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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

TEDx Manhattan – Changing The Way We Eat

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

I’m currently taking the free online class “An Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Perspectives from Public Health” at coursera taught by instructors at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the topic; the lectures have been engaging and the resources plenty.

One of the exercises they had us perform is to use the Ecological Footprint Calculator to determine an estimate of the number of Earths it would require if everyone were to live the way we do. Unfortunately, as an inhabitant of the USA, it’s very difficult to get away from the impact of our shared services, such as electricity and the interstate highway system, which can be frustrating when you’re doing everything else right. You’ll see. :)

It is also thru this course that I learned about the upcoming TEDx Manhattan event entitled “Changing the Way We Eat” which will be broadcast live via the internet this Saturday, Feb 16th from 10:30am – 5:45pm Eastern here on livestream.

Here’s one of the presentations from last year’s event:

So… How many Earths does the calculator say your lifestyle would require and which country do you live in?

Fracking Up The Prairie

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

I recently came upon this article, entitled “A Mysterious Patch of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark” and decided it was time to learn a bit more about this thing called fracking.

The article describes a disturbing new smudge of light on the nighttime satellite map of the United States where once there was only darkened fields. It’s not the birth of a city we are witnessing — though the population is booming there now — but rather what’s colloquially been coined “Kuwait on the Prarie,” i.e., burning gas wells, intentionally ignited flares of excess natural gas extracted via induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing, a.k.a. fracking.

What Is Fracking?
Like many, I’d heard of it and had a vague idea about the controversy, but seeing those pictures (do check them out), it struck me there was still more to assimilate. While I knew there were concerns about the grounwater, I didn’t realize the air pollution concerns.

Here’s a quick video explaining the process from a clean, animated, industry perspective.

What’s The Hubbub?
As if the images from NASA didn’t speak volumes enough, there’s the potential for drinking water contamination, runoff of toxic waste, and even destabilizing the ground itself (think sinkholes and earthquakes).

Several documentaries have covered the first couple of these environmental issues, the shortest being this one from Earth Focus about “the risks of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale.”

Others worth watching are…

Further reading:

Shale Gas: The Promise and the Peril Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone


BPA Free Tomatoes

Monday, November 12th, 2012

In a post a couple years back, I discussed some of the hazards of Bisphenol A and listed some BPA free canned food products. Among them were even canned tomatoes, namely those from Muir Glen, though they’re considerably more expensive. The best price is probably that obtained by buying a 12-pack from Amazon.

Anyway, I’m revisiting this topic because I was recently alerted to the existence of boxed tomato products from Pomi. These are presumably BPA-free, but I’ve written to them to seek official verification.

Before we celebrate too much, however, there may still be health issues with Tetra Paks. The company responds to such concerns in their FAQ by answering the question “Are aseptic packages safe?” thusly:

Yes. There are no health concerns associated with the aseptic package. The silver material you see on the inside of the aseptic package is an ultra-thin layer of aluminum, which forms a barrier against light and oxygen, eliminating the need for refrigeration and preventing spoilage without using preservatives. Aluminum does not touch the food product. The inside layer of an aseptic package, which touches the product, is polyethylene (plastic), not aluminum. Moreover, there is no leaching of aluminum or aluminum components through the polyethylene layer. The polyethylene used in the aseptic package, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), is an FDA-approved food-contact surface material. It is the only material in the package that comes in contact with the food product, and in addition, industry tests have shown that no polyethylene leaches into the food product.

-from http://zoblue.com/assets/prof/tetrapak/faq.html#12

Returning to the positives, they’re much easier to fit in your cabinets, they’re only slightly more costly ($2.29 at my local grocery store), and check out that list of no’s (No fat, no sodium added, no artificial flavors, no preservatives, no water added, no citric acid, no refrigeration required)!

Lastly, they taste like tomatoes should; while at Scott’s a couple weekends ago, we made a pasta sauce with the strained tomatoes and a salsa with the chopped, and they were fresh and worked well. That said, Muir Glen’s Smoked Diced tomatoes are still the favorite in their household.

Hiking in NH: Mt. Cardigan

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Not yesterday, but the Sunday before, the guys and I (four of us this time), set out to climb Mount Cardigan in Orange, NH. Initially, as mentioned in the Pawtuckaway post, we’d intended this to be our goal by the end of the season, but we felt up for the challenge!

We set out bright and early. Well, at least the early part. The forecast called for rain in the morning, and right it was. The ride was a long one, some 1.5 hrs from Manchester, and there were times when the rain was quite heavy. Thankfully, by the time we arrived, it had stopped, leaving us a cool 70°F day, perfect for hiking.

We took the West Ridge trail up. It was steep from the get-go, there was no messing around. The parking lot’s location, some ways in on a dirt road, had dispensed with the level parts. The rocks had started to dry, but it was still a little slippery in spots, especially on the alternate route we picked for the way down.

Having reached the summit at 3,155 ft above sea level in “record time” (ha!, but we were cruising, and were surprised it only took an hour at most), we were met with an inauspicious reward; the morning rain had created quite the cloud cover / fog bank…

With our early start though, there was no rush, so we sat down to eat some trail mix, drink water, and wait it out a bit. Good decision as only minutes later, the sun started to break thru and literally rolled the fog up into clouds with defined edges. It was quite amazing to watch.

And the views were worth the wait…

We then proceeded back down a bit on the same trail before cutting across the side of the mountain. The skinny path meandered thru the most beautiful green moss-covered woods before ascending again to the neighboring South Peak at 2,864 ft. By this time, the clouds were all white and fluffy, and we had the most spectacular view of where we’d just been…

As well as gorgeous views, like these…

The way down via the South Ridge trail required some caution as the rocks along this route were slick, the incline perhaps a tad steeper, and the drop-offs into the woods below impressive.

Needless to say, we all made it down safely, though Scott concluded he needed new boots. ;)

Planning to do some hiking in NH? This book, focused on the southern half of the state, has been indispensable to us…

Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide, 3rd: AMC’s Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in Southern New Hampshire, including Monadnock, Cardigan,…


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