Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Hour Power Shower

Well, I tried. On the night of Earth Hour I had just finished a long day of cleaning, organizing and bringing things to the Salvation Army. I was still organizing things, while my roommate, Karen, was watching the end of the basketball game. It was 9:00pm and all of our lights were still on. Woops! Right about then, we remembered it was Earth Hour and it was already half over!! Oh no. So we quickly switched off all the lights and electronics. We wanted to be part of this, even if we had already messed it up. So we lit some candles and went about things as always, just a little dimmer. Well, that proved to be harder than I had thought.

I was ready for a night out after working so hard on the apartment, so I grabbed my margarita (I had bought some limes at the Oldsmar flea market and needed to put them to good use) and headed to the shower. As I got to the bathroom, I realized that I needed at least a little bit of light to bathe. So I grabbed a couple candles and went back for another attempt. Let me just say, that showering by candlelight is very very romantic. Sure, I was alone, but it was very relaxing and sexy. Who doesn't look great by candlelight? Then the trouble started. Three things I learned:
  1. for some unknown reason, I cannot get the water temperature right in the dark...I'm either scalding or freezing
  2. the candlelight was enjoyable, but maybe a little too nice...the shower got a bit longer than normal and considering the major drought we're having in Florida, I feel bad about using so much water
  3. shaving in the dark is crazy hard...and somewhat dangerous!
Ok, next step...shower done, time to get dressed. I almost burned down my closet by holding a candle really close to my clothes to try to pick what I wanted to wear. To avoid a fire, I settled on the first t-shirt and jeans combo I felt with my hands. Ok, I was pretty much ready. By this point it was already about 10:00pm, but since we missed the first half of Earth Hour we felt that we needed to redeem ourselves by extending our lights-out time.

My next challenge was to give Karen enough light on her face to put on makeup. The small tealights I have weren't giving off much light, so I had to hold them pretty close to her face. I was a bit worried that the hairspray in her hair would burst into flames, but we did ok and she looked good (not just in the candlelight!). After blowing out all the candles, we headed out into the well lit night.

So I tried. I'm not sure how successful my Earth Hour was considering that even though I saved some power by turning off the lights and supported the movement, I wasted some precious water and almost started a few small fires. Is there a candle training course?

Did you participate? Check out these great pictures of landmarks that did.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour

Did you hear about Earth Hour last year? It's a great idea that was initiated by the World Wildlife Fund in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to raise awareness for the need to take action against climate change. On the last Saturday in March, the World Wildlife Fund asks people to turn off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the movement grew from 2.2 million people to 50 million people participating. Everyone from individual citizens to businesses and even to global landmarks such as the Colloseum in Rome, the billboard in Times Square and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Franscisco participated last year. Oh, yeah, and my mom participated last year too! I think she told me about it, but I forgot when the time came to switch the light switch. But this year I'm doing it too! And this year it's going to be bigger than ever! Already, 1,189 cities and towns across 80 countries are committed to turning off their lights for Earth Hour. Who else is participating this year?
  1. Great Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
  2. Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  3. the Eiffel Tower
  4. Cathedral of Notre Dame
  5. the President of France
  6. Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro
  7. Table Mountain in Cape Town
  8. Sydney Opera House
  9. CN Tower in Toronto
Will you do this with me and the rest of the world? Tomorrow, Saturday, March 28 at 8:30pm local time, switch off your lights and enjoy living for an hour without electric lights!

Are you going to do it?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Want a laugh?

Ok, this website is hilarious and if you need a good laugh today with some sarcastic humor then go read a few of these entries. You'll be in tears! Plus there are cute animals on the site too!


Here's an excerpt from the blog that had me rolling!

"The Tibetan fox thinks he's better than you"

"I just want you people to drink in this world-class douchebag known as the Tibetan Fox. Have you ever seen such a holier-than-thou fucking look on a non-dolphin before? I'm not one for slapping foxes, as I generally think they know what they've done, but this one really has that look, like the asshole boyfriend of the girl the main guy wants in an 80s movie. Unsurprisingly, he is extremely rare. That's probably because he thinks if he has too many babies, some of them will turn out to be commoners and he wouldn't be able to show his square face at the country club anymore.

How's your ivory tower, Tibetan Fox? I'm sure it must be terribly stressful to stand in judgment of the rest of us little people, so why don't you just retire to your cabin and play lacrosse? You know what, on second thought, WHY DON'T YOU WANDER THE DESERT LOOKING FOR RODENTS. Some of us have to work for a living, Tibetan Fox. We don't get everything handed to us by a lifetime of hunting and scavenging, you stuck-up snob. "

If this has a rolling on the floor, go see more here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are you green today?

