Friday, February 28, 2014

Preserving the North Shore of Long Island

One of the strong conservation groups on Long Island is the North Shore Land Alliance.  For those of you who don't know much about the north shore of Long Island, it is one of the most beautiful parts of Long Island.  It is very hilly since it is an end moraine of the continental ice sheet.  Thus, there was limited farming.  It remains largely forested today.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the area became the home of large estates.  This is the land of Gatsby, Walt Whitman, and Teddy Roosevelt.  Places like Oyster Bay, Sands Point, and Glen Cove are well known to historians and lovers of American literature.

In the last 20 years, the area has undergone tremendous development pressures.  More people have discovered the beauty of the north shore.  With the New York Metro Region at it's doorstep, the north shore of the island has become one of the top commuting residences for many who work in New York City.
Within this context, The North Shore Land Alliance is working to preserve as much open space as they can.  Check out the video below to learn of their work over the last 10 years.  Without their efforts, many areas of the north shore of Long Island would be under concrete that are now preserved.

How does your community preserve open space?  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Last Remaining Link to Hofstra Family Passes Away

Hofstra Hall at night over the holidays.  Irene spent
many hours playing in Hofstra hall as a child with
Mrs. Hofstra enjoying her company.
One of the last remaining links to the Hofstra family, Irene Theresa (Szczepkowki) Czarnecki,  passed away over the weekend.

She was born on the Hofstra campus before there was a campus.  Many of my readers will know that the south side of the Hofstra campus was once the Hofstra Estate.  The original home of the Hostra's, now Hofstra Hall, still stands.  The property was one of those roaring 20's kinds of estates that were common on Long Island at the time.  When the Hofstra's died childless, the estate went to a trust which turned it into what became Hofstra University.

Irene's father was Mr. Hofstra's chauffeur and the family lived in an apartment above Mr. Hofstra's garage.  Irene was born there.  Irene's other sisters, Frances and Helen (both since deceased) also lived on the property.

I met Irene through one of the more unusual coincidences in my life.

A few years ago when I was a professor at the University of South Florida, I decided to go on the job market.  Some great opportunities arose, but I decided to take the position I now hold at Hofstra University.  When I accepted, I started to tell a few friends in Tampa.  One of them was Mary Beth Erskine.

As it turns out, unbeknownst to me, Mary Beth is Irene's daughter and she grew up in a home adjacent to the Hofstra campus and spent a considerable amount of her young life playing on our campus.  Through Mary Beth I met Irene and heard many stories from her about her childhood on the estate and the Hofstra's.  She visited my home here on Long Island and it was a real honor to meet her.

More information about Irene and her funeral arrangements can be found here.  You can also see some images of Irene's father in Hofstra's online special collections photos here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Katmai National Park

Today I continue my series highlighting interesting open access Flickr photos of all 59 U.S. National Parks. In this post we go to Katmai National Park in Alaska. 

For more information about the park, click here. I'll run through all 59 National Parks in alphabetical order. If you have any photos that you would like to share from any national park that I could post, please send them along. Following the photos, you'll find links to previous On the Brink posts on the National Parks. Check them out to see the beauty of the U.S. National Parks as captured by visitors.

Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why the Global Warming Pause?

Sunrise over the Pacific from the International
Space Station.  Click for photo credit.
Many in the scientific community have been puzzled over the pause in global warming.

As a reminder, planetary temperatures have been rising steadily over the last century as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases.  Most are very familiar with the famous hockey stick curve that shows the association quite nicely.

However, over the last several years, the warming has slowed or stopped.  Note, this does not mean that we are back to normal.  Indeed, we are in a new normal of planetary atmospheric change.  Our temperatures have risen over 1 degree already in the last century and we have seen sea level changes that foretell trouble.  We have an atmospheric chemistry we have not had for hundreds of thousands of years.  Even though the warming has slowed or stopped.  We have not gone back to normal.

So what happened?

Researchers have been trying to puzzle out what happened to the heat that was created in the atmosphere and they think they found the answer.  The heat is stored in the Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific goes through a 20 year cycle of water exchange that shifts water from the surface to the subsurface and back again.  The heat is getting pushed down to great depths in the Pacific Ocean.

