The Dumbing of the Environment

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Behind every progressive movement for change offered by the present administration, one has to look deep and see what is this all about.You look at the outward message and then you ask the people who do the work, “How is this going to effect the health and safety of the American People?” Afterall, is that not the purpose of government to look after the public good?

Well, this latest piece of “newspeak” comes on the eve of the Labor Day Weekend 2006. The latest budget is going to cut the EPA library budget by 2 million dollars. The figure is not significant when you consider the costs of our numerous war efforts runs about that 2 million every 10 minutes of every day, but it is significant when this little drop in the bucket is an 80% cut. This leaves the EPA with about $800,000 to run all of its data collection, preservation, retrieval , administrative costs for an entire year.

The “newspeak” is that this cut is because the public is not using the libraries due to heightened security. The documents and reports are being digitalized and it is just more efficient. In fact the cuts will mean no public access. The cuts do not allow for the cost of dizitalizing all of these documents which is the size of the Rocky Mountains. The cuts also mean the preemptive closing of EPA library facilities in anticipation of these cuts.

The Public Employees for the Environment have tried within their of control to stop the closures. The scientist have sent pleading letters to the Congress begging for the funds and to stop the closures. See the letter to Conrad Burns the Committee Chairman http://www.peer.org/docs/epa/06_29_6_union_library_ltr.pdf

Across this great nation there are superfund sites dependent on the latest and historical data to keep the American people safe in their drinking water, air, and habitat. It would seem that even if you disagree with the concept of Global Warming or the possibility of harmful chemicals creating a toxic unliveable planet. burning the book is a harsh measure. As a member of the public while I may not travel today or tomorrow to a public library of the EPA, I would certainly like to know it is there.…

Creating for a Cause: Environmental Floating Cube Exhibit

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Since being home, I have had the pleasure of going to art events around town. Out of all the exhibits I saw in Coral Gables, Florida there was one that really stood out among the rest of them: the PIAG Museum’s exhibit entitled “Earth & Water, our planet, our life.”

There were several things that made this exhibit so unique. First, there was the message behind it all. The theme is the environment. The purpose is to create awareness. Secondly, the medium which the artists use is very original. Each artist that enters is required to paint on a cube (made of non toxic material of course) that is 12″x12″x12″. The cube is painted on 5 sides and will float in the water on the dates and locations that are chosen by the PIAG Museum.

The most amazing part about the exhibit is that it is meant to bring together artists from around the world united in their commitment to take action to save our planet. The PIAG Museum is requesting thousands of artists of all respects to participate in this event. Whether you are a writer, painter, singer, photographer, or a designer the PIAG Museum wants your talent for this exhibition.

This exhibition has been hosted at several locations across South Florida such as Fair Child Tropical Gardens and the Miami Dade Cultural Center. The exhibit was also hosted by Disney World in which floating cubes were spread out across the waters of Epcot Center. Eventually the PAIG Museum hopes to take this exhibit to Washington D.C.

If you are interested in participating in this one of a kind event, or if you just want to find an exhibit near you, you can find all of the information you need at the PIAG Museum website. This truly is an amazing opportunity to show your love for the arts as well as the planet.

Gun Control? is it Possible in Today’s Gun Loving Climate?

Framing is an art. When an idea or ideal is “framed” well, we believe it. We feel it. Think of framing as using a word or a series of words to frame a picture in your mind, one that is pleasurable, painful, or frightening. Politicians are masters of this art. Republicans used the words “death panels” to frighten voters just as Obama used the words “horses and bayonets” in a debate to reinforce his slogan of “move forward, not back”.

Gun advocates use words like patriotism and civil liberties as framing tools. It’s very powerful and effective. Just read the comments after articles such as “Obama to press for policy changes after shooting”. One user states, “Whenever Obama offers a solution, it is another newly instated law that will infringe on one’s liberties and individual rights.” Of course, gun advocacy isn’t as simple as just using framing language. The gun manufacturing industry alone is a multi-billion dollar powerhouse, fold in the millions the NRA spends for lobbying and that is one huge gun-proponent brick wall. That type of cash gets politicians elected and moves legislation.

