environment Photography

Earth Day Photos

In honour of earth day, the Boston Globe has a great collection of photos well worth checking out: Earth Day 2010 Photos.

The Earth

The most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth created to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer of our planet. Much of the information contained in this image came from a single remote-sensing device—NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. Flying over 700 km above the Earth onboard the Terra satellite. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

environment Photography

Earth Hour

Last Saturday, March 28, the world turned off the lights in recognition of the environment and global climate change. Somehow I couldn’t convince my roommate that it mattered and so he spent earth hour in the glow of his room amidst a dark house on a dark street. I wondered if he would regret missing the opportunity later, as I did last year. I like to think the Earth Hour is as much about missed opportunities as taking part. Think about it.

I have to admit turning off the lights for an hour won’t do much to save the environment. It does, however, stimulate a spirit of unity and puts the problem into the forefront of our minds.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has posted an inspiring collection of before and after shots from Earth Hour with the lights on and off at famous locations around the world. Don’t forget to click to see the images with the lights off.

Boston Globe’s Earth Hour 2009 Photos.

crime environment

Exxon Valdez 20 Years Later

dead whale from Exxon Valdez oil spill

Last Tuesday marked the twenty-year anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil disaster that polluted 2000km (1200 miles) of Alaskan coastline.

Most people assume that Exxon followed through with the many promises to clean it up and pay out proper restitution to those who were damaged by the accident. Investigative reporter Greg Palast says those assumptions are wrong.

Twenty years later, the oil is still lingering in the environment, Exxon has whittled down its court ordered fees by billions, it’s rigged the system to actually collect some of that money back, and to top it all off, many rightful claimants are dead.

Two years after the spill, Otto Harrison, General Manager of Exxon USA, told Evanoff and me to forget about a fishing boat for Uncle Paul. Exxon was immortal and Natives were not. The company would litigate for 20 years.

They did. Only now, two decades on, Exxon has finally begun its payout of the court award — but only ten cents on the dollar. And Uncle Paul’s boat? No matter. Paul’s dead. So are a third of the fishermen owed the money.


Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Update: The video is down.

In honour of Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, who would have been 105 today, I’ve posted part one of the environmental fable, The Lorax.

The Lorax, published in 1971, is a short story that speaks out against the destruction of the environment through the Lorax, a sage figure who speaks for the trees, only to watch his habitat destroyed by a series of unsustainable businesses. After the plants are killed and the animals leave the barren wasteland behind, the polluting Once-ler realizes the terrible mistake he’s made and urges a young boy to plant the last-ever Truffula seed to restore the beauty of the land.

Hit play or watch The Lorax on YouTube. See also, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6. Alternatively, here’s all the videos in The Lorax playlist.

design environment

Negative Space in Taiwan’s Recycling Logo

The following logos are the Universal Recycling Symbol and Taiwan’s recycling symbol.

Recycle Logos

The familiar Universal Recycling Symbol contains three chasing arrows that form a Mobius strip or one sided loop, which is kind of cool, but notice the brilliant use of negative space in Taiwan’s recycling symbol that generates a great “aha” moment when you realize it’s there.


Previously: negative space in Fed Ex logo.

advertising environment

Oil Sands Tourism

Greenpeace has launched a tongue-in-cheek website touting the tourism potential of the Alberta oil sands. The Greenpeace-produced site,, has an address similar to Alberta’s official tourism page,, and is the conservation group’s response to the province’s $25-million campaign to improve the environmental image of Alberta’s energy industry.

[Explore Alberta – YouTube]

Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation Cindy Ady was not impressed with the website.

“I’m a bit disappointed mostly on behalf of those who work so hard in this industry, but I also would say it’s not an accurate representation of this province.”

environment ethics

Navigable Waters Protection Act

I received an email this morning outlining the Canadian Governments efforts to overturn the protection of free flowing rivers in Canada. As it stands now, the law in Canada protects the public right of navigation in Canadian waters and has done so since 1882—the right to navigate waterways in Canada is a tradition that pre-dates the beginning of our country.

In particular, Merv Tweeds of Brandon-Souris has headed up the cause for selling out on Canada’s natural resources. From his website:

Tweed leads the way to change waterway act

BRANDON — March 13, 2008 – Merv Tweed, Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris, is leading the review to make critical and long-overdue changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

“This act controls every waterway in Canada, no matter how small, and has caused significant delay in the approval of new infrastructure,” said Tweed.

The Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities Committee, which Tweed chairs, will review the act and will be tabling a report on the findings and recommendations for change in June.

“I believe that refocusing the act will provide a more timely and predictable process for the review and approval of critical infrastructure projects,” said Tweed.

The Navigable Waters Protection Act was written in 1882 to protect the public right of navigation in Canadian waters. Unfortunately, this act does not allow for the ability to exclude anything “constructed or placed on, under, over, through or across” a navigable water, as everything may interfere with navigation to some degree.

Industry and provincial, territorial and municipal governments have, for years, been requesting changes to the NWPA to reflect current needs and respond to the increased volume and variety of uses of Canada’s waterways.

The existing backlog of approvals is impeding economic growth and the timely development and refurbishment of critical transportation infrastructure that, in turn, has the potential of creating a backlog for the implementation of projects under “Building Canada Plan”.

My favourite paragraph deserves some dissection: “Unfortunately, this act does not allow for the ability to exclude anything ‘constructed or placed on, under, over, through or across’ a navigable water, as everything may interfere with navigation to some degree.” So what he’s trying to say is, it’s unfortunate that the law protects the public right of navigation because we want to imped that right.