You might think that this is a good thing and we would not have anything to worry about.  Wrong.  The heat will be rereleased in 20 years when it is brought back to the surface.  We are about 10 years into the cycle and the Pacific has seen significant heating up over the last decade or so.  Read more about this here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Campus Conservation Nationals

It's Campus Conservation Nationals time!!

Yes, it is that special time of year when universities around the country compete against each other to try to reduce energy consumption.

Last year, Hofstra placed second for the amount of electricity reduced on campuses around the country.  We are going for the gold this year! 

Check out the main site of Campus Conservation Nationals here.  You can also follow along to see how we are doing at Hofstra on this site.

I know that I many of you are from universities reading this blog.  I have a friendly bet for you. If your university does better than Hofstra in the contest, I will send you some Hofstra swag.  If Hofstra does better, you send me some swag.  Only open to the first three people who comment on this post on the blog (not Facebook).

Now go turn off some lights and shut down your computer!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spring is Around the Corner and We Need It

We are enjoying warm weather here on Long Island and it seemed suitable to recognize that spring is around the corner. We don't have long until the spring arrives!  There's been so much bad news out of Venezuela and other countries about student protests and human rights abuses.  I needed a little beauty.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Harlem and East Tampa and the Construction of Neighborhood Identity

A typical East Tampa Home.   Click for photo credit.
Yesterday, I wrote a bit about neighborhood identity in reaction to Marcus Samuelson's interesting piece in the New York Times.  You can read my comments here.  Samuelson's reactions about whether or not Harlem had become a "good" neighborhood really resonated with me.

Today, I thought I would continue to write a bit more about the idea of "good" or "bad" neighborhoods from the perspective of economic drivers of community change.  There is money to be made in the perpetual classification of "bad" neighborhoods.

In my work on environmental issues in communities, I've been struck how the dialogue about community development has changed over the last 30 years in the U.S.  I think that I can break it down into three phases:

1.  External drivers of change.  This phase began in the mid 20th century when external forces provided incentives for changing neighborhoods.  The most extreme and negative example of this is the urban renewal movement and the concommitant development of freeways in cities. Examples of well intentioned external drivers of change with mixed results include public housing developments and public and private land use changes without community input (Cross Bronx Expressway anyone?).  Local input on projects or redevelopment are not sought or are discounted.  If local opposition is mounted, it is defeated or marginalized.  This approach, common in the past, still does occur.  We can all certainly find a project in our region that was largely driven by external forces even though there is strong local opposition.  However, this approach is not encouraged and was much more common in the past.  Robert Moses is a great example of an external driver of change in the New York area.

2.  Stakeholder Engagement.  After many years of communities being impacted by the external drivers of change, many sought greater community involvement in local decisions.  Thus, many communities required stakeholder input on large and small projects.  The intent of this effort was to ensure that projects had the approval of local residents.  For example, many projects now require a number of public meetings. Revisions are made to large projects after public input.  Often many public meetings at multiple venues are held.  This process is still occurring, but has been transformed during the recent economic decline.

3.  Stakeholder Co-option.  Many in the development and planning community have complained that development is taking too long due to the time it takes for public input and stakeholder engagement.  Some long for the days of Robert Moses and the broad powers he had in taking public and private property for large projects.  Indeed, some have eliminated or reduced stakeholder efforts (or tried to).  The recent economic downturn turned the focus away from what communities want to what is good for jobs.  As a result, there has been a broad co-option of stakeholder input.  What I mean by this is that the stakeholders are becoming much more broadly defined.  Thus, if a community meeting is held on a big project in a neighborhood, organizations with a financial stake in the success of the project, whether in the community or not, become defined as stakeholders in the project. Invitations to speak on a project go out not just to people living near the project, but to builders, unions, development agencies, corporate interests, etc.  Even environmental non-profits can become co-opted in this process if they sign on for consultancies with for profit agencies or with public agencies working with for-profit organizations.  Public meetings are sometimes highly orchestrated for particular outcomes.  This stakeholder co-option really gained steam as many sought to build our way out of the recent economic decline.

Of course, all three of these phases have been happening over the last several decades simultaneously with each phase having its own moment of strength over time and space.  The stakeholder co-option phase seems particularly strong at this moment of time.  Public apathy makes the co-option of the stakeholder process quite easy.  Many in the public arena have looked the other way in order to focus on job creation. One wonders what the future will hold for the public participation process of neighborhood development projects.

