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

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

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

From Research to Change: The importance of communicating effectively

In a recent interview in The New York Times, the actor Alan Alda discusses how he combined his career in acting and interest in science to help start The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, located at Stony Brook University. He notes the importance of scientists learning how to effectively talk about their work:

Image of Alan Alda taken at the World Science Festival launch press conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“[…] Scientists often don’t speak to the rest of us the way they would if we were standing there full of curiosity. They sometimes spray information at us without …read more

Can National Governments Lead the Way On Limiting Climate Change?

English: President Barack Obama talks at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, President Obama called on the US government to lead by example and increase its use of renewable energy. The goal is for each government agency to get 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, which would nearly triple the current usage standards. In recent years, the US government has been notable for its inaction on environmental issues, and climate scientists have been frustrated by a lack of positive legislation, but recent moves by the Obama administration have …read more

How to Talk to a Climate Change Denier

Environmental advocates do a lot of things right; their level of enthusiasm, devotion and innovation are incredible. But one thing they often struggle with is communicating their message to those who do not agree with them. Those who work to stop the effects of climate change are often disregarded as leftist radicals who lack a solid grounding. Much of that comes from the way in which many of them try to communicate their message.

Following is a video of George Marshall of the Climate Outreach & Information Network, based in the UK. He is working to change the way in …read more

To Avoid Serious Damages of Climate Change We Need Intergovernmental Cooperation NOW!

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On September 27th the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first part of their report, called AR5, on “the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.” More than 840 scientists convened in Stockholm to complete the report, and came to the conclusion that not only is climate change definitely happening, but that they are 95% sure that humans are the ones who should be held responsible. Additional sections of the report, to be released in 2014, will investigate …read more

The Moment We Have All Been Waiting For? Obama on Climate Change

Obama_sweating_bullets (Photo credit: Floyd Brown)

Obama’s speech at Georgetown University in June shocked many environmental advocates, in a good way. For the first time Obama stated that he would not approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline if it significantly increases climate pollution.

This was a shock to many because of the previous inaction by the federal government on the issue of climate change (see Congress’s failure to pass cap and trade) since Obama’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions. Now, there are many more positive signs coming from the White House.

At the Georgetown speech, Obama laid out …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