A Blog by Nature

It's in the Water

Posted on February 3, 2015 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (2)

What you can do about marine debris.


Here in the bay area we are surrounded by water so it's no wonder that we want to keep it as beautiful and as pristine as possible to pass on to future generations. What can you do? Want to help but don't know where to start or what to do to really make a difference? Here are a couple of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. Just click on either Save the Bay or Pacific Beach Coalition to find out.



    


Head to our Sources for Educators' page to learn more about these two organizations and many others.

AKBN Hero: John Muir

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 

The first time Muir saw Yosemite, he wrote in his journal that he was “overwhelmed by the landscape, scrambling down steep cliff faces to get a closer look at the waterfalls, whooping and howling at the vistas, jumping tirelessly from flower to flower.” -- John Muir


Image credit: "John Muir 1912" by Underwood & Underwood available from the Library of Congress's Prints & Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a10297.


John Muir was a pioneer in saving our wild areas. He led the fight to keep places like Yosemite and Sequoia National Park safe from development and he founded the Sierra Club to encourage others to advocate for forests and parkland. Known as “the Father of the National Parks,” Muir changed how Americans thought about the land and all the many plants and animals that share it with us.


See a 10-minute biography of John Muir, and learn why wild spaces were so important to him.

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Video credit: produced by the National Parks Service, starring Lee Stetson as Muir.

Trashing a Harbor

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Waterwheel Collects Trash



Image credit: NPR News June 23, 2014 By Julia Botero: Baltimore’s Water Wheel Keeps on Turning, Pulling in Tons of Trash

 

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a city landmark teeming with tourists, restaurants and — until recently — floating trash.


John Kellett used to walk by Pier 6 every day on his way to work at the Baltimore Maritime Museum on the Inner Harbor. He'd notice the trash floating in the water and hear tourists call the harbor disgusting — and it bugged him.


That's when he developed his idea: a big water wheel to collect the plastic cups, cigarette butts and Cheetos bags that flow into the waterway after rainstorms. Kellett approached Baltimore officials about ways to remove the trash — and they listened. The water wheel is now docked in the harbor.


"It looks sort of like a cross between a spaceship and a covered wagon and an old mill," says Kellett. "It's pretty unique in its look, but it's also doing a really good job getting this trash out of the water."


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"I started out thinking, 'Maybe we could bale it like a hay baler.' And then I said, 'Well, that's not necessary; maybe we can make it even simpler — we can just use the power of the runoff that brings it to collect it,' " he says.


Kellett is talking about the runoff from the Jones Falls river. He placed the water wheel right where the river spills into the harbor. That's where trash lingering on Baltimore's streets ends up after rainstorms sweep it into storm drains. The city used to catch the trash with crab nets. But since the water wheel began churning in May, it has removed 40 tons of trash from the harbor.


NPR News June 23, 2014 By Julia Botero Baltimore’s Water Wheel Keeps on Turning, Pulling in Tons of Trash

Kids' Voices

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

A Force For Change




Whether you're thinking about youth as consumers, future policy makers or global citizens, the question of whether children and young people should be involved in business decisions cannot be answered simply.


Children under the age of 18 make up almost one third of the global population and so have a huge stake in the market and can be a powerful force for change. They are able to offer a fresh perspective and their voices and opinions are valuable not only in business, but across society as a whole. However, when engaging with children, companies must ensure child rights are respected and the correct protection mechanisms are in place.


Some companies have gone beyond seeing children and young people as future purchasers of their products and are looking deeper, adopting programs that actively promote leadership skills to socially disadvantaged children, offering youth insight initiatives into big business or using the creativity and ideas of children to create new products.


Article from Guardian sustainable business: Giving children a voice in business by Sarah LaBrecque Nov. 27, 2013


Epidemic of Plastic

Posted on January 13, 2015 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The Key is Education




Leslie Tamminen, director of the Clean Seas Coalition and part of Seventh Generation Advisors, agrees that stopping the epidemic of plastic waste takes more than bans and laws. It takes “wide and sustainable changes in consumer behavior. Data from the over 121 local plastic bag bans has proven that bans are effective at reducing litter and changing consumer attitudes, and have refuted industry’s claims of apocalyptic impacts on jobs and poor communities.


A state plastic bag ban saves taxpayers the huge amount of money spent on litter cleanup, and protects the environment.” But the key, she goes on to say, is education – and organizations like hers and like PPC are focusing on exactly that. There is one more side of the issue that is just as important to Cohen as clean oceans and fiscal responsibility: the risks of plastic toxicity to human health and wellbeing, not to mention that of other living creatures. “Plastic pollution doesn’t just foul landfills, water ways, and ocean currents, the ‘bloodstream’ of our earth. It also contributes to the fouling of our blood streams, and those of animals who ingest it or become entangled in it.”


