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

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

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

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

Harboring Hope

The Waterfront Partnership has proclaimed the goal of making the Baltimore Harbor Swimmable and Fishable by 2020. Specifically, they intend – along with support from local nonprofits, business leaders, city officials and harbor advocates – to turn the currently polluted and trash strewn Harbor into a place where marine life thrives, the water is clean enough to swim, and the public health threat is removed.

The Value of Knowing Where You Are

The Waterfront Partnership released the most comprehensive report ever on the harbor’s water quality – the grade was a C-, admittedly with a large curve, indicating water …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

Can America Be Energy Independent?

Fracking’s Radioactive Dumping Ground (Photo credit:

The vision of an energy independent America has become a popular topic in the political arena. It has become part of the President’s platform, while media pundits tempt us with this dream. But can it actually happen?

Simply put, no. Unless the President decided to nationalize all of America’s energy companies, energy independence is something that could never exist in a free-market capitalist system. Yet we constantly hear about the plethora of energy options that big energy companies are moving forward to create an energy independent America.

It is one big marketing …read more

Really Simple Ways To Go Green


Inspired by Real Simple magazine’s readers sharing the “little ways they’ve gone green,” I collected my friend’s and family’s day-to-day efforts to be more environmentally-responsible:

Demetria Barrett – Limits the amount of garbage she produces by scrutinizing items going into her trash can. Rob Dickerson – Eliminates disposable take-out containers by not taking restaurant leftovers home. Transforms and revitalizes second-hand furniture documented on her blog, Decorum DIYER. Erin Drumgoole – Shares that her family’s “Paperless Kitchen,” exhibited in her Getting Greener blog post, is still going strong! Kristy Gizinski – Reuses bags, bottles and plastic containers. Kathleen Holmes – Repurposes …read more

Misleading Metrics: “Miles per gallon” vs. “gallons per mile”

According to Rick Larrick of Duke University, “miles per gallon” is a misleading metric if you are interested in determining fuel cost and savings. He argues for the adoption of “gallons per mile”, something the EPA included in their new fuel economy label for 2013 (although MPG still dominates the label.) Larrick’s findings suggest that better energy consumption metrics can help people make more informed day-to-day choices.

I transcribed video footage of Larrick’s presentation on this topic during the 2012 Climate, Mind and Behavior Conference at the Garrison Institute. There were many interesting and compelling presentations given during the conference, …read more

30 Minutes for the Forest

There’s a phrase, ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees,’ which means people lose themselves in the details, forgoing the overall vision. I often chuckle at this phrase because I – to extend the metaphor – often can’t see the trees for the leaves.

I am a detail-oriented person, which is something I appreciate about myself – especially when it comes to my own individual efforts to improve aspects of my life. For the purposes of this blog, I focus on environmental “individual efforts” to preserve (and improve) the environment – which is clearly in the interest of the forest!

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