The Race to Save Earth’s Ice

Day 234 – When I think about giant pieces of cloth being placed over mountain ice to help prevent it from melting, it makes me think of one of those doomsday movies. Like I feel it could have been a scene in the movie The Day After Tomorrow. Sadly, this science fiction sounding scenario is happening in real life. 70m long strips of reflective material are being placed over the ice on the Pressena glacier, in the Italian Alps, to try to preserve it from the intense rays of the sun.

What’s even more disturbing about this situation is that this is not the first time scientists have used tarps to help prevent the melting of glaciers. The first attempts to partially cover a glacier came in 1993 on the Zugspitze in southern Bavaria in Germany. Since then several glacier areas in Switzerland and Austria have followed suit. Since 2004, glaciers have been partially covered at eight locations in the Swiss Alps at altitudes of between 2,250 and 3,250 m above sea level. It is estimated that it would cost $1 billion a year to cover all the Swiss glaciers.

In the Northern Cascades as the winter season neared an end, mountain snowpacks were still running a decent amount above average. Then temperatures soared into the 80s, 90s and even triple digits. In the higher elevations, the snow didn’t stand a chance. Snow depth gauges at Paradise Ranger Station around 5,400 feet up Mt. Rainier measured 106 inches of snow on the ground on June 6, according to the Northwest Avalanche Center. A month later on July 5, there were only 8 inches up there. Summer melting of the snowpack is an annual occurrence but the National Weather Service in Seattle says 30% of that meltoff came in the four days between June 26 and June 30. Paradise reached the upper 80s on June 28 and then hit 91 degrees on June 29.

Global warming is real and it is happening. There is only so much scientists can do to hold back the damaging effects. At some point we need to come together as inhabitants of this planet and figure out a way to decrease the temperature, before we have nothing left to protect.

Tomorrow, charcoal vs. gas grilling.

Hydroponics: Harvests from Home

Day 176Hydroponics is not new. It’s been around for a very long time. The earliest examples of hydroponics date back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Floating Gardens of China. Humans used these techniques thousands of years ago. This method of growing plants without the use of soil is becoming more popular as the years go by, for various reasons. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons involves the increasing problem of global warming. We are going to find ourselves finding it more and more difficult to grow food using traditional methods due to the increase temperatures around the planet.

I ended up writing about this subject after seeing an advertisement for Lettuce Grow. The concept was not new to me, but I was intrigued by their product.

Here are a few things that impressed me.

  1. You could have produce ready to be eaten within 3 weeks.
  2. About 4 square feet needed compared to 40 square feet with traditional gardening.
  3. A substantially less amount of water is needed compared to a traditional garden.
  4. The Farmstand system is made from ocean bound plastic.
  5. For every 10 Farmstands purchased, one is donated.

With anything, there are drawbacks. The Farmstand system needs constant power (as do most hydroponic systems), even if growing outside. This is a rather large drawback, especially not knowing what the cost of using that electricity over a long period of time.

I think it’s a great concept and Lettuce Grow is not the only company offering hydroponic systems. I think it’s something to consider when dealing with space issues and water use. If you’re feeling motivated enough, you could create your own electric free hydroponics system.

For now, I think the family and I will stick with the traditional gardening. Thankfully, here in the midwest, the weather has not become as extreme as in other parts of the country. I do believe, hydroponics will become a very popular option for growing food in our country and around the world. As the climate changes, we will have to find ways to adapt.

Tomorrow, an alternative to your plastic toothbrush.

TED-Ed: 5 minute videos that will enrich your knowledge

Day 110 – I’m a strong believer in the fact that we are never too old to learn something new. There is always some new piece of information or perspective that we can discover. Last summer, I used TED-Ed videos to educate the kids on a variety of topics and subjects. We watched, “The last chief of the Comanches and the fall of an empire“, “The rise and fall of the Celtic warriors” and “The rise and fall of the Mongol Empire“, just to name a few.

I thought TED-Ed videos could be a great tool to learn more about environmental issues. The videos are short and nicely animated to grab and keep your attention. The information is valuable and can help people understand such topics as global warming, climate change and reduce, reuse, recycle.

Here are a few TED-Ed videos you should check out.

  1. What really happens to the plastic you throw away – Emma Bryce
  2. Can 100% renewable energy power the world? – Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei
  3. Climate change: Earth’s giant game of Tetris – Joss Fong
  4. “What happened when we all stopped” narrated by Jane Goodall
  5. How long will human impacts last? – David Biello
  6. Is the weather actually becoming more extreme? – R. Saravanan
  7. Why the Arctic is climate change’s canary in the coal mine – William Chapman
  8. What happens if you cut down all of a city’s trees? – Stefan Al
  9. How does fracking work? – Mia Nacamulli
  10. The wildly complex anatomy of a sneaker – Angel Chang

To view more TED-Ed videos involving the environment, click HERE.

To receive TED-Ed videos in your inbox, be sure to subscribe.

Tomorrow, collecting the rain.

Watch Tomorrow: Climate of Hope

Day 107 – Climate of Hope will air tomorrow, Sunday, April 18 at 11pm on ABC (check your local listing for time and channel). Though, I wish it was being televised at a more appropriate time, hopefully, many can DVR the program and watch later.

