Nature Deficit Disorder: It’s a thing

View from Buzzard Rock in George Washington National Forest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently returned from a three day backpacking trip in a remote area of the George Washington National Forest. It was a much needed vacation from my urban-focused life, allowing me to reconnect with nature, and helping ward off symptoms of Nature Deficit Disorder. Yes, that is a thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the city, and actually prefer it to a rural or suburban lifestyle. But as someone who has also spent significant periods of their life residing in rural places, I recognize …read more

The Long Journey of Produce to Your Grocery Store

Summer fruits. (Photo credit: SFB579 :))

Seeing perfectly colored and ripe fruit and vegetables at the grocery store, it is easy to forget the long journey that they have travelled. In the United States, we are used to having access to any food we desire, whether or not it is in season or can be grown locally. Pineapples, bananas and berries are everyday items, regardless of where in the country you live.

A recent National Geographic article followed a load of strawberries from Watsonville, California, to their final destination in Washington, D.C. As the author, Daniel Stone, points out: …read more

Behavior Change and Plastic Bag Legislation

plastic bag nightmare 006 (Photo credit: Zainub)

Baltimore is one of a growing number of U.S. cities considering either imposing a tax on plastic bags, or banning them outright. Baltimore City Council has been debating the issue for almost 10 years now, most recently proposing adding a 10 cent tax. If the tax passes, Baltimore will join around 100 communities nationwide that have banned plastic disposable bags or banned them outright. But what would happen if this bill passed?

The Environment

Bag the Ban, a campaign to stop the taxes and bans nationwide that is run and paid for …read more

The Real Cost of a Cup of Joe

In New York City the average cost of a medium cup of coffee from your run of the mill corner deli is $1.00, at Dunkin Donuts it’s $1.60, and at the mega brand Starbucks it’s $1.99.

For coffee drinkers and non coffee drinkers alike that’s probably no shock. More than 80% of adults in the US drink coffee. There are literally millions of Americans that start their day with the dark brown liquid with and without cream and sugar, iced, or straight to the point as an expresso. Their daily fix is much less expensive than say, a nicotine addiction, …read more

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

26th Street, Baltimore, MD. Landslide aftermath.

Yesterday, May 1st, 2014, a huge amount of rain fell in Baltimore and caused a 120 year old retaining wall to collapse, sending cars, streetlights and sidewalk tumbling 75 feet down onto CSX rails. Thankfully no one was hurt, although houses on the block were evacuated. As the debris was being cleared up and more stories and videos of the collapse emerged, I was left with one burning question. Where did all this rain come from? Was it a freak occurrence, or should we be expecting more of the same?

Apparently Baltimore was …read more

Celebrating Earth Day

Cartoon by KAL, published in The Baltimore Sun

This past Tuesday, April 22nd, we celebrated 2014′s Earth Day. This global event first began in 1970, founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson. It was designed to rally support for increased protection of the environment, giving citizen the opportunity to express their concerns and put pressure on politicians.

Today, it is an occasion both to rally support and take time to consider our environmental impact, as individuals, nationally, and globally. Local initiatives here in Baltimore have included Baltimore Green Week, including talks, forums, volunteer events, and culminating in EcoFest on Saturday, 26th …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: How do I build a garden?

As reported in my last post, I obtained rights to build a community garden on a vacant lot from the City of Baltimore. But I have never actually gardened, and had no idea how to build a garden from scratch. After doing my homework, and looking into examples of urban gardens online and around the city, I had a better idea of where to start. So this is what I had to start with (see above). Not so great in the natural light department, but at least there wasn’t any trash to clean up!

The lot. 414 E 26th …read more

Deeper Than Fracking

UNspOILed has covered fracking–otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing twice in the last six months and this week’s post will make a third. The initial post is titled “Maryland’s Choice: Renewable Energy of Fracking?” and it explained many of the ways fracking would hurt rather than help the state of Maryland. The following month’s posting, titled “Who Gives A Frack?!” examined the process and attempted to give an unbiased explanation of its benefits and consequences.

This month, however, is about how and why those consequences manifest.

According to Reuters, “seismologist Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey said …read more

UN Climate Panel: Poor Will Suffer More from Climate Change

bangladesh flooding 1 (Photo credit: Peter Casier)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel, met in Japan earlier this week and released the second of three parts of a report to be published this year on the effects of climate change. The report attempts to discover the affects of climate change on human society in the coming decades. After September’s section of the report found climate change to be “the greatest challenge of our time,” what additional findings would the second part of the report offer?

The report found that unless we act to reduce carbon emissions …read more

Raising Awareness of Climate Change Through Art

Château des Ducs – Isaac Cordal (Photo credit: Objectif Nantes)

Climate change has long been one of our recurring topics here at UNspOILed – no surprise given its importance to the future of the environment. However, because it is such a frequent topic, it can be easy to ignore yet another article discussing it. With this kind of awareness fatigue, it becomes imperative to craft new and innovative ways of presenting the issue.

One innovative way is through art. An excellent example of this is the work of Isaac Cordal, an artist who constructs small but powerful scenes around …read more