Taking the Reigns: How Much Evidence Is Enough to Ignite Change?

On Wednesday, the journal of Environmental Science and Technology published a study that found high levels of radioactivity, salts and metals in the water and sediments downstream from a fracking wastewater plant on Blacklick Creek in western Pennsylvania. Sediment in the creek contained Radium in concentrations 200 times above normal, which are above radioactive waste disposal threshold regulations and pose potential environmental risks. As reported in Bloomberg:

“The absolute levels that we found are much higher than what you allow in the U.S. for any place to dump radioactive material,” Avner Vengosh, a professor at the Nicholas School of …read more

Sweaty & Thirsty? Turn Your Sweat Into Purified Drinking Water

According to the United Nations, 780 million people lack access to drinking water worldwide. Around 125 million children currently do not have safe water to drink and thousands die each day as a result. While we’ve been basking in a stifling heat wave that causes one to constantly perspire and imbibe gallons of cold liquids to avoid dehydration, UNICEF has been promoting a machine that turns human sweat into potable water in an effort to raise awareness of the lack of clean water in many parts of the world.

While you might be squeamish about the idea of drinking water …read more

The Sky Isn’t Falling…The Land Is.

English: The last house on Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay as it stood in October 2009. This house fell into the bay in October 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Had Chicken Licken lived on the Chesapeake Bay, she may have cried that the land, not the sky is falling. She would have been right. Sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay are rising. They’re rising faster than the global average. And the land underneath the bay is simultaneously, albeit slowly, sinking. How you ask?

I’m going to pause for a brief geological history lesson. During the last ice age, glaciers …read more

Communicating Climate Change

Storm (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

 

The aloof among us aside, you’ve probably noticed that the weather has gone rather haywire; unleashing unseasonable storms, droughts, temperatures and weather patterns across the globe. I suspect that some of us are enjoying the climate’s abnormality more than others.

Weather’s increasing temper-tantrums have generated a flurry of media coverage reflecting the overlays of fear and disempowerment that dominate much of our thoughts around climate change, with headlines spewing ominous warnings that suggest increasing velocity and imminence of Earth’s decay. Not a great motivator for behavior change.

In fact, much of way the media, …read more

Going Green this spring with DC Greenworks

DLR rain garden

I found an easy way to go Green, while beautifying my yard; I signed up for the DC Greenworks program and was treated to a beautiful garden of indigenous flowers. The program is a partnership between DC Greenworks, the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) and the District Department of the Environment RiverSmart. DC Greenworks has installed rain gardens for DC residents meant to capture rainwater runoff from impervious surface areas, including rooftops, paved streets, parking lots and compacted lawns.

It was easy to sign up for the program and I’d encourage you to check with your local Department of Environment …read more

Create Nutrient-Rich Soils to Sustain Neighborhoods, Businesses & Ecosystems

Steaming compost (Photo credit: SuperFantastic)

We already know that Americans waste a lot of food. In 2010 alone, more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated, with only three percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.

Harnessing the power of food-scraps through composting would remove millions of tons from the waste stream while generating rich nutrients for your garden. But, let’s face it turning our food waste into rich nutrients has not always been easy, especially for city dwellers.

Fortunately, sustainable waste management roots appear to be taking hold here in Maryland. While nationally only 3 …read more

Tapping the Power of Offshore Wind

English: Vestas V90-3MW wind turbine of the Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm, Thames Estuary. www.kentishflats.co.uk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America lags behind Europe and Asia in its adoption of clean, renewable energy production. Offshore wind power is no exception. Since 1991, offshore wind farms have been successfully generating electricity in European waters. While there are now more than 1,662 offshore wind turbines generating power for European electric users, the first wind turbine in U.S. waters has yet to be installed. This is particularly striking, given that there is enough wind along the U.S. East Coast to power at least one-third …read more

Water Shortages: Slow Motion Disaster Spurs Community-Based Cooperative Solutions

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.”

–John Muir

Water islands (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Water is our most intimate resource – our bodies are between 60 and 70 percent water. We use water to grow our food, generate our power, manufacture our clothes, and move our waste stream. But water, like most resources, is finite.

While the amount of freshwater on the planet has remained fairly constant over time—continually recycled through the atmosphere and back into …read more

Visualizing the World: 7 Billion People, 1 Urban City.

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The Night Lights of Planet Earth (Photo credit: woodleywonderworks)

Globalization has further blurred the lines between urban and rural. In fact, it can be argued that the the entire world is a single urban entity laden with economic, social, and cultural problems including the scarcity of national resources and infrastructure, the exponential increase of inhabitants, pollution, economic division and unplanned urban sprawl. Advances in technology, exploration of sustainable systems and new urban and architectural methods have the potential to solve these problems. The question is where to start?

What if you could connect the world’s land use, population density, …read more

Feed Your Stomach, Not The Landfill

A rectangular Styrofoam food container (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love to dine out, but I’m not a member of the clean plate club and rarely finish what is on my plate. That being said, I lived for three and half years in Guayana’s hinterland, which instilled in me a firm ethos – leave no food behind. So when I eat out, more often than not I wind up requesting a box for my leftovers. Sometimes, my to-go box is made of recycled plastic, or other bio-material, such as mushrooms. More frequently, my leftovers …read more