Greenhouse Gases – Did You Know?

Here are some tips from the Canadian government on saving energy, reducing green house gases, and all the while saving you money too. My friend Linnsie Clark sent this to me in an email a long, long time ago. I’m not sure I ever actually followed any of these links, but by golly I posted them to my website.

Global Warming Potential (GWP)

“The GWP is an index that compares the relative potential of the 6 greenhouse gases to contribute to global warming ie. the additional heat/energy which is retained in the Earth’s ecosystem through the release of this gas into the atmosphere. The additional heat/energy impact of all other greenhouse gases are compared with the impacts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and referred to in terms of a CO2 equivalent (CO2eq) i.e. Carbon dioxide has been designated a GWP of 1, Methane has a GWP of 23.” “Nitrous Oxide has a GWP of 296.”

Tips for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  1. “A 15–watt compact fluorescent bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60–watt incandescent bulb. If every Canadian home replaced just one 60–watt light bulb with a 15–watt compact fluorescent bulb in a heavy use area, we would collectively save $63 million annually in energy costs and reduce our GHG emissions – equivalent to taking 66,000 cars off the road!”
    • “Improper tire maintenance unnecessarily costs Canadians about $500 million for 643 million litres of wasted fuel [each year],” says Neil MacLeod, director general of the Office of Energy Efficiency of Natural Resources Canada. “The extra fuel burned also releases an additional 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the environment.”
    • “You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.”
    • “Proper tire care is simple and easy. Measure tire pressure monthly, including the spare, with a good-quality pressure gauge.”
    • “Every litre of gasoline that your car burns produces 2.4 kilograms of CO2.”
    • “Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car’s gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.”
    • “Restarting the engine uses less fuel than 10 seconds of idling and produces less air pollution.”
  2. “Fix leaky faucets—that little drip can add up to 95 litres of water per faucet per month, and cost you 7 kWh per month.”
    pdf link

(Thanks Linnsie)


Gladwell on Geothermal

Malcolm Gladwell’s father recently installed a geothermal heating and cooling system in his backyard. After reading his father’s explanation on the benefits of geothermal temperature control, I will definitely consider this option when it comes time to build my dream home.

“[N]ot only was the house warm but the difference in the quality of the air inside the marked. Oil heat works through combustion: it uses up oxygen. Geothermal systems heat the house with ambient air, which makes you feel like you are outside when you are inside. This summer, southern Ontario—where my parents live—has had the same heatwave as the rest of us in the Northeast, and now my parent’s house has been as wonderfully cool as it was warm in the winter.”


The Dead Zone – Kidd of Speed

Chernobyl Home

A little while ago I blogged about the ghost town of Pripyat. There is an interesting article about a woman that drives her motorcycle through the dead zone that I wanted to link to, but her site was down. It’s now back up, updated with pictures from spring of 2004, and it is a tremendously facinating look at the Chernobyl area 18 years later.

In Ukrainian language Chernobyl is a name for a grass, wormwood (absinth) This word scares holly bejesus out of people here. If I tell someone that I am heading in a “dead zone”… you know, what I hear.. In best case- “are you nuts?” My dad used to say that people afraid of a thing which they can not see, can not feel, can not smell and that kills. Dad is nuclear physicist and he also says that of all dangerous things in my life, he can only think about one, which is riding my bike on fifth or sixth gear. In any way, dad and their team work in “dead zone” for last 18 years. They doing researches from the day when nuclear disaster happened. The rest of guys in a team are microbiologists, doctors, botanists.. etc. I was 7 years old back in 1986 and in a few hours after accident happened dad sent us with sister off with the train to Grandmother. Granny lives 800 kms from here and dad wasn’t sure if it was far enough for us to stay away of troubles. Communists kept silence about this accident. In Kiev, they forced people to take part in their stupid labor day parade and then people start learning about accident from foreign radio, from relatives of those who died and real panic began in 7-10 days after accident. Dad says, that in those first 10 days exposure to radiation was the most powerful and can not even be compared with what we have now.

Update (April 30, 2004): The Author is no longer hosting the site. She made this statement:

“‘Ghost Town’ site that was linked to this page ended existance. My purpose to show people Chernobyl is achieved. Site was viewed more then 3 million times within 2 month. I am no longer able to pay for this traffic and I had no other choice as to close this site.

For some it became weapon, for others the subject for speculations. I am out of this.., I just wanted to show people Chernobyl. I did this for free, for no fame and I did this with love for my country. If someone do not like my story, then write a better one and do not try to damp others..

Site was mirrored and copied by many people and it must be somewhere on the internet. Time will show if this is one day popularity or if it has value in itself..

I am no longer able to control or update those sites. A big thanks to people who maintain it after I quit. Also, thanks to Richard Wilson and Leonid Pankratov the authors of some photos. I got permission for using their photos on my site.

I am not involved in any commerce. Anyone who would attempt to profit from this tragedy, and those people who tried to this using my name and my site as tool to make money should be ashamed of themselves.”

Although it should be noted that I found someone has copied her site and is hosting it at: I think it is safe to assume she is not the recipient of any pay pal donations to this site.

Update (May 22, 2004):Apparently the solo motocycle part was a hoax, but everything else was true.

Another Update (December 20, 2005): Her site is back up with some additional photos from new trips through the dead zone. See my post on the Land of the Wolves.