The Right To Breathe

Hello OnAir readers!

I hope each of you’re having a fantastic year and semester, as I am!  I’d like to begin a discourse with y’all concerning the right to breathe. I found a couple of short documentaries that I wanted to share with y’all, but instead of writing a long post about it, I think it best if I leave this up for discussion. Even if you’re shy and don’t want to post, please share these links and discuss “the right to breathe” with your friends and family!

Coalitions Against Coal

Hey everyone!

One of my favorite things is when young people instigate change. This can be on any level, just as long as you make others think! Keeping with my theme from the last blog – a couple of years ago, a group of environmentally conscious students hosted a film and panel discussion about the hidden costs of coal-based energy production for the Athens community. The result was something absolutely incredible.

As a result of finding out about the use of coal across campus, many of my peers decided that they wanted to see a major change from the University- thus began the Beyond Coal movement. For months on end, students in the Beyond Coal exposed and shared public health, ecological and climate change costs of coal energy production. This got the attention of important people in the environmental world, such as Rich Rusk, an organizer with the Georgia Climate Change Coalition, who stated in an address to the state’s Coalition that the environmental leaders of today were the young and the passionate and called for everyone else to emulate them.

The organizing members of Beyond Coal pushed UGA’s administration and financial advisors to commit to retiring the coal boiler and, in addition, to create a task force that would ensure that community concerns are considered and that all alternatives to coal are diligently investigated. The group received immense support from both students and faculty: a petition gained over 2,000 student signatures as well as over 80 faculty endorsements backing the push to retire the coal boiler. In the end, the voice of the people was heard and heeded!

Institutions of higher education should always be the exemplars of modern energy solutions. If you see an institution follow through on their environmentally based promises in your community, I encourage you to call for change. Often, the smallest actions, such as writing a letter to someone holding a leadership position can and do make the biggest difference.

The Green Movement- College Edition

Hey guys!

As you all know by now, I am a college student. What you do not know is my decision process when looking at universities. I, along with a huge percentage of other incoming college students, was very conscious of the schools’ environmental sustainability programs. Commitment to environmental issues was right up there with academic reputation and financial aid, and significantly affected my decision. Students like us are becoming more conscious of the huge effects that universities can have, positive or negative.  So we are asking the tough questions and pushing for change!

Some of y’all either have begun or will soon begin the college search process, and so I’d like to share with you some of my personal criteria when touring schools. I had a wide range of factors, however, these were the most important to me:

1.) How much local food is served/where does the leftover food go at the end of each and every day? After all, there’s gotta be a lot of excess, especially at large schools.

2.) How much waste is diverted from landfills? College students are humans, and messy ones at that. The availability of recycling bins and other such items seemed critical to me.

3.) Are the available transportation options such as free bus passes or car shares offered? Do transportation options include non-petroleum based ones? Is the location of the school along with the school culture conducive to bike riding and/or walking?

4.) Are there sustainability programs offered in the residence halls? Are the residence halls generally efficient in terms of electricity, heat, and/or water use?

These were just a few of mine, but I’m hoping you’ll start thinking of some of your own as well! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

For tired brains~

Hello lovely readers!

I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve had midterms for the past two weeks and I’m really beat. So, instead of a long, word-filled post, here’s one of my favorite TED Talks about what the world might look like without oil:

Best of luck to any of y’all who still have exams to take!

Fall Is Here, But Where Are All of the Colors?

Hey guys!

Something y’all don’t know about me is that I LOVE fall. The clear, blue skies, the wind pulling leaves from the grasp of the trees they previously resided on, everything. But my absolute favorite part of the season is the changing colors of the leaves. As soon as they start turning, I always get super excited. Recently, the Washington Post reported that the previous estimates of the effects of climate change have all been hugely underestimated. The chair of the UN Science Compendium’s “Climate Action Initiative” Robert Correll stated that temperatures across the globe will rise to over 6 degrees F (yes, this is twice as high than the Nobel Prize-winning Panel on Climate Change’s prediction). So, what does this have to do with Fall? Everything.

Fall color is seriously at stake. Those luscious reds and bright golden-yellows will not persist.  This may seem trivial given that most everything is also at stake if the global temperature rises so significantly, but at least for me, not having gorgeous fall foliage would detract (wait for it…) color from my life. Lame pun, I know, but I’m being completely serious. With higher temperatures comes longer growing seasons, which would displace the timing of leaf fall and alter timing of precipitation and changes in humidity. All of these things are directly correlated with fall leaf color.

Length of day and temperature are the main environmental factors that affect fall foliage color, so if temperatures rise, then the trees will procrastinate their color change. Then add in the increased nitrogen from greenhouse gasses, and our reds will be much less red (if you’re interested in why, look up how anthocyanins; they’re the reason that maples are so vibrantly red).

So, if for no other reason than to keep fall beautiful, do your best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Join the movement, change the world

Hello lovely readers!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which, more power to you- that’s definitely a way to lessen your carbon footprint) you’ve probably heard about the global protests over climate change. In an incredible turn of events, over 2,000 “Peoples’ Climate Marche(s)” have taken place around the world. Tens of thousands of people have swarmed cities across Europe, Asia, Australia and the US, and they’re not done yet. The rallies in 161 countries are centered around a recent international push to curb carbon emissions and are geared towards encouraging the United Nations’ Environmental Council to change current carbon-related policies.

What’s so interesting about this movement to me is that it’s not just gone global; important leaders in every sphere of influence have also joined in the efforts. For example, actor Leonardo DiCaprio has been appointed as a UN representative on climate change and joined UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and countless other business leaders, celebrities, and environmentalists in Manhattan during the UN Councils and General Assembly sessions this week. The Climate Summit is the first gathering of 125 heads of state since the failed climate conference of 2009, which was held in Copenhagen.

