”

The New York Times requires free registration/login. If you’d like an alternative to this and you use FireFox for your browser, consider installing the BugMeNot add-on. BugMeNot allows you to right-click in the login box for the New York Times (or any other free registration/logins) and choose “Login with BugMeNot” automatically inserting logins submitted by other users.

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You’ve probably seen the earlier version of this video. The updated 2008 version (5 minutes long) is below. The information presented is mind boggling. Do you have an answer for the question posed at the end?

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As unlikely as it sounds, termites might provide a partial solution to our energy needs. Lisa Margonelli reports in The Atlantic:

But where humans have failed, the termite succeeds—spectacularly. A worker termite tears off a piece of wood with its mandibles and lets its guts work on it like a molecular wrecking yard, stripping away sugars, CO2, hydrogen, and methane with 90 percent efficiency. The little biorefineries inside each termite allow the insects to eat up $11 billion in U.S. property every year. But some scientists and policy makers believe they may also make the termite a sort of biotech Rumpelstiltskin, able to spin straw—or grass, or wood by-products—into something much more valuable. Offer a termite this page, and its microbial helpers will break it down into two liters of hydrogen, enough to drive more than six miles in a fuel-cell car. If we could turn wood waste into fuel with even a fraction of the termite’s efficiency, we could run our economy on sawdust, lawn clippings, and old magazines.

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It’s convenient. It’s pervasive. And it’s filling our oceans.

Plastic.

At World Changing, Anna Cummins writes about the work of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF).

Enormous quantities of plastic trash enter our oceans daily through watersheds, rivers, storm drains and more. We estimate approximately 10,000 pounds of plastic a day flow into the Pacific from Los Angeles alone. Once at sea, these plastics accumulate in massive, rotating oceanic currents called “gyres,” and are the source of countless environmental nightmares–from sea birds choking on toothbrushes and cigarette lighters, to microscopic particles attracting toxins like PCBs and DDT before being consumed by fish. (Which leads me to ask: is there plastic in my sushi?)

The “massive bowl of plastic soup” that AMRF researches is the the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. For additional information, you can listen to NPR’s Scott Simon interview oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer, or read about it at How Stuff Works.

If you’d like to share this story with children, check out Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion. And if you’re interested in reducing your plastic consumption and use, Lucy Siegle has some advice for you, in “Is It Possible to Go Plastic-free?”

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