In a time where environmental destruction seems to be all we can talk about, its always hopeful to see some good news. Out of the Paris climate conference there is a plan to restore 386,000 acres of forest in Africa.
According to the article, “The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) has secured commitments from six nations to restore 78.3 million acres and has pending promises from four more countries. The program has been officially adopted by the African Union, and international partners have pledged more than $1.5 billion in various forms of financial support.”
While some people are worried this program will focus too much on restoration and not preventing deforestation, it seems to be a step in the right direction.
What do you think about Africa’s plan to restore the forests?
Check out the full article here.
A whole-food, plant-based diet is a diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Such diet emphasizes whole, unrefined plants, while minimizing meat, dairy products, and highly processed foods like sugar and oil.
A whole-food, plant-based diet is simply not a diet of leafy and raw vegetables. In fact, it is far tastier and more satisfying. While spinach and kale are important parts of the diet, they are poor energy sources. We would have to consume almost 16 pounds of cooked kale in order to gain 2,000 calories each day. It’s nearly impossible to live on leafy vegetables alone. Therefore, a whole-food, plant-based diet includes diverse ingredients that can be used to create common dishes such as pizza, lasagna, and burritos, but with less flour, sugar, and oil. Following are a few food examples of the diet.
Google, NASA, and Time Magazine recently teamed up to assemble visual sequences from satellite imagery compiled over the last few decades. These time-lapse videos clearly depict climate change and rapid human expansion around the world.
Collecting Waste Without Wasting Energy
Finnish company Enevo manufactures tiny, battery-operated wireless sensors. These sensors measure and predict how full waste containers are in urban areas. The information is used to generate optimized routes and schedules for collection trucks. Trucks don’t have to waste mileage going to almost empty garbage cans which means less CO2 emissions.
Encouraging Electric Vehicles
Norwegian Meshcrafts wants to remove the obstacles for switching to electric cars. The company’s founder was surprised at how difficult it was to find charging points for electric vehicles. Meshcraft aims to enable everyone to sell electricity to others from their own charging points, at their own chosen price. This would be the same as how people rent out their houses on Airbnb.
Sharing Bike Rides
AirDonkey contacts wannabe bike riders and bicycle owners via smartphone. Those who want to hire out their bike get a Bluetooth enabled lock, which users open with their phone once they’ve reserved and paid for the bike through the app. This is basically another Airbnb clone, but for bikes.
Making Waste into Fashion
Pure Waste created the official gear for the Slush Conference in Helsinki. The company is making 100% recycled garments made of cutting waste, which makes up 15% of all fabric used in manufacturing. This saves 38.5 billion liters of water every year, which would otherwise be used on cotton irrigation.
Harnessing the Sun in Developing Regions
The Norwegian company Bright Products launched their SunTurtle and solar LED lamps in May last year. They have provided 300,000 solar lamps to 2 million people around the world. They reduce the use of gasoline generators by providing these lights to places like Africa, Asia and South America.
Helping Stop Food Waste
Finnish tech company Foller aims to end food waste by encouraging the sales of food close to its sell-by date. Their solution is based on RFID tags the monitor products on the shelf of a shop. If something isn’t selling and is likely going to go to waste, it’s price automatically goes down.
Gamifying Energy Behavior
Swedish startup company Greenly has an app that will gamify our energy use experience. The app collects information about your energy use and gives you tips for better energy efficiency. The app also has you compete against your neighbors to see who is being more efficient.
Since becoming more politically and environmentally conscious this semester, thanks to the upcoming election and our environmental film course, I have become almost hyperaware of the opinions of my extended family and how much I disagree with them on most subjects. Some of them even support Donald Trump which is scary to me. Sometimes I wonder how I’m related to them at all.
But anyway, I have had some recent Facebook arguments regarding climate change and global warming. I received the typical responses such as “global warming is bullshit” and just general comments about Al Gore’s “creepy eyes” whatever that means. I argued back with facts and figures but no one was swayed. It’s very disheartening to know that your family members don’t seem to care about the future of the earth, but they would rather talk about their right to own a firearm.
