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Archive for April, 2007

Trashball


Trashballs

An interesting artist was featured in today’s New York Times. Christopher Goodwin is a junk truck driver who scavenges for interesting pieces of trash, packages them in round plastic balls, and fills gumball dispenses with them. People buy these mementos for fifty cents a apiece. According to the NYT:

Though some admirers see Trashball as a critique of America’s wasteful ways, Mr. Goodwin views it as archeology, a divination of who people are from what they leave behind, even if it is just because they are too lazy to toss it in a wastebasket.

More information about the artwork can be found in the Trashball article in NYT and in Christopher Goodwin’s blog.

There will be a bit of radio silence here for a few days while I travel for work….

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What is worse?

Here is something I have pondered about my own life, but also about other people who I admire. Imagine you had to choose between having an all-consuming career that overall had a strong positive impact on the environment but left you with little time or ability to make sustainable choices (i.e., eating out a lot, flying frequently; think: Al Gore) OR work only as much as you have to in order to support your direct needs and otherwise live a low-impact lifestyle.

Which is the “better choice”? What would you choose?

My career is in the environmental sciences. I have at times been extremely busy and unable to devote much attention to my personal impact on the environment, but felt that the positive impact of my work was multiplied through its higher profile than if I worked less or not at all. At this point, I have an ok balance between work and home, but I’d rather do more on the work end and I may soon have the opportunity to do so. My personal impact will suffer, though.

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Response for Colin

Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, posted a riff on my post on Sustainability in his blog yesterday.  There were lots of interesting comments, and I just added my own:

There are some really interesting comments here, now that I’ve had a chance to come back in and read them.  It’s interesting to me how wide the gamut is for people in terms of how we think about environmental destruction, our contribution to it, and what we can do about it.  I share some of the hopelessness that some of the comments express, but also the determination to keep trying to do better personally.  In my ideal world, we could live simple, happy, productive lives and not have any negative impact.  Alas, in a world with 7 billion people all aspiring to the American way of life, the ideal is as far from reality as can be imagined.

There are no simple answers to the questions I posed.  They’re food for thought, and I see a lot of folks are chewing on it.

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Blogger BioBlitz

07_BioBlitz-31

BioBlitzing

I did my “field work” for the Blogger BioBlitz this morning. It didn’t work out as I had planned, but in the end was quite satisfying. I’m posting this now as a kind of place-holder – I’ll come back and edit the post as I have species IDs. For now, a link to the photos I took. Later today, I hope to transcribe my field notes.

My photos are here and I will be adding ID information as I work through them.

Update: Field Notes: My immediate reactions to the site and casual observations, along with some personal reflection mediated by peaceful surroundings.

Date: April 25, 2007
Location: Herbert Taylor Park, Atlanta, GA, USA (33 47′ 54.12″N  84 20′ 32.20″ W)
Time: 0930

Arrived at site and startled a frog. Camera not working, so had to return home for other camera.
I see lots of fish and several frogs, but I can’t catch them. There are at least 3 fish species – large ones in pools (ca. 4-5 inches long), but pool is deep and I am soaked. Only inverts are water striders. Several orb spider webs, but no sign of the spiders. No inverts observed in root wads.

Male cardinal flew into area.

Thinking about choosing another site and trying again later this weekend (I originally had intended to focus on fish and inverts in the stream, but am not having success at catching fish and there are no aquatic invertebrates present).

Photographed many understory plants for later ID

Primary tree canopy

  • elm (?) taking leaf for ID
  • tulip poplar

Shrubs

  • privet (invasive)
  • bay
  • redbud?
  • Magnolia
  • honeysuckle

Lots of bird calls heard, but I’m not a bird call expert, can’t ID without sight. No waterfowl observed, though I have see ducks in this area in the past. Have heard reports of blue heron in area.

No herps other than frog detected.

Human influence prevalent. Loud noises from buzz saw nearby, sounds from construction site at edge of preserve. Cars pass every few minutes but not an area of high traffic

Water smells of contamination – sort of a sweet, fruit-rotting smell.

