Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Woman's Future Environmental Leadership

Woman's leadership role on this planet is vital to balancing today's resource, economic and environmental demands. The female voice in this planet's future before has been modest. Woman's environmental leadership has in the past been ignored, neglected and discouraged even though they are on the front lines in dealing with water, agriculture, energy and natural resource management. Also it is woman who bring new life to this planet. However the times are changing from just what is happening here in the United States. In July, Melinda Gates donated $4.3 billion dollars for those 120 million woman who want but can not afford contraception. This is one great example of investing in a better quality of life for future generations. Woman in the U.S. have an enormous economic presence. In the U.S., women control $11 trillion dollars of wealth or close to 40% of the total personal wealth. This is projected to rise almost 60% by 2020. Nearly two-thirds of women are the primary financial decision-makers in their households. Women account for 57% of bachelor’s degrees, 60% of master’s degrees, and 52% of doctoral degrees. Women earning over $100,000 grew by 17% between 2007 and 2010, compared to 2.3% growth for men. Nearly 4 out of 10 working women out-earn their husbands. Woman are both planners and savers and they focus on long-term goals, not short-term performance. They are Inquisitive, collaborative, and decisive Open to taking professional advice. Putting the needs of others first. Letting emotions drive decisions and Being too conservative with investments, Not communicating needs and objectives to loved ones. In the U.S., women control $11 trillion dollars of wealth. ●Nearly 40% of the total personal wealth ●Will rise to almost 60% by 2020 ●Nearly two-thirds of women are the primary financial decision-makers in their households Women account for 57% of bachelor’s degrees, 60% of master’s degrees, and 52% of doctoral degrees ●Women earning over $100,000 grew by 17% between 2007 and 2010, compared to 2.3% growth for men ●Nearly 4 out of 10 working women out-earn their husbands. Other Distinctions of Woman are: ●Good planners and savers ●Focus on long-term goals, not short-term performance ●Inquisitive, collaborative, and decisive ●Open to taking professional advice. ●Putting the needs of others first ●Letting emotions drive decisions ●Being too conservative with investments ●Not communicating needs and objectives to loved ones. From these recent economic changes here in the U.S. suggest that woman's role in decision-making is increasing. Melinda Gates is just one of many woman stimulating our female leadership revolution. Woman will be having a greater role in addressing and determining our environmental future.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Creating a New Cool

In Paris this week once again the international community attempted to developed cooperative measures to better this planet. Almost every week there are new findings proving human's impact upon our climate. Add to this our polarized Congress and it safe to assume things are heating up on many fronts. People’s passions, fears, despairs and frustrations are running high. Fittingly change is needed to temper our climate situation. These weather changes are highly correlated with temperature rises. All these factors are connected. Global warming is leading to increased biomass factors that adds to more melting of ice changing surface of ocean impacting major circulation patterns. 8,000 years ago-humans’ first impacted this planet with great deforestation. European heat wave used to be 1 in every 500 year event, now there is the potential for this to happen every other year. The rapid rate of climate change threatens not just our energy and food but our very quality of life. We need local, state, national and world-wide action to buffer against global warming. We know enough to act now, to put us on a path to slow, and if science permits, stop global warming. However, we lack an American will to agree that climate change is a serious and long-term crisis with potential to affect every part of the globe. What can one person do? First getting heated about the problem does not help. Next cool down and become part of the solution not emotional problem. Since our very future is dependent on profiting from climate stabilization. How can we stimulate public participating in preventative measures when our current economic system does not adequately reward such endeavors? Public demand and bipartisan support are fundamental to changing our stuffy climate with a new awareness, ingenuity! Lessening our impact on the planet, people, and fragile emotional health is road to now travel. Simple planning, to save more and pollute less is an art form that already millions of Americans share in. Our entire world culture must adapt its ways to survive. First, human population growth must be moderated. Our entire consumption society must shift to one of conservation. We can adapt ourselves as a well rounded society without extremes of poverty, and wealth. Also we can find prosperity when we juggle the shortages of water, accumulation of wastes and the damage to biodiversity to show respect for all things in this world. Conserving root comes from two words. Con which can mean to examine carefully, persuade, and steer or even an opposing view. Serve means to work for, prepare, and offer and to complete. Together conserving means to protect from loss and harm: to prevent from waste, injury; to economize. When people conserve, they wake up to how we all are connected. Our prosperity has a ripple effect. Conservation creates a new cool!

Monday, November 23, 2015

George Washington, American Pioneer in Composting

A knowing farmer, who, Midas like, can convert
everything he touches into manure,
as the first transmutation towards gold.

For 45 years George Washington was the master of Mount Vernon, and he viewed his occupation as farmer very seriously. Beginning as a tobacco planter like his father and older brother before him, Washington devoted himself to producing bounteous crops of the weed for export to England. He realized early on, however, that this plant was ruinous to the fertility of his soil. Therefore, he soon stopped growing tobacco and took up the cultivation of wheat as his primary money maker, complemented by corn and a variety of lesser crops aimed at sustaining his family and slaves. The quest to improve his yields led Washington to explore a wide range of agricultural experiments, including composting as a means of restoring soil nutrients.

In 1794 Washington sadly noted in his diary that, "Unless some practice prevails, my fields will be growing worse every year, until the crops will not defray the expense of the culture of them." Unfortunately for his successors who attempted to farm Mount Vernon after the death of the great man in 1799, this gloomy prediction was all too true. For Mount Vernon's soils were simply too poor to be a good producer no matter what innovative measures were employed. Thin topsoil overlying a dense, impermeable clay foundation was the main culprit, exacerbated by severe erosion caused by the poor practices of the day.

