Conservation & Environment

Forest Rangers tackle the conundrum of protecting loved-to-death wilderness

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 @ 7:03 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Forest Rangers tackle the conundrum of protecting loved-to-death wilderness

Were you to hike nearly nine miles into a wilderness area, paralleling a creek through alpine meadows and woods, you might expect to find solitude. But that’s not the case at Conundrum Hot Springs, an extremely popular area of natural pools at an elevation of over 11,000 feet with views of surrounding peaks in White River National Forest, Colorado. Dozens — and on busy weekends, sometimes hundreds — of overnight visitors hike in. Some even carry speakers and cases of beer. “It’ll be like you’ve gone to someone’s backyard for a pool party,” Karen Schroyer, Aspen-Sopris district ranger, says.

When Schroyer came to this job three years ago, she realized that the time had come to curb Conundrum’s overuse. On a wilderness retreat to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, she learned about the issues rangers were dealing with: human-bear conflicts, trash, trees hacked away for firewood, unofficial campsites too close to water and trails. And, most disturbingly, many visitors were answering nature’s call and neither burying nor carrying out the waste. “I was honestly just blown away,” Schroyer said.

The current situation at Conundrum Hot Springs arose from the overall increase in people recreating on Colorado’s public lands — a trend that will almost certainly continue — and the swift publicity of photos on social media and in glossy magazines. Schroyer said the internet has been “incredibly powerful” with places like Conundrum and Hanging Lake, which have become bucket-list destinations. She sees why people want to come — and they’re going to keep coming. “This is a gorgeous, gorgeous area,” she said. “We just need to do a better job of managing that use.”

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Collecting Climate Change Data in the Field

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 @ 11:37 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Collecting Climate Change Data in the Field

Since 1957, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) has been at the forefront of preserving our national parks and forests, with the knowledge that these natural “lungs” act as a critical cooling and cleaning mechanism for our planet, pulling carbon dioxide from the air while releasing oxygen. But in recent years, SCA has expanded beyond preservation work, partnering with other organizations to work more directly on the problem of climate change—the overriding environmental issue of our time.

In its quest to address climate change and increase student engagement in this issue, SCA recently launched a partnership with the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) to contribute to a massive, new climate change database for the Americas.

Equipped with a network of 81 field sites across the United States and slated to add even more, NEON is an ambitious 30-year program designed to gather and synthesize data on the effects of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. From aircraft surveillance to field-deployed sensors, NEON engages in a wide range of practices to collect data—but there is still no substitute for on-the-ground field sampling. And this is where SCA interns are playing play a vital role.

By partnering with organizations such as NEON, SCA is actively advancing its commitment to engaging a new generation of conservation leaders in tackling climate change. The combination of on-the-ground and laboratory work complements interns’ classroom learning, providing hands-on experience that will be needed to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

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Friends of the Smokies Turns 25 with $2.5 Million Emergency Radio Upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 @ 7:15 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Friends of the Smokies Turns 25 with $2.5 Million Emergency Radio Upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary next year, Friends of the Smokies is delighted to announce a milestone capital campaign to fund a critical radio system upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

The total cost of the radio system upgrade is $2.5 million. “Our target for this campaign is to raise $1.25 million by this time next year, making it our biggest fundraising goal in a decade,” said Jim Hart, president of the nonprofit organization. Federal funding sources and other grants will be used to match donations to Friends of the Smokies dollar for dollar to reach the total cost. “We know our generous supporters will rise to meet this challenge in spectacular fashion, especially when such a significant project is at hand.”

The radio communications system currently used in GSMNP has exceeded its recommended maximum lifespan. Replacement parts are difficult to come by and repairs and maintenance are costly on a tightening federal budget. The proposed project will replace microwave and repeater equipment at nine radio tower sites around the park as well as portable radio units and mobile units in patrol vehicles and fire engines. This will allow park rangers and emergency dispatch to directly communicate with police, fire, and emergency services in jurisdictions outside park boundaries including agencies in North Carolina and Tennessee. The total cost of the upgrade also includes a Computer Aided Dispatch system which allows dispatchers to prioritize and record emergency calls and locate first responders in the field.

