Invaders from Beyond

INVASION!! Yes my friend exotic aliens have invaded our beloved country; and like any paranoid alien lover, they have been amongst us for 100’s of Years. This exotic invader from beyond is none other than the earthworm. Yes damn their garden making, soil churning, decomposing help. On a more serious note the current earthworms that are found in our everyday soil are actually European species that were brought here by early settlers.

  It Cant be! But it is, Scientist predict that earthworms were either nonexistent in North America or were wiped out 12000 years ago during the Ice Ages. Subsequently native plant species and organism developed alternative methods for decomposing and renewing the soil. These subterranean invaders have lent a hand to gardeners but also disrupted the native ecosystems across North America and have even assisted the growth and development of other exotic species.

Mind Boggling? No, just remember before Europeans the plains of America were roamed by many species of wild cat, buffalo and strange other creatures. Horses and many other species of animal and plant life didn’t exist.  Worms have disrupted the natural environment and forest across the continent. Once mighty Ferns and wild flowers are dying off in the American wilderness, and in their place new species sprout.

So as the worms cultivate the land, they alter it and make it habitable for other exotic species.  These species again displace even more species until what remains is a totally Alien environment. New plants have disrupted ecosystems far and wide. In India Australian Eucalyptuses trees have caused soil erosion, leaching and flooding. In The Great lakes species such as sea lamprey and Zebra mussels destroy fish populations, cause algae blooms and die offs, throwing the ecosystem out of whack.

Now that we know what these foreigners are about let’s see what we can do to stop them. Nothing about sums it up, once here these species are all but impossible to get rid of. Imagine digging up every square inch of ground, and hundreds of feet down to eradicate the mighty earth worm. Implausible! but even if we managed to rid ourselves of these helpful buggers the soil wouldn’t be the same.

Hey remember when I said we can’t do anything, well that’s only part true, we can stop the further contamination of exotic species by changing our habits. If we use local plants, soil and worms when we do our activities such as gardening and fishing we can successfully curtail the spread of anymore invasive species.   Gardner’s, my mother included love these guys, young boys ( Me included) love to find and fish with these.

 Farmers too enjoy all the benefits provided by these critters, as they break larger dead plant material into smaller bits that can be digested by microorganisms.  If the earthworm were to disappear today, nutrients in the soil would stagnate and find themselves trapped in dead pockets. What about the plants that used to decompose the earth? Well some of them are still around, but they simply aren’t abundant enough to do the job of the worm. In addition  the soil, plants and crops life of today differs greatly from what was once plentiful.

I’d like to introduce you to a different species of worm, so you don’t think there all the same. The Asian earthworm or jumping worm “are among the most reviled earthworms in America. Called “jumpers,” they can thrash, whip around and jump, clearing a few inches at a time. Introduced from Asia, these earthworms became established in parts of the United States by the late 1800s. Composters and fishermen use and sell them.”  Scientist, farmers and millipedes alike hate these guys. These aren’t the worms you want in your garden, they eat more than their fair share, while millipedes compete for the same food source, thus reducing their population.

The earthworm has made farm life in America possible, if the Europeans hadn’t accidently introduced them it may not be possible to sustain life in America. Certain plants are greedy, and hold the soil hostage for nutrients. Worms like to recycle and give back, with smart farming practices such as crop rotation and allowing the ground to lay fallow we in America have managed to avoid soil from becoming infertile. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means you’d be starved, dying or dead.

The invaders from Europe made it possible for native European plants to flourish in American soil. Plants such as “oats , rye ,legumes such as peas, apples, pears, plums and cherries. Grapes, raspberries and blackberries.” That’s not all, vegetables too, such as “lettuce, carrot, parsnip, cabbage, beets, celery, leek , asparagus” While I can’t stand half of the vegetable list, that’s certainly quite a contribution. All of these species would not be possible in  America without the assistance of the worm.  While the diversity of European plant life is extensive, we in the 21st century consume food from all over the world. Some we even grow right here, but as we import more exotic species we change the ecosystem, one which has developed carefully over millions of years. This invasion essentially takes Darwin’s survival of the fittest and give some species guns and bombs while others huddle up.