Washington never gave up the challenge to improve his soils, however, and he undertook numerous experiments to find the best form of fertilizer. He subscribed to John Spurrier's The Practical Farmer, which advocated the wise use of agricultural by-products and adding organic matter to improve the soil. Washington revealed an experiment in composting in his diary on April 14, 1760, when he "Mixed my compost in box" with different types in the various apartments. He planted the same number of seeds in each compartment and systematically recorded the results. After many trials, Washington applied manure, river and creek mud, fish heads, and plaster of paris to his fields with some success.

As evidence of George Washington's devotion to composting, he erected a highly unusual building specifically designed to compost "manure" and to facilitate its "curing" into usable fertilizer. Mount Vernon archaeologists have excavated the site of this building, called the "dung repository" or the "stercorary", to gain more insight into Washington's farming activities and to provide the information necessary to reconstruct this interesting structure.
Washington's typically detailed directions for constructing the repository provide several important clues to building details. In a letter to his farm manager in May 1787 he lectured:

When you go about the repository for the compost ... if the bottom should not be of good clay, put the clay there and ram it well before you pave it, to prevent the liquid manure from sinking, and thereby being lost.

*This was co-written with Dennis Pogue,

Monday, November 09, 2015

Less People More Possibilities

No greater threat to this planet than more humans.   Not only has our population more than doubled since, 1990 our collective planetary impact is exponential.  Everyday 220,000 people are born while 45,000 just die from starvation.  

Steven Hawkins estimated if the population continues every 40 years to double by 2600 there will be only standing room here. Just in the United States births increased in 2014 (1 percent) for first time since 2007.  In the next few decades we are expected to reach 9 billion.

Since 2000, humans have cut down more than 2.3 million km2 of primary forest.  Also we have converted one-third of the ice-free and desert-free land surface of the planet to pasture and cropland.  In southeast Asia, almost half of the natural habitat has been converted.

In 2008 Jared Diamond noted that people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world.  

Now we are at 7 billion people on this planet, and that number may grow to around 3 billion within several decades. Presently 5.5 billion people of the developing world are growing in numbers while we in the industrialized countries consume 32 times more than the rest of the world.

How many more people can the world sustain? Our developing countries make an increase in living standards a primary political goal to become industrialized. How can we in the rich countries lessen our material consumption since the poor wish to enjoy the American Dream of a high-consumption lifestyle? As millions of people in the developing world wish enjoy the first-world lifestyle how much carrying capacity can this planet take unless we humans use less? There is not enough pie to go around now to if humans are going to survive here

Just look at China as the leading developing country.  Now it has a two-child policy increasing its per capita consumption rates at home. China is one of the world’s fastest growing economy with 1.3 billion Chinese, or four times the United States population. Yes, our world is already running out of resources rapidly since China is quickly reaching American level consumption rates. 

India as well as China were to reach our US rate, world consumption would triple. Finally, if the whole developing world were suddenly to catch up to the US rate it would be as if the world population ballooned to 72 billion people or world rates would increase elevenfold.

Without some human population or birth controls we as a species may implode. Over 10,000 years ago there were just two of us. 

There is no greater environmental, economic, social, or other need then to insure we do not mass over reproduce.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Construction Waste or Resource?

How we build is a both a sign of our affluence and effluence.  Spending on U.S. construction projects rose in August to the highest point in more than seven years, fueled by home building and government projects. It rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.09 trillion, the highest level since May 2008. 

Construction has a significant impact on the environment, accounting for one of sixth of the world’s freshwater withdrawal, one-quarter of its wood harvest, and two-fifths of its materials and energy flow. These structures also impact areas beyond their immediate location, affecting watersheds, air quality and transportation patterns of communities.[2] Green Building is being embraced by the construction industry because of simple economic and environmental reasons. Also more sustainable building practices are evolving more effective design and operations because of competition and new performance requirements.

An estimated 136 million metric tons of building construction and demolition (C&D) waste was generated in 1996.  This equates to an estimated 2.8 pounds per person per day.   Forty-three percent of this waste is generated from residential sources and 57 percent from non-residential sources.   Building demolition accounts for 44 percent of the waste stream and renovation generate 44 percent and 8 percent was generated on construction sites[3]. Road and bridge debris, land clearing debris and other sources are not included in this estimate. 

According to the US Green Building Council there is as much C&D produced as municipal garbage. Buildings consume 40 percent of the raw stone, gravel and sand used globally each year. This material can be deconstructed into: rock, soil, concrete, asphalt, brick, block, woody debris, metals and other valuable recyclables during the demolition process. Also this scrap can range in size from dust or fines to huge concrete slabs. 

The largest portion of C&D by weight recovered is asphalt. Since it comprises 92 percent of our nation’s highways and roads, recycling asphalt occurs constantly since all you have to do is take it back to the plant, reheat it, and mix it with a new batch of asphalt. Certain adjustments are made so to make the chemistry of the recycled asphalt softer. This recycling is driven by bottom-line reasons--to cut road costs and meet limitations of landfilling this materials as hazardous waste. Byron Lord, deputy director of the Office of Pavement Technology states, “ For every ton of municipal solid waste, our nation generates 35 tons of non-hazardous industrial waste.”[4]

Transportation costs drive another major C&D recycled product, concrete. According to a United States Geological Survey study, “Crushed Cement Concrete Substitution for Construction Aggregates- A Materials Flow Analysis,” author Thomas Kelly sees advantages in recycling cement/concrete since its proximity and availability like a mine site located on a construction site (

Waste wood such as 2x4s, plywood and other dimensional lumber, old pallets, stumps and other debris can be transformed by tub and other type grinders that grind this woody debris into landscape mulch and wood chips for either ground cover or as fuel.

