Ten Square Miles

An Environmental Activism Resource

Month: December 2015 (page 2 of 6)

Environmental Tips for the Holidays

Holiday is break is so close you can taste the snow that should be happening if it weren’t global warming. So here’s some tips that can help lesson your footprint on the environment this winter.

  1. Take the bus or the train. If you have the money, use the bus or the train to get home. If you can take your car off that one road trip, it will save you a lot of carbon emissions.
  2. Try making some gifts this year. Making gifts out of stuff you already have saves money and also is helpful in reducing the amount of stuff you don’t need.
  3. Bundle up. Especially since it’s not that cold this year, turn down the heat and bundle up in sweaters and blankets to save energy.
  4. Re-use paper as wrapping paper. Why buy paper you’re going to tear up and throw away anyway? Use newspaper or old magazines in a cute, creative way that also reuses paper you already used.

Article Written  by Crystal Ledbetter

“Going green” isn’t a term that’s foreign to America. Ever since ego-friendly campaigns started the popular phase has been a clever representative.  Majority of the campaigns encouraged alternative energy sources, energy-efficient appliances and technology made from environmentally friendly materials.  For many, buying special electronics and alternative energy can be pricey, if not completely financially unrealistic.  If you want to do your part, but simply don’t have the money, there is a simple solution.  Gardening.  Things such as energy efficient gadgets cost hundreds to thousands of dollar but a few seeds only cost a couple of bucks at most.

With cities popping up everywhere sometimes it’s easy to forget that we should make up for the plant life we’ve destroyed. Not only do plants produce oxygen, which many living organism need to live, they also provide food for creatures and regulate the atmosphere.  Plants emit water into the atmosphere when the climate gets too hot.  It is important to note that carbon dioxide is the one of main greenhouse gases that is contributing to global warming because plants actually use carbon dioxide to produce their nourishment.  This means that planting a significant amount of plants around the world may actually help slow down the global warming process.

Plants aren’t only good for the environment they’re also good for us as well. There are many studies that explore the positive impact that plants have on humans.  It has been proven that being around plants is therapeutic because it naturally elevates mood while relieving stress.  As a result, people that are around plants generally have better mental stability and health than people that aren’t. Being around plants also increases creativity, learning and concentration.  The color green itself signals to our brains to be more productive.

If that’s not convincing, then gardening can be looked at also from a business and community point of view.  Businesses would benefit from planting trees and flowers around their business because people subconsciously associate beautiful scenery with a better perceived quality of life and happiness.  So plants would automatically attract people to the business.  Communities with more plants tend to have less crime.  This is due to the fact that plants encourage people to come outside and interact with each other more, which would strengthen the community while fostering people’s natural compassion for each other.

When it comes to building a sustainable future, the big picture can easily overwhelm people into doing nothing.  It’s common to feel as though you’re too small to make a difference.  If this is a feeling you’re familiar to, thinking about the Butterfly effect may help.  One butterfly flipping its wings has the potential to become a major variable in the making of a hurricane on the side of the world.  Your individual actions do affect the Earth, even as little as they seem. You can use this power to take on small step for good or one small step for bad.  No matter what you do, you’re influencing the world around you just as it is influencing you.  The Earth belongs to everyone, which means the health of our Earth is a collective responsibility.  It may not seem like much, to plant a tree or a flower, but think of it this way: if everyone plants just one plant each then, collectively, we’d all be heading towards a healthier path together.

 

 

References

 

Arbor, Ann. “Going Outside-even in the Cold-improves Memory, Attention.” Umich. Michigan News, 16 Dec. 2008. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

 

“Benefits of Green Plants.” Green Plants for Green Buildings. Green Plants for Green Buildings. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

 

“Health and Well-being Benefits of Plants.” Ellison Chair. Tamu. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

 

“How Plants Can Change Our Climate.” Earth Observatory. Nasa. The Earth Observatory. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

 

Sparks, Jennifer. “New Behavioral Research Demonstrates Flowers in the Home Make a Positive Impact on Our Lives.” Magnet Mail. The Flower Promotion Organization, 26 Sept. 2006. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

 

Steve Woinoski and Ecovillages

I really enjoyed listening to Steve talk about his life and his experience in an ecovillage. Ihave listened to people before talk about their experiences in ecovillages, so I had basic knowledge about what they try to do. I think he brought up some good points, specifically about technology, and I commend him for going through with his plans and trying to live more environment friendly.

