The Government and The Environment… The Breakup

Hello OnAir readers!

After a long hiatus, I am so excited to be back! Hopefully you’ve all had a good start to the school year and you’re settling into your environmentally-conscious routines.

For this week I’d like to focus on something that I’m sure you’ve all read and heard about this week: the government shutdown. Now, you may be wondering how this coincides with the environment. The answer is simple: the government has basically everything to do with the environment, and this is the second major hit to the environment by the Federal Government this year alone (March 1st- EPA Budget was cut significantly). The EPA, which is of course a government agency, has also been shutdown; only 7% of EPA employees will continue to work as normal, at least until their contingency money runs out.

Due to this massive reduction, there will be no monitoring of water or air quality. This lack of monitoring will more than likely give many corporations a free pass when it comes to pollution production; after all, who’s to stop them now?

The other most obvious and instantaneous effect of this shutdown was the closure of every single national park and zoo. States’ local economies will lose $76 million per day in tourism revenue that would normally come from lodging and the sale/rental of recreational gear and services according to the National Park Service. This is doubly a shame since it was the anniversary of Yosemite this week.

The final major effect of this shutdown is that all those who have been working diligently on creating and passing laws and clean up efforts for the benefit of all necessary green sectors have been stopped short. Thus, the shutdown may not initially affect you, but the impact of reduced environmental protection and regulation definitely will in the not so distant future. We will reap the effects of our nation’s leaders choices.

 

OnAir says: What gets you fired up about the environment? What do you think the adults in your life–school, town, state–could do better? Let us know in the comments!

Break the ice

Did you know you can socialize and help the environment at the same time? Yeah, it’s possible! Spreading the word is one way to raise awareness. Like us green bloggers, make it a point to reach out to your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc. about environmental awareness. Make social gatherings at a park or volunteer area for environmental causes – extend party invitations in a green way.

One way that I reach out to raise awareness – besides blogging about it – is tweet a helpful tip every Friday to my followers. On other social media platforms, I hold a special day for raising concerns about anything that reaches my ear. Make it a new fad on Instagram where posting pictures of helping the environment is the coolest thing; it’s a great way to spice things up in your dashboard. You might even find that some of your friends hold the same interest as you.

Can social media save the world? Of course! The internet and social media provides individual donors and worthy organizations the ability to connect meaningfully on opposite sides of the world. Social media is effective in expanding eco awareness and introducing sustainability concepts to others – that’s why we’re blogging about it!

So what are you waiting for? Break the ice!

Climate, Keystone, and Controversial Documentaries

Documentaries are extremely important in that they give us some back story on things we might only kind of know about. A new documentary, Elemental, targets some issues that affect the environment, such as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, pollution in the Ganges River, and how a man faces the battles of a rapidly warming climate.

Pretty deep stuff.

Maybe you’ve heard about Keystone XL in the news, but you’re fuzzy on the details. If so, here are some of the facts:

  • TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. proposed to construct a 1,700 mile crude oil pipeline
  • The pipeline would run from Hardisty, Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, reducing the need for trains and trucks to get oil to the refineries. Canada to Texas. That’s a long pipeline.
  • The project has two phases: The first pipeline is the one under proposition, which runs from Alberta to Nebraska, while the second is under construction; it runs from Oklahoma to Texas. An existing pipeline will connect these two.

 

So it’s a project that covers a lot of ground and could possibly cause a good bit of disruption. Which means that there’s a pretty heated argument brewing between the the project’s supporters and its critics. Here’s where they stand:

The people FOR the pipeline claim that it will boost the economy, providing jobs for several people. Along with that, it is said that this cut America’s dependence on oil imported from Venezuela and the Middle East. This is because the oil will be imported from resources in Canada and other polar regions, and we will have easier access to it because of the pipeline.

The people AGAINST the pipeline claim that it will put the surrounding environment at risk of toxic spills and water pollution. Also, separating the crude oil from the sand, silt and clay it comes from requires huge amounts of water, a resource we can’t afford to waste. They also argue that we should be looking for ways to provide energy without oil, rather than making it easier for oil to get to us.

While Elemental tackles more issues than Keystone, the XL pipeline is such a complex issue that it helps to do a little extra reading.