Steve Kloster, Chief Ranger in GSMNP said, “The ability to effectively communicate with different agencies in the field can make all the difference in a life-threatening situation where every second counts. A good communications system truly is the backbone of any emergency response and this stateof-the-art upgrade will put the Smokies on par with any unit in the National Park Service.”

In addition to improving emergency response for law enforcement, search and rescue, and wildland fire, this upgrade will provide operable and dependable equipment for day-to-day operations across more than 522,000 acres of the national park. Where before, facility maintenance might share the same channel with an active search and rescue operation, the upgraded communication system will provide dedicated emergency frequencies.

“A new radio system is absolutely vital for responding to emergencies quickly and effectively, preserving the cultural and natural resources of this park, and protecting our visitors and first responders,” GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash added. “We are thankful to the Friends for their willingness to tackle this request head on and still provide funding for other needs across the park.”

“Delivery of a large-scale project like this radio system is the perfect way to celebrate our 25th anniversary next year,” said Brent McDaniel, marketing director at Friends of the Smokies. “Big, important projects like this are nothing new to Friends of the Smokies and we are excited to help protect 11 million visitors and keep our park rangers safe.”

Friends of the Smokies has contributed millions of dollars towards milestone projects including matching $2 million from the Aslan Foundation of Knoxville in 2008 to create the Trails Forever endowment. Now grown to more the $5 million, this endowment funds a full-time trail crew that focuses on rehabilitation of the park’s most heavily used trails, including Chimney Tops, Alum Cave, and Rainbow Falls. Recurring support from Friends of the Smokies to GSMNP for programs like environmental education, historic preservation, and wildlife management exceeds $1 million annually.

To make a matching gift to support this critical radio system upgrade, please visit Donate.FriendsOfTheSmokies.org or call 800-845-5665.

 

Living with Lynx in Scotland

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 @ 6:46 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Living  with Lynx in Scotland

Many generations have passed since the shy, beautiful, and charismatic lynx roamed the wild forests of Scotland. Today, the possibility of reintroducing this native predator is a tantalizing prospect for some but for others, represents an unwelcome imposition.

Until just a few years ago, the lynx or lugh, as it was known in Scottish Gaelic, was virtually unknown as a former native predator of Scotland.

Instead, beavers and wolves were the species dominating discussions about reintroductions. Nowadays though, it seems that you can barely open a Scottish newspaper, magazine or website without meeting the intense, feline stare of a lynx, as the prospect of their return is very publicly raised once again. But between the uncomplicated optimism of the advocates and the dire scenarios painted by the naysayers, what would it really be like to once again live alongside this enigmatic feline in the now human-dominated landscapes of modern Scotland?

We know from bone evidence that Eurasian lynx once roamed the length and breadth of Britain. These bones, coupled with cultural evidence from recent centuries tell us that the species survived in northern Britain until medieval times.

These faint traces of Britain’s lost cat point the finger of blame for the species’ extinction, not at natural climatic processes that occurred millennia before, but instead at the activities of humans.

Severe deforestation by humans, the resultant decline of woodland deer, and persecution by local peasant farmers whose woodland-grazed sheep and goats would have succumbed to the remnant lynx, are all likely to have led to the extinction of the species in Britain. Under these circumstances, there is an ethical argument for considering its return.

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Scott Pruitt is dismantling EPA in secret for the same reason the GOP health care bill was secret

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 @ 11:39 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Scott Pruitt is dismantling EPA in secret for the same reason the GOP health care bill was secret

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has a propensity to operate in secret. The approach of serving industry under cover of secrecy is not idiosyncratic to Pruitt, nor is it distinctively Trumpian. Rather, it is the standard approach of today’s GOP, as reflected in such recent initiatives as the failed health care bill. It is, in fact, the only approach possible to advance an agenda that is unpopular and intellectually indefensible.

Despite his often-professed belief in “the rule of law,” he has steadfastly resisted and evaded Freedom of Information Act requests for e-mail records and other public documents. He’s so good at operating in the shadows, in fact, that he was recently given the Golden Padlock Award by investigative journalists, which recognizes the most secretive publicly funded person or agency in the United States.