Hey wait a minute, I’ve seen birds eat worms! Indeed some species adapt, and some such as the European blackbird are from Europe. In fact Darwin alluded to this evolution, or gradual change over time, he suggested that species must adapt of die, and here in North America that is exactly what has happened. In some places native species are all but extinct and in others, hybrids of foreign and native born species grow over the landscape. They have the best advantages of both worlds, and this is in part due to our friends, the worms. So next time you’re in the garden, supermarket or about to eat, think where did this food come from? And what path did it take to get here? Bon Appetit My friends

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Anybody Know Any Good Deforestation Jokes?

Sigh. Me neither. I guess that means I’m going to have to get real with you guys and gals. Get ready, because I’m about to drop some serious knowledge.

Deforestation, a primary concern for environmental activists at the global scale, is often talked about as a problem faced exclusively by developing countries. Discussions of deforestation gravitate toward recent situations in South America, in Africa, such as these in Gambia, The Congo, Cameroon, Zambia, Tanzania, and other areas such as Malaysia and Thailand. This is, in large part, due to the immediacy of the situations in these countries: deforestation is a current and ongoing problem throughout these areas, while it is less so in Europe and the United States, though it is worth noting that we have cleared 95% of our country’s forests in the past 200 years.

2010 Map of the world's forests, provided by Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN

Vandana Shiva discusses deforestation in India extensively in her 1988 book Staying Alive, providing a useful historical context for that region, as well as opposing lenses with which to view forest ecology and forestry through. She describes the “feminine” view of the forest, as a life-producing and life-sustaining ecosystem that humans share a symbiotic relationship with. This view of forests emphasizes biodiversity, harmony with nature and a sacred, nurturing, mutualistic bond between forests and human beings. A principal element of the feminine view is the recognition that everything within the forest serves a useful and meaningful function; species that do not yield edible or otherwise valuable resources directly to humans do so indirectly, in their relationships with other species, both floral and fauna. While a tree may not provide food or functional lumber for building, it enriches the soil, the air and other species around it. This was, she explains, the dominant ideology guiding Indian peoples in their relationships with the forest. She contrasts this with “masculinist” or “reductivist” views of the forest, wherein the forest is viewed as an economic resource, and the relationship is driven by profit-seeking. In this model, species that do not provide economic benefit are viewed, essentially, as weeds. This is the ideology, she argues, that drove deforestation in India, and, it is an easily observable ideology that continues to guide deforestation, both in India and on a global scale.

While deforestation proves visibly harmful to the direct ecosystem it destroys, its impacts don’t end there. The earth’s ecosystems interact with each other and operate in a delicate balance. Damage to, and destruction of, one ecosystem has effects on ecosystems everywhere. As this, admittedly dated but still relevant, piece by NASA describes, deforestation has impacts on climate conditions far beyond the reach of the forests’ immediate vicinities.

Shiva extensively articulates the severe environmental and social costs of deforestation that are often neglected in the quest for profit-making. Deforestation leads to soil depletion, the destruction of food and shelter supply for peoples and animal species alike, landslides, drought, flooding, and numerous other problems, each of which have individual ripple effects. For example, flooding issues extend far beyond drowning crops or filling basements with puddles; floods negatively affect water quality and deteriorate infrastructure. The water quality impact is obvious; we drink water and cook with it and brush our teeth with it. It needs to be clean. The infrastructure aspect requires perhaps a bit more pause. When water infrastructure floods, sewer systems back up. This is bad for sewer systems and plants that manage them, but this can often have really gnarly results like raw sewage in your basement and/or your water systems. Raw. sewage. in. your. basement. Not. cute.

It is essential to recognize our own individual roles in deforestation. It is not faceless companies and corporations alone who reap the benefits of mass deforestation; we, as consumers, actively participate in this process in the products we buy and use. Many of our everyday products, while not direct products of deforestation, are the finished results of extracted resources. However, there are ways to be a social and environmentally responsible consumer. For instance, Nestle, the largest food corporation in the world, as a result of a successful campaign I referenced in an earlier post devoted to Greenpeace (shameless self-promotion, what up?!), pledged in 2010 to stop selling products that were the result of deforestation, and have followed through on that. The following quote illuminates one successful approach to more socially and environmentally responsible methods of production:

Governments and consumers also play a role. In Brazil, where deforestation resulted from soy and cattle farming, mounting pressure from consumers forced the government to declare a moratorium on buying or exporting soybeans produced on recently deforested land. This moratorium, along with other laws and programs protecting the forest, drastically reduced deforestation in the Amazon over the past five years – so much so that Brazil has lowered its heat-trapping emissions more than any other country on Earth – all while increasing the production of soy and cattle.

