25 January 2011

Crying Fowl

I enjoy watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. However, sometimes, the messages on the show appear counterproductive to the ideas it promotes. A segment from yesterday's show demonstrates this.

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The segment succeeds in making clear that the abominable way the people of Turkey Creek have been treated results from racism. Scenes from the mall (without and then with the bird costume) show how using comedy to hold a mirror to society is done, and the story about a cemetery being bulldozed is disgusting and heartbreaking.

However, as occasionally happens on the show, Stewart and his team fail to distinguish friend from foe, attacking and deriding those who actually take action against problems. The Audubon Society is not the villain here, yet it is mocked and ridiculed. What is most unfortunate is that this strategy by The Daily Show delegitimizes what could be even greater benefits of Audubon's involvement in Turkey Creek.

First, the "reporter," Wyatt Cenac, sneers at the very participation of the group. Then, he mocks the idea of giving the residents pamphlets for bird-watching, choosing not to consider the proven health benefits of being out in and connecting with nature. Finally, he fails to recognize that bird-watching represents a massive economy and that further cooperation between the Audubon Society and the Turkey Creek community could bring substantial benefits to the town.

Maybe the Audubon Society can't solve every issue facing Turkey Creek, and we should always confront any situation in which people are robbed of their humanity. However, this report from The Daily Show perpetuates the kind of cynicism Stewart says he opposes; contains damaging stereotypes about how people connect with nature and animals; and drops the ball on an important chance to bring people and the environment together in a healthier relationship.

24 January 2011

Something to Think About

Non Sequitur is a great cartoon, and today's edition has an important message about consumerism, our impact on the environment, and the current economic situation. Perhaps there are ways of living that would help address each of these issues. On a side note, check out the Non Sequitur site if you'd like to get a daily laugh.

19 January 2011

Whad'Ya Know?

For this entry, I'm linking you to a great story.

I saw it (and maybe you did too) on the Natural Resource Defense Council's Switchboard blog link on the right side of this page, but I wanted to make sure that it got a little more attention before the blog link updated to a new story.

This one has some interesting lessons about what people think they know about nature and their place in the environment. Even better, it has a happy ending. I hope you like it.

16 January 2011

Green at Heart

With Valentine's Day less than a month away, it's time to start thinking about special gifts, but this year, don't forget the environment.

Buying things may have become a major part of February 14, but we can still make statements with what we buy. Hopefully, one of those statements is, "I love you." Another can be, "I love the planet."

Flowers are a traditional Valentine's gift, but their growth, harvest, and shipment can leave quite an impact on the environment. Therefore, if your gift plans include flowers, consider Organic Bouquet. As the name implies, the company sells organically grown flowers. It also operates under fair-trade policies and offsets the carbon footprint of its operations and shipments.

What is more, by going to the company's Flowers for Good page, you can choose flower arrangements that benefit nonprofit groups. Organic Bouquet donates a portion of the proceeds from the arrangements to various charities, including animal and environmental groups. Just look through the different arrangements and see what charity each one supports. Personally, I like the Defenders of Wildlife and the Audubon Society arrangements.

This is a great way to make sure Nature gets a Valentine too.

13 January 2011

You're Getting Warmer

Yesterday, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies released data showing that 2010 tied 2005 for the hottest recorded year with regard to worldwide surface temperature. What is more, with last year now in the books, six of the seven hottest years on record occurred between 2002-2010 (see the story from Environment News Service).

So if winter has you bundled up with your head down against a biting wind, chances are you'll be warming up soon. (Most of the planet is.)

I think one of the challenges presented by the issue of global warming is that it requires us to move back and forth between a large scope and a small scope so often. First, as NASA's information shows, we've got to look beyond our particular place and time and contemplate complex global trends over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Then, once we see the warming patterns, we need to look inward and investigate our own contribution to them. Finally, we've got to figure out the dynamic relationship between our own little place in the world and the workings of the planet. All these things must come together before we can address the issue.

Without doubt, taking on global warming is hard work, but we can move a little closer to meeting that challenge by getting used to these various levels on which the issue operates; so take a look at the article in the link above. It contains a great map that lets you see different climate patterns in relation to each other.

05 January 2011

Donating Your Wheels

Happy 2011.

Since it's a new year, most people are talking about new things, but I've been known to follow my own drummer from time to time, so I'm going to start the blogging year by talking about something old, specifically your old car.

Perhaps you're thinking about getting rid of a car you've had for a while (maybe because you are trying to cut down on the number of vehicles you own, you plan on getting a more fuel-efficient one, or you are venturing into the exciting world of a car-less life). If so, consider avoiding the hassle of selling your old car by donating it. People in the Pacific Northwest can pick up a tax deduction by donating their cars to a variety of charities through Northwest Charity Donation Service.

NWCDS accepts various vehicles, including cars, trucks, vans, jet skis, snowmobiles, motor homes, buses, tractors, heavy equipment, and boats. The company sells the machines, and the proceeds benefit the charity you have selected from the list of participating organizations, a list that features a number of animal groups. NWCDS often even takes machines that don't run, and the company will pick up your donation at no cost to you.

All in all, it's a pretty good way of saying goodbye to your old car.

It seems likely that if you live outside the Northwest, a company like NWCDS exists near you, so check it out. Also, if you would like some tax information about donating your vehicle, use the guide from the IRS.

By the way, if, after reading this post, you're still looking for something novel that aligns with the spirit of the new year, picture this: a car-less society. Totally cool.