Nevertheless, gun control — or even a ban on assault weapons — would seem a slam-dunk after the horrific mass murder of little children in Connecticut. Surprisingly, one of the biggest responses was from gun lovers. Sales of gun soared — as is typical after a mass shooting — in the days following the CT massacre. Supposedly, the rush to purchase was due to fear of gun control. However, this is just a continuation of an upsurge in gun ownership. According to an article in the Guardian there have been more …

Environmentally Friendly Marketing Ideas for Green Businesses

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When running a green, eco-friendly business, working your environmental stance into your marketing is important for projecting your business’s image. Here are a few ideas for marketing your business in a greener way!

Paper-based marketing, including flyers and posters, can be highly effective. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the paper used for these marketing tools will be destined for the landfill. Avoid excessive paper waste in your marketing by instead using practical items to promote your business. Things like ink pens and refrigerator magnets are useful things that are far less likely to be thrown away. Not only will this help reduce your environmental impact by saving natural resources, but it will give your advertising more longevity as well. A flyer will probably be thrown away and forgotten within a few days, whereas an item like a pen will be around for weeks, months, or even years. This means that your company logo and information will also be there, bringing your business to mind on a regular basis.

Be selective in your advertising. Look for places to advertise and market your business where green-minded folks will see your ads, such as alternative newspapers. Try to advertise only in print media that uses at least some recycled paper in their printing. If your favorite local publications do not use recycled paper, you should encourage them to do so!

Always look for ways to add value to what would otherwise be considered garbage. For instance, many stores have coupons printed on the reverse side of their cash register receipt paper. There is usually a number to call in order to inquire about purchasing ad space here. Look for businesses like health food stores or other places where environmentally conscious people shop and see if they use this kind of receipts.

Offering your customers special green services will help draw them to your business. For example, you could purchase a TechnoTrash can from GreenDisk to offer your patrons a way to recycled things like printer ink cartridges, old floppy disks, and other used-up or outdated technology. Advertise that you have these services available. Green-minded people will often use businesses that go the extra mile with services like this. Offering extra green services to your customers will help retain a loyal customer base, as well as draw in new customers who are excited to see your commitment to the environment.

Thinking “outside the box” and using a little creative ingenuity in your marketing will help to project your image as an environmentally friendly business!…

Environmental Activities

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I called to the mountains
but they didn’t reply.
Perhaps the distance truncates
the force of my lamentations.
Or perhaps they don’t care;
I belong to a race of terracidal maniacs
who’ve killed her kin.
Likewise the flowing waters
strain to avoid my legs, kicking at
lily pads,
perhaps marking it as insult to injury,
striking the earth when she is down.
We are porcelain and too dainty
for survival.
My hands coated in red dirt
is phony: I’m a closeted urbanite
with product
in my
hair.
I should bake myself
in the sun. I should bury myself
in hay and clippings.
I should….but I won’t.
There is work to be done.…

Environmental Road Rage

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The endless string of red ruby taillights, like a necklace outlining the curves of a sleeping beauty does not incite pleasurable images, rather it sends me into a rage. “How dare you cause a traffic jam in my mountains,” I scream in typical Coloradoan road rage. I swerve off to a frontage road only to get stuck behind Denver plates going under the speed limit. “Must be from California or Texas,” I fume as I yank my mother’s three-quarter ton pick-up into the on-coming lane to pass on a blind corner. It’s a normal Sunday drive home from work, taking an hour and a half to travel fifteen miles. I’m livid by the time I get home.
I am a native, said with condescension and righteous snobbery; born and raised (by my transplanted Californian mother) in Colorado’s beautiful mountains. I remember when Vail and Eagle were separate towns. I remember skiing when snowboarders were dangerous herds of out-of-control kids, before terrain parks and sick jibbers. I learned to drive on the switchbacks of Fall River Road, and lost kids in my high school to the unprotected cliffs of Oh My God Road. These mountains thirty miles west of Denver are my mountains.

Back in Colorado for a post-college internship, after spending four years attempting to pry open my mind, I was conflicted in a new way. They were still my mountains; but my driver’s license had Oregon written across the top. Still a native I get pulled over so the cop can verify that I am my mother’s daughter, and oh how I’d grown. I now understand economy and the need to relocate for the numerous reasons that life proposes, but my mountains are being trampled by thousands of summer-heat melting Denverites. Heading west and up to break from city heat, they hike off trails increasing erosion; they start camp fires without rings, not putting them out completely; they invade small tourist towns making daily life for residents nearly impossible; their kids graffiti rocks; their trash floats down creeks; their million dollar houses destroy entire mountain slopes, creating uninteresting views and displacing wildlife. They are destroying the mountains that I love. It seemed an unstoppable spiral motivated by an unreasonable expectation of ownership (theirs and mine) and economics. 
Then I saw Colorado 1870-2000, by William H. Jackson & John Fielder. This photo history of Colorado compared landscape photos taken by Jackson in the 1800’s with photos taken by Fielder from the same spots in 2000. The comparisons showed once seemingly booming towns, now empty meadows desecrated by harsh winters or wildfires. Growing population centers then, now Lake Dillon. For pages the then and now photos showed me that though I worried for my docile mountains, they always had the upper hand. Blizzards; rock, mud and snow slides; floods, fire, wind, and draught have kept man’s transgressions in check far as long as man has attempted to inhabit the folds of the Rockies and conquer their peaks.