It’s made evident by the Brazil example that change is possible. The reductivist ideology of forestry has pervaded for centuries, and the disastrous environmental results are headed toward catastrophic. A return of the feminine view of forestry would be beneficial not only to the rural peoples of countries currently being devastated by deforestation, but to the earth as a whole, and, according to a recent report, ending deforestation could actually provide an economic benefit to the United States. A coalition of US groups from different industries ranging from agriculture groups, forestry groups and even United Steelworkers presented this study to Congress to call for an end to tropical deforestation, explaining that “overseas agriculture and logging operations are expanding production by cutting down the world’s rainforests, allowing them to flood the world markets with cheap commodities that undercut American goods.” The economic benefit estimated is astonishing – between $196 and $267 billion by 2030.

With an abundance of complicated problems in our own communities, particularly in economically difficult times, it’s challenging to inspire people to extend their realm of concern beyond things that pertain directly to their lives. While deforestation and its consequences do extend into our lives, we are largely the beneficiaries of the havoc being wreaked on the environment and peoples of the regions affected. Attempts to convince the public to change their daily routines in an inconvenient way that is a notoriously difficult sell, and we have no shortage of immediate and devastating problems throughout the world to contend with. However, Brazil and Nestle prove that drastic change is possible, and the positive effects extend just as negative effects do. Through supporting companies who make responsible decisions in purchasing and production, and supporting the efforts of groups like Greenpeace who apply the necessary types of pressure, it’s possible to restore some of our lost forests.

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A World Without Water

Imagine the world in a few hundred years.  How does it look to you? Does it have plenty of water and life?  Some people believe that the Earth will soon run out of water and living beings will not be able to survive.

Water is essential to life. About 60% of the human body is made up of water and not a single human being on this planet would be able to live without it.  However, because of systems installed to retain water and develop an abundance of it, places in India are facing water famines.

Typically, water is a renewable source and it can usually be renewed by the water cycle.  According to Vandana Shiva, “water circulates from sea to clouds, to lands and rivers, to lakes and to underground streams, and ultimately returns to the ocean, generating life wherever it goes (183).”  With this natural flow of water, water can and should be accessible forever in any of its forms.

Many people fail to see how the water cycle works because sometimes water can be underground in things such as soil or rocks.  Some people believe that the water cycle needs human intervention to be able to drink it or have a substantial amount of it.  There are many things that people have done using science and technology that has caused a water crisis in India.  By creating dams, diverting of rivers, deforestation and cultivating water intense crops (like sugarcane) all contribute to the crisis. These are all maldevelopments that are severely hindering the water cycle.

Shiva speaks about how men have created this problem and how they attempt to fix it.  However, the more they try to fix the problem, the more of a disaster it becomes.  They attempt to build more and more systems to fix the flow of water instead of letting the water flow naturally.  According to Shiva, the Ethiopian famine is a result of the damming of the Awash River.  The damming of the river was supposed to help provide water to crops such as a sugarcane and cotton.  However, instead of fixing the problem it only made it worse and has reduce the amount of water within the river (194).  The fact that men believe they know the earth better than nature does, confuses me personally.  Who are we to decide what is best for the natural water flow.   There has to be a point where humans stop intervening with the environment and nature.  If we don’t, no one really knows what will happen.  As Shiva states “the masculine project becomes an endless spiral of new technology which demand more water, further diminish and deplete water resources, and change nature’s abundance to irreversible scarcity (214).”

What Shiva is really trying to make clear is that because of the interventions to the water cycle, women have been displaced.  Men believe that they are experts on water, but in actuality in India women are really the experts. Previous to this man made problem, women were the providers of water. This was women’s central role in society. They had an effective partnership with nature which helped to increase the amount of water available without other unnatural interferences (206).  Since all the water has been dried up, women’s roles have been significantly reduced. Women had their own ways of purifying the water to make it drinkable but men think they know better and ignore women’s voices.  Clearly, women’s opinions should have been listened to because if they were then the water crisis might never have occurred.  Since women are no longer able to provide for their families, they are forced to move in order to find water and avoid famines. Those who choose to stay now have to walk many miles just to get water. Why are women not seen as essential? Is it the culture?