There are many other economically viable reasons that C&D should be recovered and not wasted. Metal related components are another small but significant recyclable in C&D waste. Depending on the site and local markets for metals, ferrous and non ferrous recovery of interior frames, shelves, wiring, pipes and electrical fixtures may be prevalent depending on the type of building newly constructed, renovated or torn down. Finally, old corrugated cardboard (OCC) is just another by-product that can be recycled back into new OCC.

C&D may contain hazardous materials depending on what type of structure was built or excavated. Adhesives, asbestos, lead-based and other types of paints, roofing cement, oils, lubricants, brake fluids, mercury lamps, PCB light ballast, formaldehyde in carpets, treated woods, oil-contaminated soils, and a variety of other toxins must be screened out.

C&D landfills may not have linear requirements similar to Subtitle D MSWL’s or muncipal ones.  C&D storage requirements may require contaminated debris be placed on impermeable material bermed to prevent ground and surface water contamination. Some states in this country do not have corrective action requirements, or require groundwater monitoring requirements, or comprehensive financial assurance requirements for closing these C&D landfills.

The Green Building Council is promoting a voluntary rating called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) that all building enterprises and construction firms must comply with to become certified. For example credits are earned for accommodation of at least a 75% recycling rate. 

Other opportunities also exist such as renovating old buildings by saving the masonry, concrete, steel, and wood building shell by modernizing the interior systems. Also selective demolition can conserve existing installations by exercising care in the design process--not only reducing the costs of waste removal but saving on the existing installation costs through repair. Many demolished structures offer such reusable materials as doors, windows, and wood framing materials, and beam, girders and other structural elements, as well as finishes and trims, fixtures and miscellaneous ornamentation.

Finally, construction waste may be prevalent when materials are cheaper to toss compared to the labor costs. In such a busy work setting the haste to finish the job may result in more waste. However, numerous cities in the US are becoming more active in C&D recovery because transportation costs and disposal fees tend to be higher. Active waste screening at C&D landfills is essential in protecting public health in the future. There is enormous recycling of C&D in the US, but still an enormous amount of C&D that needs to be recycled. Any new building or demolition project now can implement better planning, design, recycled product purchasing and frugal resources management as a way to improve business performance.

[1] National Science and Technology Council, Sunbcommittee on Construction and Buildings, Prelimnary Report (Washtington DC 1993)
[2] David Rodman and Nicholas Lenssen,” Builidng Revolution:  How Ecology and Health Concerns Are Transforming Construction,” Worldwatch Paper 124 ( Washington, D.C. March 1996)
[3] Franklin Associates, “Characterization of Building-Related Construction and Demolition Debris in the US,” USEPA, MSW, OSW, June 1998, pg ES-4.
[4] Brian Taylor,” The Daily Grind and Crush,”  Recycling Today,  July 2000, pg s48
[5] ICF Inc.,  “C&D Waste Landfills,”  USEPA/OSW, Draft report 2/95, pg. Es-1

Monday, September 28, 2015

Conserving Food

Food, water, agriculture and energy are interconnected. Each of these factors needs to be addressed if this planet is going sustain a world population expected to surpass 10 billion in years to come.

For years I have studied food waste and food conservation, as well as having worked with numerous organizations attempting to start composting enterprises. 

Conserving food requires lessening waste and better management in every link of this nutrient chain.  From the farm, factory, store and home; the US wastes enough food to feed Canada. Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food every year, or 31 percent of their overall food supply.  In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.  30-40% of the food supply in the USA is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a goal to cut the amount of food that Americans waste by 50 percent by 2030.

Roughly 80 percent of fresh water goes to food production.  A recent study by the World Resources Institute (WRI), about one-third of all food produced worldwide, valued at about US $1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. In a world full of hunger, volatile food prices and social unrest, these statistics are environmentally, morally and economically outrageous.
 A standard kilogram of food consumed today in the U.S. travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate ( While the average American spends several thousand of dollars on food consumption or roughly 9 percent of our gross national product amounting to almost $900 billion dollars. When we better manage all facets of our food it will lessen hunger, and reduce landfilling.  Also conserving food saves energy.

Additional factors impacting food production and waste;

* 70 percent of water goes into irrigation.  As water becomes more and more scarce,  humans will need to find ways to make the agricultural cycle become more efficient.

* US agricultural practices are estimated to erode 2 billion tons of soil while worldwide 40 percent of the world’s agricultural land is seriously degraded.

* American soil erodes at an average of 7.1 tons per acre per year, which is 14 times faster than rates at which soil is created.

* It is estimated that soil erosion and water run-off costs the U.S. $44 billion annually.

* Pesticides which cost US farmers $ 4 billion annually, are estimated to cause $2-4 billion in health and environmental damages including an estimated 20,000 cases of pesticide caused cancer each year.

* Five billion livestock in the United States produce some 41.8 billion tons of manure each year.

* One third of the solid waste stream is food packaging.

* The farm population is less than 2% or at last count 4.6 million people (so low the Census no longer keeps separate records of it).

* A typical family discards 10 -15 percent of their food purchases.

"Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity."  Pope Francis

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Lessening the Carbon Gridlock in the USA

Americans drive over a trillion miles each year. Today the Washington D.C. area has the worst traffic jams - commuters spend 82 hours each year stuck in gridlock.  We have also another form of carbon gridlock.  Our Congress is not addressing our international climate crisis. Tragically many Americans today deny there is any present danger despite the alarming and increasing scientific evidence. 

