Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Seffner Sinkhole

The demolished Seffner Florida home where a sinkhole killed a sleeping
resident in 2013. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
A new sinkhole opened in Seffner about 2 miles from the one that killed a man in 2013. This sinkhole is quite large as sinkholes go. According to reports, it is 22 feet wide and 27 feet deep. It formed on the border between two properties and thankfully didn't do any damage to homes and there were no injuries.

This sinkhole, and the one that occurred in 2013, show how unpredictable these things are.

Or are they?

We have the technology (ground penetrating radar) to map subsurface voids that lead to collapses. Of course, with Florida's Swiss cheese subsurface landscape, voids are rather common and many properties would be at risk. In some areas of the country where sinkholes are common, developers must do site assessments prior to building. This isn't done for homes in Florida. Perhaps it's time to consider this as an option for protecting the public.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Giving Up on Consumption

Click for photo credit.
There is a great essay in the Washington Post by Darshan Karwat about his efforts to reduce his personal waste production. Check it out here. It's worth a read. In one year, he produced only six pounds of waste. Most of us produce four pounds per day or 1500 pounds per year. This is the most waste produced per person in the entire history of the world. It is so bad that we cannot find any place on earth that isn't in some way impacted by modern garbage.

Karwat reduced his waste production by being more intentional about his consumption. I have long argued that recycling is just a pill for overconsumption. Recycling allows us to feel okay about consuming things by pushing off our waste management to others. When students ask me about why we don't have more recycling bins on campus for bottles, I often tell them that they wouldn't need recycling bins if they didn't buy drinks in bottles. Don't get me wrong, we should recycle when we can. However, Darshan points out that we can considerably reduce our waste production by making some very simple choices about consuming less. He rightly points out that our consumption habits have significant impacts not only on the environment, but also on societies all over the world.

What can you do to reduce your waste production? Could you get it down to 6 pounds per year?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Best Thing You Will See Online October 29, 2015

More green Halloween costume ideas:

5 Halloween Costume Ideas for Environmentalists

Click for photo credit.
I am not a fan of hijacking holidays in order to send preachy environmental messages. It just turns people off of our important sustainability mission and it isn't a great deal of fun (I wrote about this issue here in 2012 here). But there are some ways to enjoy the day by creating great costumes with environmental themes. Here are my suggestions.

1. Dress as your favorite environmentalist from history. There are some great options here. Many of the great environmental or sustainability leaders have iconic looks. Rachel Carson, John Muir, Robert Bullard, Cesar Chavez, Majora Carter, Vandana Shiva, Edward Abbey, and Bill McKibben come to mind as possible choices.

2. Dress up as ents, trees, flowers, or other flora. This time of year it is pretty easy to find leaves, branches, or other natural materials from which you could make a cool costume that represents plants in our natural world. You could utilize some fiction and channel Tolkien's ent characters if you are especially tall.

3. Dress up as pandas, lions, whales, or other animals. There are tons of makeup tutorials online that will help you make the transformation.

4. Dress up as natural phenomenon. When I lived in Florida, where we regularly had thunderstorms and waterspouts, I would often see costumes at halloween parties that depicted tornadoes, lightening, thunder, clouds, rain, and hurricanes. Check out this cool tornado costume here. You could also go full on sharknado.

5. Make something spectacular with recycled materials. Each year fashion schools around the world ask their students to make an outfit with recycled objects. Check out this video for a cool idea for a woman's outfit. Be creative! You don't have to make the whole outfit, but you could probably find something interesting to do with materials in your recycling bin.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Best Thing You Will See October 28, 2015

Inside a wind turbine....not for those who are afraid of heights!

U.S. Renewable Energy Quiz

Click for photo credit.
It's time again for an On the Brink Quiz! This time it is on U.S. renewable energy. The answers are in the comments section. Other On the Brink Quizes can be see by following the links after the quiz.