Women do not stand by and watch blindly.  They stand up for what they believe and know is right.  For example, the women of the Chipko movement blockade mining operations in 1986 in the Nahi-Bakot area.  The mining, they believed, had destroyed the forests which then reduce the water supply.  These women watched their lives be destroyed by this (208).  By standing up against men, these women clearly demonstrated their bravery, concern and knowledge of the water cycle. These men did not understand that rocks play an important part in the water cycle but the women did.

Although this isn’t mentioned in the book, I think it is important that we look at our own water usage.  Shiva speaks about a water crisis in India but because of our usage, this can happen here in America too.  In America, many people take their water supply for granted.  Many of us take long showers, use dishwashers, washing machines, flush toilets, water our lawns and do much more that involves large sums of water.  At minimum a shower uses approximately 2.5 gallons of water per minute and a dishwasher uses about 15 gallons of water a load.  Washing machines can use 30 to 40 gallons a load and every time someone flushes a toilet about 1.6 to 6 gallons of water is wasted. Even when someone water’s their lawn they can use anywhere from 3 to 10 gallons a minute (http://fi.edu/guide/schutte/howmuch.html). As you can see, all of these products use a substantial amount of water that Americans never think twice about using.  Do you ever stop to think about how the amount of water you use affects the environment or the future of our water supply?  While Americans use water and treat it like its everlasting, other areas in the world lack water because of things such as new technology and deforestation. If Americans continue to use water the way we do now it is possible that in the future there will be no fresh water supply, as it is in other parts of the world.  This could be us and I don’t think many people realize that.

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Rush Limbaugh can choke on Facts and then some.

I’d  have to say I’m not for loud mouth idiots ranting, unless of course it happens to be me.  Attacking women’s rights and independence in this day and age doesn’t seem to be the right move.  Still some people don’t get it, a women’s word or actions can destroy a man, Ask Kobe, Tiger Woods Eliot Spitzer. Yes true, true those men were doing something wrong, but when a women scorns, it hurts.

That’s the sting Limbaugh must be feeling right about now, except in this case he did most of his own stinging, not too hard for him. Limbaugh verbally attacked Sandra Fluke for addressing congress on Birth control rights and Obamacare. He called her a “slut” and “prostitute”suggesting that “we”, yes the proverbial we (society) were paying for her to have sex, and he is “surprised she could walk to Capitol Hill”.

Image   As advertisers, 10 so far, pull away I think he is beginning to understand that women’s roles in society transcend the narrow definitions assigned to them by the patriarchal structure Vandana Shiva could serve to enlighten him. Men like Limbaugh tend to think the world revolves around them, they hunt they create therefore they sustain. Men’s ability to hunt has been greatly exaggerated, if early human civilization had depended on that, well I wouldn’t be writing this. Women in many subsistence societies provide 80 % of the food (50); women also serve as gatherers of wood, water, medicines etc.  These women work within nature to survive. There cultural development isn’t due to a lack of understanding, but based on an advanced understanding or “not through fear or ignorance but through cultural insight.”(57) An insight modern man has just now began to understand.

Speaking of medicine women, not men in societies were the healers, they found natural cures that today are being “legitimized” by western medicine or Patriarchy. Women in early and current societies served as planners. They managed the family, village, gathered food, explored, understood and made medicine and by doing so discovered natural means to curb their reproductive health. According to Shiva women in times of need, such as famines or droughts could manage their reproductive abilities as to not burden the society. This manageable growth sounds awfully Familiar to what China, India and even The Us have been struggling to accommodate, especially since the US’s populations is expected to surpass 1 billion by 2100. Yet here is “unsophisticated” and non-westernized society’s women have been doing what modern men cannot for thousands of years.Image

Francis Bacon the father of modern Western science sought to control nature, both of the feminine and organic. He believed he could alter and splice plants, make them bear fruit according to manmade cycles; similarly he believed he could control reproduction in women ( 16)Image. Bacon as Brilliant and ahead of his time as he was still lacked to comprehend what he envisioned was in part already done. Naturally as men encroached upon the fields of medicine they had to legitimize their claims. So they stole the ideas of women, used empirical knowledge to disprove and hundreds of years  later reaffirm their beliefs; branded them witches and excluded them from participating in any recognizable and therefore praised and profitable work. Instead women became invisible, and their work was made to appear less valuable, although any economist will shatter this belief.