Worldwide we emit ten billion metric tons of CO2 while we were discharging in the early 1990's six billion metric tons of carbon. For ten centuries up to the industrial revolution climate scientists observed carbon dioxide around 280 parts per million (ppm).  By 1992, CO2 levels reached 350 ppm.  Because of these increases our global temperatures have risen almost 1 degree resulting loss of half the Arctic ice cap, and tens of thousands of cubic miles of Antarctica ice, and hundreds of millions of acres' of our oxygen producing trees.

President Obama has made an "ambitious but achievable goal." Cars and light trucks are supposed to have the fuel efficiency on the average of 54 percent per gallon in the next decade according to new rules by the Department of Transportation.  According to the White House's new rules they calculate that the U.S. will lower our emissions by twenty-six percent by 2025. 

Sweden has reduced their emissions by about twenty-three per cent in the past twenty-five years while their economy has grown more than fifty-five per cent.

Close to home how we collectively best manage our emissions has global significance. Years ago there was a Pogo cartoon with a picture of an oil tanker in a backyard, and the caption read, “We have met the enemy and it is us.” 

Nearly four decades ago one of my environmental science text books alerted me to oil polluting my local watershed of Little Falls in Bethesda, Maryland, which ends into the major drinking water reservoir for the nation’s capital.

Each year according to EPA, Americans generate 1.6 million tons of hazardous household waste (HHW) including e-wastes, used oils, paints, cleaners, batteries, and pesticides. Also there are many small businesses and farms generating hazardous waste and exempt from managing their stuff if it is less than 100 pounds per year of harmful materials. Presently it is believed that a small percent of this toxic material is recovered, and the cost to do so can be expensive. Improper disposal of this non-point pollution threatens public health and the environment in many ways that must awaken us to this real terror in our very homes. 

We use numerous types of harmful petroleum-based chemicals that are dangerous in their disposition and/or emissons. An EPA study documents that many petroleum-derived products pose an elevated cancer risk to two-thirds of Americans. Roughly 200 million people are regularly exposed to some 32 toxic chemicals. 

The good news is that people now are driving less. We consumers of harmful products must safeguard the health of our families and communities. There is no more critical time frame to begin to protect our earth and ensure future hope. We are the source of this carbon traffic jam and its solution. We all benefit if we follow Sweden's example.  Let's untaggle America's carbon gridlock with hundreds of millions of conserving acts.  

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Find Comfort from the Pain

For almost a quarter of a century I have lived in the middle of the woods for most of my week. Over the years if I am not in the forest after a few days I feel exposed.  Also being in such a stress free environment enhances my very well being.  With today's increasing challenges finding how to best how to best cope with our ecological crisis is vital. 

Maybe this is why at times I feel anxious, unsettled, despairing, and depressed. In the course of my life I have observed much disconnection, distraction and denial of what we are doing to our planet. However, I have shifted my focus from the macro to the micro. My inside game or mind-set allows me new freedom and possibility.

Glenn Albrecht has a name for psychological condition. In a 2004 essay, he coined a term to describe it: “solastalgia,” a combination of the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root –algia (pain), which he defined as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault . . . a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home...’.

Six years ago the British trip-hop duo Zero 7 released an instrumental track titled “Solastalgia,” and in 2008 Jukeen, a Slovenian recording artist, used the word as an album title. “Solastalgia” has been used to describe the experiences of Canadian Inuit communities coping with the effects of rising temperatures; Ghanaian subsistence farmers faced with changes in rainfall patterns; and refugees returning to New Orleans after Katrina. 1

Yes, our mind and the health are connected to this earth. So to feel such pain is a normal reaction if we are sensitive to what is happening regarding to our present degradation. From an eco-psychological perspective being numb, overwhelmed or powerless reflects humanity’s current divorced relationship as we diminish our natural eco-systems.

Such mental suffering forces many to explore our collective unconscious so to see how we can best adapt to this tremendous eco-adversity. One course of action is to lessen our consumption and ecological footprint to battle becoming so despondent. Another form of restorative therapy is seeking refuge by going into the woods or other natural surrounding.

Thomas Doherty, a leading ecosychologist as developed a model that which equates mental health with the impulse to “promote connection with nature.” This profound ecological minds-state is one model developed for the American Psychological Association Climate-change Task Force.

I have been so blessed to be able to spend much time outside in Shenandoah Valley.  I have a gotten a tremendous greatest gift my well-being enjoying this amazing place. As we develop greater consciousness and explore our shadows an organic unification happens. However, difficult or painful such introspection is required to better ourselves and this world. When we separate ourselves from our world, we disconnect from our eco-soul or our earth spirit. Our whole is greater than the sum of many broken parts.

Anyway we improve our sense of interconnectedness healing happens. I challenge you to see my your experience when you become reconnected to a greater part of nature.  I have discovered a profound result from my eco-adventure. Without courage to change your course you may become lost in a very self destructive pattern instead of allowing your spirit to better heal. Go out in the woods and find out!

1 Daniel Smith, “Is There an Ecological Unconscious?” New York Times, 1/27/10

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Haves vs. Nots Heating Up

There is various silent civil wars happening around the globe. Numerous battles are happening on many fronts: between the North and South hemispheres; with the haves versus those without; and other human battle fields.  Most of the affluence and wealth resides in the North.  Now we have the one percent rich and those who have each day try to keep their heads above the waters of debt. 

Forty years ago I wrote a graduate paper at George Washington University on the this gap and economic growth. In the last four decades income disparity has accelerated, and this planet keeps getting warmer. 

As each of our rich and poor nations make it through each day, the melting at the poles increases. Now industrial North does not want to fully shell up the cash to help the South lessen their emerging carbon impact. Those third world Southerners have HIV, malaria, malnutrition, and sanitary threats distracting them to best act.  