1. What is the main source of renewable electricity in the United States?

2. What is the second main source of renewable energy in the United States?

3. What percent of all U.S. electricity comes from renewable sources?

4. What produces more electricity: rooftop photovoltaic of photovoltaic power plants?

5. Which produces more electricity: all photovoltaic energy (rooftop and power plant) or waste to energy power plants?

6. We produce less electricity from solar energy than we do from wind. How much less energy is produced from solar than wind? a. 1/2  b. 1/3  c. 1/5  d. 1/10  e 1/25

7. What state produces roughly 80% of all the U.S. geothermal electrical generation.

8. Renewable energy also includes a range of biofuels. What is the most common biofuel used in the United States?

9. The largest wind farm in the U.S. and the second largest in the world is located in California. Name the wind farm.

10. The largest solar farm in the world is found in the United States. Name the state where it is located.

Previous On the Brink Quizzes:

John Muir Quiz
John Muir Quiz Part 2
Aldo Leopold Quiz
Rachel Carson Quiz
Bill McKibben Quiz
Teddy Roosevelt Quiz
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Quiz

Zora Neale Hurston Quiz
New York City National Cave and Karst Research Institute Quiz
New York City National Cave and Karst Research Institute Quiz Answers Revealed (note that answers reflect spring of 2015)
Introduction to Sustainability Quiz

Monday, October 26, 2015

Best Thing You Will See Online October 26, 2015

A visual history of the Walkway Over the Hudson from 2009...

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

My series on local parks continues. Today, I focus on the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park near Poughkeepsie, New York. Links to other parks in my series follow the images and text.

The Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park is a spectacular rails to trails project that opened in 2009. While the park is owned by the state, a non-profit organization called Walkway Over the Hudson, does programming, fund raising, and provides guides for the park. Indeed, it is this organization that originally developed the idea of a walking trail on the abandoned bridge.

The bridge opened for rail traffic in 1888. It was in continuous operation until a fire damaged it considerably in 1974. The rail traffic had declined significantly and the bridge was not repaired. In 1992, Walkway Over the Hudson formed to begin their successful work to preserve the bridge as a walking trail.

The bridge length is approximately 1.25 miles and rises above the river approximately 200 feet. The bridge allows pedestrians and bikes and also has elevator access. There are a number of interpretive signs at both entrances to the bridge and along the route. There is abundant parking on either side.

Banners at both sides of the bridge welcome walkers and bikers. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

The surface of the bridge is smooth. There are no irregular surfaces to trip up clumsy people like me.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

Autumn is the perfect time of year to see the Hudson Valley. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

More autumn beauty. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

The Hudson flows both north and south at Poughkeepsie due to the strong tidal influence of the river.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

Bikers, walkers, and dogs share the relatively narrow bridge space. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

From the center of the bridge looking north. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

From the center of the bridge looking south. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

The dedication sign at the top of the bridge. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

My brother was visiting from Wisconsin. The bridge is a great spot for selfies. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

Previous on the Brink Posts on Local Parks

Locally Managed Parks


Riverhills Park, Temple Terrace

New York

Eisenhower Park

State Parks

New York

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

Federal Parks


Lake Lanier Works Park

New York

William Floyd Estate

The Complete On the Brink Series on National Parks

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Living Heritage Geographies--A New Poem by Stan Brunn