Once in a while out-of-town drivers force a scream from behind my steering wheel for their incessant braking, but now I worry less for my powerful mountains loved my Mother Nature herself, and I laugh when I hear of her demolishing storms and construction thwarting weather and plate movements. Millions of years from now, she will be here and we will not, and I’m ok with that.…

CFLs for the Environment: Good or Bad

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CFL bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps are said to be a god send for the environment. It helps reduce the amount of energy consumed by an average household. Although LEDs are the better option, they are smaller in size and therefore a large number is needed to emit the same amount of light a CFL will emit.

CFL is good for the environment in the sense of its energy efficiency. But the components used for the manufacturing of CFLs include mercury. It is very poisonous and could be injuries to health. That is why CFL users are advised not throw it out amongst other plastic wastes which end up in landfills. CFLs are to be recycled separately because of its mercury content. Even if it breaks in front of someone it is advised that he/she remove themselves from the place and lock the door and let the gas flow out during the course of an hour.

CFLs are a god send but they need to be handled carefully. As if now it can only be disposed of by recycling. This is a mandatory requirement in US. But not in most other parts of the world. I hope new laws will come into place for its disposal and other governments will follow the US example.…

Downwinders At Risk Environmental Group Battles Politics

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For ten years one group has been fighting pollution near Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.

Downwinders At Risk, a 501© (4) group with an education fund which is a 501© (3) organization actively works to end cement kiln incineration of hazardous waste at the Midlothian industrial complex.

Even the famous Erin Brockovitch has helped with efforts.

“We document and expose the dangers of cement kiln incineration and other hazardous industrial practices,” said Becky Bornhorst, a board member of Downwinders. “We educate the public and provide concerned citizens the means to help reduce toxic industrial air pollution.”

Bornhorst said the group promotes public policy designed to improve the quality of air for children, the elderly, and all at-risk people.

Anyone can become a member by volunteering, donating, or taking action online at downwindersatrisk.org. They have approximately 2,500 members.

Some of the organization’s latest accomplishments include joining with other Texas groups in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to bring Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) into compliance with the Clean Air Act. In May they reached a historic settlement with local, state, and federal governments to put DFW on a faster track for clean air.

Downwinders spent two years in negotiations with Holcim Cement and the EPA over a permit application that would increase production and emissions at their Midlothian plant. Holcim agreed to install and test new pollution control technology, provide $2.25 million dollars for other projects aimed at reducing ozone forming emissions in the DFW area, provide monitoring for particulate matter for three years, up to $120,000 over five years for an independent scientist to review compliance and operations at Holcim, and to reduce the limits of ozone-forming emissions previously requested by the company.

Downwinders and a group of Midlothian citizens successfully opposed TXI’s attempt to discontinue use of pollution control equipment and joined with that city’s residents to feature Brockovich at a town hall meeting.

The organization is taking the lead in local grassroots efforts to write a new State Implementation Plan for ozone pollution, says Bornhorst.

“We don’t have much time,” she said. “In February recommendations from local officials was due. Then the plan goes to Austin. Citizens who want to influence public policy need to act now or lose the chance to impact things.”

The group’s goal is to reduce toxic industrial air pollution in North Texas. They have support from citizens, the PTA, local doctors, and the Sierra Club.

The group was founded by Sue Pope and Jim Schermbeck.

Bornhorst said what makes Downwinders unique is that it has survived as unaffiliated local grassroots groups for over a decade, something rare in the country, even rarer in Texas.

“Downwinders serves as an information clearinghouse for national and international citizens’ groups,” said Bornhorst. “People fighting cement plant pollution in New York, Montana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Michigan as well as Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Croatia, and Mexico have asked and received our assistance.”

Bornhorst urges other groups such as hers to never give up.…