His aides recently asked career employees to make major changes in a rule regulating water quality in the United States — without any records of the changes they were being ordered to make. And the E.P.A. under Mr. Pruitt has moved to curb certain public information, shutting down data collection of emissions from oil and gas companies, and taking down more than 1,900 agency webpages on topics like climate change.

The picture that emerges from all this is pretty clear: Pruitt is avoiding oversight, avoiding environmentalists, avoiding agency staff, and avoiding mainstream media. He is taking steps to corrupt agency science and science communication and loosen regulatory burdens on fossil fuels, in close consultation with industry groups and right-wing media, with as little public scrutiny as possible.

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Fleeing to the Mountains

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 @ 11:57 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Fleeing to the Mountains

In contrast to many advanced countries, the United States has a vast and spectacular publicly owned wilderness, mostly free and available to all. In an age of inequality, the affluent have gated neighborhoods, private schools, backup generators and greater influence on elected officials. But our most awe-inspiring wild places have remained largely a public good to be shared by all, a bastion of equality.

This is a magnificent splendor that no billionaire is allowed to fence off. We all have equal access, at no charge: If you can hold your own against mosquitoes and bears, the spot is yours for the night. Yet these public lands are at risk today.

The march of civilization has been about distancing ourselves from the raw power of nature. At home, we move the thermostat up or down by a degree, and we absorb the idea that we are lords of the universe. On the trail, we are either sweating or freezing, and it always feels as if the path is mainly uphill. Nature mocks us, usefully reminding us who’s boss.

If your kids are suffering from what the writer Richard Louv calls nature-deficit disorder, run away from home together. Flee to the mountains. It’s heaven with blisters.

This is our collective patrimony, a tribute to the wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot and other visionaries who preserved our wild places for the future. Thank God for them. Otherwise, these lands might have been carved up and sold off as ranches for the rich.

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National Parks Are Great Classrooms

Posted by on Aug 13, 2017 @ 12:23 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

National Parks Are Great Classrooms

This summer, millions of visitors will descend on America’s National Parks. National Parks attract visitors of all ages from countries across the globe, but many of this summer’s visitors will be children and their families on summer vacation. And that’s a valuable learning opportunity for both those children and their families.

America’s 59 National Parks, 129 national historic parks and sites, and more than 200 national monuments, seashores, and other sites provide abundant learning opportunities for both children and adults.

National Parks can teach both children and adults about what truly makes our country special. National Parks like Yellowstone, Zion and Acadia highlight and preserve the incredible natural grandeur and beauty of our nation’s diverse geography and ecosystems, while National Historical Parks and Historic Sites like Lowell, Valley Forge, Nez Perce and numerous others bring to life the people, events and complex stories that have shaped the nation that we are today.

By illustrating both the great moments and heroic figures and the less admirable parts of our nation’s history, these parks and historic sites can help both adults and children to know and value our history and to understand that the America we have today is not a foregone conclusion to be taken for granted, but a hard-fought patrimony that we as citizens have the opportunity and obligation to continue working to maintain and improve.

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New Science Education Program Brings Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Classrooms

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 @ 12:22 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

New Science Education Program Brings Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Classrooms

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont have been selected to participate in a new science education program, Citizen Science 2.0 in National Parks. Made possible thanks to a $1 million Veverka Family Foundation donation to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, this new program supports collaborations among select national parks, local environmental science education providers, and local middle and high schools over a three-year period.

Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will partner with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and local schools to provide citizen science engagement for students and deliver professional development for teachers. This new teacher education program, Citizen Science 2.0: Equipping Educators to Inspire Future Environmental Stewards, will consist of a series of residential workshops at Tremont Institute and consults at local schoolyards to give teachers practice with experiential teaching and linking what they have learned to standards-based subject matter.

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park values the research conducted through citizen science,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “These science-based opportunities cultivate lasting connections between the public and their parks by establishing a fascination and love of science. We are thrilled to work with the National Park Foundation and the Veverka Family Foundation to implement this citizen-science based education project.”

The goal of the program this year is to:

  • Establish a place-based, science-focused community of practice among national parks, schools, and education partners.
  • Equip classroom teachers with the tools, training, and opportunity to conduct high quality, experiential science education aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.
  • Create student-centered curriculum that connects students to their local national park through hands-on scientific study of water quality and watersheds.