So what does this have to do with Harlem and and East Tampa and what makes neighborhoods "good" or "bad"?  Many organizations make quite a living by selling development projects financed in large part by public money with the hope of transitioning a neighborhood from "bad" to "good".  Many local governments give sweetheart tax breaks to organizations that locate in their communities or to others that promise redevelopment projects.  Governments have bought into the notion that expensive redevelopment projects will attract a new group of people (famously called the Creative Class by Richard Florida) who will lead their community into a new world of high-tech jobs, local agriculture, and a new urban high-density walkable ecotopia.  In some places this has worked (most famously Northern Virginia).  In other places, it has failed (see Temple Terrace Florida for a good case study).  Some communities have bargained precious public taxes of a generation to pay for developments that never materialize or reach the promised potential.  The development companies leave with profits and the neighborhoods are left with heartache or with companies that threaten to relocate unless they continue to receive tax breaks from the public.

In Harlem, decades of change have transformed it into a new kind of place from what it was.  It is to some a success story.  To others it is transitioning into something unfamiliar and unwelcome.  Outside influences, even the well-intentioned Bill Clinton and Marcus Samuelson have had a hand in this.  This is not a critique of their efforts.

Many have taken advantage of tax breaks in neighborhoods like Harlem and East Tampa in order to try to promote redevelopment.  Communities, states, and the U.S. government often provide tax breaks for redevelopment opportunities.

But Harlem is evolving in an organic, interesting, and highly New York way with many external and internal players.  East Tampa, in contrast, is changing in a different way.  The change is much more internally driven.  Real estate prices and demographics are stable while environmental and infrastructure improvements are made in the neighborhood.  Which is better?

Both Harlem and East Tampa have been branded as "bad" neighborhoods in the past but have long been highly desirable places to live by those who live in them.  It is worth taking a moment to consider the construction of why these neighborhoods have been branded with the appellation of "bad" by outsiders and who has the most to gain from this.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Harlem, Marcus Samuelson, East Tampa, and Neighborhood Identity

Friends at Red Rooster in Harlem.
Marcus Samuelson, the famed chef and restaurateur, has an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times about his experiences in Harlem in Manhattan.  You can read it here.  His restaurant, Red Rooster, is a famous institution in Harlem.  It's on my regular brunch circuit and the singer in the combo that entertains always remembers me.  I am an outsider, but I always feel welcome.  Red Rooster is part of the Harlem renaissance that is transforming the neighborhood from what it was to something new.  The question of course is what that new thing will be. Samuelson gets it right when he wonders in the piece what is meant when people ask him if Harlem has become "good".  Is it "good" when outsiders perceive it to be good or when residents are pleased with their home?

 Certainly I am drawn to Harlem by the food and ambiance.  I'm not alone.   Many outsiders are moving to the area.  According to Trulia, the median home price is harlem is over $670,000.  Up 13% from last year.  Wowza!  I wonder how many are priced out of living in this new world.

Certainly Harlem is different from most U.S. African American neighborhoods because of the broader New York regional housing market.  Most of these neighborhoods are not experiencing a similar renaissance and I am not sure that they would want to have the same growth in property values.

 I am always struck by how so many outsiders want to "fix" these neighborhoods from something "bad" into something "good".  I've always been curious about the motivations of the "fixes" and the construction of the identity of the neighborhoods.  Certainly some of these neighborhoods have places where there are environmental problems.  In East Tampa, for example I and many of my colleagues did research on lead pollution, problems with storm water flooding, identification of brownfields, and a variety of waste management issues  These are solvable problems and they don't make the neighborhood "bad".  Local residents love East Tampa.  It's a great location.  But outsiders often perceived it as a "bad" neighborhood.  I guess if home prices went up by 13% it might be perceived as good.
The Taco Bus in East Tampa.  Click for photo credit.

While East Tampa doesn't have a celebrity chef or restaurants with the acclaim of Red Rooster, it does have the The Taco Bus and Big Johns Alabama Barbecue.  I'll happily match the food from Red Rooster with either of these places (sorry chef Samuelson, just keeping it real--you're in good company with these places).  I lived for years in a neighborhood adjacent to East Tampa and I was just as welcome in Big Johns as I was in Red Rooster.  Plus the median home price is about $60,000--definitely not Harlem prices.

