Tag Archives: environment

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

WordPress’ weekly photo challenge this week is “Green.” Green happens to be my favorite color – because I am Irish? Perhaps!

When I think of green, I think of rainforests, springtime, nature and Latin America. These are a few photos from ziplining through a rainforest in Nicaragua that I think really highlight the color green.

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Coffee beans
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

We were told these little guys were pretty poisionous, but I couldn’t help snapping a shot.
Copyright JC Politi Photography

What do you think? What are some of your favorite green things?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

Other Interpretations of the Theme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Environment, International, Photography, Photos, Weekly Photo Challenge

Greenest Companies in United States: Does Anyone Care?

Copyright JC Politi Photography
Perito Moreno Glacier, Calafate, Argentina

With the silence coming out of both political parties about the state of our natural environment and its future, I thought it would be helpful to share Newsweek’s rating of the greenest publicly traded companies in the United States.

This election has been all about the economy. And the environment has been only tangentially mentioned as a way to boost the economy by investing in clean jobs and clean energy. The campaign talking points have all related to building the US economy.

I know that people are struggling to find work that pays a living wage. And bankers should be brought to justice for the fiscal recklessness that caused the recession.

I understand why candidates are focusing on the economy and I truly believe that both parties are doing their best to come up with strategies to rebuild the US economy.

But I continue to be baffled about the fact that more than a few politicians put their heads in the sand when it comes to the environment. I am no scientist, but I can’t even imagine the frustration scientists must feel when, in the face of overwhelming evidence that climate change exists and that humans have accelerated its progress, the environment is not a key point of discussion on both sides of the political divide.

This is an issue that crosses party lines and transcends global borders. I had a friend I worked with in a women’s rights organization who used to say, “it won’t matter if women have rights if the planet is destroyed.” That really stuck with me.

The current economic struggles are in our face every day and people are feeling the immediate impact of this crisis. The devastation of the environment is a slower burning problem, but no less consequential.

This is why I am sharing the list of the greenest US companies here. We can vote with our pocketbooks.

I hope you will take a moment to look over this list and see if you might be able to swing your support to some of the greener companies and away from the worst polluters.

That is change I can believe in.

What do you think? Have you been struck by the lack of dialogue around the environment in this election cycle? Why do you think that is? Are you more likely to support a company if you learn that they take the environment into account? Why or why not? And what do you think about the future of green jobs in the United States? Do you think we should make investments in this economy? And do you feel that we are ahead of or behind other countries in making these investments?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

26 Comments

Filed under Culture, Economy, Environment, Health, Income inequality, International, Policy, Politcs, Poverty, Role of Government

Our Disposable Culture and the Gentle Giants of Music

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Who would throw away a piano? And why does the mere thought of this make me sad?

There is an article this week in the New York Times called “For More Pianos, the Last Note is a Thud.” The article explores a new trend, in which pianos are being abandoned or destroyed at an alarming rate.

Some of the more disturbing excerpts from the article include:

 “Instead of spending hundreds or thousands to repair an old piano, you can buy a new one made in China that’s just as good, or you can buy a digital one that doesn’t need tuning and has all kinds of bells and whistles,” said Larry Fine, the editor and publisher of Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, the industry bible.

“In wintertime we burn them,” he said, pointing to a round metal stove. “This one has eaten many pianos.”

Maybe it’s because I played the piano when I was young. I remember countless hours sitting at the piano, staring at the picture on the wall wondering when my practice session would be over or sneaking into the kitchen to change the timer that was set to document my 30 minute practice.

But there is something that makes me melancholy when I think about these gentle giants turned into firewood.

Learning to play the piano takes work. But the relationship between a pianist and her instrument is special – if a person puts in the time on the piano bench, the piano rewards her with the beautiful gift of music which she is free to share far and wide.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Edwige Lombardi-Munhoven (cat called Gina)

We have become too cavalier about destroying our history. I am reminded of neighborhoods across the country where people tear down gorgeous historic houses to build McMansions. It is heartbreaking.

And the people building those McMansions with three bedrooms for each occupant can’t find the space for a piano?

What is this world coming to?