Here’s a scene from Elemental which focuses on citizens speaking out against the pollution affecting their community:

And here’s a scene of a government official in India attempting to clean up the Ganges river.

What are your opinions on the pipeline controversy, the pollution in the Ganges, or just our ever-changing climate? Please leave a comment below and share your views with us!

For more info on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, click here.

For some of the arguments for it, click here.

For some of the arguments against, click here.

Golf Carts Go Green

In the recent past, people have become more aware of how they hurt the environment; this is why we have thousands of websites, like OnAir, and thousands of organizations to help us see how we affect the Earth and its delicate ecosystems. As more of us are starting to lean towards more eco-friendly products, companies have noticed this and are rapidly creating products that will please consumers. But in Peachtree City, Georgia, there is already a product that is rare for a family not to have: golf carts.

The intended use for golf carts is self explanatory: they are used by golfers to save time and not walk to all eighteen holes. They are charged electrically, and most models used nowadays do not use any gasoline, which would emit harsh chemicals into the air. In Peachtree City, where I live, people use golf carts as a major source of transportation. More than 9,000 households own golf carts– more than any city in the world! This lowers air pollution, while also providing a more scenic road to take. Golf cart paths cut through some of the forests, but are skillfully made to leave as many trees up as possible. There are approximately 90 miles (145 kilometers) of golf cart paths that web throughout Peachtree City.

At one of the local high schools, more golf carts are driven to school than cars and buses combined! Students and teachers are encouraged to drive golf carts due to limited parking space; the plus is improving the air quality. This is not the only city that is practicing eco-friendly transportation. Lafayette, Louisiana and Goldsboro, North Carolina are two cities outside of Georgia that practice this, but there are not many other cities that actually do. Less than twenty cities in the United States have most of their population owning and driving golf carts.

Peachtree City has been ranked in the Top 100 places to live in the United States for six years, usually at a very high ranking. It is awarded this prize along with other factors, but its environmentally friendly transportation has contributed a lot to its ranking. Maybe you can try to introduce this eco-friendly way of transportation to your community and other people around it. If you can do this or attempt to, know that you are a responsible person that cares for their environment. Safe driving!

 

OnAir says: Golf carts are great for not emitting exhaust like cars do. What exhaust-less ways can people get around in your town? Got some new ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret

It’s summertime again, or maybe finals time, if you are like me. Honestly, I am to the point where my brain is feeling simply fried and I absolutely need to unwind, but I also need to study and kind of want to have some summer fun, too. There is only one true solution to all of these problems…. Its about time I shared with you what may be Atlanta’s best park.

Grant Park is absolutely a fairytale. Its ancient trees make it shady and cool when it starts to warm up around here, but you can also always find a sunny spot on its rolling hills, where you can lay out a blanket of a towel and hit the books or catch a nap.

I should also mention that it is generally very empty. It is not eerie, or creepy, like you might find in some smaller parks, but it is peaceful. On some days it is so quiet you can even hear the lions roaring in the nearby zoo. That’s right, I wasn’t kidding when I said fairytale.

The park isn’t trying to “make a buck” on you either. If you want to splash in the park’s pool as the city slowly starts turning into “Hotlanta,” you can do it for free from 1:30 PM until 4:00 PM; prime swimming time.

Not only that, but as many of you many know the famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Peachtree Road Race is rapidly approaching, and if you or a friend/ family member is looking for somewhere to train, don’t hit the gym, hit the park! Grant is very well known among runners for being great for light hill conditioning and varied terrain. Plus, it’s downtown, so you can get used to running in the city, and outdoors.

Of course you are probably busy, but there is no way, especially in the up and coming summer months, that you will be too busy to visit Atlanta’s most underrated park. It is about time for some “you” time, and time you checked out Atlanta’s best kept secret, Grant Park.

 

[Image source]

Chastain Park

You may have recently visited a park or two, but I know from personal experience that when I choose a smaller park, I often have to pick between two good things.

For example, I may have to choose between location and atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, parks are still my favorite places, but sometimes the compromise of a “perfect park” seems just out of reach.

