03/04/2014 § 4 Comments
By Henri Venable, Bicycle Initiative Intern
I had an interesting conversation with an IU staff member regarding the latest bicycle infrastructure around Bloomington. He voiced two of the same complaints that people usually voice when bike infrastructure comes into town: 1) bike lanes make the roads too narrow and 2) reduced parking/vehicle space is bad for local businesses.
The first is a culturally driven expectation. Roads in Europe have been narrow for centuries and, somehow, vehicles manage. Bicycles in this country have historically been marginalized road users who are finally receiving the recognition they deserve and the infrastructure they need. Any normal sized car will continue to fit in the new sized lanes. If you’re concerned about your Ford F150, Hummer, or Tank not fitting comfortably in the lane, maybe it’s time for a re-evaluation of your transportation needs.
03/02/2014 § 1 Comment
By Sarah Baulac, Education and Research Intern
On Thursday, February 27 over 45 students came together to discuss sustainability issues on campus and students’ role in sustainability. Topics ranged from sustainable computing to transportation to sustainability as a lens for teaching many disciplines. The program featured a special announcement from Jeff White, Director of the Integrated Program in the Environment. The College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs will jointly offer a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.
02/26/2014 § 2 Comments
By: Mary Roper, Green Purchasing Intern
Spring is near.
We suffered through the coldest January Indiana has seen in 35 years, the snowiest winter with the Polar Vortex bringing down 51.6″ of snow on us in total, and although last Saturday gave us a little taste of spring, the weather this week has felt somewhat glacial. Although March 20 brings the first official day of spring, this writer believes that a warmup is on its way (knock on wood).
Spring is near!
With the warmer temperatures, I invite you all to take the opportunity to explore the wonderful things Bloomington will be offering. From out door tennis matches at the IU Memorial Stadium, to new collections at the IU Art Museum, this spring will offer countless opportunities to walk, bike, or use public transportation to explore our city!
The warmer weather means opportunities to attend the annual Wylie House Heirloom Seed Sale on March 1st. What’s great about this sale is that we are able to purchase a variety of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds that are locally grown and chemical-free. It means the opportunity to participate in different marathons, walks, or hikes like the Peninsula Hike on March 13, or the classic Hoosier Half Marathon on April 5. And it means the return of the farmer’s market on April 5, a popular way for most students, faculty, and Bloomington citizens to spend their Saturdays.
After being cooped in for most of the winter, I can feel the city humming with anticipation of warmer weather. Although it is not here yet, I encourage you to research local events that our city is hosting. And remember,
Spring is near!
photo source indianapublicmedia.org
02/19/2014 § 5 Comments
By: Nadia Lovko, Sustainability Metrics and Reporting Intern
Bioremediation is the use of microbes and biological processes to clean up contamination. Some microbes can eat and process contaminants and use them for fuel. If soils and groundwaters do not have enough of these microbes, they can be added through a process known as bioaugmentation. This process is becoming increasingly popular as a method of cleaning up oil spills. pesticides, and other contaminants.
02/19/2014 § Leave a comment
Wildlife trafficking is crime that when caught, unfortunately usually results in a slap on the wrist. As a result, its become a mainstay in funding shady groups like Al-Shabbab. Al-Shabbab is a Somalian militia group that swore fealty to Al-Qaeda. They were responsible for the attacks on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi last year. The Department of State estimated that poaching provides around 40% of their income.
As wildlife trafficking has become a more integral part of the funding strategy for groups like Al-Shabbab, enforcement has become more important. Groups in the United States have recognized this. The Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking in the United States has called for stricter enforcement and greater consequences for wildlife trafficking. The Clinton foundation has even unveiled an 80 million dollar program to combat the ivory trade.
Part of the problem fueling poaching issues is the lack of economic opportunity in areas where it persists. Park rangers who combat poachers are well armed and often given permission to kill on sight. This makes poaching a dangerous line of work. Poaching problems are indicative of the need for economic development. If I can make a reasonable living doing something where I’m not risking my life, I’m far less likely to risk it.
02/12/2014 § 2 Comments
Angela Babb, Strategic Planning for Sustainable Food
How much do you know about your food? The bagel you ate for breakfast – do you know where the ingredients came from? The coffee that helped you stay awake through your classes today – Who raised the beans? Who roasted them?
Many of us continue through our daily routine without stopping to ask questions about the items we’re putting into our bodies. We may look at the nutritional facts or the ingredient lists, but how did these items actually make it to our plate? What chemicals and additives don’t show up on the label? How has this item affected other communities?
02/10/2014 § 3 Comments
Last Wednesday, the House passed by roll call the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” (SHARE).
Central to sustainability is the identification of bridges historically lost to us as humans. These bridges take the form of disconnects between production and consumption or in other words, source and utility.
Realizing the cyclical nature of our resources and operating within those bounds is sustainability.
The SHARE Act needs to learn that fact.
SHARE is billed as a ‘sportsman’s’ legislation. But I am a sportsman, and I can tell you that is just not the case. SHARE draws in sportsmen by promoting tradition and expansions of hunting lands and rights. But the act completely ignores the most current scientific findings in the field.
The hunting industry in the United States generates around $90 billion annually. This comes from sportsmen, and as a sportsman myself, I want my government care for the natural resources around which the industry revolves. As a citizen, I want my policymakers to also take into account my personal health and safety and my opinion. SHARE does none of this.
Besides flat-out limiting public comment on public land management, SHARE removes the authority of the EPA to limit hunting ammunition. Why would that even be important? I’ll tell you. Over 6,000 tons of lead is estimated to be released into the United States’ environment each year by bird hunters alone, and this does not even account for lead release from rifles and handguns used in game hunting. Current trends shine bright lights on the need for the EPA to place toxicology bans on lead hunting ammunition.
Lead is a heavy metal which has severe developmental and reproductive effects. It is a serious concern for wildlife populations. An estimated 20 million birds die each year from consumption of lead pellets dispersed by hunting activities. Furthermore, when hunters harvest big game species, the lead left in the carcasses after cleaning is responsible for huge predator and scavenger kills. The California Condor is a prime example of this, and as a result, the State of California is on the cutting-edge of complete restriction of all lead ammunition.
However, most recent studies do not focus on the wildlife impacts of hunting lead. They focus on the human health impacts. Lead has severe impacts on us as well. It is not just lead paint we should avoid. When a supersonic lead bullet strikes a game animal, the bullet actually fragments. Studies now show that lead molecules from the bullet travel farther into the meat than previously expected. Hunters cannot tell this by sight, and many are still uninformed even though warnings are just now being posted for pregnant women consuming wild-game meats.
There are many options for bullets which are far better than lead. Copper, bismuth, etc. are currently being used in a variety of bird pellets and shell rounds. While slightly more expensive, I can tell you non-lead rounds are not enough to break the bank, especially when it means preserving my game populations and my own health. As sportsmen, we are stewards. We have the opportunity to be sustainable in our practices. Lead is simply not sustainable. It is dangerous, destructive, and if we can duck hunt without it we can deer and dove hunt without it.