The timing is perfect- climate change needs to be considered an “everybody” issue. In Australia, where 20,000 people turned out to the rally held in Melbourne, climate change has resulted in severe droughts, massive storms, bushfires and higher tides. Things don’t look like they’re going to be getting any better unless extreme measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And Australia is not alone. In previous articles, I have discussed the dramatic effects of greenhouse gasses in various places around the world.  You can see natural disasters being heavily debated on virtually any news outlet.

Even if you can’t join in an official march this fall, think of ways you and your peers can be a part of this movement of environmental consciousness. Organize a rally in your community, write letters to your congressman/congresswoman, use social media to make a difference. Even the smallest of actions can make a huge difference; and since we have no other planet to go live on, we all need to be trying our very best to make the most of this one.

What do you think about climate change and the impact of these rallies?

Greenhouse emissions and.. you?

Hey guys-

This post isn’t going to be any sort of new information for most of y’all- I’m pretty sure at this point we all know that greenhouse gases increase the pace of global warming and that global warning affects virtually every aspect of our lives (see several of my previous posts). The United Nations has recently released a report that discusses how global warming is already having negative effects on our lives in natural ways. Our seas are higher due to arctic melt, people around the world have been forced to combat devastating heat waves, torrential rains have resulted in massive flooding (just look at the headlines concerning India) and the list of other climate extremes goes on.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said specifically that “human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reduction in snow and ice, and in global mean-sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century…” So, to further clarify- this is a result of OUR actions. Everyone has used products that are made with and/or utilizes and/or releases heat-trapping gases such as CO2. Yes, this means anything that has petroleum, natural gas and coal. If we, as a society, hope to limit/control the risks to our future generations, it is imperative that we “green” companies and figure out ways to avoid using our rapidly dwindling resources. It is only through these steps that we can remotely begin to slow the process of global warming.

The numbers are staggering: from 1970-2000, fossil fuel emissions increased by 1.3% each year; from 2000-2010. That rate of emissions grew to 2.2% EVERY YEAR. If that doesn’t trouble you, I don’t know what will. Now, you may be wondering, “Peyton, what caused this massive jump?” Why, dear reader, how funny that you ask! Population growth in places like China have had dire effects on the environment. In fact, China’s industrialized corporations and activities account for HALF of the international coal use. One country=half of all coal use in the WORLD.

In most Western countries, like the US, there has been an increased focus on sustainability and sources that release fewer emissions. Hence why I have a job here at OnAir. President Obama has joined this cause and is using his executive authority in an attempt to impose domestic limits on greenhouse emissions; unfortunately, the maze of bureaucratic smorgasbord that haunts our legal and political systems has presented unnecessarily immense challenges.

Just to sort of wrap things up, here is a final thought from the report that I’d like to leave y’all with: should the warming continue at the same rate, economic growth will continue to “slow down,” will “make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing poverty traps and create new ones, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.” The destabilizing effect of climate change on governments, especially those lacking infrastructure, is real and serious.

What do you think?  What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint?


Oh the sky would be blue, and you guys will be there too When I finally do what frozen things do in summerrrrrrr!

Hey guys!

When it’s as hot as it is here in Atlanta, I can’t help but enjoy watching tv shows and movies that are set in.. cooler places. I can’t be the only one here that has seen (and adores) the newest Disney movie- “Frozen.” Obviously most people, including myself, only take the movie at face value- it is without a doubt a great story of sisterhood, inter-personal relationships and overall girl power!

But what about the other themes in “Frozen”? Did any of you recognize the issue of climate change? It has been stated in several different sources that the intention of the directors was to introduce the concept as a sort of warning sign that climate change resulting in the earth experiencing another ice age is a real concern, especially if the next few generations do not start interacting with the Earth in responsible ways.

Think about it- Olaf is a perfect example of what climate change can do. Even the smallest of children can see the consequences of climate change through this movie.  So what do you all think? Total sham or is there something more to this idea? Are there any other movies you know of that have hidden messages like “Frozen”? Comment below!

Times, they are a-changin’

Hi everyone!

So, this week’s blog is going to be a little different. This week was full of many changes in my personal life and although I have avoided talking about myself here I felt the need this week to share the huge steps I’ve taken. Earlier this week, I moved away from home to begin my studies as an International Relations/Arabic major. In the past few months it has really hit me just how much I’ve accomplished over 13 years, 2,340 days, and approximately 116,380 hours. I’ve also been hit with waves of excitement and anxiety. Time sped up and suddenly I was there- in my dorm, alone.

Today, I returned home, also alone. My beloved pet entered the final stage of kidney failure and I was left to choose my next course of action from atop my XL-twin bed in a color coordinated room, with my next door neighbors blasting Katy Perry. Ah, college. This week, I grew up; I made hard choices for myself, by myself. And you know what? That’s how the world works.

Now I’m sure you, dear reader, are wondering what the heck this has to do with environment. Let me explain- I made tough choices throughout the college application and acceptance process; I had hoped that those choices would mean an easier transition into college itself. However, life threw me a curveball. When it comes to environmental issues, the same thing often occurs. Many people believe that once once environmental issue is tackled, the rest will be easy to conquer. This is simply not the case. Obstacles are uniquely challenging- while one can gain you access to the next step and may provide you with the proper tools to approach it, it can not and will not make it easier. Sometimes you get a phone call from your mom that you need to leave only a few days after you’ve arrived; sometimes a tanker spills oil into the Atlantic. We can only prepare for and tackle so much. So, remember that there are many parallels between our lives and the way we think about the environment.