Chastain Park is the epitome of this “perfect compromise.” Nestled in a quiet neighborhood, you can easily avoid having to be around busy exhaust ridden streets, but it is also walking distance from cool restaurants and places to hang out; restaurants like Fellini’s Pizzeria. (Which is pretty good, and also inexpensive, I must say).

Chastain is also huge! The sheer number of amenities that are available to members and non-members alike is insane. You can go for a swim, play tennis walk on the trails or, if you are willing to shell out a couple extra bucks, you can take horse-riding lessons!

Another thing I love about Chastain is the space it covers. The park is incredibly spacious. You will never feel crowded on a field at Chastain, unless it is the green of Chastain’s popular amphitheater.

If you want to listen to live music but can’t afford a ticket, Chastain Park is even listening distance from the amphitheater! So you can grab a picnic blanket and enjoy. You can even bring some friends and have your own sort of mini concert party.

It does not matter what you are looking for, if it involves parks you can find it at Chastain. The park is so big that you can go for a peaceful walk at one end, and listen to a rock show in another part. It is ideal for running swimming and tennis. It is truly the best of both worlds.

OnAir says: What are your favorite green spaces in your community? Leave us a comment about your favorite parks and what you like to do there.

Photo credit: PATH Foundation

Ice Cream + Bikes = Creamcycles?

©e-forwards.com

In downtown L.A., they seem to know what they’re doing. A man named Edward Belden has combined two of the most amazing things in the world in an eco-friendly way. Belden has created an ice cream machine that is powered by a bicycle.

Oh my god. Spring, bicycles, ice cream, what else does anyone need in life? Oh, a map you say? http://www.blogonair.org/bikes-are-in/

We already love bikes because they’re one of the air-friendliest ways to get around. Add in ice cream, and you’ve got a pretty sweet deal.

What do you guys think about this? Have you ever done anything similar where you found alternative sources of energy to make things you enjoy? Let us know in a comment below!

http://grist.org/list/a-bike-that-churns-ice-cream/

Listen up, Atlantans: Earth Day Cleanup on April 23!

Who’s got big plans for Earth Day? Looking for something green to do? Look no further. Join the 2nd Annual Earth Day Cleanup Challenge!

On April 23, you can join a bunch of other eco-warriors in helping to make Atlanta beautiful. Join with your class, your club, or even on your own to pitch in and work some enviro magic!

Want details? Of course you do. Click here and join in:

Mark Your Calendars for the Second Annual Earth Day Cleanup Challenge 

 

And guess what else?  Volunteering is a great way to earn AirCreds! Click through to learn more!

Spreading the eco-mania on Earth Day

To commemorate Earth Day, my school’s environmental club holds an Earth Week. For the five days leading up to the annual celebration, we hold a plethora of lunchtime and after-school activities to build up the momentum and get fellow students to realize the variety of ways in which they can celebrate and develop green habits.

Image credit: http://bit.ly/13oxH2z

Last year, it seemed like we’d run out of new ideas and we’d have to resort to past activities until our teacher reached out to a high school climate education program called ACE (Action for Climate Education). We were ecstatic to find that they offered local workshops, carbon-cutting presentations, leadership training, and assistance for students to build action teams. By spring, we’d spent most of our funds so we were grateful to find out their help was free.

We met with their local representative Amber, and she helped up brainstorm refreshing and innovative ideas to spread our passion. The best part, though, was that she offered to be a guest speaker at a climate assembly our club could organize. Her presentation was amazing, to say the least. With engaging animations and an impactful message, it got the students so excited that we recruited 26 members for our club and our Do One Thing pledge board was covered with signatures and positive messages.

In this upcoming week, our Earth Week will be anything but boring. We’re having a shooting paper balls and bottles into recycling cans tournament, an organic foods picnic, a DIY Fashion Day where students can bring in old clothes and refashion them, and a movie night where we’ll be showing The Lorax and selling snacks to fundraise for storm water barrels.

No matter how small or even nonexistent the action in your school or community might be, reach out organizations such as The Clean Air Campaign or ACE to find imaginative ideas to get others excited about implementing change. Every day is Earth Day but it’s great to be able to have a time to come together and celebrate the preservation of what surrounds us.

Have a great Earth Day!

 

OnAir says: Earth Day is April 22, and there’s still time to put together something awesome at your school! Planning something special? Tell us about it in the comments!