environment

University of Oregon

We tend to think in terms of fresh water and ocean water ecosystems, but there's a whole lot of life in between. 

Estuaries, where salt and fresh water meet, are teeming with all kinds of creatures, animal and vegetable. 

Dr. David Sutherland at the University of Oregon studies estuaries, both close to home and in the Arctic. 

And he'll deliver a lecture on Friday (December 2) in Coos Bay about how the estuary at Coos Bay functions. 

National Archives

Oregon was green before green was cool. 

In a twenty-year stretch, the state made great strides in protecting the environment: putting beaches in public hands, requiring cash deposits for beverages to discourage littering, and land-use regulations to keep growth compact.  That's just the short list. 

Historian Derek Larson fleshes out the rest in his book Keeping Oregon Green, just out from Oregon State University Press. 

Amanda Peacher/OPB

Early white visitors to the American West were impressed by its bounty: natural beauty and riches that seemed to stretch to the horizon. 

But the resources could be exhausted, and in some cases were. 

Weber State University professor Sara Dant writes of the progression through the years in her book Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

The timeline stretches thousands of years, from the migration across the Bering land bridge to the present day. 

Algalita

Most of our trash goes out of sight, out of mind in landfills. 

But plenty of the world's refuse ends up in waterways, to end up in the ocean.  And plastics in the ocean can present hazards to sea creatures and the health of creatures up the food chain. 

The organization called Algalita is dedicated to studying plastic trash and its effects at sea. 

Wikimedia

It all started with a rugby shirt.  Yvon Chouinard ordered them from overseas, because he found a brand that would keep his rock-climbing equipment from cutting his neck. 

He soon began to make and sell his own under a new name: Patagonia.  Now it's about much more than shirts, and about much more than the gear itself. 

Patagonia works to deliver Earth-friendly and sustainable goods and donates a chunk of its income to environmental groups. 

A book Chouinard wrote for his employees, Let My People Go Surfing, has been re-released with new material. 

Shirley Chan/OPB

We see cats and dogs aplenty in our communities, but there are plenty of other critters around, in town and out.  We want to recognize some of the notable ones, with a monthly Creature Feature on The Exchange. 

And the creature-of-the-month is the Asian jumping worm, alternately called "crazy snake worm." 

It's a worm, not too different from the average earthworm, but with some particular abilities. 

Among them: a voracious appetite for material on forest floors.  So recent sightings in Oregon, including in Grants Pass, concern agencies like the Oregon Department of Agriculture

Jacob Frank, National Park Service

Blast from the Past: Summer nights are excellent for viewing the night sky. 

Especially in August, when the Perseid meteor shower puts on something like a natural fireworks show. 

But in much of the world, lights from the ground tend to obscure our view of the lights from the sky.  Paul Bogard wrote about this in his book The End Of Night

Jordanfishersmith.com

Our tongues may trip over the term "anthropocene," so let's make this statement: people have changed Earth, in profound ways.  If we truly wanted to restore nature as we found it, how would we go about it? 

That's one of the questions raised by Jordan Fisher Smith in his book Engineering Eden

It begins with a man killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park, and continues to a court case that set two brilliant biologists against each other. 

Randy Johnson for City of Rogue River

School is out for the summer, but students are still learning things. 

High school students in the city of Rogue River will spend part of their vacation keeping up with the skills they gained in the "Learning to Protect Our Environment" program. 

During the school year, the program pairs the high school students with elementary school kids to teach environmental stewardship skills.  A similar program is offered in the summer, with an emphasis on the effects of climate change on the environment. 

Wikimedia

Not everybody in California can ever brag about bringing home a GEELA.  Fewer still can say they won it twice, but Prather Ranch's owners can. 

GEELA is the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, California's highest environmental honor. 

Prather Ranch won for the second time recently, for its stewardship of a half-million acres of land in the North State. 

ForeEdge Books

Dirt: it's beneath us.  Physically, yes, but it is also celebrated by more people than you might think. 

Stop to consider how much we depend on the dirt beneath us, for places to grow food, for building materials, and a host of other uses. 

The celebration continues in the hands of 36 writers in the anthology Dirt: A Love Story

The writers range from artists to scientists. 

Alliance for the Great Lakes

The products that make your teeth smooth and give your skin a healthy glow can have unintended impacts on the environment. 

Some soaps, toothpastes, and other cleaning products contain plastic "microbeads" as mild abrasives. 

But it's okay... they wash down the drain.  Oh, that's the problem... they get through treatment plants and end up in rivers, causing problems for wildlife. 

That's why federal legislation will ban plastic microbeads in 2018, a move applauded by scientist Chelsea Rochman at the University of California-Davis. 

Llywrch/Wikimedia

There's a sigh of relief from conservation groups about the congressional reauthorization of LWCF, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  But it's just a sigh, not a cheer. 

Congress kept LWCF alive for three more years, but with funding for only one. 

Groups like the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association wanted more; NSIA calls the move "a band aid." 

Wikimedia

If you want to convince people that your product is "green," slapping a green label on it probably won't do it. 

A blue label might, though. 

University of Oregon marketing professor Aparna Sundar found that the connotations of certain colors affect how people perceive the products they buy: even the most environmental-friendly product could still turn off consumers with a red label. 

University of California Press

AUDIO LINK

We've known for a long time that lead can do some horrible things to the human body. 

And so the government took steps to curtail the ways in which lead is used... it is no longer an ingredient in paint or gasoline, for example. 

But critics point out that the government has been slow to take further steps that might have protected people, but also would have caused some business impacts. 

The critics include science historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, the authors of the book Lead Wars

Little Mountain 5/Wikimedia

While planning and zoning laws and codes are plentiful, businesses that are less environmentally-friendly can still set up shop, as long as all the permits are in place. 

kcmckell/Live Aloha

Hypothetical: if we all have the same opportunity for success in society, but some of us live in environmentally degraded areas, are we all receiving justice?  Under the concept of environmental justice, the answer is no. 

It's not a new concept; the Oregon Legislature created an Environmental Justice Task Force nearly a decade ago. 

The task force meets in Medford this week (September 25th) with the heading "Fairness For the Land and the Worker." 

The Northwest Forest Worker Center and the farmworker group PCUN are among the sponsors.

NASA

  One bloom of toxic blue-green algae is a concern.  Two is a problem. 

A whole series approaches the realm of crisis, and that's where we are. 

Researchers at Oregon State University are taking note of the many--and increasing--incidents of toxic algae blooms, and the challenge they represent for managers of recreational and drinking water. 

Not to mention the challenge for all of us who use water. 

Wikimedia

Offshore drilling for oil and gas is often opposed by people who favor the protection of sensitive and significant lands. 

Except for one thing: the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

LWCF uses offshore oil and gas lease income to purchase property for public use; grants have bought big chunks of land in both states. 

But two issues loom: Congress often diverts money from the fund for other purposes... and the fund will expire this year without Congressional intervention. 

Wikimedia

Oregon's love of natural areas, the push for economic development, and a governor who resigned under pressure... these are just some of the elements that converge in the state's proposed land swap in the Bandon area. 

A deal approved last year would turn 280 acres of the Bandon State Natural Area over to a private developer for a golf course. 

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