In the 21st century women have again risen to reclaim what was stolen from them, and birth control is a means to accomplish this. It allows women, Get this, to Planit’s crazy, but yes to plan on how to use their Bodies. TOO Radical? Play ignorant! Women’s ability to plan, curb and control their bodies would again have a more direct impact on society. Smart, planned growth, the object of every “advanced nation” on earth would be achieved more evenly if women were allowed to participate; and would create new job markets, as they bring different needs, ideas and realities to bear.

As Man’s cities grow crowded, water supplies dry up, ecological disasters increase people began to recognize there has to be a better way. Man has been battling the elements and, forces such as earth quakes, drought, floods, but in India  “merciless deforestation as well as cultivation of profitable pines in place of broad leaf trees was clearly the cause”(69) of many ecological disasters.  So again men in their legitimized patriarchal fashion created the current Organic Green revolution; or a society balanced between man and nature.  They turned to ideas such as respecting nature, using natural and organic components for buildings, medicines etc., and living near wImageater sources and not using resources faster than they could be replenished. Now If someone could tell this Green news to the Women in India and many other villages that run on subsistence to catch up with the times, there practices a thousands of years out of date, or so ancient its advanced.  Perhaps Prakriti or essence and spirit of nature isn’t as mythical as it once seemed. Modern science is now recognizing what tribal persons have been saying for thousands of years “The earth does not belong to man….man did not weave the web of life he is merely a strand in it”(19). What affects the earth affects us, and what we do to the earth comes back to haunt us.

I think Limbaugh could use some of this Knowledge, a women’s right to manage her reproductive health has been with human civilization since its inception. Women nursed men from the cradle of civilization, started the real green revolution, showing men how to plant and grow the seeds that they foraged.  From this ability to grow food, came more permanent settlements, animal herding and much advancement that allowed man to progress to where he is today. Women are a child’s first teacher, she cares for and nurses it and has a greater idea of what’s good for it; in turn these children grow up and shape the future based in part from what they learned from their mothers.

Choke.

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Under the Umbrella: Women In the Food Chain

 

            In the 1940’s Norman Borlaug began to research different agricultural aspects, revolving around resistants for new diseases and different varieties for wheat. He began to explore his theories in Mexico, and was able to produce a surplus of wheat that not only fed all the citizens, but allowed the government to create an international market in it. (geography.com) Due to the success of these new technologies in Mexico, technology exploded in various countries, which is what we call the era of the Green Revolution. Looking through a narrow lens, the Green Revolution looks to have positive impacts on the countries that it applied to; correct? As Vandana Shiva explains in Staying Alive, this revolution led to a shift to a patriarchal paradigm that may have had some influence on issues women are facing today, such as dowries along with their consequences and infanticides/feticides.

 

Before the Green Revolution, women were in charge of the production and consumption of crops. They grew, picked, and made meals out of these products,  usually by themselves while their spouses were away obtaining sources of income. These women invented things such as work tools (hoe, spades, and shovels), crop rotations, mulching and irrigation and basic plowing. (Shiva) Women were, “…credited with the discovery of domestication and cultivation of plants and animals.” (Shiva 104) When the Green Revolution occurred, these accreditation (s) were no longer significant. Scholars have reported that this revolution was a shift towards a masculine view. This is because there was a change from just providing for one family to profits by mass production. Providing food was a woman’s job, but making a profit off the goods was the man’s (seeing that the green revolution was intended for Profit margins off of food production). Because of this shift women became inferior in the production of food products. As some of us may have seen, when women become inferior to men in society, they usually suffer economically, socially, verbally, mentally and physically.