Trash

  • lighter
  • child’s ball
  • beer packaging
  • aluminum cans
  • plastic bottle
  • broken glass

No mammal observed, but heard some rustling in the brush – probably a squirrel.

Part of me says to just go home and start writing this up, taking care of IDs, etc., but the other part is making me stay. My mind is fighting my heart. I’ve had a strange feeling of “heartache” the past few days and could really use some time to examine it. Part of it is the old struggle I’ve had with my lifelong desire to live and work by the sea and certain other life circumstances that have brought me here instead. I’m learning to appreciate the urban nature here, but there is still a big piece missing from my life. I don’t think I’ll ever give upthis feeling of restlessness until I get to the sea.

Another thought – unformed. I desire freedom and autonomy so much it almost hurts. But I think if I had it, I would be terribly lonely and isolated. How to resolve these conflicted feelings?

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Selling…. out?

In yesterday’s New York Times, there was an e-commerce article on the growth of the “Green” Online Publishing industry, fueled by increased ad revenues from “green” products and mainstream companies wanting to project a “green” image. So, mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post have responded with “green” wings, such as sprig.com, which is intended to appeal to:

…the 95 percent of people who want to be 5 percent green,” said Jeanie Pyun, Sprig’s editor in chief. “Not the 5 percent of people who want to be 95 percent green.”

The site features:

food, fashion, beauty, home and lifestyle, with videos liberally mixed into each section. In the beauty section, a video features an eco-friendly manicure and pedicure, while in the food section, visitors can watch organic cooking demonstrations. The site will post about six new articles a day, written in a way one might characterize as Green Lite.

Hmmm…. not very appealing to me.

On the other hand, the article got me thinking, or anyway got me to thinking more about the reason why I blog on this subject, what I hope to get out of it, and what I would ever do if the opportunity came along to profit from it, and if so, under what circumstances. A lot of blogs sustain themselves by carrying advertisements. Let me just say right now that I do not have a problem with bloggers who do this; I understand people need to make a living and the internet right now is driven by advertising. However, I am determined not to ever become part of the marketing machine, whose goal after all, is to convince people to buy things they probably do not need.

And, I’m skeptical of all this bandwagon-jumping by publishers and corporations alike. I think it’s great that the environment is getting more attention. But as I’ve said in previous entries, I won’t be greenwashed and I’m wary of those who are.

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Review of Dominant Wave Theory

In this month’s Seed Magazine, I found a mention of an art book on ocean debris, Dominant Wave Theory with photographs by Andy Hughes.

According to Amazon:

Andrew Hughes’s work explores the detritus and garbage washed up on the shores where he surfs. Despite their ominous presence, these mass-produced items become aesthetic forms within the open theater of the beach. By photographing everyday products in such an environment, Hughes attempts to draw attention to the small scale, the unseen, and the pollutants of modern industrial consumerist society.

A portion of the proceeds from this book, which was designed by well-know American designer David Carson, will be donated to three charities: Surfrider Foundation, Surfers Against Sewage, and the Marine Conservation Society.

Andrew Hughes studied fine art at Cardiff University in Wales and photography at the Royal College of Art, London. He has been awarded various commissions and residencies including the Millennium Fund, South West Arts, and the Tate Gallery St. Ives. He is an avid surfer.

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Leatherback Sea Turtles: They’re Going Faster Than You Think

I found a link to a great site about Leatherback Sea Turtles in Science Magazine this week The site, The Great Turtle Race sponsored by Leatherback Trust, is actually quite fun for adults and kids alike. According to Science:

Close to 95% of leatherback turtles in the Pacific have disappeared in the past 2 decades. The Costa Rica population has decreased to fewer than 100.

To raise support for the critically endangered beasts, several conservation organizations have created The Great Turtle Race. From 16 through 29 April, 11 turtles will be tracked as they migrate from their nesting areas in Costa Rica to south of the Galápagos Islands off Ecuador. The racers are equipped with satellite tags so their locations can be tracked online. The data will provide a nearly real-time, turtle’s-eye perspective on the ocean, including measurements of water temperature and depth.

Definitely take the time to check out the site, follow the progress of the turtles, learn a few facts about turtles and how scientists are studying their movements, and cheer on your favorite tortuga.

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