27 June 2014

Positive Energy

I got a little charged up when the batteries in my calculator recently ran out of juice.

The calculator is one of the few things I have been running with traditional alkaline batteries, and it usually goes three to four years on one set. When the batteries ran out this time, I took it as an opportunity to switch to rechargeable batteries.

Making the move to rechargeables was just as exciting as the company I bought them from. Responsible Energy Corporation promotes the use of reusable energy. It sells rechargeable batteries, chargers, and solar-energy devices at greenbatteries.com. The company has focused on rechargeable batteries and solar devices to foster a more sustainable use of resources. It is accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating.

Leaving single-use batteries behind feels good. I'm also encouraged that companies like Responsible Energy Corporation are helping make sustainability more of a focus and more accessible.

Even small changes can be powerful.

23 June 2014

Playing the Hero

Heroes usually possess special powers, and the heroes of bird-watching have the ability to make identifications without actually seeing birds.

While identifying birds by sight takes a degree of skill, some of the best birders know each species by its songs and calls. Such identification is far from easy, but it brings with it the superpower of seeing the bird world through sound.

Luckily, the special power doesn't come from radioactive spider bites or the gods. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has developed a game that helps in matching birds with their songs. Bird Song Hero uses visual representations to break down species' songs and asks the person playing the game to select the correct source of the sound. To see a demonstration, watch the video below:

Bird Song Hero truly makes sound a second sight. When sight fails to help, birders must turn to sounds, and the Cornell Lab's game gives those sounds a visual quality. Here's the link to more information about it.

Now, go become a hero.

21 June 2014

Turning the Camera Around

We have plenty of nature television shows told from the human perspective, but animals might just host their own shows soon.

The United State Geological Survey (USGS) recently released footage of polar bear activities taken from the point of view of a bear. Check it out below:

The video provides important insight into polar bears' lives. As the text at the end of the video says, the USGS plans to use such videos to learn about polar bears and record how they are adjusting to the impacts of global warming. The video also gives the general public a sense of the experiences polar bears have on a daily basis.

Also, Animal-POV videos like this possess the ability to improve the relationship between humans and nature. By using the technology with a variety of species, we can better understand the larger picture of life on Earth. Additionally, in contrast to traditional nature shows, which record the animals' actions from a distance and interpret them through a host or narrator, the POV videos let the other species tell their own stories.

Now, that's some reality TV I can get into.

17 June 2014

A Goal for Iran

We'll need a world-class goalie to make this save.

Along with playing in this year's World Cup, Iran's national soccer team took on an important conservation concern. In an unprecedented move, FIFA, the governing body for international soccer, agreed to allow the Iranian team to wear jerseys displaying the image of an Asiatic cheetah.

With the jersey image, Iran hopes to enlist international help in a movement that has mobilized the country's conservationists. The world has fewer than 75 Asiatic cheetahs left (all are thought to live in Iran), but the declining numbers have inspired Iranians to study and protect the cats, and the country's government has taken steps to stabilize the cheetah population. To strengthen its cheetah-conservation efforts with international support, Iran successfully petitioned FIFA to make an exception regarding rules for jersey features. For more details on this story, click here.

When a species' population drops to numbers as small as those of the Asiatic cheetah, keeping it from extinction becomes a major challenge. It's the kind of project that requires much work, constant attention, and international cooperation. Sharing the message about Iran's cheetahs at the World Cup will hopefully bring the resources needed to protect these cats.

The Iranian soccer players may not be able to use their hands on the field, but they are lending one to the preservation of their country's cheetahs.

08 June 2014

College Material

Colleges and universities produce a lot of waste, but they also generate many great ideas, so it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a way to address all that waste.

Last year, Brett Chamberlin and Alex Freid, two recent graduates, started the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) to help institutions of higher education better manage their waste. What began as a concern about the trash generated when students move in and out for the school year has spread into a movement aimed at minimizing waste across higher ed. To hear Freid discuss the idea and how it's grown, watch the video below:

PLAN ingrains sustainability and waste reduction into the fabric of institutions. Through its consulting, the organization allows each participating college or university to respond to its respective waste problems. Also, the approach accounts for an institution's entire impact. Finally, PLAN employs communication for outreach and education programs to ensure the campus community takes full advantage of the sustainability initiatives.

Chamberlin and Freid see the big picture. They understand that individual impacts add up, and they realize what this means for the future of a planet already taxed by the human population. For more information about PLAN, click here.

College has expanded the perspective of many individuals, but Chamberlin and Freid demonstrate the potential for students to turn the tables (or couches or whatever).

05 June 2014

Now the Story

We don't have to go to a galaxy far, far away in a time long ago to find epic stories of planets.

The Story Group, an independent journalism company that combines multimedia with an emphasis on storytelling, has a new video series covering the current impacts of global warming. Revolving around the release of the National Climate Assessment, which I blogged about last month, the videos focus on the ways global warming already affects the planet. For example, one of the episodes looks at how global warming is changing our coasts. Watch it below:

National Climate Assessment: Coasts chapter from The Story Group on Vimeo.

Through the use of stories and video, The Story Group adds to the impressive collection of tools communicating the National Climate Assessment's findings. Where the government leaves off with its interactive Web site, The Story Group's series picks up, adding vivid detail and personal testimony about the changes occurring on this planet. For more information about The Story Group and its current project, click here.

The story of global warming is already in its first few chapters, and The Story Group is helping us get caught up on our reading.

01 June 2014

Pure Poetry

Poetry often describes the qualities of air, but a new poem improves air quality.

At the University of Sheffield, the humanities and the sciences combined forces to both say and do something about air pollution. One of the buildings on campus has a wall covered by a banner displaying In Praise of Air, a poem by Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage.

While the poem communicates the importance of air, it does something no other poem about this subject has done: It actually cleans the air. The banner the university printed the poem on has a special coating that removes nitrogen oxide from the air, reducing smog. To see the unfurling of the banner, watch the video below, and to learn more about the poem, click here:

In Praise of Air and its medium represent a great development in environmental messaging. As we attempt to address the challenging environmental issues facing us, we'll need to communicate and act at the same time. The work by the University of Sheffield provides an example for such multitasking.

Good poetry moves us; the best poetry moves us to act.