Monday, September 1, 2014

Florida Far Ahead of California in Water Management

The five water management districts in Florida.
Water must be managed within each region to ensure
long-term sustainability of the aquifers.  Heavy users
are permitted for the amount they can withdraw.
Check out this article from the New York Times about California's water problems.  California is now (finally) requiring groundwater basin management plans and limiting the amount of water withdrawals that can be made by large users.  Currently, California has few restrictions on large users of water, particularly in the agricultural sector.

With California's current drought, pumping is hurting the aquifer and causing salt water intrusion.  Of course, farmers are between a rock and a hard place.  They either have to pump water, thereby doing long-term damage to the aquifer and limiting its use into the future, or they will lose their crops.  It is a short-term vs. long-term outlook at play and a good case study for anyone interested in long-term sustainability of a region.

Florida figured this out a long time ago.  They set up several drainage basin regions that are managed within a governmental water management districts.  These organizations are responsible for ensuring that the aquifers and surface water bodies are not harmed by too much withdrawal.  They permit large water users and work with public and private organizations to ensure that problems do not occur, particularly during droughts.  While the system is not perfect (what system is?), it is far better than the "take as much as you need" approach that California has been employing for generations.  California built an agricultural landscape that is very much out of step from the dry natural environment of the thirsty central valley of California.  In the long term, Florida's water planning is a much more sustainable system that ensures water for farmers and residents that is in step with the local water budgets.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Eat Green on Thursday

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If you have not heard of Bhavani Jaroff's radio show, iEat Green, you have now and you should listen to it.  She gets the most amazing guests on the show to talk about food, sustainability, and environmental issues.  You can check out her Website here.  On it, there are links to listen to her show.  You can listen to archives of past guests on the site or on iTunes, but it is broadcast live on the Progressive Radio Network on Thursdays at 11am.

The show is especially interesting if you live in the New York and Long Island area.  The format of the show follows an interesting organization.  There are four main parts to the show.  In the introduction, she often provides and update on what is happening in her world.  She then moves on to provide a vegan or vegetarian recipe--often using seasonal local ingredients.  She also provides a calendar of events of major food related events happening in the area.  However, the main part of the show is an in-depth interview with guests--often some heavy hitters in the food and sustainability field.  For example, on her last show she interviewed two-time Chopped winner, Marc Anthony Bynum, who is opening up a new restaurant, called Hush Bistro, in Farmingdale New York this year.  The restaurant will have a strong focus on local Long Island foods.

I'll be on the show this coming Thursday to talk about sustainability, the upcoming People's Climate March, and the Long Island Food Conference we are helping to organize for this spring.  Listen in!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On 180,000 Words

I recently finished the first draft of a 180,000 word book project.  While there is much editing to do, the hardest part is over.  I worked on this project on and off for the last two years, but completed a big push to get it done this summer.

There are many people and organizations to thank, but I'll save that for the front pages of the book.  You know who you are (Mario, Hofstra, National Center for Suburban Studies, students, faculty, colleagues, Oxford University, John Wiley and Sons, and many others).

One of the things that happened to me while writing in a very concentrated way over the summer was that I became a bit obsessive and superstitious about my writing activities.  I always had word goals for the day and I would find myself repeating the goal over and over in my head until I had it done.  4000 was an odd mantra and companion.  While I could write anywhere (and did), I found myself truly productive in libraries.

All of that writing also led to other writing.  Over the summer, I wrote or finished up 4 articles that will go out for peer review and several opinion pieces.  After I finished the draft earlier this week, I found myself missing the activity of writing and wrote this for Huffingtonpost.  I feel like I am on a writing train that won't stop and I am really okay with being on board.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Field Guide to Sustainabillies

Check out my latest Huffingtonpost piece:  A Field Guide to Sustainabillies here.

New US Climate Rules Give Hope and New Leaked IPCC Report Spells Trouble

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Two interesting news items on the climate change front today.  First, this article from the New York Times reviews President Obama's attempt to forge a new international agreement on climate change.

As you know, almost all of the nations of the world signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, which sought an international agreement on climate change.  The U.S. never ratified the treaty.  In many ways, it was a bad treaty in that it didn't limit the greenhouse gas emissions of major polluters in the developing world.  However, because the U.S. never agreed to the treaty, the U.S. became the "bad guy" in the climate change discourse, even though we are now no longer the #1 polluter.  It sounds like the new agreement includes some broader assessment of all major polluters, not just those in the developed world.

The second article from the Huffingtonopost reports on the leaked IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that summarizes previous reports.  The article notes that their is widespread agreement in the scientific community that climate change is occurring and causing dangerous conditions in various parts of the world.  With time, conditions are expected to worsen.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Florida Environmental Hero Roger Stewart Dead at 89

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The State of Florida has some of the best environmental rules and regulations in the United States (except when they don't to paraphrase Yogi Berra).  The state's rules are managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  This organization is responsible for ensuring that the state complies with national environmental rules and also manages special guidelines established by the state of Florida.  Due to the unique issues environmental issues associated with Tampa Bay, the state created a special agency in Hillsborough County (home to Tampa) called the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) in 1967.  The first head of the agency was Roger Stewart.  He served in this role until his retirement in 2000.  You can read his obituary here.

I met Stewart several times.  He was a legend in the area.  He had a reputation as a no-holds barred advocate for the environment.  With the Tampa Bay area doubling in population every 10 years during his time as head of the organization, he had to deal with issues like air pollution, wetlands protection, storm water pollution, and sewage treatment.  It wasn't an easy job.  He got fired after appearing on 60 Minutes, but was reinstated when it was clear that his firing was politically motivated.  He called out politicians for their hypocrisy and shed light on bad practices.  He was strident in the application of the rules established by local, state, and federal agencies.  Many developers and polluters hated him for stopping projects or fining their polluting activities.  However, everyone respected him.  While many people were misusing the land during the boom years of the second half of the 20th century, Stewart was there trying to protect the area as best he could.  

Stewart serves as a reminder to us that one person can make the world a better place--or at least keep it from being destroyed.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

National Parks Turn 98 and You Get a Gift

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The National Park Service turns 98 on August 25th.  To celebrate, the NPS is offering free entry to any of the national parks.  For more information see this link.

Thanks to all of you who work for the NPS for keeping our parks beautiful.

Also, in case you missed any of my posts on the national parks, I have a series of open access photo essays of all national parks from A-Z underway.  Right now, I am up to the M's.  Click on the links below to virtually travel to the parks if you cannot visit on the 25th.


Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park