“We are truly excited to work with the National Park Foundation, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and our local East Tennessee teachers,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones, President and CEO of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. “This partnership will allow us to innovate teacher education programs that bring citizen science to school yards as a powerful tool to engage students in meaningful research. We are thankful for the National Park Foundation’s vision in expanding the role of parks-based science education.”

In addition to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this program is also kicking off this 2017-2018 school year at Cabrillo National Monument, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Rock Creek Park. The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will continue to identify additional park locations, schools, and education partners across the country to participate in this initiative. You can read the program’s national press release here.

“Private support from generous partners like the Veverka Family Foundation is making it possible for national parks – some of our richest learning environments – to offer new and innovative education programs like Citizen Science 2.0,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Thanks to this $1 million donation to our Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, teachers and students across the country will experience science outside the textbook and inside national parks.”

To date, the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of America’s treasured places for the next hundred years, has raised more than $420 million.

For more information regarding Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont’s Citizen Science please visit http://gsmit.org/citizen-science/.

 

The real fire and fury is in Greenland right now

Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 @ 6:40 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The real fire and fury is in Greenland right now

Thousands of acres of permafrost are burning in what appears to be Greenland’s biggest fire on record. And climate scientists are freaking out not just because the massive fires are unusual, but because they release large amounts of greenhouse gases and speed up the melt of the ice sheet and the carbon-rich permafrost.

Greenland is almost entirely covered in an enormous ice sheet, but grassy, carbon-rich peatlands along the coast are heating up and drying out. “These fires appear to be peatland fires,” said a wildfire expert. “They are likely occurring in areas of degraded permafrost, which are predicted to have high thaw rates between now and 2050.”

Peatlands, also known as bogs and moors, are the earliest stage in the formation of coal. A 2015 study noted, “Globally, the amount of carbon stored in peats exceeds that stored in vegetation and is similar in size to the current atmospheric carbon pool.”

Peat fires are difficult to stop, often burning until all the organic matter has turned to ash. A coauthor of the 2015 study noted, “Smouldering peat fires already are the largest fires on Earth in terms of their carbon footprint.”

“Fires in the High Northern Latitudes release significant CO2, CH4, N20, and black carbon,” said the expert. “A fire this close to the Greenland Ice Shelf is likely to deposit additional black carbon on the ice, further speeding up the melt.”

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A new study finds 6.5% of global GDP goes to subsidizing dirty fossil fuels

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 @ 6:56 am in Conservation | 0 comments

A new study finds 6.5% of global GDP goes to subsidizing dirty fossil fuels

Fossil fuels have two major problems that paint a dim picture for their future energy dominance. These problems are inter-related but still should be discussed separately. First, they cause climate change. We know that, we’ve known it for decades, and we know that continued use of fossil fuels will cause enormous worldwide economic and social consequences.

Second, fossil fuels are expensive. Much of their costs are hidden, however, as subsidies. If people knew how large their subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them from so-called financial conservatives.

A study was just published in the journal World Development that quantifies the amount of subsidies directed toward fossil fuels globally, and the results are shocking. The authors work at the International Money Fund and are well-skilled to quantify the subsidies discussed in the paper.

The subsidies were $4.9 trillionn in 2013 and they rose to $5.3 trillionn just two years later. According to the authors, these subsidies are important because first, they promote fossil fuel use which damages the environment. Second, these are fiscally costly. Third, the subsidies discourage investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy that compete with the subsidized fossil fuels. Finally, subsidies are very inefficient means to support low-income households.

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Largest dead zone ever hits the Gulf of Mexico

Posted by on Aug 5, 2017 @ 7:05 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Largest dead zone ever hits the Gulf of Mexico

Scientists have measured a dead zone the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest-ever dead zone recorded in the area, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

A dead zone occurs when nutrient pollution — largely from agricultural runoff like fertilizer and manure — makes its way into bodies of water, fueling algal growth. When the algae dies, it decomposes, creating oxygen-free zones that can no longer sustain marine life.

A report by the environmental group Mighty suggests that this year’s extra-large dead zone is a direct result of industrial meat production, which feeds nutrient runoff both through manure produced by the animals and fertilizer used to grow animal feed.