Just keeping our population in check is just one challenge.  Just in my life humans on this planet more than doubled. The fact is we can not sustain both quality and quantity of life with now over 7 billion of us.  

Now in the United States, there is another civil war in decision making divided by the red and blue states. The Republicans still have yet to acknowledge our climate and economic disparities.  The clock is ticking down fast and alarming us for long term solutions. Not just is our free world in jeopardy but the fate of our natural world we survive on is in question. What is in jeopardy requires substantial fiscal investment of trillions of dollars to abate these problems. Our global civil war, is a battle field were ecological and eco-illogical must fight it out. For example just the conflict for food and water is already going from bad to worst.

The United States is still on the fence to showing we are really serious player. We want a clean environment however our economy is more important. Also there is much indecision on how best to proceed.

Americans comprise a large percentage of both users and polluters. Will we we clean up our share?  How will the rest of the world work with us if we continue to be feeble?Can we establish greater equity and opportunities in the use of resources investing in a green economy? 

We are now engaged in various civil wars both here and abroad. The question is will we innovate to find ways to resolve our conflicts. Or will this division result in the ultimate loss of our ecological world by eco-illogical decisions. We must balance on the scales quality with some wise sense of quantity. Equity, efficiency and economy must not just be words yet deeds we Americans show for our grandchildren and their future surroundings. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Federal Efficiency; Use it not lose it

This time every year in Washington D.C. federal agencies throw away hundreds of millions of good products in the trash.  Our nation’s government discards a bountiful amount of materials to benefit in their next year budget cycle.  This is called "use it or lose it.”  This form of waste is not uncommon with many organizations. There is nothing efficient about this practice to discard so to stimulate your next year budget. 

35 years ago I was the D.C. first recycling coordinator. I observed huge amount of perfectly good materials such as furniture and chairs trashed because of a new budget cycle.   If only the Feds could reward saving things and instead of discarding them.  It is ironic that we invest hundreds of billions of dollars in defense programs or homeland security while investing a tiny fraction in our very earth’s survival. 

Our industrial facilities generate yearly 7.6 billion tons of non-hazardous industrial waste.  This is generated by a wide spectrum of manufacturing companies. This waste includes domestic sewage and bio-solids, demolition and construction wastes, agricultural and mining residues, combustion ash, and industrial process wastes. Industrial non-hazardous waste are produced by 12,000 facilities, and disposed of on-site in surface impoundments, landfills, waste piles or land application units.  

We must look beyond municipal solid waste to fully integrate this resource management.  Once we better identify the exact environmental and economic consequences of our by-products rural areas will not just be the convenient dumping ground for this nation’s refuse and effluence.  

For example the price of some landfills reflect “bury now, pay latter”, while billions of pounds of future materials are discarded for future generations to deal with. 

Let’s celebrate everyday by respecting not abusing our goods. Better managing our environment is not just an issue, it is our very future.  A more conservation ethic can phase out our federal "use it or lose it" practice. Mending is far better then ending when it comes to our beloved land, water and air.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting Cool

Almost every week there are new scientific findings proving humans are impacting our climate. Compound this with the increasingly polarization of American politics and it safe to assume things are heating up on many fronts. People’s passions, fears, despairs and frustrations are running high. Fittingly change is needed to temper our climate situation.

These weather changes are highly correlated with temperature rises.  All these factors are connected.  Global warming is leading to increased biomass factors that adds to more melting of ice changing surface of ocean impacting major circulation patterns.

8,000 years ago-humans’ first impacted this planet with great deforestation. European heat wave used to be 1 in every 500 year event, now there is the potential for this to happen every other year.

The rapid rate of climate change threatens not just our energy and food but our very quality of life. We need local, state, national and world-wide action to buffer against global warming. We know enough to act now, to put us on a path to slow, and if science permits, stop global warming.  However, we lack an American will to agree that climate change is a serious and long-term crisis with potential to affect every part of the globe.

What can one person do? First getting heated about the problem does not help. Next cool down and become part of the solution not emotional problem. Since our very future is dependent on profiting from climate stabilization.

How can we stimulate public participating in preventative measures when our current economic system does not adequately reward such endeavors?  Public demand and bipartisan support are fundamental to changing our stuffy climate with a new awareness, ingenuity!

Lessening our impact on the planet, people, and fragile emotional health is road to now travel. Simple planning, to save more and pollute less is an art form that already millions of Americans share in. 

Our entire world culture must adapt its ways to survive. First, human population growth must be moderated.  Our entire consumption society must shift to one of conservation.  We can adapt ourselves as a well rounded society without extremes of poverty, and wealth.  Also we can find prosperity when we juggle the shortages of water, accumulation of wastes and the damage to biodiversity to show respect for all things in this world. 

Conserving root comes from two words.  Con which can mean to examine carefully, persuade, and steer or even an opposing view.  Serve means to work for, prepare, and offer and to complete.  Together conserving means to protect from loss and harm: to prevent from waste, injury; to economize.  When people conserve, they wake up to how we all are connected.  Our prosperity has a ripple effect.  Conservation is cool!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Billions to Trillions in Eco-security Investments

Time to act is quickly ticking away.  If we are going to secure our future it is going to be the rich to champion it.   No longer can we wait since the fate of our prosperity is in the balance. Today we have nearly 800 billionaires and some are trail blazers for conservation.  One example, Bill Gates, is funding fossil free energy sources shifting from vaccines to greater global environmental issues.

Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, George Soros, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and others see the wisdom in green philanthropy. These leaders are investing into alternative energy technologies, biodiversity, green buildings, and numerous other ventures to promote our future prosperity.

Branson, Dell, Turner and others are running their corporate operations by minimizing their footprint with everything from planting trees to green fuels. Bloomberg wishes on making building 80 percent more energy efficient.  Brin and Page are promoting smart cars and plug in vehicles.  
Critical is that our weathly leaders develop a coordinated blueprint to keep the temperatures down in our rapidly feverish global warming situation. 

Change can only be stimulated by those who can afford to take the risk for greater gain.  For the last decades major environmental economic advancements have been hampered by the idea that conservation hinders economic growth.  Madison Avenue has promoted an impoverished attitude advocating conspicuous consumption.  This "ending is better than mending" mentality now must be discarded.  Are we affluent or effluent Americans, waste makers or risk takers?

Hopefully new innovative eco-developments will spurn hundreds of other billionaires to a green economic revolution. Our environmental economics are still in the infancy since we still take for granted our free air, water and land resources.  No longer can we allow the philosophy of , "if it is not broke, we do not need to fix it," since it has been broken for years. The yearly cost of dumping on our earth cost us
 is in the trillions affecting the health and safety of billions of living things. 

This crisis requires an international green social security fund providing this planet with long term financial assurance investements.  Such initiatives will minimize eco-terrorism and create future micro economic stimulus to fund such green infra-structure developments.

Without some integrated world financial enterprises our quality of life is in jeopardy.  Add up more people, consumption, degradation with less resources and time.  Pope Francis, and other leaders share in the same conclusion; we are facing a dangerous situation due to human mismanagement and neglect. 

Years ago I co-wrote an article with two other experts on landfill financing called,  Dump Now, Pay Latter."  Environmental controls and conservation measures will not happen unless we create greater incentives.  There is not a credible economist today how has not advocated a carbon tax, including the Exxon Corporation.  Years ago I worked with the American Petroleum Institute who promoted consumer used motor oil recycling by placing tax on each quart of motor oil.  Such measures are most successful in insuring product stewardship. If we do not make it easy and simple to conserve people will not participate.  For example more people recycle in the U.S. then vote.

I challenge you to do the numbers.  Just follow how the Fortune 500 world has profited from pollution prevention and waste reduction.  Output over input equals productivity. Efficiency is about saving time, human and resource capital. Finally, do the research of what the economic and insurance experts forcast. If the human species does not have a green eco-awakening it too may go extinct. Without a green one percent revolution our future does not appear promising.


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pope Francis Conservation Encyclical

God has given us this planet as a gift, to provide for our needs.  And the correct response to receiving such a magnificent gift is surely one of gratitude, love and respect.

Pope Francis encyclical on the environment showed profound courage.  His warning of the impacts of climate change has amazing implications.  As a former chemist, Pope Francis acknowledges that humans are a major contributor to greenhouse emissions and global warming. 

The  International Energy Agency's recently cited that the fossil fuel industry last year got subsidies totaling $510 billion dollars.  Leaders and experts of all walks have advocated a carbon tax to price greenhouse emissions or some sort of emissions trading system.

The $8 billion Vatican Bank is divesting in fossil fuels and shrinking its carbon footprint. 

The Pope urges us to seriously address the whole "technological paradigm" of climate change impacting those less fortunate and the economic impacts.

This document agrees with the scientific consensus advocating global agreement to quickly lessen the use of fossil fuels.  This encyclical talks about pollution, consumption, and other ways  we are rapidly deteriorating our fragile earth.

Below are his key points:
 * “An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness,” 

* “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?"

* “recent World Summits on the environment have not lived up to expectations because, due to lack of political will, they were unable to reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements on the environment.” He writes, “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.” 

* "The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming.”

* The importance of access to safe drinkable water is “a basic and universal human right."

* “must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.”

* “Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever,”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Improving Our Housekeeping

Housework in America reflects interesting patterns.  Liana Sayer at the University of Maryland documents that in 1965 the average American woman spent four hours a day on housework while the men just 30 minutes.  In 2012 this changed where the woman spent less than  two and half hours a day while the men and hour and half.  Woman in the U.S, still do about 1.7 times a much as men in 2012 but they also now are more into the workforce.  Thus men need to up their output by 70 percent to be as productive as the average woman at housework. 

When there is a birth of a child then woman increase their work by three hours a day not including being with the child while men increase their total work by an hour and a half according to a 2015 Ohio State study by Dush and Schoppe-Sulllivan.

Bottom-line is that there is inequalities in household labor. Before parenthood the average man's workweek was three hours longer than his partner's before birth (paid work and unpaid housework, including childcare). However, after birth the man worked eight and half hours less per week than his partner.  

How the sexes share in their housework have a great impact on a larger good housekeeping practices. Woman have a critical role in conservation and pollution prevention.  Also, men can profit from better environmental improvements not just at home but outside their doors.  Such measures plant seeds of hope for future generation not just in the U.S. but all over this earth.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mount Tom- A Magic Love for Green Mountains

 We must conceive of stewardship not simply as one individual's practice, but rather as the mutual and intimate relationship extending across generations, between the human community and its place on earth- John Elder, Inheriting Mount Tom, 1997

Just recently I was attending a memorial of a dear old friend in Woodstock, Vermont driving from another Woodstock in Virginia close to home.  We all return to our beloved earth in many ways. Both were I live in the Shenandoah valley and were I grew up in home Washington D.C. share the story of saving the land.

For example, most American's did not know that George Washington was a revolutionary farmer as one of this country's first composter and who also did the land survey for my valley. 

