BayCycle: Bike by Land or Sea

Want to bike to school, but there’s a river in the way? Fear not: meet BayCycle. This bike features a raft, which means you can pedal by from land to water and back.

Learn more about BayCycle here.  Would you paddle/pedal on one of these bad boys? Let us know in a comment below!

 

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!

New School Year? New Ways To Be Green!

Hey Guys!

Since most of you, like myself, will be starting school very soon I thought we could talk about ways to make this school year your greenest yet!

There are so many easy ways to do this, like bringing a reusable water bottle and lunchbox. Most of those things you already know about, so I thought that I should bring up some ways you may not already know!

Before we get to go to classes and see our friends we have to GET to school, right? Well, how we choose to do that makes a huge difference and has serious effects on the environment as well as one’s health. Here are some ways to make sure that your carbon footprint is lessened this year!

1) Of course the best way to avoid releasing fossil fuels is by either walking, riding a bike or skateboarding to school. Obviously, if you live really far away from school, these aren’t options for you. However, if you live pretty close to your school, this may well be a good option. Not only are these your greenest options for transportation, you will also be getting some exercise! If you choose one of these three options, make sure to be safe–watch traffic, wear safety gear, and practice the buddy system!

2) Another way to cut emission production is by riding a school or city bus. Although they may not be as “cool” as driving a car, you will have time to socialize with your peers and even potentially get some extra study time in the mornings/afternoons. Mass transit is also another way to cut your carbon emissions by two-thirds!

3) The third way to reduce your carbon emissions is by creating a carpool. Carpooling makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. It is a time and money saver, reduces traffic congestion and pollution, and is a way to get to know your neighbors better!

So, there are several ways for you and your friends to make the most of this year by becoming more eco-friendly! Not only will the earth thank you, but you can also wrack up a bunch of points on this website by doing all of the above activities! Think about it… Why wouldn’t you want to make a positive change this year?

 

OnAir says: What’s another great reason to do all this stuff? Say it with us: AirCreds! Start earning points for your air-friendly acts today!

The Ultimate Summer Pest Gets Modified

As summer for many of you has already kicked off, you’re probably spending more time outside doing fun things; I know I am! However, perhaps like me, you’re adventures in nature include being munched on by mosquitoes. Ahh, the joys of summer!

After an escape into the woods by my house, I was covered in those annoying bites and sat down at my computer to catch up on the news. One article jumped out at me as I sat, scratching away. A team of HHMI researchers have just successfully genetically engineered mosquitoes by altering the way they respond to odors, like the smell of humans and the insect repellent DEET. These new findings pave the way to our understanding why the insect is so attracted to humans, and hopefully how to block that attraction so that they don’t bite us!

Yes, mosquito bites are annoying, so putting an end to the itchy welts would be great, but even more importantly, mosquitoes are disease-vector insects. Thus, in 2007, scientists began researching. They announced to the world later that year that they had completed the full genome sequence of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue and yellow fever.

A year later, HHMI researchers took the sequence and shifted their focus from Drosophila flies to mosquitoes with the specific goal of genetically engineering the insects. They first looked toward something they found ten years previously in flies: a gene called the orco which affects how some insects interact with smell. They injected a genetic modification tool called zinc-finger nucleases into mosquito embryos, waited for them to mature, identified mutant individuals, and generated the newly mutant strains.

Amazingly enough, these new strains had significantly different reactions to smell! When regular mosquitoes were given a choice between a human and any other animal, they happily buzzed toward the human. But the mosquitoes with orco mutations showed hugely reduced preference for the smell of humans over guinea pigs, even in the presence of carbon dioxide, which is thought to help mosquitoes respond to human scent!

The next step was for the team to test whether the mosquitoes with orco mutations responded differently to DEET. When presented with two human arms (one covered in DEET and the other completely bare) the mosquitoes flew equally toward both arms, which suggested they couldn’t smell the DEET. However, once they landed on the arms, those on the DEET covered arm flew immediately away. This was unheard of data, and the team went back to work.

Today the HHMI team is still at work trying to provide insights into how existing repellants work against mosquiotes, then plan to start brainstorming ideas about what a next-generation, possibly genetic, repellant would look like. Until they figure this out however, we all will have to deal with the pesky insects and their bites.

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]

Greener on this side too…

The grass always looks greener on the other side…especially after a day or two of rain and especially in Georgia. Sometimes I take all the green for granted…sometimes I think it will always be green. But, a few days ago, on my way to school, I noticed something silver peeking out of the green. Actually, it was not just one, but several. Upon a closer look, those silver things turned out to be cans and other waste that were thrown on the ground. It may not seem like it, but waste like these can actually be detrimental to Mother Earth.

How does garbage have an effect on the environment? Well, for starters, garbage pollution can increase toxic fumes in the air as well as contribute to harmful diseases to circulate around.

Land wastes cause chemical contamination. Plastics and toxins in wastes like anti-freeze and other chemicals seep into the ground where they remain. Many modern-day chemicals either do not biodegrade or break down and if they do, they break down into several smaller chemical particles. These particles poison the ground itself and everything that touches it. It could cause contamination in areas like polluted water ways or acid rain created from air pollution.

Contaminated water that evaporates into the atmosphere can fall back to the earth as acid rain, causing the cycle of contamination and pollution to continue. That means the nutrients that plants and trees soak up become contaminated and start dying. If trees start dying, then it would cause an even more detrimental impact on the air. And the green? It’ll become a rarity, thus it’s important to not take the green environment for granted. Click here  for more information.

It’s important to recycle cans and water bottles and properly dispose other things. Plus, if you see cans and plastic bottles lying around, don’t just saw eww and ignore it. Go ahead and pick it up and properly dispose it. On the long run, you’re doing something good for the environment!

Photo credit: Masslive.com

Go Green–and Go Outside

Summer vacation is ALMOST HERE! Time to run around, roll in the sand at the beach, eat loads of ice cream, go to the park, and picnics…we love picnics.

Or you could be the one barricaded at home with the air-conditioner on, playing video games. And not showing off your tan because you don’t have one.

Air-conditioner = waste of energy. Especially if you can be outside and actually enjoying your summer vacation. So don’t stay cooped up this summer–go green by going out! Here are some suggestions:

  1. Have a picnic. All you need is a cooler (replaces the fridge), sunlight (replaces the light in your kitchen) and sandwiches (replaces the oven/stove). You’re set.
  2. Go tanning at the beach. Why do you need to go to a energy-hogging tanning salon if you can just step outside and get a bronze-y glow? What’s that? You don’t have a beach near you? Just step outside; an hour or two in the sun will get you all the glow you need. But make sure to wear sunscreen with a decent SPF–that’s no joke.
  3. Play sports. You know, instead of going to the gym or working out at home. First off, it’s beautiful outside, so why wouldn’t you want to? Second, being in a gym or at home wastes electricity because of the lights and the equipment. Third, for goodness’ sake, you’re outside. And you’re getting tan. And you’re playing volleyball with your friends. Just go.
  4. Start a garden. This is the perfect weather to do so, and plants help out the environment and produce clean oxygen. And you’ll be outside getting tan. (How many times have I mentioned this now?)

 

Got any more eco-friendly suggestions for summer? Let us know in a comment below.

Photo credit: National Geographic

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