26 September 2011

Another Part of Reality

I thought I would single out one more piece of Al Gore's 24 Hours of Reality. This one looks at the efforts to question the science that studies global warming. Such efforts have eerie similarities to the campaign that sought to reassure the public that cigarettes pose no threat to human health.


DOUBT from The Climate Reality Project on Vimeo.

23 September 2011

Parts of Reality

As I already blogged about, Al Gore's 24 Hours of Reality took place last week. I don't expect you to consume all 24 hours of the coverage, but if you didn't get a chance to watch it a week ago, you can check out a few pieces below. And for more pieces of the coverage, click here.

Here is the introduction to the coverage. It is done by Bill Nye, aka the Science Guy, and offers a great overview of global warming:

CLIMATE 101 from The Climate Reality Project on Vimeo.

Also, here are the highlights from Hour 2, which featured a presentation from Boulder, Colorado, and a panel discussion that included Gore and actor Mark Ruffalo:

22 September 2011

Solar Decathlon

Tomorrow, the US Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon begins in Washington, DC.

The decathlon challenges college students to design and build energy-efficient homes that can be used right now. You can get more information about the event by clicking here, and you can watch a video about it below:

15 September 2011

Remember Big Moves

Two months ago, I talked about two big events planned for late September. Today, I am just posting a reminder that September 22 is World Carfree Day and September 24 is the day for Moving Planet.

If you can, make plans not to use a car for transportation on those days, and if you feel like it, participate in a Moving Planet event near you.

Right now, a lot of efforts (like Al Gore's 24 Hours of Reality, which wraps up today) are being made to push for better environmental policies and practices, so it's a great time to get involved and help maintain the momentum.

14 September 2011

Love Birds

The last few entries have focused on resources that give us the chance to be active participants in nature-related programs and communities. Today, I'll introduce another of those communities.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have partnered up to create We Love Birds, which is the Web site for a membership community dedicated to birds. You have to join to interact with the other members, but joining is free, and if you're into birds, it might be something to check out.

The Web site allows members to share bird pictures and videos, ask birding questions, and read and comment on stories in various bird blogs. Some of the photos (like the one of the common nighthawk in this entry) are simply spectacular. For more information, use the link above, or go directly to the site's About page by clicking here.

13 September 2011

Share and Share a Bird

Yesterday, I blogged about the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Watch program, which includes a chance to share wildlife photographs on Flickr. Well, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a Flickr site for sharing pictures of birds.

The site is called Birdshare, and you can find it here.

12 September 2011

Are You Watching?

Here's another opportunity for citizen science. People of all ages can participate in this one.

The National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Watch program combines getting out into nature with citizen science and photography. It allows people to report findings and tell stories from their experiences in nature. Also, participants can share nature photos on the program's Flickr page.

11 September 2011

Reality Reminder

Just a reminder: As I blogged about in July, September 14 is the beginning of Al Gore's "24 Hours of Reality."

Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation, is one of the presenters. Check out his pre-presentation interview by clicking here. For more information about the event in general, click here.

10 September 2011

Teaching Sleuths

For teachers interested in citizen science curriculum, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a program called BirdSleuth. It is linked to the lab's Citizen Science projects, and currently, it offers curriculum for grades 1-10 (something for older students is being tested now).

This looks like a great way to combine learning and an experience of nature. Follow the link above for more information. Below, you can watch the lab's promotional video about children learning bird-watching skills and becoming citizen scientists.

09 September 2011

Kids and Energy

The US Department of Energy and the National Science Teachers Association have team up on a program designed to engage students in energy issues. Along the way, the children get to serve as citizen scientists and possibly earn their school money.

America's Home Energy Education Challenge is for children in grades 3-8. Some of the ways to participate include the collection, analysis, and sharing of home energy use data, the creation of energy use savings plans, and entering a poster contest. The choice of participation option is up to each individual class.

For more information, start here.

08 September 2011

New Crop of Croppers

You may have noticed my blog list includes Go Explore Nature, which talks about outdoor activities for people with children. It provides some cool ideas and is worth checking out.

One thing of particular interest on Go Explore Nature is Give a Kid a Camera. The idea is that people get a current topic from the Web site and share photographs their children took for that topic. The images are shared on a Flickr page.