So do residents in Harlem have it better as property values increase or do the people of East Tampa have it better with stable housing costs?  I'm not sure, but I am sure that the construction of neighborhood identity as "good" or "bad" is something that has real financial consequences for both residents and outsiders.

The construction of neighborhood identity is always fascinating...part 2 of this post tomorrow...the changing language of community engagement and why outsiders have a financial interest into tagging neighborhoods as "bad".

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Landfill Problems in Venezuela

Click for photo credit.
Check out this article from the blog, Caracas Chronicles, about the landfill problems in Venezuela.  According to the author, solid waste management is the biggest environmental problem in Venezuela (I might argue that pollution from oil production is a larger issue, but that's another blog post).  While there are some waste to energy facilities, garbage collection remains problematic and there are serious problems, such as the burning pile of rubbish in the San Josecito dumping ground noted in the piece.  With the turmoil in the government right now, it doesn't seem likely that the problems will be a priority any time soon.

I remember being in Trujillo, Venezuela in the 1990's in a rain storm.  Huge amounts of garbage were washed into the streets of the town as storm water carried garbage from the densely populated hillsides into the old colonial downtown streets and neighboring river.  Just last year, I was in a park near downtown Caracas and a municipal garbage collection truck filled with garbage pulled up to a fence on the edge of a stream and dumped its load of trash into the valley in the park.

Caracas does have regular garbage collection and there are some state of the art landfills and waste to energy facilities, but it is clear that the application of waste management policy varies significantly from place to place and that there are serious emerging environmental problems as a result of poor policy and procedures.

Garbage is a problem all over the world and I have seen similar problems in Romania, China, Yemen, and Egypt.  Here in Long Island and other parts of the United States we have our own problems.  We burn some of our garbage for energy and ship the remainder great distances for landfilling. There have also been cases of illegal dumping.  I'm sure that where ever you are reading this you'll find some issue in your region with waste management.

Of course, we are huge creators of waste.  One of the best things we can do as individuals to reduce the waste problems is to reduce the amount of waste we produce.  Institutions (business, governments, schools, etc.) should conduct waste audits to determine the kind of waste they are producing in order to figure out how to reduce their waste contributions.  Plus, citizens should stand up and demand that their local environment is protected from bad waste management policy.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is Natural Gas Worse than Coal or Diesel?

Click for photo credit.
A new article in Science (it is behind a paywall, so check out the review of the article in Grist and another review of it here in the New York Times) reviewed 20 years worth of data to demonstrate that natural gas is not as green of a fuel as we thought it was.  Indeed, they found that there s 50% more methane in the atmosphere than previously thought.

Many have looked to natural gas as a partial solution to solving greenhouse gas problems.  Natural gas is largely methane, so when it burns, it produces far less carbon dioxide than other fuels.  As a result, many have looked to natural gas to replace gasoline in cars and coal in power plants.  We've all probably seen the vehicles (particularly buses and government-owned cars) with signs that say "runs on natural gas".

But there's a problem.  Methane is 25 times more potent of a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.  So, one molecule of methane does 25 times more damage as a molecule of carbon dioxide.  We have far more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere so the focus on greenhouse gas management has largely been on reduction of fuels like coal and gasoline.

Because methane has not been used widely until recently, we have not really looked at it all that much as a major contributor in fossil fuel use (it has always been looked at in terms of biological production). Indeed, methane use would not be a problem if we had ways to transport and extract natural gas that didn't allow some of it to escape into the atmosphere.  We don't.  According to the authors, we are underestimating the contribution of natural gas to the atmosphere by 25-75% as a result of production and transportation.

I've often thought that we underestimated methane contributions.  It is one of the hardest gases to assess.  It occurs naturally through a variety of biological functions.  Also huge quantities of it are stored underground and are released in highly variable geographic patterns.  Throw in a leaky production and transportation system and things get very complicated fast.  It is a very difficult non-point pollution problem to solve.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Top 10 Tips for a Green Valentine's Day

This is a repost from my first blog entry for On the Brink from February 14, 2011 when I was teaching at the University of South Florida.  I'm reposting to commemorate my blogoversary and to celebrate Valentine's Day.  
I asked my students to come up with a list of 10 ideas for individuals who were looking for green approaches to celebrating Valentine's Day.  Here are their top 10:

10.  Shower together.  This is an obvious one.  However, it is not green if you stay in a long time and use up all the hot water.