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

                              Living Heritage Geographies

Heritage geographies are in and around us constantly
            Suggesting we really act more alike our ancestors than independently.
Similarities in mobility, networking and observations
            Interactions, behaviors and occupations.
Hunters and gatherers still exist on planet Earth
            Postmodern types wander in weekend shopping malls.
Nomadic herders are always looking for water and green pastures
            Postmodern herders look for parking and best bargain places.
Shepherds of sheep and goats of yesterday
            Today are coaches, editors, deans, tour guide leaders and music directors.
The cave artists and cartographers of yesteryear
            Are today’s graffiti artists and visual game designers.
The curious space scientists of the past looked down rivers and over mountains
            Today they look beyond Earth for aliens, silences and the unknown.
Warlike chieftans of small tribes in our deep past
            Are today involved in drugs, smuggling and selling arms.
The palm readers, astrologers and tarot card readers of yesterday
            Are today’s cyberfuturists and science fiction writers.
The shamans of our distant past
            Are today psychotherartists and Wall Street investors.
Conversation of early humans were about food, shelter, friends and love
            Similar are social media users today connecting with children, youth and elders.
Pilgrimages to temples, shrines and sacred places In the past
            Are today to shopping malls, sports worship and concert arenas.
The temples and shrines of our human pasts
            Are today Wall Street, Hollywood, theme parks and sport stadiums.
Open-fire barbequing has a long human history
            That is played out today as a suburban backyard practice.
Cures for physical and mental afflictions in the stars and numbers
            Are observed today in the “better living through pharmacy” motto.
Seasonal shifting cultivation to maintain healthy diets and engaged livelihoods
            Today are observed in seasonal migrations for leisure and security.
Early maps of networks and familiar places on bones and stones
            Are akin to Google and digital maps of spatial knowledge.
Entering forbidden lands and places
            Learning other languages and traveling.
Our planet still has its living heritages of shepherds
            Hunters, gatherers, herders, shamans and paleo-artists
Living alongside the postmodern administrators, physicians,
            Populist politicians, virtual shoppers, cyberartists and blog innovators.
Places and peoples have different mixes of heritages and places
            Some very thick and some very thin.
But those mixes change with age, space and experience
            Respect, wisdom and, we hope, intelligence.

                                             Stan Brunn, 26 October 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Best Thing You Will See Online October 23, 2015

Florida black bears:

Hunting All 3300 Florida Black Bear

Florida black bear cubs. Click for photo credit.
There are only 3300 Florida black bear, a subspecies of the North American black bear, in existence and according to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida just gave hunting licenses for the Florida black bear to 3217 hunters. What could go wrong?

The hunt was the brainchild (ahem) of the Florida Wildlife Commissioners who have made many controversial decisions in recent months, including new Florida panther rules.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I have no problem with hunting when it makes sense. Yet it was just two years ago that the Florida black bear was on the imperiled species list. Although numbers have improved, the population is hardly stable.

Many hunters who understand environmental conservation are sitting out this hunt for good reason. Individuals like Ted Nugent, wealthy business owners, and politicians are the ones taking part in it. This is hardly a hunt. It is a stunt.

It is unfortunate that wise conservation, a cornerstone of so many hunting organizations, was discarded in making the decision to give a hunting license for every bear that lives in the state.

One day, Florida will return to sound environmental management. I just hope that we still have the Florida black bear around when this happens.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

10 Tips for Writing a Winning Resume

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
This time of year, college seniors are updating  their resumes in preparation for grad school and job applications. Here are 10 tips for how to write a winning resume.

1. Now that you are a senior, it is time to get rid of those part time jobs listed on your resume. Include only those jobs/positions that are pertinent to your career. Many students mistakenly keep jobs on their resumes at places like fast food restaurants they had in high school or early in their college careers. 

2. Use a permanent mailing address, email address, and phone number. Some students use addresses and emails associated with their university that will be out of date after they graduate.

3. Use only one font style and make sure that it is professional. Some students overly stylize their resumes. While you want your resume to stand out, you have to be careful to avoid making it too funky.

4. Be careful that any columns that you use line up appropriately. Many students use columns for jobs, lists of courses, or specific accomplishments. It is important to ensure that the columns look clean and neat.

5. Most college students do some volunteer work (if you don't, find time to do some before you graduate). List your volunteer work to show the world that you are a multidimensional person.

6. List your skills. In college, you have taken a number of different types of courses that gave you unique skills. Employers are especially looking for good writers, speakers, and individuals who work well in teams.

7. Make your name stand out. I think a resume looks good when a name has a larger bold font than the rest of the resume materials. Do not use any color on your resume.

8. Be specific about your objectives. You should change your objective for different jobs. For example, if you are applying for an environmental field technician job you should state that such a job is your goal within a clear objective statement that is located below your contact information. If you are also applying for a GIS technician job, you should change your objective for this application.

9. Keep it brief. Some students have 2 page resumes even though they have very limited professional experience. You should cut the fat and get it down to 1 page.

