Archive for July, 2009

Iraq in throes of environmental catastrophe, experts say

When will the inhabitants of Planet Earth realize that we have caused these problems, not “God?” These people have suffered for so long and now this.

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Baghdad dust storm Karim Kadim / Associated Press Iraqis cover their faces during one of Baghdad’s increasingly frequent dust storms. Officials say decades of war and mismanagement, compounded by two years of drought, are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.
Now-frequent dust storms are just one sign of the man-made damage that has taken the country from Middle East breadbasket to dust bowl, they say. By Liz Sly
July 30, 2009 Reporting from Baghdad — You wake up in the morning to find your nostrils clogged. Houses and trees have vanished beneath a choking brown smog. A hot wind blasts fine particles through doors and windows, coating everything in sight and imparting an eerie orange glow.

Dust storms are a routine experience in Iraq, but lately they’ve become a whole lot more common.

“Now it seems we have dust storms nearly every day,” said Raed Hussein, 31, an antiques dealer who had to rush his 5-year-old son to a hospital during a recent squall because the boy couldn’t breathe. “We suffer from lack of electricity, we suffer from explosions, and now we are suffering even more because of this terrible dust.

“It must be a punishment from God,” he added, offering a view widely held among Iraqis seeking to explain their apocalyptic weather of late. “I think God is angry with the deeds of the Iraqi people.”

The reality is probably scarier. Iraq is in the throes of what some officials are calling an environmental catastrophe, and the increased frequency of dust storms is only the most visible manifestation.

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White Roofs Catch on as Energy Cost Cutters

Since I will be replacing my black roof soon, I find this article interesting. But what about wintertime? Is a white roof still energy efficient?

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By FELICITY BARRINGER Published: July 29, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — Returning to their ranch-style house in Sacramento after a long summer workday, Jon and Kim Waldrep were routinely met by a wall of heat.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

A white roof has helped cool Jon Waldrep’s Sacramento home.

“We’d come home in the summer, and the house would be 115 degrees, stifling,” said Mr. Waldrep, a regional manager for a national company.

He or his wife would race to the thermostat and turn on the air-conditioning as their four small children, just picked up from day care, awaited relief.

All that changed last month. “Now we come home on days when it’s over 100 degrees outside, and the house is at 80 degrees,” Mr. Waldrep said.

Their solution was a new roof: a shiny plasticized white covering that experts say is not only an energy saver but also a way to help cool the planet.

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Give Feedback to the TVA

This is from the Tennessee Environmental Council:

TVA REQUESTING PUBLIC INPUT ON OUR ENERGY FUTURE

Are you unhappy with TVA’s Policies and direction?  Now’s your chance to tell them where to go!  TVA is requesting comments from you about how they can help build a sustainable future and meet the Tennessee Valley’s energy needs in the next 20 years.

Through August 14th, TVA is seeking comments from the public on the scope of its resource planning process.

Your comments can play an important part of framing the debate on TVA’s future!  We need to tell them to turn to aggressive energy efficiency and conservation measures instead of building more coal and nuclear plants.  We need to tell them to get serious about developing truly renewable energy sources.  Finally, we need to plant the seed of the idea and push TVA to begin working toward a carbon-free, nuclear-free future as a long-term goal and commitment.

As a federally owned corporation charged with protecting the environment while helping foster a healthy economic climate, TVA is uniquely positioned to lead the way to that brighter future.  Unfortunately, as we have seen, they have been doing quite the opposite.

Comments may submitted in person at one of the scoping sessions being held throughout the TVA service area, by fax or by e-mail.  For further information go to: http://www.tva.gov/environment/reports/irp/index.htm.

For further information on energy policy in the Tennessee Valley go to: www.solarvalleycoalition.net.

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Green Colleges in the United States

Thanks to Melissa Hincha-Ownby for this blog entry about green colleges:
Every year, The Princeton Review publishes its list of the best colleges in the nation. As part of the list, the nation’s top green colleges are recognized and named to the Green Rating Honor Roll. Fifteen post-secondary institutions, including seven public colleges, made the 2010 honor roll.
The colleges were among 697 institutions that The Princeton Review included in their green ratings system. The green ratings were determined by using a university’s sustainability policies, eco-friendly practices and eco-minded academic programs. In order to make the honor roll, schools had to score 99 points, which is the maximum available.
2010 Green Rating Honor Roll
  • Arizona State University, Tempe campus
  • Bates College (Lewiston, Me.)
  • Binghamton University (State University of New York at Binghamton)
  • College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Me.)
  • Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
  • Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pa.)
  • Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • Harvard College (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.)
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
  • University of California (Berkeley, Calif.)
  • University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.)
  • University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

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Neyland (1996-2009)

ney_1123Tuesdays were “fish night.” John bowled. You and I ate seafood for dinner. Your last fish night was amberjack. Wasn’t it tasty? We didn’t know that it was your last.