9.  Break up.  We know that one aspect of sustainability is the reduction of consumption.  If you are not dating or married during Valentine's Day, there is no need to buy anything.

8.  Candles.  Nothing says romance like turning out the lights and having a candlelit evening.

7.  Plant a love tree.  Did I mention that I teach in Florida?  This one is a bit hard in the north.  Do not use lots of power to thaw out the ground to get this one done! 

6.  Pot Luck Super Party.  I love this idea!  Why not share the love and have a potluck with all of your friends and family?  To make it even greener, make it meatless!

5.  Picnic.  Nothing says sustainability like finding a romantic place outside to have a picnic!  Did I mention I teach in Florida?

4.  Grow your own flowers.  Most flowers purchased during Valentine's Day are not grown locally.  Their transport uses lots of greenhouse gases.  So, go ahead and show your love.  Plant some flowers!  Nothing says romance like a garden!!

3.  Go for a tandem bike ride.  For those in the north, there are toboggans.

2.  Farmers market dinner.  Go together to a farmers' market and browse for things to cook together.  You'll be eating local and supporting local business.

1.  Catch and kill night.  A big tenet of the modern sustainability movement is eating local.  Plan an outing by going fishing or hunting with your loved ones and eat what you catch!  For the vegetarians, see 2 and 6 above.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Whooping Crane and the Anthropocene

Did you know that two mating whooping cranes were shot last week?  Did you know that there are only 600 left?  Did you know that there is both good news and bad news in these figures?  Check out my latest Huffingtonpost piece on why the whooping crane is emblematic of the Anthropocene here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Update on Arizona State University Sustainability Initiatives

Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre
When I first arrived in Arizona back in August, I shared my informal observations of sustainability efforts at Arizona State University.

Last week, Michael Crow, the president of the university sent out the 2013 Arizona State University Sustainability Operations Review. The document is a brief three page summary of sustainability efforts at the university. I thought I would share this document for those who want more concrete information. Click this link to view the document.

The first thing you will see when you open the document are some numbers:
Student body: 76,611
Solar panels: 78,100
Annual campus shuttle riders: 937,125
Annual land waste diverted: 2,283
LEED certified buildings: 36
MWdc of solar power: 23.5
Campuses: 4                        
Goal: 1- Sustainability

Sustainability operations at the University are impressive and I think the efforts are visible enough that it creates an environmentally aware student body.

What are some sustainability efforts being done at your campus or workplace?


Monday, February 10, 2014

Stop feeding the wildlife!

Every weekend I walk to my local park here in Tempe, Arizona. I like to walk around the lake and finally settle down at a bench to read my course readings.

Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre
Today, I noticed the park put up a new sign next to the old sign about not feeding the wildlife. It was in a more visible green bold font.

Despite the new sign, I feel people will continue ignoring these park rules.  Today, I saw several families and couples sitting by the lake, not too far from the warning sign, throwing bread and other snacks at the ducks. I find this problematic and it is a rule that should be enforced for several reasons

Animals become bold and aggressive

As someone who is partly terrified of animals, I sometimes have to reroute my walk to avoid the bold animals that approach me. Wild animals who are fed food, become bold and lose their fear of humans. These animals sometimes become aggressive in their search for more food. This is something that sometimes ruins my experience at the park.

Animals lose their natural instincts

Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre
What would happen to those ducks if people stopped feeding them? Would they still be able to fend for themselves without relying on our food? Would they still have a taste for their own natural food source?

Health problems

Junk food is not a healthy source of nutrients for humans, so it must be just as harmful to the animals.

Population growth

Start feeding the animals and more will come to the area, causing local governments to make the tough decision to kill the wildlife.

These are a few things that come to mind when I see people feeding animals.

What do you think? Am I reading too much into it or do you find feeding wildlife problematic too?


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Aldo Leopold Quiz

Aldo Leopold's shack where he came up with the ideas
for the Sand County Almanac.
Click for photo credit.
I always like to discuss Aldo Leopold when I review the history of the environmental movement and the development of sustainability.  So, today, I thought I would give you a quick Aldo Leopold Quiz.  The answers are in the comments.