What do you think? Does this story make you sad or do you think I am just being nostalgic and resistant to progress? Are there other items that you grew up with that are now being disposed of that you hate to see discarded? Do you see any hope for reversing this trend?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Piano Adoption (A great resource from the article noted above, where people can post pianos for adoption or can adopt a piano)

Romance in Paris: Why Do French Bookstores Continue to Thrive? (newsofthetimes.org)

Times Are Rough – I’ve Got Too Much Stuff!  (newsofthetimes.org)

The Importance of Slowing Down in a Busy Bee Culture (newsofthetimes.org)

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Filed under Culture, Economy, Environment, Ethics, Love, Music, Relationships, Technology

Are Organic Food Standards a Hoax? The Green-Washing of America

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Do you go out of your way to buy organic foods? Have you put a lot of thought into this decision?

An article in the New York Times called “Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized” is raising eyebrows this week. The article explores the recent boom in organic food products and takes an in-depth look at the body that regulates what is certified organic and what is not.

In particular, the article examines the National Organic Standards Board, which is the board that decides which non-organic ingredients can be included in certified organic foods.

The article points out the number of large corporations who have been taking advantage of the new market. For example, it surprised me to read:

Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi: all three and more actually belong to the cereals giant Kellogg. Naked Juice? That would be PepsiCo, of Pepsi and Fritos fame. And behind the pastoral-sounding Walnut Acres, Healthy Valley and Spectrum Organics is none other than Hain Celestial, once affiliated with Heinz, the grand old name in ketchup.      

Copyright JC Politi Photography

But certainly the most concerning portion of the article is the description of the people serving on the National Organic Standards Board.

While there is certainly room for corporations to serve on the board in the slots allocated for those interests, it is troubling to learn that executives from General Mills and other major corporations have served in positions reserved for consumers.

It appears that Congress specifically designed this board to ensure that it would represent a broad range of interests, but the appointments to this board have clearly been corporate-heavy.

Our family buys organic because we are concerned about the hormones and additives and preservatives that are found in most foods today. I understand that buying organic is a luxury, but we feel that it is an investment in our long-term health. This article makes me wonder if we are being duped.

What do you think? Do you go out of your way to buy organic foods? Why have you made the choices you have? Are you concerned about big businesses controlling the organic food standards or do you think that having big business involved is the only way to grow the industry to scale? Where do farmers markets fit into this equation?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!  

If you liked this, you may also like:

Grist BlogPost: Multinational Food Corporations Thank You For Buying ‘Organic’

Let Them Eat Sat: Who Funds These Studies?

What Foods Are Good For Me This Week?

Who Needs Government Anyway? Except… 

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Filed under Business, Culture, Economy, Environment, Ethics, Fitness, Food, Health, Income inequality, Parenting, Policy, Politcs, Privatization, Role of Government, social pressures

Romance in Paris: Why Do French Bookstores Continue to Thrive?

 

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An article in the New York Times called “The French Still Flock to Bookstores” explores why, at a time when independent bookstores struggle in other parts of the world, they still flourish in France.

Reading the article transported me to a café in Paris where, by the way, I have never been. I could hear accordion music playing softly in the background as I read. And the topic of the article, the French romance with books, fit the theme.

I can’t help but feel a certain nostalgia and romance for what appears to be a dying breed, the written word on the page. I’ll admit that I have succumbed to the lure of the e-book for its convenience, especially when travelling; the ability to carry an entire library, which is lighter than a magazine, certainly has its appeal, but there is nothing like a book.

Just the smell of books, be they in the library or in a used book store or even brand new – there is something both hopeful and weighty about that smell. What will this book tell me? Will I be transported to another land? Or learn something new about places I inhabit every day? Books provide us with a cheap form of escape from daily life.

This article is about a love affair with books, and really, where better to have a love affair than Paris?  But it also explains the practical reasons that bookstores still thrive in France.

The French government has taken a special interest in preserving bookstores, providing grants to bookstore owners and subsidies for shopkeepers.

Most importantly, perhaps, they passed a law to prohibit electronic books from being sold dramatically below the publisher’s list price. This has likely done more to prop up bookstores than anything.

Photos Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My heart and my mind appear to be at war on this particular subject. In my heart, I am delighted to read that there is at least one place in the world where I can still wander from bookstore to bookstore in search of hidden treasures and ideas yet to be shared. I would buy a ticket to Paris today to do just that.

On a pragmatic level, however, I understand that e-books help reduce the environmental impact of books, as long as people don’t constantly upgrade their e-readers and create more electronic waste. If someone can tell me that physical books are more green than e-books, I would gladly change my perspective on this.