 

In the Green Revolution era, the ‘big people’ (ie rich) continued to get richer and the poor continued to get poorer. This led to not only struggles in the home place, but with food and job shortages. Since farmers were now producing cash crops, they did not have enough food to support themselves. This is because they had to take loans out from the state/ country in order to get new seeds, and pesticides that were regulated under this ‘new’ technology.  When there is a shortage in food, who do you think is the last to eat? Yep, you are probably correct, women, usually the female child last. This struggle for survival also lead (s) to other issues, such as infanticide/ feticide and dowry increases/ deaths. (Shiva 119)

 

I want to focus on the remainder of this blog to talk about why there is this direct correlation between the food chain that we all know and women’s issues, including dowry and infanticide. Dowry is the payment of cash, or gifts in exchange of a man marrying a family’s daughter (I understand this may sound degrading, but in my head dowries are). This commonly happens in India, however is does occur within various other places. In 1960, dowries were actually prohibited by law in India, yet we all know they still continue in many rurally communities. (indianchild.com) Since dowries are now illegal, many families will have the husbands physically and mentally abuse the bride and her family until a payment has been met to his families standards. This causes tension not only between the husband and wife, but between both families.  I also mentioned dowry deaths in the previous paragraph; in case you aren’t aware these are usually caused by fires. Most burnings of the wives are done because the dowry was not paid in full, on time, or was not what the husband’s family actually wanted. Ironically enough the governments statistics state that the deaths are accidents ninety percent of the time. (indianchild.com) Infanticide is the practice of killing your child shortly after birth, while feticide is the killing of the unborn child, usually after gender is determined. I think that many people do not think that either of these crimes occur, just so we are clear they happen everywhere, even in the United States, however not as much as ‘poorer civilizations’. (infanticide.org)

Looking at both of these points, you can kind of sense why both might occur more often as a result of the Green Revolution. When food because scarce, people begin rationing out their portions to family members. Since women are already looked at as the inferior gender (to some, not all), they usually either go without food or with the smallest portion. When this shortage occurs, many families are not willing to take women ‘in’ unless there is something beneficial for them. This causes dowry to increase, which at often times becomes impossible. And as Vandana Shiva stated there is this ‘umbrella’ like model with the Green Revolution as the cover or top of the umbrella, dowry under it followed by infanticide. So this pressure of increasing dowry leads directly to infanticides because of the risk of having a female is so heavily negated. When a female is born in places such as China and India, the pressures of having enough for dowry or having another mouth to feed with ‘no benefit’ is so great that parents find the easy way out by killing the child. Horrible I know, but time to come out from underneath our sheltered first world ideals.

            As you can see this first world ‘improvement’ on surplus crops may have been a great ideal in theory, however it has developed into a monstrous system that is hurting more and more women and female children daily. Taking a step back to look at our future, if we continue this method of food production, will the ratios of female to male drop significantly? Or do you think societies will go back to self producing where food products only go to each individual family?

 

http://geography.about.com/od/globalproblemsandissues/a/greenrevolution.htm

 

http://www.indianchild.com/dowry_in_india.htm

 

http://infanticide.org/history.htm

 

http://www.corecentre.co.in/Database/Docs/DocFiles/food_chains.pdf

 

 

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Let’s All Get an Apartment Together in Chicago

I'm going and you're all invited.

While the scientific community and those who place their faith in it are still struggling to convince naysayers of its existence, global climate change has already begun to wreak havoc on human settlements in various parts of the world. The effects have become undeniably apparent in coastal cities like Norfolk, Virginia, where rising sea levels threaten to destroy homes, and it has appears that the impacts of global climate change are only beginning. While areas across the world remain in denial, from  Arizona homeowners’ associations mandating that residents keep their lawns green (with residents unwilling to comply painting their lawns green instead), to ambitious and ill-conceived attempts to channel drinking water through industrial wastelands from South China to North China, governments taking realistic and proactive attempts to be combat climate change and prepare for the impending and inevitable changes to their natural environments are unfortunately few and far between. The city of Chicago is one such example, of a city uniting its public, private and not-for-profit sectors to develop and implement sustainable solutions to the problems they will soon be facing, as outlined in this piece run last May in the New York Times.

 The Chicago Climate Action Plan, first conceived and designed in 2006 under then-mayor Richard Daley, is carefully constructed, highly ambitious and sustainable. The plan includes new pavement designed to allow water to permeate rather than back up sewer systems to capture the predicted increase in rainfall, new streetscapes including wider sidewalks and new bicycle pathways to encourage residents to drive less and thereby reduce air pollutants and gasoline use, and new species of trees more suitable to the future weather conditions, described as being comparable to today’s climate in Alabama as soon as 2070.