I guess I’m just curious how other people deal with their republican relatives. Do you whole-heartedly argue with them? Ignore them? Humor them? What do you think is the best approach?
Most of us know about recycling and that it’s good for the Earth. From a very young age recycling was drilled into us and we knew the entire process by the time we were adults. (Recycling is when old products are used to make brand new products). However, up until recently, I’m not afraid to say that I personally had no idea what compost was. I knew it was good for the environment but the exact process was a complete mystery to me. So what is “composting”? Composting, it’s actually quite similar to recycling if you think about it. Although compost material doesn’t go towards new commercial products, compost materials are still being used again- instead of sitting somewhere in a dump. Compost materials are broken down and used to give nutrients to soil, like fertilizer. When the same materials are in dumps, since there is a lack of oxygen, they produce harmful greenhouse gases. Unlike when you compost, when you compost there is oxygen so it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. Meaning that composting is better for the Earth, and also works as a great fertilizer! However, like recycling, not everything can be composted. Things that can be composted include (lists provided by getcomposting.com):
Vegetable peelings, salad leaves and fruit scraps
Old flowers and nettles
Coffee grounds and filter paper
Spent bedding plants
Young annual weeds (e.g. chickweed)
Crushed egg shells
Egg and cereal boxes
Corrugated cardboard and paper (scrunched up)
Toilet and kitchen roll tubes
Twigs and hedge clippings
Straw and hay
Bedding from vegetarian pets
Ashes from wood, paper and lump-wood charcoal
Sawdust and wood chippings
Cotton threads and string (made from natural fibre)
Vacuum bag contents
Old natural fibre clothes (cut into small pieces)
Tissues, paper towels and napkins
Shredded confidential documents
Corn cobs and stalks
In Woodland, North Carolina, voters rejected a solar panel farm because of their alleged capabilities to soak up all of the sun’s energy. No, this is not an Onion article. This is real life. People are preventing measures that could help the environment due to misinformation and blatant ignorance. Although some places are more environmentally aware and conscious, many other towns are not, This town, and many others, need a proper education on environmentalism. After all, environmentalism could literally save their lives. Check out more information regarding the rejection of the solar panels here.
Home, directed by Yaan Arthus-Bertrand, is an aesthetically breath-taking expository documentary that examines the many contributions of mankind that effect, and ultimately damage the Earth’s delicate ecosystem. Released in July 2009 by Europa Corp., Home stresses that all of Earth’s environmental man-made troubles are interconnected. The incredible cinematography keeps the viewer engaged for all 90 minutes of run time, during which Glenn Close, the narrator, identifies and assesses issues that range between clean water scarcity, global warming, agriculture practices, and deforestation.
While there are no formal interviews with experts or affected locals, Home chronicles the history of industrial and manufacturing practices of humans, and the various domestic and international crises that follow as a result. The footage is no doubt one of the highlights of this film, as it captures the vastness and extraordinarily complex system of life on Earth. The shots cover a diverse presentation of open and isolated landscapes, as well as congested and monopolized urban areas. These elements effectively connect to the viewer on a personal level, and also address issues that are not exclusive to just one country, or even one continent.
Despite being just over six years old, the documentary is exceptionally educational, inspirational, and relevant to today’s audiences and subject matter, as it stresses the importance of acting now rather than later. The issues discussed in this documentary coincide with the readings assigned to this course so far, such as climate change and pollution, and is moderately reminiscent of the documentary Lucent when it focuses on the terribly inhumane conditions of slaughter farms. While none of the information presented is earth-shatteringly new, the cinematography is what sets it apart.
Overall the message of this documentary was conveyed extremely well from beginning to end. It is saddening to see that one species could cause so much destruction in so little time. From the information given, and the slightly accusatory tone in which it was delivered, it portrays the human race as nothing more than a parasite that strips away finite resources at the expense of its cohabitants. Toward the end, however, the heavy and depressing tone rises to a more optimistic and “all is not lost” attitude, and encourages the modification of existing production and consumption techniques to lessen the net impact on the environment. The film also exhibits some worldwide efforts of major corporations to adopt more sustainably friendly practices, which brings positive motivation and hope to the viewer.