Low and behold, Woostock, Vermont is the birthplace of some major conservation champions planting seeds for the benefit of many generations. First this is where our nation's foremost environmental pioneer, George Perkins Marsh, grew up.  His book Man and Nature (1864) was the first prophetic road-map illustrating the value of land stewardship.  

George witnessed firsthand man's impact on nature due to deforestation in Vermont.  He commented, "brought the earth to desolation almost as complete as that of the moon,"  George helped start the Smithsonian Institute and was an American diplomat.

Next, in 1869 Frederick Billings, a successful businessman purchased the Marsh family farm.  It then was surrounded by devastated land with barren hills and silted rivers degraded by over logging. He went to school with Marsh's son and applied Marsh's wisdom. Frederick enacted model stewardship measures with state of the art forestry and agriculture methods including raising purebred Jersey cows.  Also the Billing's dairy and farming innovations were shared by his neighbors near and far who also excel. 

In 1890, Frederick dies. Again the torch of this stewardship legacy is passed on. Frederick's wife, Julia, continues their work with the support of three generations of remarkable women. His three daughters Mary French, Elizabeth Billings, and Laura Lee become the vanguards of environmental best management. 

Much of the past, present, and future environmental advancements are due the tireless and less recognized efforts of women.

Once again, Billing's grand-daughter Mary French becomes the guiding force to continue this inter-generational model in stewardship at Mount Tom.  Also, she expands her efforts when she marries philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller.  As a couple they help expand our national parks securing the hundreds of thousand of priceless forest acres throughout the United States for the enjoyment of all.  

It is no accident that of their magic Mount Tom property.  It inspired great people to do great things.  The threads of   resource conservation, selfless service, inter-generational stewardship act like the recycling chasing arrows. 

There is nothing more beautiful in life when we apart of such divine act of interconnecting.  Whenever someone gives their best to this world they in turn receive the many "happy returns" by their public service.  And this conservation translates into further joy and happiness for generations to come.    

Friday, June 12, 2015

Wastewater = Life

The recent Western and California drought forces us to explore new innovations because of the lack and need for water.  Water reuse is becoming more attractive mimicking just how water is recycled on this blue planet.  Also it reduces the disposal of wastewater and if properly managed improves our water’s quality.  Especially since how in the West improved water efficiency has many obstacles counter intuitively increasing both water consumption and its best allocation. The “use it or lose it,” allocation system is counterproductive.

No better example of water conservation driven by economic growth than Las Vegas. 93% of water used indoors is treated and then used again either in irrigation or back to Lake Mead in Las Vegas  (Where the River Runs Dry, David Cohen, New Yorker, 5/29/15, pg 58).

Florida has been a state leader in recycling their water. The Sunshine State has nearly tripled this reuse in the last 20 years.  (*Getting Past the "Yuck" in Florida and other States,  Kuwayama and Kamen, Resources for the Future,  no. 189, 2015 pg, 10-12).  If Florida could reuse all the wastewater it could that volume would represent 67% of the state's wastewater capacity in 2012. 486 reuse facilities creating a reuse capacity of 1,711 million gallons per day in 2012.  Of this capacity, on average about 725 million gallons were actually being daily used. 

In 2013 Florida used recycled water in 548 golf courses, 961 parks, and on the grounds of 328 schools, 321,340 residential yards and 39,000 agricultural acres. Less than one percent was used for toilet flushing, decorative foundations, commercial laundry, cleaning of roads and sidewalks, vehicle washing and the making of concrete (Ibid, pg 11).

The National Research Council (2012) estimates that reusing all municipal wastewater that is discharged could supply 6% of the total water use and 27% of all residential, consumer and industrial uses (Ibid, pg 10)

Florida established a promotional and educational policy to encourage water reuse.  Research documents that water reuse gets better public support when information about water quality and public health protection is effectively communicated to stimulate consumer confidence.  Such public awareness on water supply issues is critical to such best management practices. 

Applying reused water in irrigation and low-value uses makes better sense due to costly recycling technologies that can transform wastewater back into drinking water.  Recapturing and reusing water is evolving because of our dwindling supplies of pure water and increasing demands.  The better we emulate our hydraulic cycle and recycle water the better we all will benefit

Americans use three times more water each day than Europeans or 1,300 gallons each person here in the U.S. Wastewater reuse will become a significant growth industry. In 2003, USEPA estimated that we Americans generated 12.5 billion tons of wastewater each year.  Each year Americans use, discard and recycle more than 17 billion tons of waste. Better tracking of the entire material cycle can provide us with better insights to management our limited resources. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Conserving the Have-Nothings*

Today's U.S. economic inequality threatens American's very freedom. More alarming our future economic growth is being undermined.  It is not just that a CEO may make 300 times more than what his workers make-there is a fundamental misbalance of haves with the have-nothings.  
Edward Wolff at the New York University cites the following; the richest 1 percent Americans have 35 precent of the U.S. net worth.   The next 4 percent of our population have 28 percent of the wealth while the next 5 percent of us have 14 percent net worth. The next 12 percent of Americans have the next 10 percent net worth and after that the next 9 percent have the next 20 percent of the wealth. Finally, the last 3 percent of the U.S. citizens have the net worth of 20 percent of our population.
The bottom 40 percent of U.S. citizens have nothing or even a negative net worth.  They owe more money than they own.  Recently the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development documents that the richest 10 percent of Americans earn 28 percent of the U.S total income. This same group has 77 percent of the wealth in the U.S.    
The math is simple if we do not balance this income disparity both our prosperity and basic liberties are threatened.  Two-fifth's of our country have little choices and opportunities.  It is shameful today how American's allow predatory lending, advertising and other practice exploit those have-nots.  Who is vanguarding the interests of this 40 percent?  Certainly not our government or the private sector. These economics have serious national security impacts and social ramifications that we, the people will have to address.  
Maybe we can create a cap on billionaire's that after $5 billion, forty percent goes back to the 40 percent. Once your have several billions do you really need extra billions to feel secure?  Spreading the wealth more will help all Americans and provide new opportunities to those have-nothings. 
* Think income inequality is bad? Wealth gap is worse.  Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, F2, 5/24/15

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Conservation Does Matter

Why is conserving so needed? Simply with billions more people now on this earth requires us to be more efficient with our resources for the future. Conservation matters because investing in the best use of our land, air and water is in our best interest.

