Archive for Policy

When you were a child, you most likely heard your parents talk to you alot about cleaning up after yourself when you eat, play, or do anything that may be messy. Alot of officials haven’t been listening to their parents. In the age of rapid modernization and “Empire”, the aim of most countries is to gain hegemony or global influence through economical means. They choose to go about their goals by building more to strengthen their economies, but they find it unnecessary to analyze their methods and the effects of them. This is exact problem that Dubai finds itself in at the moment. While their skyline is one of the most beautiful of the middle eastern area, the ground is a whole different story. The challenge of water is evolving to much more than just a problem: due to the recent growth much of their water has been tainted by waste and unfortunately the water treatments plants in the area don’t have the energy to clean all of it up. To respond to this problem, Dubai has decided to increase its erudition in nuclear energy. This venture seeks to solve the problem of desalination, and the lack of energy for the new buildings. It’s necessary to clean up after yourself, and, in fact, plan out clean up before you begin your endeavor.

-Jesse Anyalebechi

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Energy Incentives

So I’ve been hearing alot of stuff about incentives and what not for being more energy effecient. I don’t like this concept honestly, well it’s not that I don’t like the concept. It’s that I really dislike the assumptions that this concept is based from. An incentive is “something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.” There are two possible assumptions that could lead to energy incentives. One, people don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment and the only way they would is if they’d be gaining some sort of “instant” gratification (When I say instant I mean instant noodle type of instant, except on a larger scale, which, I guess, makes it even less instant. But anyway) The problem I have with this assumption is that it makes people look very very selfish and to be honest, I do think we are quite selfish but that doesn’t give us a reason to exemplify it. Two, smart incentives that are carefully planned out can help not only the environment but other things. I also agree with this, incentives like the ones for homeowners can help the housing market as well as the environment, because as people begin to buy houses and make them more energy effecient they increase the value of the homes, increase the sales of energy appliance creators, which can bring more jobs to the renewable energy industry, and help economy growth all together. So go buy a house and fill it with energy effecient lightbulbs. 🙂 The Earth, she is calling.

Jesse Anyalebechi

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Hot, Helpless, and Soon To Be Homeless

polar-bear-sadAs discussed in earlier blogs, we see that natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, and unpredictable changes in weather are just some of the terrible byproducts of global warming. These events alone have much of the public shaking in terror, but if you think that only humans  are seeing the worst of it, you are wrong.

Our carelessness also impact many animals that are not to blame, but suffer none the less. Thanks to our pollution efforts polar bears are sitting on thin ice…literally. Last year the government officially decided to put polar bears on the list of endangered species, and pictures of polar bears floating around on chunks of ice have become almost iconic. Some of these pictures even illustrate cubs being separated from their mothers. Of the existing 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic scientist expect a 30% decline in population due to environmental issues. If ever you get too lazy to walk over to a recycling bin, just look at one these pictures, and remember that you can give them one of their “bear” necessities…a home.

-Christine Umeh

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Windians: Gone with the Wind

WinddddddThe stimulus bill passed through Congress had many alternative energy incentives attached including wind energy. The major fault though, was the production tax credit’s (PTC) lack of language including Native Americans. Reservations are said to contain the most wind potential, but the resources are not being used because Natives receive no benefit in creating wind energy. Luckily, by making the PTC a tradable tax credit, Native populations can slowly wean off of gambling casinos and into a prospering economy. Current populations are considered impoverished because the only source of income coming in are through gambling casinos and uranium mining projects. Unfortunately these industries lead to alcoholism and lung cancer. Poverty stricken reservations are treated as a global underclass and a change in language for the PTC can make drastic changes. By making the PTC tradable, Native populations are able to develop wind farms and receive tax credits, but since Natives do not pay taxes the credits are deemed useless. However, Joint Reservation Projects are willing to trade money for the tax credits, this frees up money in the Congressional treasury and develops powerful wind energy. Including Native Americans in the gradual shift to renewable and alternative energy sources is key to the driving force behind saving the environment and curbing greenhouse gases.

-Nicholas Chan

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Now, Switch!

grasssssFrom fossil fuels to corn ethanol, Americans need to switch over to brighter and greener forms of energy. Switchgrass, a fast growing plant is looking quite promising, but is overlooked among citizens. The Department of Energy truly believes that biofuels are the keystone transition from dependence to independence. The native crop can easily reduce reliance on foreign oil, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthen the agricultural sector. The major problem with corn ethanol is the price fluctuation and the fast paced transition instead of a gradual switch over.  Switchgrass, however provides many benefits such as the cost competitiveness, the push in biodiversity, and the lack of a need for pesticides. It is one of the fastest growing crops that can be processed into a biofuel, but with corn ethanol and oil overshadowing the true potential of the grass, switchgrass is still stuck in the research and development phase. It is also empirically proven that switchgrass actuall adds organic nutrients to the soil ensuring a long lasting harvest. With its strong roots, the cash crop can last through the winter and prevent soil erosion. The air produced from the plant reduces carbon dioxide and it slows the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Naturally, since we don’t eat grass, price spikes won’t occur as with corn ethanol. Only with determination and public knowledge can society bring this promising grass to the forefront, so American, now, switch!

-Nicholas Chan

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In A Nutshell

All of us each peanuts or sum sort of peanut product (actually all of us who aren’t allergic). One thing that we may not have know is that peanut shells release carbon as they decompose. But one thing that you could do to deter from emitting carbon into the atmosphere is to create biochar. Biochar is basically “green coal”. This sort of charcoal is created form the any form of biomass waste that is burned, in a kiln AKA  industrial oven, with an airless burning technique also known as pyrolysis. Then you take the coal and dig it into the ground that way the carbon is locked into the soil. By doing this you could anchor soil nutrients extremely well at a time when the planet’s soils have lost half of their carbon thanks to industrialized agriculture. In May 2009, the Biochar Fund received a grant from the Congo Basin Forest Fund to implement its concept in Central Africa. The Observer gives it a light bulb rating of 5 out of 5 which translated basically means this will mostly be one thing that steps in a will most likely save the planet and possibly humanity. One thing that should be noted though is that biochar is not limited to just peanut shells, but can be used for any type of biomass.

– Funmilayo Amubieya

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Trick or Trees

Many of us know that trees are beneficial, but a large percentage of those do not understand why. We constantly cut down forests and plants around us in order to satisfy our own need, yet we do not know that when we wipe out these trees, slowly it will begin to hurt us.

When we trash the land around us, it will continue to be there unless we get rid of it. This can be applied to the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Trees not only serve as the beauty that nature exhibits, but it also filters our air. When we breathe out carbon dioxide, trees intake it and release out oxygen. If this is true, why would we allow deforestation to happen? Our population is growing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should go on an environmental rampage just so that we can have large houses and big backyards. Not only should we stop killing mass amount of trees, but we should grow more. For the immense amount of carbon dioxide we emit, it wouldn’t hurt to reduce the CO2 in the air to mitigate temperature change and to reduce the unhealthy substances in the air that we breathe.

~Christine Umeh

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