27 October 2012

New School of Thought

On a daily basis, we are being challenged to think in more global terms, and I believe this challenge of the globalized world has us on our way to rethinking environmental problems.

At first, looking at the many issues we face as a global society and the various interconnected elements of each problem can be demoralizing. However, support can also be globalized and connected more closely. That means, we have more of chance to create the kind of world we want.

As the National Wildlife Federation reports, many college students are waking up and responding to their institutions' investments in fossil fuels. Check out the full story by clicking here.

These students have led movements to divest the colleges and universities from companies like Exxon Mobil. By doing so, they have asked the institutions to live up to the ideals of their mission statements.

This is a great example of the power connected people can have in shaping their world.

25 October 2012

Make it Happen

I really do consider Halloween my holiday, meaning it's my favorite and the one that best fits me. However, when I started seeing decorations come out at the beginning of October, it troubled me a little.

As much as I love Halloween, a whole month of celebrating it seems like a lot. On top of that, I really don't care for the big displays that some people put up. Despite their exuberant celebration of the holiday, the displays have never quite spoken to me.

In contrast, the do-it-yourself decoration tips I found on TreeHugger this morning captured my attention. As I looked through the ideas, memories flooded back to me, creating a closer connection to my Halloween than any of the many manufactured decorations I have seen recently.

I even remembered making faces out of apples in third grade. Also, it occurred to me that the costume I wore most in my life was a black cat outfit my mom sewed for me. It was warm and well-made, and I used it for years.

Above all, the Halloween things that mean the most to me are the experiences and creations that my family and I made. That's what I really mean when I say Halloween is my holiday.

It just feels better when I have ownership over my experiences rather than turning them over to someone else's manufacturing processes.

17 October 2012

Water, Water, Everywhere

It is true that we receive a lot of things, including our lives, from water. However, our relationship with it is even more complex and precious.

Our reliance on water is one of the most important ways our actions related to the environment come back to us. We are largely water, so whatever we put into our water eventually becomes part of us. For these reasons, I want to acknowledge that tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

After nearly a half of a century, even the most important legislation can be taken for granted, but water is so crucial to our lives, we can't afford to forget the value of the CWA. The act was passed just three years after the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire because of the pollution it contained. Since that time, we have made improvements in our management of water pollution, but we have also created new threats, and many waterways continue to struggle.

Remembering our connection to water is a key step in maintaining high water-quality standards and pollution regulation.

15 October 2012

The Time of My Life

The fall weather is here, the colors of the leaves are gorgeous, and the nights are coming earlier. All that remains to top off the season is for Halloween to come.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I've always found a special energy in it, and not all of that energy is related to candy. For example, my mom says I took the idea of becoming something else for Halloween literally. I'm usually very reserved, but around Halloween, I became so excited, I was like some other person.

Even now, I get a little extra burst of excitement as October 31 approaches and the memories of past Halloweens spring back to life.

I really started to get in the Halloween mood when I checked out the Go Explore Nature site a few days ago, so I thought I would share the tips I saw there for making Halloween great. Hopefully, they help you and/or your children make some of the special memories I had a chance to create when I was young.

For tips on exploring pumpkin patches, click here, and for some nature-related Halloween fun, click here.

12 October 2012

Song Sung Green

Alison Sudol, aka A Fine Frenzy
I've been in a music-buying mood for the last few weeks, but I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to buy.

I thought about getting something from an old favorite but decided I was in the mood for something new. I had my eye on some new albums, but couldn't pull the trigger for some reason. After a while, I realized I wanted to find some music from an artist who supports environmental issues. However, I couldn't find anything that I really liked.

Everything changed on Tuesday night. I went to iTunes looking for a movie but got sidetracked when I saw a promotion for something called A Fine Frenzy. For some reason, the name intrigued me, so I clicked on the information and discovered what I had been looking for all along.

A Fine Frenzy is actually the stage name of musician Alison Sudol, who just happens to be from Seattle. I listened to some of her songs and liked what I heard, so I bought one of her albums. Then, I bought another last night.

Sudol produces some awesome music, and one of the best parts about it is its references to nature. Those references give it a rooted quality. In addition, they represent more than just a portion of Sudol's lyrics. The environment is a key issue for her, and she serves as a goodwill ambassador for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

You can check out the Web site for A Fine Frenzy by clicking here.

09 October 2012

You Name It

Turning away from a discussion about language and the environment is always difficult for me, but if the conversation also includes talk about fall, I would have no chance of resisting it.

For example, I'm already enjoying the sights, feels, and smells of fall, but when I saw this article from the Mother Nature Network, it pretty much enchanted me. The article looks at the linguistic history that explains why we call this third season of the year either fall or autumn. It is one those little bits of trivia that is not so trivial, especially for a lover of fall, language, and the environment.

Interestingly, as the article shows, the development of language about nature is dependent on our connection with the environment. That's exciting stuff.

To conclude, I should mention that I think autumn is a cooler word but that I usually use fall.

Happy fall.

06 October 2012

Last Stop

After making my last post about how Finland plans to stop using coal by 2025, I found the following article from the National Wildlife Federation quite a contrast.

The article talks about how coal companies in the United States are looking for ways to ship coal to Asia. I had known about this for some time because the primary train routes chosen by those companies go through the Pacific Northwest. Although I'm glad that my region has stood up to the health and environmental threat this plan represents, it is discouraging to see that the coal companies are finding routes through places that are more willing to take on these risks.

Interestingly, as Finland strategizes on how to do away with coal and replace it with renewable energy, the United States looks for ways to keep spreading the impact of coal. Continuing to use coal keeps us from taking important steps to improving our lives, our society, and our environment, and giving coal a wider footprint by shipping it around the world only makes the situation worse.

One has to wonder if we intend to ever move from the old approaches that have depleted resources and damaged our environment.

03 October 2012

Coal is Finnish-ed

As some of you may know, I am quite proud of my Finnish heritage. The great thing is that the Finns keep giving me more reasons to feel that pride.

Finland has the world's best education system. It gives its people quality healthcare. In addition, it has some of the lowest levels of political corruption and some of the highest levels of business competition and innovation.

Yesterday, I found out that Finns are taking yet another step in leading the world. In this news article, it is reported that Finland will stop using coal for energy by 2025. In doing so, it will likely become the first European country to kick the coal habit. What is more, Finns will replace the coal-generated energy with power produced by renewable sources.

I'm very glad to see Finland making this commitment. Hyvä.

01 October 2012

Know Your Bug

Identifying insects and arachnids may seem difficult or even uninteresting. In fact, it is often the case that the only time we want to know what these creatures are is when they cause trouble for us.

Still, insects and arachnids are a major part of our world, and they really are quite interesting. If you think about it, of all the wild things around us, they probably spend more time with us than any other. In fact, that fear other creatures have of us doesn't seem to influence them much. That's kind of a cool thing.

With that in mind, maybe we should take a little more time to get to know these prevalent companions. BugGuide is a Web site that helps identify bugs. The site includes a ready-to-use guide and also allows you to submit pictures if you can't ID the creature on your own. Once you upload the pictures, the online community helps determine what kind of crawly thing you have encountered.

Additionally, as you share photos, you contribute to citizen science by helping track encounters with insects and arachnids.

To visit BugGuide, click here.