One green alternative is the model described in the article where once a month, on weekends, in Rue de Martyrs south of Montmartre, people bring old books and are welcome to take away books for free as long as they do not sell them.

Baltimore has a thriving organization called The Book Thing that allows people to do this every weekend. It was in the basement of an old Baltimore row house, but outgrew that space and had to find a bigger location. Who knew Baltimore was so chic?!

What do you think? How do you feel about the French government’s active role in preserving bookstores? What do you see as the future of books? If you are considering writing a book, or already have, did you print hard copies or just an e-book? Do you think that old bookstores will survive, but that they will become like vintage record stores or do you think there will always be a market for books? What will this mean for libraries?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading.

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Filed under Books, Culture, Economy, Education, International, Poetry, Policy, Politcs, Role of Government, Technology, travel

Are There no Limits? Tough Season Ahead for Everest

The New York Times ran an op-ed this week about the dangers of mountain climbing this season on Mount Everest. The author points to global warming and the increase in the number of climbers as contributing factors to the heightened risk of an Everest attempt this year. He goes on to applaud an announcement by the leader of a highly respected climbing outfit who, in a highly unusual decision, has decided to cancel climbs for the rest of the season.

I can’t help but feel that mother earth continues to send signals that the time is now to do something to protect the last remaining natural habitats and wild places in our country. But will we listen?

I have always been fascinated by people who go to the ends of the earth to climb the highest peaks. Being a bit of an adventurer myself, I understand the drive to test oneself and the exciting challenges that only nature can provide.

My only experience with this type of mountain climbing has been from the comfort of my couch, through documentaries on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic.

I have always been struck by the ease with which the sherpas make it up the mountains, with very little fanfare or glory, while the climber gets all of the accolades. I am intrigued by the risks that mountain climbers are willing to take – frequently risks to themselves and to others – to reach the sacred peak.

Climbing Everest has become a highly commercial activity; perhaps this is what concerns me most. I am sure the climbing outfit who cancelled the rest of the season will pay a significant financial cost for that decision. In the long term, however, perhaps climbers will respect that owner’s concern for the safety of his climbers enough to boost the demand for his outfit in the future.

What do you think? But should there be limits on what money can buy? Why do we feel the need to conquer wild spaces for commercial use? And what is it that makes people want to risk their lives in activities like climbing Mount Everest? Have you ever done something like this? What made you want to do this? Do you think that there should be limits on commercial activity in certain wild areas? Or do you think that the market will regulate itself to keep places pristine?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

6 Comments

Filed under Environment, Fitness, International, Privatization, travel

Human-Created or Not, Why Not Try to Stop the Warming?

The New York Times op-ed by James Hansen, who is the Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies should give anyone pause about the future of our planet.

It never fails to amaze me when I hear people question whether human activity is impacting global warming. There is no question among scientists that the planet is warming – the scientific evidence is conclusive on this. And even if, for the sake of argument, human activity is not causing global warming, why would we not want to take action to slow the warming trend?

It seems that attention to this issue has lessened in recent years and I am not sure why. In the meantime, we have seen a devastating proliferation of hurricanes and tornadoes and heat waves and wildfires. I am no scientist, but I put a lot of faith in the knowledge and understanding of experts.

Given the persistent outcry from the scientific community about the perils of inaction, why don’t more policymakers stand up and take action on this issue? Is it because the corporations who are funding political campaigns are afraid that caring for the environment will negatively impact their bottom line?

It reminds me of the smoke-free movement in some ways. Bars, restaurants and casinos consistently proclaimed that they would have to close their doors if a state passed a smoke-free law. We all know that that is not what actually happened once laws were enacted.

The science was clear regarding the harms of tobacco, much like the science is clear about climate change. But the arguments for smoke-free laws were related to harming to people’s health; stopping climate change is just about protecting mother earth.

Perhaps environmentalists could link their arguments more to the impacts of climate change on people’s health. I know that some groups have made this connection, but it seems to get drowned out by the ongoing debate about the science and whether or not global warming is actually occurring.

Sometimes it seems that the environmental messages are too varied, maybe because the implications of inaction are so broad. If there was a way to focus the message on the impact climate change will have on people, the arguments might get more traction with the public.

I am just thinking out loud here and know that there are a lot of people with much more knowledge about the politics and science of this issue than me. I would love to hear your thoughts!

What do you think? And thank you for reading!

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Filed under Environment, Health, Policy, Politcs, Role of Government, Uncategorized