“Our America: Climate of Hope” is an hour-long special that will bring together ABC Owned Television Stations, trusted meteorologists and National Geographic Explorers to look at the impact of climate change and the innovations and ingenuity being applied to address it. The program will cover coastal flooding, wildfires and other environmental challenges that negatively impact communities. They will also discuss the disproportional impact those challenges have on communities of color.

Even though the video footage will be difficult to watch and will no doubt seem like an unwinnable situation, the program will cover cutting edge innovations, introduce young environmental leaders and offer practical solutions that we can all do to help reduce climate change. It’s definitely an hour we should all set aside and allow ourselves to be open to the ideas and suggestions being discussed. The change to a healthier environment starts with us.

Watch the trailer HERE for Our America: Climate of Hope.

Tomorrow, Recycle Popup recap.

Fossil Fools Day

Image borrowed from National Geographic

Day 91 – It is no joke that the use of fossil fuels is not good for the planet. However, we rely on them everyday. The gas in our cars, the flame on our stoves and the electricity needed to power our lights are just a few ways we have become dependent on fossil fuels . It is such an efficient source of energy and even its byproducts are used to produce plastic, which can be found in pretty much everything. Unfortunately, the use of fossil fuels is killing our planet. The release of fossil fuels pollutes the air (among other things) and increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which contributes to greenhouse gases. Like an actual greenhouse that traps heat to keep plants and other vegetation nice and warm during the cooler months, greenhouse gases are trapped in our atmosphere and heats up the planet. The more greenhouse gases, the more heat that is produced. This increase in temperature is causing global warming.

So, what can be done? What is the answer to this global problem?

Well, the answer is renewable energy sources. There is much debate when it comes to fossil fuels vs. renewable energy. For me, it seems like a no brainer. Choose the energy sources that will stop destroying the planet.

  1. Biomass – wood waste, solid waste, biodiesel, etc.
  2. Hydropower
  3. Geothermal
  4. Wind
  5. Solar

Imagine a world, where we are able to power our homes with the waste we produce. It sounds like science fiction but it’s already happening at waste management facilities. This type of resource is only viable if the emissions given off by burning trash are kept from entering the atmosphere. Unfortunately, many facilities are not equipped and end up polluting the air.

In 2017, a press release from the Argonne National Laboratory discusses a paper written in the Journal of Cleaner Production, which helps assess the environmental benefits of various waste-to-energy production pathways while avoiding emissions of methane and other harmful air pollutants. The paper was written by Uisung Lee of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. In his paper, he writes,

“By using waste to produce energy, we can avoid emissions from landfills and potentially reduce the need for additional landfills across the country.” 

“Our study shows that using what would otherwise become landfill waste to produce fuel typically generates less greenhouse gases than simply letting the waste decompose.”

The work has already started to move our country and the world to renewable resources. So, what can we do to help the cause?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m in no position to purchase an electric car at the moment, or invest in a wind turbine. The solar panels, on the other hand, are something to look into. What I can do, is support renewable energy whenever and wherever it makes sense to do so. Realizing that this is the direction we all need to move to ensure a healthier planet is the first step. Convincing an oil loving country that we need other options is a Herculean challenge, but as consumers, we have more power than we think.

Tomorrow, voting with our purchases.

The Warming of Our Oceans Can’t be Solved with Ice Cubes

Day 82 – It happened last year. I was watching the news, which I have been told I watch too much. There was a story about one of the many hurricanes that pummeled the Gulf Coast (2020 saw a record-breaking 30 named storms and 12 landfalling storms – NOAA). The reporter was interviewing various residents to find out their reactions regarding the latest storm. One individual became very irritated at the mention of global warming being the cause of the severe storms. His response, “If the ocean temperature is warming and causing these storms, then why doesn’t the government just throw a bunch of ice cubes in it? Like really big ones.” At first, I thought he had to be kidding. Sadly, it became very clear that he truly believed that this was a valid solution.

In the past few years, the topic of global warming and climate change has been a hot topic, up for debate. I guess you could argue about the causes, but I never thought you could actually debate their existence. How can we question the data? How can we question what is right in front of our faces, in the form of devastation and destruction that follows every hurricane, tornado, wild fire or biblical flooding? Well, when you figure that there are millions of people that still believe that the Earth is flat, I guess it’s not that hard to understand that there are those that believe global warming is a hoax.

Today is World Meteorological Day. The theme this year, “Our ocean, our climate and weather.”

“Over 90% of the extra heat trapped to the Earth by humanity’s carbon emissions is stored in the ocean – only about 2.3% warms the atmosphere, while the rest melts snow and ice and warms the land.”World Meteorological Organization

It’s easy to say that global warming and climate change are problems too big to tackle. Many of you ask, “What can I do? I’m just one person.” But, we have to get past the doom and gloom and realize that we can all make a difference. The decisions we make everyday can reverse our current course. The efforts we make to be environmentally friendly, can and will help. It won’t happen overnight, maybe not even a year from now. We might not even see it in our lifetime. However, leaving a healthier planet for those that follow us, should be the only motivation we need.

So, the next time you’re wondering what you can do to make a difference, all you have to do is peruse this blog. These small and rather simple suggestions shared here on a daily basis, can make a large impact. Go a step farther and share with others ways in which you’re helping the planet. We’re all familiar with the phrase, “the more the merrier.” Well, this planet saving party could use all the help it can get.

Tomorrow, it’s OK to say no.