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  • Carleton's green roof

    Re-familiarizing Ourselves with One of Carleton’s Green Assets

    September 27, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Although the Carleton College Green Roof is still in its infancy at two and half years old, it’s legacy is already starting to fade. Few people on Carleton’s campus notice the small, 666 sq ft. patch of prairie located on a roof outside the Olin- Mudd indoor “link”. The informational sign overlooking the green roof is now sun-bleached and tattered. Even fewer people at Carleton, with the exception of only a handful of current seniors, remember the week of May 13th-19th, 2005 when Dave Holman (’06), Jason Lord (’06), Jake Gold (’07), Mandi Fix (’08), and Andrew Kaplan (‘08) spent countless hours on top of the Olin chemical storage facility installing the roof.

    Why the decline in excitement and activity surrounding the green roof on campus? It’s important to acknowledge that students aren’t entirely responsible for this seeming lack of focus. After all, the annual flux of new freshman and graduated seniors doesn’t make it easy to keep long-term projects like the green roof alive. So how can students rise to the challenge of overcoming the generational disconnect created every four years and simultaneously ensure that Carleton students don’t reinvent the wheel? The simple answer is this: through reeducation. Students at Carleton need to be informed about projects others might consider to be long finished in order to inspire and equip the next generation of Carleton students to build from those initiatives.

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  • Halls of Universities

    Congressmen support sustainability education

    September 26, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    This week members of Congress introduced a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives that would provide support to colleges and universities that promote sustainability education through multidisciplinary research. On Monday, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI) introduced the Higher Education Sustainability Act of 2007 (HESA), which would secure $50 million in competitive federal grants for colleges and universities to use to teach students about sustainability. The bill would also allow the Department of Education to award grants for campuses that wish to shift to more sustainable operations.

    Of the legislation, Rep. Blumenauer argued that the bill supports the American economy: “By providing grants to universities and institutions to develop sustainability programs, we not only protect the planet, but we also help maintain America’s economic competitiveness. 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs want sustainable development to become part of their mission, and the Higher Education Sustainability Act is an opportunity to meet this need, protect our planet, and ensure that the American economy is well-equipped for the 21st Century.”


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  • Guacamole

    Top 100 Effects of Global Warming

    September 26, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress think tank, has compiled news stories to present 100 effects of global warming.

    Though some of these may be dismissed as alarmist, there is a lot of substance behind most of these stories published by media outlets like the Washington Post, Science, BBC, and National Geographic.

    What effect do I want to see happen the least?
    Say Goodbye To Guacamole.

  • Three Gorges Dam

    A Progress Report on the Three Gorges Dam

    September 26, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Discussions about the problems of the Three Gorges dam are nothing new. With the forced re-location of 1.3 million people and the potential large-scale environmental impacts, the Three Gorges Dam has been a common topic in many classes and used as a case study in several senior comps projects (including this author’s) in subjects ranging from international relations, geology, and economics.

    This article in the Financial Times is really interesting because the Chinese government is publicly acknowledging for the first time what everyone else has been saying. The Three Gorges dam has a lot of problems.

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  • Wally Broecker delivers his lecture

    Looking Back to Wally Broecker

    September 24, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Carleton students and faculty members packed the Boliou lecture hall last Wednesday to hear geochemist Wally Broecker deliver a lecture entitled “How to Terminate a Glacial Period.” Dr. Broecker, the Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, described new research that gives insight into the Younger Dryas period, a time of cold climate conditions eleven to twelve thousand years ago. In the ongoing research of global warming, this era serves as a particularly interesting example of a time of rapid climate change, when the thermohaline conveyer of ocean currents suddenly shut down, possibly as a result of the flooding of ancient Lake Agassiz (present day Great Lakes) into the Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Broecker has written that the Younger Dryas “holds the key to understanding abrupt climate change” and thus, merits extensive research given our current situation with global warming.

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  • What other schools have joined us?

    September 24, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    The Presidents Climate Commitment now has more than 400 schools signed on. AASHEE’s blog has a breakdown on the signatories (to see a complete list of the schools, click here).

    The ACUPCC signatories serve about 17% of the college students in America.

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  • Traffic Jam

    Time in a Bottle: America’s Congestion Problem

    September 21, 2007 at 10:56 am

    In a study released this week, the Texas Transportation Institute found that congestion is getting worse for American commuters. The study reports that Americans spent 4.2 billion hours in traffic congestion in 2005. This figure corresponds to an annual delay of 38 hours for the average peak-hour commuter, almost a full week of work (or vacation). Additionally, these delays led to 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel. According to EPA calculators, this means that over 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide is emitted annually due to urban congestion in the U.S., a number roughly equal to the entire carbon dioxide emissions of Peru, Ecuador, or Cuba.

    To read the full report, click here.

  • Farm house

    Back to the Land, and Loving It.

    September 21, 2007 at 9:57 am

    “The farm is the best place to grow up. You get to understand the connection between work and life. You get to understand death. Not a lot of people understand all that.”

    Steve Schwen didn’t grow up on a farm himself, but the agricultural wisdom he gently, passionately described to David Hougen-Eitzman’s Agroecology class this week was as old and wise as the soil itself. Born in rural Minnesota, surrounded by farms, Schwen followed his family’s advice to seek “greater things” by attending Medical School. His passion quickly shifted, however, with the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960’s. “The heart of the whole thing was a spiritual awakening,” Schwen stated, and said that he experienced the awakening intimately himself. He has been farming in southeastern Minnesota ever since.

    Schwen’s farming methods are far from the conventional industrial model that we are surrounded by in this part of the country. He is an organic farmer in the traditional sense, meaning that he has never been certified but sets very high standards for himself and has always grown the cleanest food around. He is a self-described peasant with 14 acres of land (compared to the hundreds of acres that conventional corn and soybean farmers have) and practices Permaculture, a method of planting sections of perennial plants such as apple trees, raspberries and asparagus along the natural curvature of the land. The land between these permanent plantings becomes naturally leveled and terraced for all of the annual crops. Schwen cultivates using a team of two loyal horses, who he showed picture after picture of like a proud parent. “Horses are solar-powered” Schwen said, “and their only exhaust is fertilizer for the farm!”

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  • Harvard Economist on Carbon Taxes

    September 19, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Greg Mankiw, professor at Harvard University and former economic advisor to George W. Bush, writing in the New York Times Sunday Business section, discusses the details of carbon taxes.

  • "o-zone hole"

    Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol

    September 19, 2007 at 11:14 am

    In the early 1980s, two global environmental issues began to receive a lot of attention. Scientists discovered large holes in O-zone layer in the Antarctic region and attributed it to the correlation between the size of these ozone holes and CFCs. Meanwhile, scientists also discovered an alarming pattern of rise in global temperature and attributed it to the correlation between temperature and greenhouse gas emissions.

    Where the two are different is how they have been addressed. To state things rather simply, o-zone depletion rates have rapidly reduced and the o-zone should restore itself over the course of this century due to innovation from American companies and an international treaty called the Montreal Protocol. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with global warming where talks have stalled for nearly twenty years since James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard institute, went before the US congress forecasting continued rise in global temperature.

    Andrew Revkin in Tuesday’s New York Times Science section has an excellent commentary on the history of international treaties for o-zone depletion and global warming as the Montreal Protocol celebrates its 20th anniversary. If you don't know much about the Montreal Protocol, it's definitely an article worth checking out.

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  • Carbon Indulgences

    September 19, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Which nation will be the first to offset all of its emissions?

    Click here to find out.