There are millions of ingenious ways we can better this place. We can bike or walk instead of drive. We can shut off lights, computers and tvs not in use reducing our electricity requirements. Water from our roofs can be captured in rain barrels for watering our plants. Promoting sustainable economic growth by transforming waste is an investment in our happiness. What we do affects our planet, and also impacts our very spirit.

It is all about ecology and economy. "Eco" comes from the Greek meaning house and it is time to do some serious cleaning both inside and out. A new prosperous frontier helping this blue/green planet  if we become thrifty. 

I have been fortunate to be a participant in several conservation tipping points. America consumerism impairs our prospects.  Mending is certainly better than ending.  Can we see that our natural resources are not separate from us but interconnected with everything. Yes conservation matters, and so does the America spirit. We are innovators who can improve our environment thus stimulate life-affirming and life-enhancing choices.

Protecting our environment is tied to the very notion of human excellence. Americans can demonstrate their virtue and promote a healthier relationship with our planet. Just the simple act of doing more with less can lessen the threat of further loss.  Simple changes happen when we become more creative and innovative.  Any way we can better this planet directly betters ourselves.

As we reconnect with wise use, we plant seeds of new opportunities.  Our very freedom is a green reawakening-best management. Let's show greater self and eco-respect giving hope to our next generation.  In return we find such leadership liberates us with a peace of mind. Responsible action equates to greater possibilities.  Let's enjoy our life and profit all things by conserving.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Being Consumed

I recently heard a friend describe her life as being consumed by her gardening for a farmer's market.  The next day I heard this term as a book title.

William T. Cavanaugh’s book, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Eerdmans, 2008), explores our free market economy.  He critically examines world hunger, globalization, economic abundance, and consumerism as being flawed.

 Cavanaugh’s  suggests that our “free-market” results in just the opposite; it imprisons us. He believes the concept of the “autonomous individual” as being controlled by a dominant few lacking in any good purposeful end.  He sees our “free-market” economy creating endless wants and desires.  Consumerism creates a never ending downward cycle, lacking any good social ends, short changing our very humanity.

Cavanaugh contends that the so-called “free-market” fosters economic enslavement by corporations and Madison Avenue. This powerful and select group stimulates consumer addiction in many ways.  Also he argues that companies supply very limited information to consumers that further limits people's ability to adequately decide. For example, Cavanaugh talks about meat market and how many are unaware of the terrible conditions cattle endure. He questions whether the public is truly able to make good decisions since they lack enough information.

Writing as a Christian, Cavanaugh questions whether they can exercise true economic freedom and ethical choice.  Being Consumed is about a larger story about how money affects all facets of our lives and the larger moral questions.

Cavanaugh writes first how our economy is controlled by an endless chain of consumer desires that lack any meaningful ends especially since people are never satisfied because it is based on  enslaving consumption fueled by endless desire. Next, he examines a economy motivated by love of God and of neighbour. This economy does not operate in terms of competition and private exchange but rather as communal giving.

Being Consumed the author’s views economic practice in a greater theological perspective. Cavanaugh wishes that Christians live more economically responsible. He provides inspiring examples of how various people and communities successfully demonstrating alternative free production and consumption.

Cavanaugh’s book raises many interesting ethical questions how Christians and others may wish to reexamine their consumption and conservation. Changing our buying habits with greater sustainable decisions is a win/win situation where we are no longer consumed yet now saved.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Everyday Can Be a Green Celebration

When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.—Aldo Leopold

Earth Day is celebrating its 45th birthday this Wednesday. Since 1970, there has been enormous environmental changes due to the first Earth Day's sweeping green awakening. In 1980, I was a national and D.C. Earth Day organizer. Today our world is in delicate balance. This Earth Day we need to be engage in our planet's life support systems - planting seeds of future prosperity.

Earth Day now has to happen everyday with clean-ups, educational activities, tree plantings, and other green acts.   Each one of us can better our lives by honoring our Earth, seas, and skies.  

Everyday we can deepen our connection with the natural world, the cycles of life, and the rhythms of nature. This is greatest step toward higher self care. 

Each day we can show our thanksgiving for our home, this planet.  Increasing our gratitude gives us a richer life. Invoking daily appreciation for our earth promotes of individual joy. This also awakens us to how all things are interconnected. Such gratitude gives us insight that our survival is about the greater whole.  And, this green awakening fosters increased life-affirming and life enhancing opportunities.

Simple green action are as simple as wisely conserving and doing more with less. The more efficient we use our resources the greater promotes ecological excellence. Establishing healthier relationship with our planet is a win/win enterprise benefiting all things. Everyday you can walk or bike.  Any way we can better this planet directly betters yourself, and all aspects of your life. 

45 years ago recycling was introduced into our vocabulary. Now we must follow the example of those chasing arrows. Give and you shall get. May you enjoy this day and every other one with a new prospects for this Earth. Everyday when you show greater love for your world you may celebrate planetary love returning back to you!