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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

I guess this gentelman decided to celebrate Earth Day a little bit early this year when he tossed a packet of sauce (probably of the McDonald’s variety) out of his car window on Rt. 1 last week.

I cant’ figure out why he would do something that stupid, so maybe there was a passenger in the car who threw it at his head and missed. But, my gut says that this guy was just a litterbug.

On that note, here are some fun facts about trash from this web site, which I believe gets its information from the National Recycling Coalition.

Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste. Stop double-bagging, grocery stores!!

Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted. Start a compost pile. I did!

Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator. Recycle those double bags! Lots of grocery stores have recycling bins specifically for plastic bags.

Also, if you live near a Whole Foods, you can recycle your #5 containers there!

Happy early Earth Day.

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Natural gas drilling is something I knew nothing about until recently. Based on what I’ve learned, I think it is an issue that way more people need to be aware of. Here is my brief summary.

There are two types of gas drilling. There is the conventional method, where the drilling is conducted into pockets or reservoirs to pull out natural gas. Then there’s the newer method that injects water, sand, and chemicals into tight shale deposits, horizontally fracturing the shale to release trapped gas. This is known as hydraulic fracturing, and it is a process used in 90% of natural gas wells in the United States.

Click on the thumbnail for a bigger view of this graphic, which gives a step-by-step breakdown of the process.

“Fracking” has had a negative impact on the environment. Calculations performed by the EPA show that at least nine hydraulic fracturing chemicals may be injected into or close to underground sources of drinking water at concentrations that pose a threat to human health. These chemicals may be injected at concentrations that are anywhere from 4 to almost 13,000 times the acceptable concentration in drinking water.

In the HBO documentary Gasland, filmmaker Josh Fox travels west to Wyoming and other surrounding states, where fracking is extremely prevalent. The documentary shows tap water so contaminated that it can be set on fire, chronically ill residents, and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation. Watching this film was a real eye-opener for me and just before it was over, I found myself breathing a little sigh of relief, because at least this isn’t going on on the east coast. Right? Well, actually, no.

The Marcellus Shale is a unit of marine sedimentary rock found in eastern North America. Named for a distinctive outcrop near the village of Marcellus, New York, it extends throughout much of the Appalachian Basin. The Marcellus Shale could meet all the United States’ natural gas needs for more than two years, according to some geologists. With energy prices reaching record highs, at least nine companies are trying to lock up leases to drill in the Marcellus Shale, which lies as much as 9,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface under New York, Pennsylvania and the southern Appalachian states.

Luckily, this issue is starting to get a lot more attention. According to an article in The New York Times, “Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis of Colorado and Maurice Hinchey of New York introduced legislation this summer that would require drilling companies to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and disclose the chemicals used in their hydraulic fracturing processes. Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Charles Schumer of New York introduced companion legislation in the Senate.”

I know that there won’t be an end to this type of natural gas drilling, but I can only hope that we will see more regulations in the future. Do you want flammable tap water?

Additional sources consulted for this blog:

Hydraulic Fracturing 101

Pro Publica – Hydraulic Fracturing

The Wall Street Journal – Drilling Tactic Unleashes a Trove of Natural Gas—And a Backlash

WBFO, Buffalo – How hydraulic fracturing impacts environment

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I wanted to turn your attention to the recent story about how FritoLay decided to forego its biodegradable Sun Chips bags in favor of the old packaging, because they received a ton of complaints about the bags being “too noisy.” I hear a lot of ridiculous things on a daily basis, but this one was pretty unforgiveable and unjustifiable. This just goes to show that people really only care about helping the planet as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them in any way. I’ve eaten Sun Chips since the new bags were launched, and yes, they are pretty noisy and crackly. But halting their production because of that? What kind of people would make such an outlandish complaint? Spoiled, fat Americans—that’s who. You KNOW they were mad about the bags because all of the crinkling, crackling noises made it harder for them to hear the TV while they were sitting on the couch chowing down on an entire bag of Sun Chips.

I think people are starting to believe that simply having a more heightened awareness of the environment and talking a lot about “going green” will be enough to cause some sort of planetary change. Those of us whose lives are based more in reality realize that the things that we do on a daily basis are what effect the world around us. As such, some of the things we do will need to be changed if we want the environment to change for the better. And to me, this whole chip debacle doesn’t bode well for us as a society that is trying to be more environmentally conscious. If people don’t wise up soon, I don’t think we stand a chance.

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Dear WNYC and all conservationists,

I like to think I try pretty hard to help the planet and reduce my carbon footprint. I walk to work (most days). I turn off the water while I brush my teeth. I recycle (even no. 5’s!). I buy environmentally friendly aluminum foil, plastic sandwich bags, and coffee filters. I feel like I do a pretty good job, so PLEASE don’t try to guilt me into turning off my air conditioner during the heat wave. Brian Lehrer did a segment on energy conservation/air conditioning this morning, some of which I happened to catch. First, I heard a guy from Con Ed telling people that they should keep their thermostats at 78 degrees. Admittedly, I’m a wimp when it comes to the heat, but I think most people would agree that 78 is a little high. Then, this other anti-AC guy on the show started advising people to turn off their air conditioners when they’re not home—which I am totally in favor of and do most days, including yesterday. I turned it off at 9:30am and set it to come back on, full force, at 3:30pm (thinking it would cool down the place by 6:30), only to find that our attic apartment was still above 80 degrees at 11pm. So today, our AC has been running in an empty apartment all day, and I feel like a criminal. Thanks a lot, you hippies.

Like I said, I try really hard to be good to the Earth. Can’t you just ease up a little when all I’m trying to do is achieve a little physical comfort?

Yours truly,
Rachel Lazzaro

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