Steve seems like the type of guy that you would like to be around. He was really nice and enthusiastic. He was also determined, which is what you need to be if you want to live like he does. The community at White Hawk seems very close knit and though they are expanding, I believe that they will still be a tight community. I personally would not live in a community like that because I don’t think I could sacrifice the things that he does. I recognize that this may be a problem however, if I am too attached to modern things. If there was no other choice but to live like this in the future, I would obviously be able to, its more of I don’t want to give something up if I don’t have to. This relates to what he was saying about technology. While I understand what he was saying, I also believe that technology has great uses, but the key is moderation. Overall, he was a great guy to listen to with an awesome story.

December??

December 2015 so far has been incredibly warm. There has been no snow at all. I believe there was one day in October where there were some flurries but they never stuck to the ground. Ithaca, Ny, a place known for its cold and snow, has seen none of it. I asked for new snow boots for Christmas so now I’m wondering when I’ll get to use them. Weather.com posted an article about these unseasonably high temperatures. Here.  Here is another article that talks about cherry blossoms in December. Click. There have been hundreds of records broken around the country. Are we seeing global warming in action? Quite possibly. I would put money on it.

60 Second Climate Fix Videos

Can the Sun Cool Down the Earth?

Can Arctic Oil Drilling Help Save the Planet?

Do You Have to Be a Vegan to Help Fix Climate Change?

Can the Republicans Save the Planet?

Can China Fix the World’s Climate?

Deforestation Infograph

deforestation

Manufactured Landscapes

Taking an observational and poetic approach to its subject matter, Manufactured Landscapes examines the rapid and all-consuming urbanization and industrialization of China, while chronicling the journey of photographer Edward Burtynsky in capturing artifacts of this change.
The film offers no concrete judgement on the images it presents, mostly preferring to communicate through image and soundscape than interviews and opinions. Director Jennifer Baichwal and cinematographer Peter Mettler present images to their audience impartially, allowing for personal interpretation and reflection in the viewer. Meanwhile, Burtynsky’s camera captures beautiful, haunting and harsh landscapes of a country in rapid change. Some may find the documentary’s approach to by dry, with nothing of substance to say; though this viewpoint does not take into account the subtext presented in every image. There is a definite theme presented in the film, although it is never stated out loud: China, and its people, are becoming machines to capitalism. The message is unmistakeable and makes itself clear in a number of startling shots and vignettes within the film.
For one, Burtynsky’s photography does a highly effective of communicating this message. His photographs illustrate both the harsh industrialization and repressed humanity in China with a number of unforgettable images. Some which stand out in my mind include endless rows of factory workers lined up outside their respective factories, all clothed in yellow jackets outside yellow factories on a foggy morning, stretching endlessly into the distance suggesting infinity. An old Chinese woman on her front porch, her face fearful and her body hunched in submission, standing next to a pile of industrial garbage. Highways criss-crossing and suffocating each other. Factory workers clothed in bright, vibrant pink stretching across a harshly lit factory. Another depicting rows of factory workers at desks, their heads turned downward, with the exception of a single woman looking up in confusion and concern at the camera, as if she has just become aware of a new world. The photos all display a common thread: a massive industrial takeover choking out humanity by the throat, and a last-ditch effort of to recognize the people behind the machine.
Baichwall and Mettler present their subjects in a similar manner, with three particular scenes sticking out in my mind. One being the opening, nine-minute tracking shot down a hallway of endless factory machines and their thousands of workers. The shot again suggests infinity and the choking out of humanity behind the machine; very few workers even seem to notice the elaborate camera and dolly rig spanning their workspace, lost in industrial space. Another shot displays a close-up of a woman at her workstations bending wire around a piece of metal. Piece after piece she works without interruption or fault, laser-focused, working perfectly. The message is clear: this woman has become, in a very literal sense, a machine. Finally, and crushingly, the scene of villagers destroying their own village to make way for a dam, spurred on in their work by promises of payments from the government. People slaving to capitalism, destroying their own homes, to make way for more industry. Humanity, here, has disappeared completely. Industry reigns supreme.
Manufactured Landscapes is an incredible documentary and one of the few we have watched this year which I see myself revisiting many times. It is a work of masterful craftsmanship which highlights an almost post-apocalyptic world which we, ourselves, have helped create.