10. If you feel like your resume is thin, list campus and club activities. However, as you gain more experience, remove them and replace with other professional activities.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Missed Geographical Experiences--A New Poem by Stan Brunn

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

Missed Geographical Experiences

The 7 million plus inhabitants on earth every day
                  Have multiple trillion place experiences of work, loving and play.
Some of those are in the same time and place
                  Others at irregular schedules and in an unfamiliar space.
Some will gladly move for experiences in another place
                  Others have no freedom or choice about their life space.
Time, cost and personal ties may limit some place experiences 
                  As well as fear, health and life’s uncertainties.
Let us examine a mix of geographical life’s experiences
                  That for some will be dreams and planned, still others unplanned occurrences.
Living in polar regions and never experiencing a constant 12 hour day/night
                  Living at the equator and never experiencing seasons or 18-24 hour daylight.
Living in huge cities and never experiencing the rhythms of rural life
                  Living in rural areas and never experiencing the perpetual dynamism of city life.
Living in continental interiors and never experiencing a continental shoreline
                  Living on coasts and never experiencing the weather in deep continental interiors.
Living in areas of frequent natural and technological disasters.
                  Living on places where such events, regular or anomalous, seldom occur.
Living in densely populated cities and never experiencing uninhabited places.
                  Living in sparsely settled areas and never experiencing high people density.
Living, traveling or interneting in one time zone for all of one’s life
                  Living and making adjustments in places with daylight savings time.
Living in places where all experiences are with people you know.
                  Living in a place and having “lost” experiences with people you do not know.
Living in hills and mountains and never experiencing flat terrain and endless horizons.
                  Living in flat areas and never experiencing mountains and hills.
Living in dense forest areas and never experiencing grasslands and deserts.
                  Living in grasslands and deserts and never experiencing forests.
Living in glaciated landscapes in mid-latitudes where paleo events surround the everyday
                  Living in tropical areas of extreme biogeographical diversity is the norm..
Living in islands and never experiencing continental geographies
                  Living in deep continents surrounded on all sides by land.
Living in tyrannical societies where basic human rights are denied.
                  Living in open societies where human freedoms are cherished and the norm.
Living in a country’s periphery that is not part of the cultural and political core
                  Living in cores with little understanding of life in the peripheries.
Living in places of extreme diversity and diversity is the norm.
                  Living in places of extreme homogeneity where differences are rare.
Living in places where your ethnicity, religion, language and skin color makes you a minority
                  Living in places where your majority status makes you uncomfortable.
Living in places of perpetual conflict where hatred and turmoil are the norms.
                  Living in places where civil tolerance and acceptance are the norm.
Living in places with high numbers of elderly and few children
                  Living in places with many, many children and few elders.
Living in places of extreme environmental pollution and low life expectancy
                  Living in places of high quality of life and living.
Living in places of perpetual gender discrimination and patriarchal rules.
                  Living in places of gender equity and equality for work, living and justice.
Living in places of linguistic diversity where varieties are accepted
                  Living in places where single dominant language makes for uniformity.
Living in gated communities which may lead to gated living and gated thinking.
                  Living in open societies where mixes of wealth and poverty are in  harmony.
Living in a place where birth and privilege present few problems in life
                  Those living in places trying to escape unhappy pasts and geographical locations.
Living in a white society where white norms are the rule for all
                  Living in a colorblind society where diversities are prized.
Living in worlds of the blind, the deaf, the permanently depressed and disabled
                  Living where there are no physical or mental impairments.
Living in places of extreme poverty and never being able to exit.
                  Living in wealth and family security and never experiencing survival concerns.
Living in a place to enjoy health music, art and sports.
                  Living where human freedoms of expression and growth are limited.
In life no one can or will experience all geography mixes
                  Of landscapes, networks, movements and places.
Experiencing a life of rich experiences geographical
                  May come from friends, media, and, of course, travel.
Knowing that in our eternal quests for place understanding
                  There will always be many gaps remaining.
We need to cherish the richness of all life/place experiences
                  That come with aging, growth and new life pleasures.
In humility while the number of total geography-experience mixes will likely be very few
                  It is the richness and quality that makes the better geographer in you.

                                                                                                                                                                  Stan Brunn, 11 October 2015

Other poems by Stan Brunn published in On the Brink