Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Act on Climate

Photo Credit: Imants Gross
Yesterday afternoon I noticed many people on my twitter timeline using the hashtag #actonclimate. Turns out during the afternoon, President Obama discussed a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.

I unfortunately missed the talk, but thankfully it was on YouTube. Below you can watch the 48 minute speech. If you don't have time to watch the video, you can read this infograph on climate change and President Obama's action plan.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Don't attend the World Cup or Olympics?

Photo Credit: Denise Mayumi
If you have been following the news or are into sporting events, I am sure you have heard of the protests that have swept across Brasil. On June 20, a crowd of 300,000 to 1,000,000 (organizers say 1 million, authorities say 300 thousand) marched in Rio de Janeiro to protest against corruption in business, politics, bus fare increases, and disparities in health and educational services. 

The protests were originally aimed at the bus fare increases, but then turned into city-wide protests on various topics including the World Cup, which is to be held in 2014. There are many issues that city leaders in Brasil will have to overcome. 
Why does this matter?  Large-scale events are often portrayed as a positive for the host country. It is perceived that the host country will gain world-wide recognition and revenue; often this is not the case. 
When I attended the AAG Conference in Los Angeles this April, I had the chance to sit in on an interesting discussion on the impact of large-scale events on host countries. It was disheartening to learn that often times the residents of these cities are left unable to afford the new housing and that the environmental impacts to the host city are often extremely damaging. 
Like with many protests that take place around the world, accounts differ depending on the news outlet or person, but below is a video of the Rio Protests that I found on YouTube. 

At this point, I feel that only previous host countries should have large-scale events; instead of new countries bidding and spending money on building new facilities  Previous host countries should submit bids and get a chance to reuse the facilities that cost millions to build. 

These protest show grassroots movements are still effective. Hopefully the rest of the world is watching and taking notes. 
Knowing the social, economic, and environmental impacts large-scale events have on countries  would you still attend an event? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Abuse by tourists led to stranded dolphin's death

Photo Credit: Gawker
Saw this story today and thought of Bob, who is currently in Hainan, China.

Off the coast of Sanya City in the Chinese province of Hainan, a group of tourists found an injured dolphin. Instead of alerting the wildlife authorities, the tourists took several photos with the dolphin, which later died.

Unfortunately these tourist may not face charges because there aren't any laws that protect non-endangered species.

Hainan known for its agricultural resources, beaches, hot springs, and historical sites is growing in popularity as a travel destination for those in Russia, China, and Japan.

As the province acclimates to the influx of tourists, they might have to also keep in mind the environmental impacts of becoming a popular travel destination.

You can read more about the incident on the Shanghai Daily 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

LIRR Derailment Causes Delays

Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre
Yesterday evening, a Hempstead –bound Long Island Rail Road(LIRR)  train derailed as it was leaving Penn Station in Manhattan.  Delays left thousands of commuters stranded and many to find alternative ways back home. 

The LIRR is the busiest commuter railroad in North America, servicing over 80 million customers a year and over 300 thousand a week. These are impressive numbers given that Long Island is pretty car dependent.

It will be interesting to find out the cause of this derailment and if this event encourages the LIRR to continue its effort in providing renovations and expansions to the system.

A strong coordination of transit is important for regional economic competitiveness and the aftermath of the yesterday’s event were felt during this morning’s commute.

While, this derailment was on a smaller scale compared to the Metro-North collision in Connecticut, it shows the importance of transit to this region.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Neil Schloth's Good Food Revolution

One of the tomato plants that Neil planted this summer.
One of my student's, Neil Schloth, took over the Hofstra Student Garden this summer in a big way.  He's a student Orientation Leader this summer which means that he and his colleagues all work with the incoming freshman as they go through an orientation process.  He worked it out with the folks in charge with orientation that all of the incoming students are taking a turn at maintaining the garden this summer when they visit campus.  It's Neil's way of teaching sustainability and infusing the importance of local food and healthy eating to the environment.

Way to go Neil!  So proud of what you and the folks involved with student orientation are doing!  Check out his work here.

Off to China

Me at a Buddhist Park in Sanya Hainan last year.  Hainan is
a bit of a distinct Chinese cross between Florida and Hawaii.
I know that summers are supposed to be times of reflection and rejuvenation for faculty.  It's a time to write and catch up with academic reading.  This year, my summer hasn't quite worked out that way.  I just finished a big project with the United Nations on analyzing the status of sustainability assessment and management around the planet.  It was a huge project with a very narrow turnaround time and I have not had too much time to update the blog.

In addition, I leave to Hainan, China tomorrow to work on a research project on sustainable development on that tropical tourist island for a few weeks.  Blogger and other Google based products are blocked in China so I will not have access to update the blog.  So my regular readers will get updates from some of the other contributors while I am away.  I may also ask my colleague Lisa-Marie Pierre to post some dispatches that I send her.

After China, I will be traveling to France for a little vacation.  I'll try to do a post or two from Europe.

Enjoy your summer!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Video Highlights from March Sustainability Conference at Hofstra

Check out this video showing some highlights from our the sustainable futures conference we held at Hofstra this March.  Some of you will see some familiar faces!

The Interesting World of Sustainability Indicators

I've had the interesting opportunity of reviewing a variety of national reports developed for the Rio+20 Conference as well as sustainability development indicator reports from around the world.  I think I have a pretty good global view of how different parts of the world are managing and assessing sustainability right now and I thought I would share with you some quick impressions.

