At least where air pollution levels are concerned, it looks like I moved here at the right time. This is due to to an effort to get buildings in New York City to stop using two kinds of very dirty burning fuel oils. By switching to cleaner fuels, “sulfur dioxide levels have dropped by 69 percent since 2008, and the level of soot pollution has dropped by more than 23 percent since 2007,” according to the New York Times. Not only do residents breathe easier but it is estimated that 800
Let me start by saying this is not an apology. When my wife and I sold our 1998 Honda Accord a few years back and bought a small SUV (a RAV4), we contemplated a hybrid, specifically a Ford Escape, though also thought about a Prius. Given our limited driving (~6,000 miles the first year we owned it), the threat of snow in the winter, and the concomitant need for 4-wheel/all-wheel drive, I think we made the right choice. In addition, I still think that an electrified fleet is the way to go for “sustainable” transport, though algal oil needs to play a role as well. Now, with all of those qualifiers aside, the reason for this post.
Serendipity. New York City is full of it. Sure, there is leaving your apartment to unexpectedly see a man finishing up whizzing on the building’s main entrance at 3pm on a Sunday, but there are also the happy surprises that occur when venturing out on foot.
Going out to try a burger at Big Nick’s Pizza and Burger Joint (SE corner of Columbus and 71st) a few blocks away, I rounded the corner to find
Waste Land (2010), is a movie that has gotten a lot of press. It was even nominated for an Academy Award in 2011. This documentary follows around an artist, Vik Muniz, on his journey to create art from trash. Muniz returns to Brazil for this journey. He is originally from Sao Paulo but the documentary takes place in Rio de Janeiro.
At first Muniz focuses on learning about the society that has developed around Jardim Gramacho, Brazil’s largest landfill. This landfill was created in 1970 and then a community formed around it. This community consisted of scavengers digging through the trash for resources (materials to be sold, food, etc.). The scavengers then grew and created official jobs out of it in 1995. They began to focus on recyclable materials that could be sold for profit. The pickers then formed their own organization, ACAMJG (the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho). This association helped organize selling to recycling companies and pay the workers wages depending on the materials they picked. An average pay for a worker is about $20 a day. But they are still working in trash, which sometimes includes medical waste.
It was only a couple of years ago that @BeijingAir sent it’s now-famous tweet about Beijing having “crazy bad” air quality, but the People’s Republic of China says it’s ready to turn a new leaf. The government says it is aiming to reduce large and fine particulate matter by cutting back on coal use and high-emission vehicles such as two-stroke rickshaws.
A few months back we were approached by a large home improvement chain with the offer of an employee to write an article about tankless water heaters. Since our approach is to generate as much of the content on the site as possible, we suggested they donate one and I’d test it out. The house I recently bought was going to need a new water heater and it seemed the perfect option. While the home improvement chain was not willing to acquiesce, my wife and I travelled down the tankless path ourselves.
One highlight of a recent visit to Yellowstone National Park (as described in a recent post) was visiting the venerable Old Faithful Inn and seeing several of the park’s historic structures. Yellowstone established many important precedents as America’s first national park, and these landmark buildings set the mold for a distinctive form of national park architecture that crystallized in the handsome log and stone structures built on public lands across the United States by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. In some respects, these historic structures are arguably as much a part of the character of national and state parks and forests today as the landscapes they help showcase.
Yellowstone was striking to me, compared to other national parks and forests I have visited, because of the extensive scale of its man-made development and infrastructure. Environmental management values and practices have evolved significantly over the decades since Yellowstone’s structures were built, with increasing focus on preserving wilderness areas and reducing the footprint and impacts of human activity. This shift has unquestionably helped to protect important and fragile ecosystems and natural treasures for future generations. At the same time, this has also generated some paradoxes with significant implications for the future of how these lands are utilized in the future.
During the late 1980′s when the craft beer movement was still in its infancy, breweries were limited in their means of distribution, and most placed their beers in barrels or kegs. In 1987, when Full Sail Brewing Brewing Company started in Hood River, Oregon (60 miles east of Portland), it was in the same boat, and during its first year, put all of its beer into 287 barrels. However, the next year, Full Sail became one of the first microbreweries in the Pacific Northwest to bottle its own beer. Years later, in 1999, Full Sail made another innovative move when it became employee owned. Since then, the employee-owners of Full Sail have committed themselves to remaining innovative, placing their efforts into making good beer and expanding their green initiatives (enough so that they have consistently been ranked as one of the top Green Companies in Oregon) while still remaining one of the top 25 craft breweries in America (by production).