I learned that it is okay to walk through mud puddles. I learned to watch bugs.  I learned to feel the wind against my skin.

Why were you barking outside one day as a youngster? You were barking at the shattered glass-topped patio table.  Your toy was perched tabletop. When you retrieved it, the table tipped over. The patio looked just like a basketball  floor when Shaq grabbed the rim.

I remember the time we were walking in the snow and hit covered ice. Both of us landed on the sidewalk. I was on my butt and your legs seemed to collapse underneath you. You looked at me in apology as if you should have foreseen the icy patch.

You loved Beech Creek and played there with your puppy friends, Dakota and Sally. Each of you would hold the other under the water playfully.  You made a water slide in the creek, running then sliding in the mud. And you outlived both your puppy playmates.

One day while playing untethered with Sally, you entered an opened back door and frightened house cats and a visiting grandmother. I know; you only nudged the woman wanting attention. She was the one running outside and crying in fear of the big black dog.

My alarm clock is gone. I awoke an hour earlier this morning. Daylight savings time never fooled you. You would not conform to the clock change for weeks.

You were my second favorite walking companion. Our last walk was outside the vet’s office, as you explored Pizza Perfect before heading to the grassy patch for a last pee before going to the vet. The next time I walk to the Harpeth River, your spirit will go with me. I will feel you in the breeze and will see you in the flowing water.

Why did you always decide that you needed to go outside, after I sat down with my feet propped up and my latest favorite book opened?

You barked excitedly when you heard the shout of “he’s gone” during football season, when a running back made a break for the end zone. Likewise, the word “football” spoken with a certain tone meant let’s go run in the backyard and chase a yellow football. You would have never made it as a running back or wide receiver. You would have been an offensive guard.  You were just too chunky and too slow.

I still smell you in the house. I hear you outside or in another room. When I roll back the office chair, I still look for your tail that you dangerously kept near the rollers. You nose marks are on the windows in the house and car. Your fur covers my car seats, my clothes, the insides of my shoes, the countertops.

In your later years, you would closet yourself  in the hall bathroom during thunder storms. It was frightening for us to enter the house and not see you welcoming us at the head of the stairs. Then we would hear your toenails scratching the floor behind a closed bathroom door. The last time you did this you hid in the master closet. I panicked as I searched for you.

I would plant flowers; you would walk on top of them. You are still in the backyard “fertilizing” (or killing) the grass. Remember when you shredded a blanket. There were pieces all over the backyard. At first, I did not realize that you were “recycling” blanket pieces.

What human words did you know? Ney-Ney hungry? Go walk. Ride Mommy’s (or Daddy’s) car. Sit. Stay (only when you wanted to). Come. Goodie? Gibbon? NeyNey Santa. Pee-pee go bed. Poo-poo outside?  Crate time or outside? You chose crate time long after the crate had been retired to the basement. You would lie in your spot in the bonus room.

I remember when you hid in your crate when I was looking for you to give you a bath. You shrunk to the size of a min-pin. You recognized the dreaded blue bucket that doused you with water and suds.

I remember your cries of joy when we neared Edwin Warner Park or Grandma’s house. I hoped Grandma met you when you fell asleep for the journey to the Great Beyond, the Rainbow Bridge, the Cosmos, God and Heaven.

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Exotic animal amnesty day a huge success

This is a great idea to have a day where people who own exotic animals can turn them in to authorities who will place them in zoos or nature centers. Exotic animals are not pets. Many of them live long lives in captivity. Burmese pythons grow too large to be kept in a home.

I volunteer at a zoo which receives calls daily from pet owners who are trying to get rid of their overgrown python.

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Just a few hours ago, the first ever Connecticut exotic animal amnesty day ended on a high note. Before the event opened at 10 am, people were waiting in line for the chance to hand over their exotic pets in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” scenario. The event was co-sponsored by the Beardsley Zoo and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event personally but had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with Dennis Schain, Communications Director of the CT DEP.

According to Schain, the amnesty day was such a success that the DEP will be considering future events of its kind. At this time it is not known what other states have held such an amnesty day with the exception of Florida. In fact, the DEP has been in close communication with Florida about pulling off this event which is extremely important for the well being of the animals as well as public safety.

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Abandoned Shirt in the Middle of the Road

shirt_1648This man’s shirt lay in the middle of the road on Settlers Way for days before I finally picked it up. I washed it and will take it to Goodwill for someone to wear.

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