Most countries are utilizing some standard measures such as gross domestic product, educational attainment, and environmental protection.  Many of these indicators are part of the broad UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established several years ago to assess overall development.  However, there is no single agreed upon set of sustainable development indicators that is used across the board.  Many countries have designed specific goals/indicators just for their unique setting.

For example, Canada measures how many hours adults read to children.  In Bhutan, there is a strong focus on overall well-being and happiness as well as organic agriculture.  Morocco assesses access to large supermarkets, and in the UK, they measure the number of homeless.

So, it is clear that the concept of sustainability is in part geographically based.  While there are indicators that are useful for comparative national assessment, each region has distinct needs that require attention to effectively manage long-term issues in their region important to their citizens.

In addition, many of the indicators, while seeming scientific, are actually values based.  We rank countries by GDP or by other economic or social indicators.  But, many have criticized this approach as not recognizing real differences inherent in places and societies.  The image in the photo from NASA shows the world at night.  Not everyone wants to be in the bright places.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cops Close Coo Coo Kangaroo Case

This one is for the "Only in Florida Files."  A kangaroo is killed by too many tranquilizer darts as it
This Kangaroo was not killed.
It lives at Busch Gardens in
Tampa.  Click for photo credit.
runs wild across the Florida landscape.  Nearby, a kangaroo farmer in Florida claims that it is not his kangaroo.  Yes, a kangaroo farm in Florida.  Read all about it.

What could go wrong when you bring non-native species into Florida?  Oh, that's right, constrictors, Brazilian pepper, and a slew of other problematic species.  

If they were to start to reproduce on the Florida landscape, they could end up causing some serious problems.  So while I am sorry that the poor kangaroo in the article was killed while it was captured, I am happy that the kangaroo was not allowed to run free on a landscape that has is largely kangaroo free.  I do hope that the kangaroo farmer ends up in kangaroo court over this issue.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Community Supported Fisheries: New Trend or Here to Stay?

Photo Credit: Kiks Balayon
I never heard of Community Supported Fisheries (CSF), but immediately I was drawn to the concept.

I maintain a mostly plant-based diet, but I do like to add in chicken or seafood. Chicken is for the most part affordable, but I would rather eat seafood, more specifically fish. Lately, it seems I have been on the never ending search to find an affordable fish market.

Currently, there are seven CSFs within a 25 mile radius of Hofstra University; most in Brooklyn or Manhattan.  Mermaids Garden which is located in Brooklyn (Has 7 pickup locations), offers a four week half share of fish for $66 dollars which is enough to feed two people 1-1.25 pounds of fish a week. This comes out to about $17.00 dollars a week. A four week full share of fish is $132.00 dollars which is enough to feed two or four people 2-2.25 pounds of fish a week. This comes out to about $33.00 dollars a week.

I think these prices are fairly reasonable especially since it is an opportunity to support a small business and know the  origins of your fish.  A CSF like a CSA has risks involved; there are no guarantees of the type or quantity of fish. Currently there are 126 CSFs most in coastal areas of the United States and Canada.  If a consumer in a non-coastal region wants to participate, transportation costs will play a factor.

Despite the risks, I would be interested in participating in a CSF. Poultry and meat are commonly found as options in a CSA, but it would be nice to have a CSF to compliment farmer’s markets and CSAs.

If you are interested in CSFs or want learn more, check out Local Catchwhich is an online database that directs consumers to CSFs.

Also below is a video going into more detail about CSFs.

What do you think? Are CSFs here to stay?


Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Practice Storm

It's back!  Hurricane season is upon us again.  Since moving to Long Island two years ago, I experienced two pretty bad storms, Irene and Sandy.  Prior to moving to Long Island, I lived in Florida for over twenty years.  Over that time, we had some close calls, particularly in 2004 when three hurricanes crossed over my house.  I lost a tree and power during one of the storms.  But overall, my experience in Florida was not nearly as dramatic as the last two years here on Long Island.
This morning's (June 6, 2013) path of Tropical Storm Andrea.

I still share time between Long Island and Tampa and I was interested to find out that the Tampa area was listed by the Weather Channel as the area most overdue for a hurricane.  The last big one to hit the area was in 1921.  With these statistics, Long Island has had more hits than Tampa!  Hard to imagine.

Nevertheless, those in the know have predicted a very active hurricane season this year.  And just a handful of days into the official hurricane season, we have our first named storm--Andrea.  This storm is a blessing in disguise.  It is impacting the nearly the entire eastern seaboard of the US and large portions of the Gulf of Mexico.  The storm is not expected to do significant damage, but it provides a warning for people in the large population centers throughout the region to get ready.

It's time to check your hurricane kit to make sure that you have everything.  Here's a list of information on hurricane preparedness from the National Hurricane Center.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Hofstra Student Garden Ready for Summer

One of my students, Neil Schloth (who wrote this very interesting report on Superstorm Sandy), offered to take on the Hofstra Student Garden this summer.  He is working for student affairs and helping incoming students with orientation sessions over the summer.  He put together some team-building exercises with his coworkers around the garden and incoming students will have an opportunity to get involved with the garden and other sustainability issues this year.  All of the incoming students are reading Will Allen's book, The Good Food Revolution, so it is great that they will get a chance to get their hands dirty.

Neil planted the garden while I was in Florida and I just got a chance to stop by and see it. It looks great!!  Thanks Neil for a job well done.