I really like this idea. For one thing, it's a really simple way of interacting with nature. In fact, it's as much about getting outside as it is about the photography. Also, I remember being given a camera early in my life. It gave me the chance to capture my world and see nature through photographs. I've kept that early interest in photography, especially photographs of nature. The idea from Go Explore Nature just reminded me of how I started out.

06 September 2011

Toyota Gives a Plug to the Hybrid

As I have done before, I will state that what you are about to read does not constitute an endorsement of a product. The following discussion is my attempt to spread news and offer my interpretation of it.

In 2012, Toyota will have a limited release of a plug-in version of its Prius. It's an encouraging step.

The car will only be available to people in fifteen states, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Additionally, most of these cars available in 2012 can only be obtained through preregistration, which has already closed. Toyota promises wider availability in 2013.

The limited release and the fact that this car still uses gas are downsides, but according to Toyota, the car has the potential to give drivers up to 475 miles per tank of gas. Together with the release of cars like Nissan's leaf, which I blogged about in June, this new Prius indicates that carmakers might be getting serious about fuel issues and carbon emissions. If that's true, it's good news for those who need cars and decent news for the planet.

Watch a video of the plug-in Prius below:

04 September 2011

I Don't Know What Else to Say

I mentioned yesterday that Barack Obama has pulled his own EPA's proposed smog regulations.

This is an inexcusable, cowardly move, and here's a great explanation of why:

Matt Damon for president in 2012.

03 September 2011

The Line it is Drawn

Today concluded two weeks of White House protests (I blogged about them last week), which were organized to oppose the proposed Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline.

A total of 1,252 people were arrested (many more attended) in peaceful protests over the two weeks, and I would like to thank those individuals and say I support them with pride. Yesterday's decision by President Barack Obama to withdraw the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal for tighter smog regulation reemphasized the importance of the protest and the degree to which the president has set environmental issues to the side.

For information about Tar Sands Action, a group that has helped orchestrate the pipeline protests, click here.

You can watch a short video of the protests below:

02 September 2011

The Tough Love of Nature

This afternoon, I had a conversation with a friend, and at one point, we started talking about being out in nature. That discussion led me to some reflection.

My friend is from the East Coast, and she talked about growing up in suburbia and feeling apprehensive when she leaves behind civilization for wild areas. She said she sometimes worries about encounters with wildlife. Being a child of the rural Pacific Northwest, I grew up surrounded by nature, wild areas, and wildlife, so I told her how I often get uneasy in cities (in essence, the reverse of her concerns).

After the conversation, however, I thought more about what she had said. I came to the conclusion that for as much as I love being out in nature, in the back of my mind, I am always a little wary of its power.

I've never seen a cougar in the wild, but I have seen cougar tracks and also a black bear. While the chances of being attacked by either a cougar or a black bear in the wild are small, seeing those animals or even just seeing signs of them is a reminder that people don't get to call the shots in nature.

I try to meet nature on its terms, and I also attempt to keep alert. I think being wary of what nature can do is a good thing and is important to the interaction we have with it. In fact, it might be one of the reasons I like being in nature. When I come through the experience of being reminded of my place, I get a sense of comfort and belonging.

01 September 2011

Swift Action

By now, a lot of the summer bird-watching is dying down. However, for several species, especially the chimney swift and the Vaux's swift, this is their time to shine.

These swifts like to roost in human structures such as chimneys, and each night about this time of year, they can be seen entering those structures, often in huge flocks. Such events have attracted a following of birders and other interested people. For this reason and because of the fact that the chimney swift, in particular, is seeing its numbers decline, people are holding Swift Night Out events.

In the eastern portion of the US, Swift Night Out events occur in August and September and offer a citizen science component, in which participants can report what they see. For information about these Swift Night Out events, click here.

Meanwhile, in Washington state, Swift Night Out takes place in Monroe, where it has become a community event, featuring a spaghetti feed, information booths, activities for children, and, of course, the swifts, in fact thousands of Vaux's swifts (true chimney swifts live in the eastern US) diving into a four-foot chimney. The Monroe event is scheduled for September 10 and starts at 4 p.m. For more information about it, click here.