The report looks at companies responsible for large amounts of nutrient runoff, and implicates Tyson Foods, the largest meat company in the United States, as a key culprit behind the dead zone. According to the report, Tyson has major processing facilities in every state listed by the United States Geological Survey as states from which nutrient runoff flows to the Gulf.

Another report, released last year by Environment America, found that Tyson dumps more waste into American waterways each year than companies like Exxon or Dow Chemical.

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SAHC Protects 310 Acres in Weaverville, NC Watershed

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 @ 7:16 am in Conservation | 0 comments

SAHC Protects 310 Acres in Weaverville, NC Watershed

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently worked with the Town of Weaverville, NC to place a conservation easement on 310 acres of the Weaverville Watershed. The easement protects important headwaters of Reems Creek as well as forested habitat and scenic views from Reems Creek Valley.

“This property provided drinking water to the Town of Weaverville for 80 years and is important for conservation because of its water resources,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “It contains the headwaters of Eller Cove Branch and 12 of its tributaries, which run into Reems Creek and eventually the French Broad River. One of the best ways to preserve water quality downstream is by protecting a river’s headwaters – and that is exactly what has happened here. We are grateful to the Town of Weaverville for taking the step to protect this tract and its natural resources for posterity.”

The tract contains a total of 4.2 miles (over 22,000 linear feet) of stream corridor, and its conservation helps protect tributary streams of the French Broad River Watershed from sources of sedimentation and other types of pollution. Eller Cove Branch is classified by the NC Division of Water Quality as Water Supply I and High Quality Water. The Town of Weaverville purchased the watershed property in 1911 and used it as the sole source of drinking water until 1993, when the source was changed to the Ivy River.

The conservation easement also protects habitat for diverse wildlife species. Largely forested since the late 1880s, the tract contains mature Chestnut Oak Forest as well as Rich Cove Forest and Montane Oak-hickory Forest. A third of the property falls within the Audubon Society’s Bull Creek Cerulean Important Bird Area – an approx. 5,000 acre area.

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The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 @ 6:45 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

You are the owner of a 1.1-million acre mountain estate.

Your property includes cascading waterfalls, ancient forests, and the highest mountains in the East. You can go anywhere you like on your property. You can hike hundreds of miles of trails and paddle, fish, and swim in its pristine streams.

You share ownership equally with every other American, and you pay your staff—the U.S. Forest Service—to manage the property. They maintain the trails and enforce the rules that you make.

Every 20 years, you write a plan that describes how your estate should be managed. You get together with the other owners to hash it out, and your staff writes it all down. This plan is the most important document of your property. It spells out the rules for your property and decides how your property taxes are spent.

The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is the third-most-visited national forest in the country. Its popularity has skyrocketed by 136 percent in the past two decades. Over 6.8 million people visited the forest last year, and most of them came to hike, camp, and enjoy its scenic wonders.

The Forest Service recently released a preliminary draft of their forest plan, which will guide the next twenty years of forest decisions. It’s already mired in bitter controversy.

A century after acquisition, the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest faces the same basic conflict: Is the forest a resource to be exploited or a sanctuary to be protected? Or both?

The new forest plan draft is much more than a document. It has become a blueprint for the future of Southern Appalachia, with the potential to bring together different groups—rural and urban, locals and newcomers, hunters and hikers—in a shared vision for the region. So far, however, the contentious forest planning process has only deepened the chasms.

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At Berryessa National Monument, Wildflowers and Rebirth

Posted by on Aug 1, 2017 @ 12:48 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

At Berryessa National Monument, Wildflowers and Rebirth

The fields give way to darkly arching oaks, tree tunnels shading a narrow country road outside Winters, Calif. The early-hour brightness indicates the nearness of summer.

Here, an hour and a half northeast of San Francisco, the dense press of civilization lifts, and the open wilderness weaves itself into the landscape. The light is somehow ventilated, given more space.

This is Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, one of our country’s newest national monuments. The knobby fullness of the surrounding hills resembles rising bread. Named for the craggy 7,056-foot peak at its northern end, the monument runs along a ridgeline that stretches south through seven counties to Blue Ridge. One writer called Berryessa’s outline a long, lumpy Christmas stocking.