Article from Plastic Pollution Coalition, article written by Tracy Russo Sept. 30, 2014  

Disconnecting

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Wilderness and the Millennial


Image credit: Sierra Club article Wild Connections by Jeff Wagner


There's a growing hunger in my generation for something raw and true. To be on the loose, free from traffic jams, professional references, and masses of people lost in the pale glow of their electronics. Young people tell me they want a different lifestyle, one where simple things like peace and health are more important than a quick profit or instant visibility on the internet. They want to live in a society that values the things that pay off in the long run, like clean air, clean water, and a starry night sky. They want things that pay off in human terms. Lots of things come in instant form, but not happiness, kindness, peace, empathy, genuine connections, and certainly not patience. So what's the role of wilderness for my generation? All those twenty-somethings trying to make their way in this world? Environmentalists have no greater ally and teacher than wilderness. I see it in every person I spend time with in wild places and how it changes their perspectives on the world. Wilderness lets us experience an alternative to what humans have created, and it demands that we ask ourselves where our world is going.


Article: Nov/Dec issue of Sierra Magazine Green Life: Wild Connections by Jeff Wagner

Concrete Jungle

Posted on January 7, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

What do primate zoo environments and corporate offices have in common?

Excerpt from The Atlantic April 28, 2014

Article by Laura Smith titled: The Mind Does Not Belong in a Cubicle

Image credit: Joerg Sarbach

The savannah was our original “workspace,” and though our world today hardly resembles our ancestral environment, our biological rules still apply. E.O. Wilson, the famed biologist who studies biophilia, said our inherent appreciation and longing for natural environments, explains that “beauty is our word for the qualities that have contributed most to human survival.” Waterfalls signify an abundant source of life, flowers signify bountiful land. We are wired to crave the natural world.


Stephen Kellert, a social ecologist at Yale, told me that our poor office design is a sign that we don’t see ourselves as animals, as having biological needs. “The measure of progress in our civilization,” he said, “is not embracing nature, but moving away from nature and transcending nature and becoming independent of our biology.” Kellert told me that he finds zoos ironic. We consider it “inhumane” to keep a gorilla in an indoor, concrete environment with no exposure to greenery or anything resembling its natural habitat, and yet we put ourselves in these environments all the time.

Kids online

Posted on January 6, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

What do computer games, bike riding, and shoe tying have in common?

Image credit: Thanasis Zovoilis


Article from the Huffington Post 2/4/2014 titled: Kids can use Smartphone before they learn to write their names and tie their shoe.


According to the parents polled, a whopping 89 percent of their 6-to-9-year-olds are active online. Internationally, 46 percent of kids spend more time in a virtual world like Webkinz or Club Penguin than any other online activity. Additionally, 65 percent of kids spend more than two hours online each week—the U.S having the highest percentage of kids, 12 percent, spending more than ten hours per week online.


But here’s where the findings get really interesting...


66 percent of kids ages 3-to-5 can play a computer game, but only 58 percent are able to ride a bike.
38 percent in that age range can write their full names and 14 percent can tie their shoes (a skill that’s usually mastered by age 6), compared to 57 percent who know how to operate a tablet. 47 percent of little kids are able to operate a smartphone while parents reported only 26 percent know how to make their own breakfast.

Gyre Expedition

Posted on January 6, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Debris on remote beaches, even in the wilderness of Alaska


Peter Murphy, the Alaska Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, was recently invited to participate in the GYRE Expedition, an innovative and unique project planned by the Alaska Sea Life Center that brought together scientists, removal experts, educators and artists aboard the R/V Norseman to observe, discuss and explore the issue of marine debris in Alaska and work on ways to raise awareness nationwide.


There’s an active, innovative and positive debris community. The debris problem is big and multi-faceted, so it can seem overwhelming. But having had the chance to meet with people on the beaches they’ve worked hard to clean, and listen to stories of the ways they’ve come up with to do that work, shows how much difference a few people can make.



Humans are the source of debris and the solution. Every piece of debris we found on beaches came from one source – people. Whatever country it came from, it still was manufactured by people for use by people. Cleanups on the beaches (and in the water) help reduce the amount of debris in the ocean, but preventing more debris is the key. That prevention takes people changing their behavior, not just at sea but on land, where data shows more than 80 percent of all marine debris starts. Hopefully this trip is part of the awareness that leads to those changed behaviors.

The Rippl effect

Posted on January 2, 2015 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Creating a healthier planet one Rippl at a time


From the Ocean Conservancy: The Blog Aquatic July 2013


Rippl helps you remember to make simple, sustainable choices that save you money and keep the ocean and all its wildlife healthy. According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of those, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags. Thanks to Rippl users, we’re helping to lower that number.


We’re inspired on a daily basis by the small changes individuals are implementing into their routines. Whether it’s remembering your reusable bag at the grocery store each visit or picking up that piece of trash you see on your commute into work, each action is adding up to make a big difference for the health of our ocean.


We all can use a reminder now and again to help us make smart choices in our daily lives. But Rippl isn’t just a way for you to remember small actions to take to help create a healthier planet, it’s also a way to share your inspiring environmental habits with others.