One Small Step Part Two: Hope

After years of everyone debating over whether or not global warming and environmental issues were myths (they are not), a small light has finally turned on at the end of the tunnel.  Recently, after two weeks of discussion, world leaders got together and mutually agreed to address the climate crisis.  Nearly 200 nations signed an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases as an entire planet; this agreement was signed Dec. 12, 2015 and is called the “Paris agreement”.

According to NBC NEWS, “The ‘Paris agreement’ also aims to keep the rise in global temperatures ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times to the end of this century and ‘endeavor to limit’ them even further, to 1.5 degrees Celsius”. Scientists that commented on the subject said that in order for the Paris Agreement to work all the nations that signed agreement must completely stop emitting greenhouse gases in the next half-century.  In addition, the nations will have to limit the amount of greenhouse pollution that is produced, due to human activity, down to what the Earth can naturally absorb. The agreement, however, unfortunately won’t take effect until 2020. Not to mention, it is very apparent that the leaders themselves don’t have much of a concrete plan.

On the bright side, the fact that politicians and leaders are acknowledging the environmental crisis at all is a big step.  Not long ago leaders and politicians were trying to disregard global warming as a political ploy and conspiracy.  Even President Obama says the plan isn’t perfect but he still applauds the leaders for their shared middle ground. This isn’t a significant change-yet, but it does have the potential to turn into something much more productive.  In other words, it’s one small step.  One small step towards finding sustainability and understanding the needs of our planet.  One small step towards a healthier future for ourselves, the animals, and the environment. One small step, of hope.
References:

 

Dokoupil, Tony, and Elizabeth Chuck. “World Leaders in Paris Agree to ‘Historic’ Deal on Climate Change.” NBC News. 12 Dec. 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.

Draft Climate Agreement Reached at Paris Climate Conference

On December 5th, a 43-page draft deal was reached between politicians at the Paris COP21 Conference, symbolizing progress towards producing a final pact to address climate change.

Below are excerpts from the draft detailing the key goals and methods of the pact.

Key Goals

“In order to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, Parties agree to take urgent action and enhance cooperation and support so as:

(a) To hold the increase in the global average temperature [below 1.5 °C] [or] [well below 2 °C] above preindustrial levels by ensuring deep reductions in global greenhouse gas [net] emissions;

(b) To increase their ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change [and to effectively respond to the impacts of the implementation of response measures and to loss and damage];

(c) To pursue a transformation towards sustainable development that fosters climate resilient and low greenhouse gas emission societies and economies, and that does not threaten food production and distribution.”

 

Methods

“[Parties [collectively][cooperatively] aim to reach the global temperature goal referred to in Article 2 through:

(a) [A peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible[, recognizing that peaking requires deeper cuts of emissions of developed countries and will be longer for developing countries]]

(b) [Rapid reductions thereafter [in accordance with best available science] to at least a X [-Y] per cent reduction in global [greenhouse gas emissions][CO2[e]] compared to 20XX levels by 2050]];

(c) [Achieving zero global GHG emissions by 2060-2080]

(d) [A long-term low emissions transformation] [toward [climate neutrality][decarbonization] [over the course of this century] [as soon as possible after mid-century];

(e) [Equitable distribution of a global carbon budget based on historical responsibilities and [climate] justice]”

 

The full document can be read here:

Draft Paris Outcome (English)

Watch “Human,” the New Film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

 Human, a film in three volumes, is the newest documentary by acclaimed filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, whose noticeable past works include Home and Planet Ocean. All three volumes of Human are available for free online.

 

Watch the Trailer

 

Volume One deals with the themes of love, women, work and poverty.

 

Volume Two deals with the themes of war, forgiving, homosexuality, family and life after death.

 

Volume Three deals with the themes of happiness, education, disability, immigration, corruption and the meaning of life.

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