What do we want from our wildlife areas? Something so remote we’ll never see it? Or something close enough, braided into our tangle of civilization, to remind us of all that exists alongside us in this world?

This year, 27 national monuments were made newly vulnerable to oil, gas and other resource extraction, placed under review by President Trump for what he deems as presidential overreach amounting to a “massive federal land grab.” But it’s important to note that these places were never meant to be walled off or untouchable. They’re meant to be explored.

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Lego wants to convert their iconic plastic bricks to a biomaterial that can survive generations of play

Posted by on Aug 1, 2017 @ 7:22 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Lego wants to convert their iconic plastic bricks to a biomaterial that can survive generations of play

In March, 2017, the Lego Group unveiled the world’s tallest Lego wind turbine to celebrate having met its 100% renewable-energy target three years ahead of schedule.

The 30-ft-tall wind turbine built from 146,000 Lego bricks pays tribute to the Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm near Liverpool, UK, one of Lego’s investments in wind energy totaling $940 million since 2012. Companies often meet (or even beat) ambitious renewable energy targets by investing in clean electricity—such as wind power—to offset traditional electricity consumption. Once Burbo Bank began producing electricity in May, the total output of clean energy from Lego’s investments was enough to offset the power used by the company’s factories, offices, and stores worldwide.

Many big brands have set renewable-energy targets to help reduce their carbon dioxide footprints, but a recently published study concludes offsetting carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy isn’t enough to save the planet. We’ll also need to actually reduce carbon emissions. In 2015, Lego set another target: replacing 20 types of conventional plastics used in making its bricks with sustainable materials by 2030 to help curb the company’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

The Denmark-based toy maker invested $155 million into a Sustainable Materials Center, where materials specialists are exploring alternatives to plastics made from fossil fuels. Lego attributes just 10% of the carbon dioxide emitted during the lifecycle of Lego bricks to the company’s own factories, offices, and stores. The other 90% comes from sources outside its direct control, such as product transport and distribution—and from the making of the tiny plastic chunks it sources from materials suppliers to build its bricks.

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If Americans Are So Worried About Pollution, Why Are So Few Willing to Speak Up About It?

Posted by on Jul 31, 2017 @ 6:35 am in Conservation | 0 comments

If Americans Are So Worried About Pollution, Why Are So Few Willing to Speak Up About It?

Smokestacks billow toxic clouds while crumpled food wrappers dance across the street with the breeze. Given the damage pollution can cause, it’s fair to wonder, how do Americans feel about it?

While pollution is a broad term, several different types bother Americans. Based on the survey results, industrial pollution draws the most ire, followed by water waste and civilian pollution (such as littering).

What people may not understand, is what exactly industrial pollution is. Perhaps images of massive factories or plants with smoke shooting from its stacks 24 hours a day, seven days a week come to mind.

These plants pose a major risk to the health of the surrounding environment and population. Byproducts from such plants include carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, lead and mercury—toxic elements that no one wants near their home or community.

The remaining four types of pollution are of a more personal nature: Water waste, littering and/or civilian pollution, food waste and energy waste are all types of pollution that can be caused by a single person.

When looking at specific instances of civilian pollution, people were most offended by pollution of our natural landscapes.

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How do firefighters determine the cause of a wildfire?

Posted by on Jul 30, 2017 @ 11:39 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How do firefighters determine the cause of a wildfire?

Behind every wildfire is a mystery: How did it start? Was it human-caused? And, if so, who’s responsible?

The recent Peak 2 Fire in Summit County, CO which forced hundreds of residential evacuations and a $2 million bill for emergency services, was found to be the result of two hikers.

But how is that determined?

“Typically the investigation starts the moment we’re aware of a fire,” said Todd Holzwarth, chief of East Grand Fire Protection District. “Is there any reason we should be having a fire at this point? Is it the Monday after the weekend? Have we had a bunch of lightning the day before? Is it moist or dry out? Is it windy?”

In the event of a wildfire, fire departments immediately get to work to determine the origins of the blaze and the cause. The first step in the process is determining whether the fire was natural or if humans caused it.

Firefighters begin putting together the pieces of how a fire may have started before they are even on scene. By analyzing myriad variables in the area of the fire, officials are able to guess as to whether the fire is human caused or natural.

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