The New York Times piece, authored by Leslie Kaufman, demonstrates a subtle bias in favor of Chicago’s plan; one I make no effort to conceal that I share. I am excited by the efforts of the plan and the potential it offers, both to the city of Chicago and to the rest of the world, who will undoubtedly be forced to follow suit eventually. Chicago is likely to function as a prototype for cities in the future to model climate change action plans after. While Chicago is not the only city in the world, or even the United States for that matter, to develop a climate change action plan, Chicago’s plan is of yet the most ambitious, comprehensive and sustainable, by far. The article’s scientific (perhaps “liberal”) leaning is congruent with the reputation of the New York Times, and while I share both scientific and liberal inclinations, the perspective, like all perspectives, has limitations. When one takes an issue like global climate change, which a sizable percentage of the population still believes is up for debate, and presents it as fact, one must recognize the likelihood of losing out on part of the potential readership. However, it is relatively safe to assume that regular readers of the New York Times already believe in global climate change, and the scientific evidence for global climate change is overwhelming. In my opinion, articles that do not address global climate change as scientific fact are irresponsible and are doing a disservice to their readers.

Kaufman’s piece also glosses over an important event in the city of Chicago and its potential effects: the election of Rahm Emanuel. The mayoral shift from Richard Daley to Rahm Emanuel, and the accompanying shift in mentality, seems under-addressed; the article states that “members of [his] administration have said he is committed to moving the goals of the plan forward, albeit with an added emphasis on ‘projects that accelerate jobs and economic development.’.” While Kaufman adds this as an aside, the ideological difference seems striking; while Daley’s plan took painstaking efforts to be feasible, the emphasis was on preparing the city for the future, while Emanuel’s message incorporates current concerns about the economy. While striking a balance between the plan’s goals and current economic conditions in the city seems reasonable and perhaps necessary, the plan was designed to address concerns about the city’s infrastructure and sustainability, and not to create jobs or to foster economic growth, and the goals of the plan should remain at the forefront. Fortunately, the plan’s goals have remained intact and Mayor Emanuel has stayed committed, telling two coal power plants they have to present a plan to the city to clean up pollution or risk being shut down within two years.

The piece raises many questions. The issue of global climate change is one not being addressed with the necessary levels of attention and seriousness. The impending effects, while strongly supported by a wealth of scientific evidence, are still a matter of speculation, and the repercussions of climate change trends are as of yet still not understood fully, even by those at the forefront of the scientific field. The changes to our natural environment will undoubtedly spur consequences unforeseen that we are not prepared for.

It is also undeniable that the sustainable development in Chicago and other places is still in an experimental phase; there are sure to be newly developed problems that will require attention and solutions as a result of some, if not all, of these changes. While the permeable pavement in Chicago presents a viable solution to sewer flooding problems, and, with underground tanks capturing rainwater to be used later, an innovative way new form of conservation, the pavement requires maintenance work, to prevent silt from settling into it and deteriorating its effectiveness, which will cost the city both money and time. There are sure to be issues of this nature with other phases of the development process as well, and Kaufman does not address this likelihood.

Regardless of the article’s limitations, I found it to be well-written, compelling and informative. Chicago’s ambition and dedication to preparation is inspiring, exciting and a role model for cities across the world.

Basically, if the city of Chicago was a person, it would be Adele because it wins ALL OF THE AWARDS

What do you think? Is Chicago headed in the right direction, or are there more pressing and immediate matters to attend to? Plus, if Chicago’s going to be the new Alabama in terms of weather… What’s Alabama going to look like?

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‘Black Mayonnaise’

New. York. Times. Oh how I love reading articles from you. Have any of you ever wondered what these journalist actually do for a living/ Do they just wake up and say ‘Hell, I cannot wait to write about pollution today’. Going off of that, do journalists actual give society all the facts, or is it skewed to make the story sound better? Personally, I think that all the editors and journalists fight over who gets the space that appears on the front page, so they will manipulate anything to make the ‘It Story’, but heck back to the lovely work of ecology. This year, the United States federal government Environmental Protection Agency decided that one of the canals in the lovely state of New York was shockingly, hazardous, contaminated, and toxic (yes I am aware these all mean the same thing, but I like the affect). Located in lovely Brooklyn, garbage and many other pollutants float down the 1.8 mile long waterway, what some of us may know as the Gowanus Canal.