1.  Where and when was Aldo Leopold born?

2.  He went to college and earned a degree in a forestry program established by Gifford Pinchot.  What college did he attend to earn this degree?

3.  He wrote the first comprehensive management plan for which important National Park?

4.  He also wrote a proposal for which new type of public land classification?

5.  He was appointed first US professor of _________________ at the University of Wisconsin.

6.  Aldo Leopold's farm was near this important Wisconsin tourist attraction.

7.  His famous book is called The Sand County Almanac.  It is considered one of the more important books in the history of the environmental movement largely because of Leopold's call for a "land ethic".  What does the sand refer to in the title of the book?  How did it form?

8.  How did he die?

9.  His children were all scientists.  One, Luna Leopold, had a very important career as a _____________ professor.

10.  In which U.S. state is the Aldo Leopold Wilderness?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snowy Owl vs. Peregrine Falcon in New Jersey

Check out this video from the Cornell Ornithology Lab of a conflict between a peregrine falcon and a snowy owl on the Jersey Shore.  The owls have been seen in great number in the New York area this winter.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Regional Climate Hubs to Focus on Adaptation, Not Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Click for photo credit.
A friend of mine sent me this link from the New York Times.  It's an article about the new Climate Hubs that will be set up by the Obama administration to deal with "risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires, and floods."

This move is fascinating for a number of reasons.  The most interesting one to me is that it does not deal with greenhouse gas reduction, but instead focuses on adaptation.  To me it is one of the most important signs I've seen that policy makers are largely giving up on serious greenhouse gas reduction and instead are looking at adaptation as the main focus of policy.  I've been studying the world greenhouse gas data for years and while there have been improvements, the reality is that we are continuing to produce damaging amounts of greenhouse gases and we are unlikely to stop any time soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Major Archaeological Site Found in Miami

The Miami Circle in downtown Miami.
Click for photo credit.
Check out this article about recent archaeological findings in downtown Miami.  The remains of a major prehistoric site were found.

Those familiar with downtown Miami are probably familiar with the Miami Circle, a perfect 42 foot diameter stone circle located near the new discoveries.  The Circle was uncovered during the construction of a large residential building, but was preserved when the landowner sold it.  It is now a park.

These cases are interesting.  They provide historic (and prehistoric) context to our everyday lives.  It will be interesting to see how the landscape of Miami will be interpreted in the coming years with the addition of this new discovery.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Campaign for Boring Development

Terraced agricultural fields in Africa.  Click for photo credit.
Check out this new blog called the Campaign for Boring Development.  I added it to my blogroll to the right.

The blogger is a Venezuelan writer who is famous for the blog and book, Caracas Chronicles.  He also works on development projects in Africa.

The blogger is critical of many first world development projects, particularly in Africa and provides some clear suggestions for what works and what doesn't work in development aid.  Just take a look at this development bloat checklist here.  The manifesto is also quite a good read.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monthly Review for January

Out for a walk with family near El Hatillo in Venezuela
in January.
Thanks again to all of my readers for a big January.  The readership to On the Brink continues to grow and I appreciate all of you for finding your way here.  If you like what you find here, please consider linking posts or sharing with your friends.  I continue to look for regular or one-time contributors to this blog so if you have something you want to write about higher education, sustainability, or the environment, please drop me an email.

The post that got the most hits in January was this silly post about baby names for environmentalists.  For those of you who might roll your eyes when I create these goofy entries, please know that there is a method to my madness.  It draws in readers who might not find their way here.

My post on the extinction of the giant sloth was my second most popular entry.  Who doesn't love a sloth?  I wrote about my encounter with a sloth in Caracas here.  My entire series from South America was also quite popular this month.  You can read those posts here, here, here, here, and here.  They focused on a wide array of issues from pollution to national parks.

Speaking of national parks, my series on featuring open access photos of the US National Parks also continues to draw many readers.  This month, I featured Isle Royale and Joshua Tree National Parks.

Other posts that many liked this past month were ones on sustainability in Green Bay, Eagles in Wisconsin, the preservation of Tampa's courthouse, and my videoblog on Pete Seeger.

If there was one post I wish all my readers would read it is this one on Zora Neale Hurston.  Florida has produced so many wonderful women writers and I wanted to showcase her writing on the environment.

I look forward to a productive February!  We are at the time of year in the university biz when a week flies by and feels like a day.