There is, however, one critique in which a slight irony exists due to the fact that this film was sponsored and supported by many large, high-end corporations who are, more likely than not, guilty of contributing to the environmental crisis. In one way or another, these companies have exhibited irresponsibility through inefficient industrial production means, resource waste, and the like. It is because of this that the documentary fails to address capitalistic greed and exploitation, which is a major contributor to the exhaustion of such resources and the planet’s overall health. Despite this, however, the overall message was received loud and clear, and leaves the viewer pondering his/her own role in humanity’s involvement by saving or destroying what remains of planet Earth.
The film GMO OMG, released in 2011 follows one fathers attempt to find out about what we are actually eating in our food, and the implications of consuming genetically altered food. After having children, Jeremy Seifert became increasing conscious about what he was feeding his family, and decided to set out on a journey to find out everything there is to know about GMOs or genetically modified organisms. All the while, filming and directing his independent film GMO OMG.
GMO OMG is a documentary that seeks to identify what GMOs are and why they are problematic to both humans and the environment. The film is both expository and participatory in nature. Expository as the filmmaker speaks to the audience directly throughout the length of the film both on screen and through narration. This expository modality works throughout the film to create a rapport between the filmmaker Seifert and the viewer that creates an ethos between the filmmaker and the viewer. Furthermore throughout the film Seifert is seen interacting with his children, furthering this ethos of the narrator as a person of high moral character fighting the capitalist monster that is GMOs. Moreover, the film is one that is of the participatory mode of documentary as there is a large number of interviews with professionals in the agriculture industry who deal with GMOs. Farmers, scientists, and food specialists all give their opinions with GMOs. The film lacks serious antagonist interviews as corporations who use GMO products generally decline interviews so as to avoid bad press. Overall, the film is mostly on-sided, however the information presented throughout the film creates a strong enough argument to draw the uninformed viewer on to the anti-GMO front.
Prior to viewing this film, I would consider myself somewhat informed on the issues of GMOs but after the film I feel much more informed as to what GMOs are. I believe that this film does a very good job of informing the average viewer about GMOs, in an lighthearted, appealing way. This film is interconnected with other environmental texts as well, for instance the 2014 film Dam Nation. Dam Nation is a piece that examines the environmental significance of dams throughout the United States, especially the impact on fish which cannot reach their spawning dams without climbing through fish ladders. Because this can be a difficult task, fish farms throughout the United States raise fish to be released upstream where fish born in the wild may not be able to reach, in an attempt to stabilize the fish numbers in an ecosystem. However, as these fish are raised, they are fed a fish food pellet made with GMO corn. Thereby without warning, these ‘wild’ fish become GMO fish.
Furthermore, the film challenges the notion that GMO food will help to end the world wide hunger crisis, as through simple data it is proven that the world has enough resources to feed the world organically, if only people and governments are willing to make changes to the agricultural industry.
This film is on Netflix for those subscribed, and is definitely worth a watch if you want to learn more about GMOs.
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front is an awarding winning documentary that was directed by Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman. This documentary follows the story of Daniel McGowan, a man who got arrested because he helped commit arson with the extremist environmental group ELF (Earth Liberation Front). At one point ELF was considered America’s number one terrorist group, as said by the FBI, due to the group’s violent nature and numerous arsons against certain businesses. The film focuses on Daniel’s reasoning for his actions and his time awaiting his final sentence. Daniel is followed throughout the documentary and he explains why ELF felt the need to take extreme measures. This particular documentary is associated with many production companies such as British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Independent Television Service (ITVS), Lucky Hat Entertainment, Marshall Curry Productions LLC and P.O.V./American Documentary. If A Tree Falls was first released January 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival in the United States. Since then it has been nominated for ten awards, of which the documentary has won six out of those ten nominations.
Written by Crystal Ledbetter