As journalist Liz Robbins stated in her article US Announces Proposals to Clean Gowanus Canal, this ‘toxic cocktail’ has been under a close surveillance by the United States federal government for the past ten (ish) years. (Robbins) Roughly a month ago, (Early January 2012) the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposals (seven) to, “…dredge, cap and dispose,” the toxins located in the Gowanus Canal. However these plans are an estimated 300-400 million dollar investment. (Robbins) As Robbins mentions in this article, there are many sides of this multimillion dollar proposal. She talks about different government official’s opinions, incorporating federal, state, and city officials. In this article Hans Hasselein states that the canal must get worse before it can get any better, yet other officials are hesitant to spend so much money on it.(Robbins) If the federal government has declared this canal to be one of the most hazardous in the United States, then I do not understand the issue of why the money cannot be spent.

Throughout this entire article, we never once get an opinion given by a citizen, let alone one that lives near the canal. In the article Robbins did mention something about a meeting that was going to be held on January 24, 2012, discussing the concerns that citizens may have, so I decided to look into this meeting to actually get insight from the people that are being directly affected. After searching the internet for some time, I only found one article, which oddly enough was also from the New York Times (EPA Held Public Meeting on Gowanus Canal Clean Up.- Locals Concerned with Recontamination) In this article Gwen Ruelle discusses in a greater depth the technicality of the process; some of which include the lost 15 year process this plan would take and the benefits of getting rid of all the toxins for the local wildlife. Ruelle stated that the community reacted positively to the proposal although a few citizens brought up issues dealing with the possibly contamination of ground water. (Ruelle)

At this meeting, locals also pointed out this term ‘black mayonnaise,’ that I wanted to briefly touch upon. At the bottom of the canal there is a layer of sediment that has recently appeared to look like mayonnaise. Many toxins reside in the layer, including PCBs, PAHs, NAPLs, and heavy metals. For those of you that do not know, PCB is used in coolant fluids in electric motors, PAHs are aromatic hydrocarbons that are found in oil and tar, and NAPLs are non-aqueous phase liquids that do not dissolve in water (toxics.usgs.gov)

After reading about this, I became really curious to how all waterways of canals may be. I live in a small town and we have a canal that runs all the way through it. As children we used to swim in it when we wanted to be rebels against our parents. (pretty dumb considering my family has a pool) Now that I know in New York City studies find all these hazardous wastes to this day being dumped, do any of you wonder what may be in local waterways near you? I think many of us have heard of the Love Canal that is in the Niagara Falls region, and we all know how the chemicals from the water were to be toxic, and may have lead to mutations and various diseases. If this was found to have happened in the 1983, why is the government just now stepping in to clean up the hazardous wastes in Brooklyn?

Looking back on the first article I touched upon, I think that Liz Robbins did a good job at explaining what exactly was going on. I think because this issue is related in the United States, there isn’t this factor of first world depicting the third world. In many cases that we talk about in class we talk about the fact that many people assume things overseas are like what we have the America, but those always become problematic. I feel like because the article is from a journalist in New York City, close to where Brooklyn is, she may have had a lot of information right in the foreground, so she didn’t have to worry about becoming problematic in that aspect. Since the proposals were so recent, I feel like Robbins did enough research that she possibly could, and was willing to give times and dates to the community to when the discussion for them would occur.

I also liked that the fact that the same day another reporter from the New York Times posted about the Environmental Protection Agencies proposal towards the canal. Both of these articles were really similar, however you can see two different writing styles. Based off of the comparison between the two articles, you can either decided that both journalist gave the citizens the correct information, or they were did a great job at hiding some of the issues that the Federal Government may or may not be hiding.

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/on-our-radar-dredging-the-gowanus-canal/ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/nyregion/epa-announces-proposals-to-clean-gowanus-canal.html?_r=1&ref=waterpollution http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/gowanus-canal/ http://toxics.usgs.gov/definitions/napls.html

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