Happy St. Patty's Day! Even if you're not Irish, today is a day most Americans celebrate purely for the joy of wearing green and drinking. So pull out that green t-shirt and grab a pint of dyed green beer...or not. What exactly makes your beer green? We've become so accustomed to associating the color green with healthy or environmentally friendly things that it's pretty easy to gloss over that question. But on St. Patty's Day we find quite a few things dyed a neon green that are typically very different colors. It almost turns me off from the beer that flows on this day...almost.

So, really, what is that green dye made of? Green food coloring is also known as FD&C Green No. 3 or Fast Green FCF or E143 or Sea Green. It is one of the seven dyes that were originally approved in 1906 in the Pure Food and Drug Act. Yes, that's right, it's that old! But is it safe?

Well, that's relative. The US Food and Drug Administration would have you think so. But a study conducted in 1969 by Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (did you even know this existed?) found that injections of small amounts of the green dye in rats caused fibrosarcoma, a malignant tumor derived from fibrous connective tissue, and inhibited growth. But, then in a study in 1978, no tumors formed in hamsters that were injected with the green dye. In a study in 1966, rats were fed the green dye instead of injected, and they did not show growth or mortality effects. The result of the 1969 study reported that there was no evidence of green dye causing cancer if eaten and digested. However, they did state that the study was not thorough enough and results may have been inadequate to prove this, so another study would have to be completed by 1985. Additionally, the study assured us that the green dye is poorly absorbed by our bodies and most of it is excreted in our feces (yay!). Ok, sounds like we're in the clear!!

Or are we? I checked an MSDS safety sheet for the green dye and according to it's toxicology status, Fast Green FCF in solid form is considered an animal carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and it is a mutagenic substance. Mutagenic means that it actually changes your genetic material. It specifically states "mutagenic effects have occurred in humans" but it doesn't list what they were! It is also considered a skin, eye and respiratory irritant! Yikes. Here's another study conducted in 1984 that confirmed these scary findings!

Ok, ok, so maybe we'll be safe if we only have a little green beer on St. Patty's Day and then avoid green jelly beans for the rest of the year. But what else is Fast Green FCF found in? Well it comes in doses of up to 100mg/kg in typical things like:
  • candied fruit
  • fruit purees and toppings
  • coconut milk
  • fruit fillings for pastries
  • hard candy
  • pastas and noodles
  • cereal and puddings
  • frozen fish
  • fried fish
  • custards
  • herbs, spices, condiments
  • mayonnaise and salad dressing
And get this, Fast Green FCF has been prohibited in the European Union. Don't be too alarmed, 10mg/kg is a very small amount, but who knows how much bartenders are pouring into their beer concoctions for today!

So spit out your green beer and grab a draft of something else less dyed, put down Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, and just wear green instead! Here are a few more ideas for St. Patty's day from one of my favorite environmental blogs, TreeHugger. And six green hangover remedies too!

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Guest Blogging at "2B4 the World"

One of my good friends from back in home in Maryland, Andrew (aka, Byron) Banghart, recently contacted me about his new website/business venture. His business mission is as follows:

"The mission of 2b4theWorld is to bring environmental responsibility to the forefront of political, commercial, and educational action so as to influence current and future decision-making."

He asked me to become a regular blogger on his site (yay!). So check out his site, 2B4 the World, and see what I've been blogging about over there. Speaking of decision-making, my first post is entitled Connecting Scientists and Politicians and talks specifically about climate change decision-making and the role of the federal government. Keep an eye on his website, hopefully it will grow into something amazing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beauty in the Glades

I recently had the privilege of stepping foot into the amazing part of Florida called the Everglades. When my friends asked why I was so excited about the opportunity to go camping and hiking with the Sierra Club in the Everglades, I explained it like this; for an environmentalist/nature lover, the Everglades are on our list of the 7 Wonders of the World. And it's so close to me that I'd be a fool to miss the chance to go see this amazing place before humans disturb it even more.

Part of our adventure took us through the Picayune Strand State Forest. We had a beautiful hike through an area that is very obviously wet during the rainy season (probably with about 2 feet of standing water) that is currently bone dry. There we saw bald cypress, pond cypress, air plants/bromeliads, hatpins, and so many more beautiful plants and lots of birds as well. Here are a few pictures from just this one 3-mile hike. Oh, and another fun fact...there were two panther cubs just born in this park (unfortunately or fortunately we did not encounter them)!

Cypress leaves emerging
Hatpin - this one looks like it grew around another plant...check out that squirrely stem!
Bromeliad hanging/hovering on the site of a cypress tree.

The Big Squeeze

Are you feeling a little squeezed out these days? Too much competition? Well, we all know that in the current economic climate competition is stiff and too many people are losing their jobs, being edged out and leaving other employees with much too much work to handle!

Here's a photo I took down in the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve of a Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto) being squeezed out by a few Slash Pines (Pinus elliottii). Unfortunately, these tree don't have much chance to fight back or pick up and move, so they're stuck together for the duration.

Is it just me or does life feel like this every now and again? Sometimes you're the palm, sometime you're the pine. Which one are you today?