It's Just Data: Climate Discourse Part 2

Coming to terms with the idea that the climate portion of climate change, it is crucial to the conversation; that we explore why using the correct langue creates an axiological (fundamental system of values that we use to give meaning) problem for people. First of all, the data that we face on our everyday lives contains an almost indigestible level of information that puts us in the position to give cognitive attribution to it. This is of extreme importance since our perception of the data is intrinsically tied to how we will perceive the data. (Miller, 2001) For example the graphic to the right observes the disproportionate amount of CO2 released in the past decades in comparison to a general climate variation of rises and falls in CO2 concentrations. The public opinion mainly relies in a cognitive model which describes and at times dismisses this data under assumptions of validity in terms of interpretations of a attribution model of the term variation and social associations with the fluctuating nature of the syntax. (Miller, 2001) In terms of scientific discourse, we given axiological meaning and value to simple empirical data. Interpretations of this nature are then amplified by media agenda events which derive fact from axiological contingency. Regardless of the conduit examples of this create an ontological debate of the nature of research which furthers claims of public discourse that are negligent to the data itself. Put simply, data is just data, nothing more and nothing less. What kinds of attributions do you associate with certain data sets?

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some description adapted from the Scripps CO2 Program website, "Keeling Curve Lessons."

Miller, C. A. (2001). Challenges in the application of science to global affairs: Contingency, trust, and              moral order. Changing the atmosphere: Expert knowledge and environmental governance,                   247-85

Can you use your waste??

One theme that has become apparent throughout this project is that rural areas rarely get the resources they need to be environmentally friendly. That being said they need clean water so that is absolutely a good place to start.
One option for creating a steady source of clean water, while not harming is waste to water solutions. This may sound slightly repulsive to some, as the slogan toilet to tap was used to create fear in the United States, but Singapore, Australia and Namibia, and states such as California, Virginia and New Mexico are already drinking recycled water. 
This really isn't that scary as the water that is used in such “toilet to tap” operations often times has been purified to the point where it may well be cleaner than your normal tap water. The treatment process is long and complicated but it is one that makes a lot of sense for rural communities seeing as many developing countries, particularly in rural areas don't have the best sanitation systems. Insert one of these such systems and all of a sudden the sanitation problem has been solved along with the clean water problem.

Another use for waste water that you see occasionally is for wash water. This is extremely interesting as water is filtered to a safe level then used to wash cars or whatever else water maybe used for in an out of doors setting.
So start using your waste for good rather than, well wasting it!

Watershed Management. What can you do?

I recently wrote an article for the EcoMerge websites on technologies that we can apply in our everyday lives . I felt that it was something of a necessity to tease that article as well as to let all of our readers know what they can do.
First thing first, what is watershed management? Well simply put its taking care of the area around you so that you don't pollute the major waterways that your watershed feeds into. For example, where I live, our watershed is the Sandy River Basin which eventually feeds into the Columbia River Basin, so theoretically, if I drained my oil from my truck and didn't dispose of it properly it could end up drifting down the Columbia River into the ocean. So in short the butterfly effect of pollution, particularly in bodies of water is staggering.

So what can you do? Well since watershed management can be anything from damming a river, to improving stormwater drains, to simply washing your car over your therefore taking less water out of the environment; the possibilities are endless. You can apply pressure to your legislature, organize groups to clean trash locally or become involved with your local government, since that is where most watershed management comes from. So basically I implore you and challenge myself to become involved. Try to do what you can to keep you watershed clean and healthy because whether you're an avid fisherman (like me) or someone that loves hiking, or simply someone that likes a cold glass of water on a hot day, this is very important. Without watershed management there wont be as many fish, your waterfalls wont be as pristine and your cold glass of water will be foggy.

What's Your Carbon Footprint?

What is your carbon footprint?
Your carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels. This can be calculated by factoring in electricity usage, gasoline consumption all the way down to how much money you spend on clothing per year. 

Why is this important?
By now almost everyone has heard of Global Climate Change or "Global Warming". Green house gasses produced by human consumption is responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years. The effects of global climate change are catastrophic. Some of the consequences include: more frequent and severe weather, higher death rates, dirtier air, higher extinction rates, more acidic oceans, and higher sea levels. 

Looking at the United States:
With respect to the united states a recent study conducted by students at MIT showed that most americans even those who consume minimal energy, are producing more than double the global per capita average. To further demonstrate this difference the same study found that in the U.S  the average annual carbon dioxide emissions was 20 metric tons per person. The world average is only 4 metric tons per person.

Find out what your carbon foot print is and how to reduce it here :


Can This Critter Help Solve Our Plastic Problem?

About 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year.  Of those 300 million tons, 8 million metric tons end up in our ocean which translates to 17.6 billion pounds (one metric ton equals 2,205 pounds). It takes a plastic bottle about 450 years to decompose, and a plastic bag 10-20 years to decompose. 

As it turns out, the convenient aspects of plastic, such as its lightweight and durability, makes it harder to get it out of the ocean once it starts to break down into smaller pieces. In recent years there have been initiatives to clean our oceans and collect the plastic that has accumulated. Although this is a start and will help reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans, this is a retroactive solution.  What we need is a proactive solution, preventing plastic form entering the ocean.

Recently, scientists have discovered the ability of  the wax worm, a caterpillar that is able to biodegrade plastic. Researchers ground the larva into a paste and spread it over plastic, again the plastic degraded. This is an indication that it is chemicals in the caterpillar that are responsible. So, why don’t we have massive farms of these caterpillars to break down plastic and solve our problem? Because like all things there is a downside. The wax worm is just that it eats wax, more specifically bees wax. These caterpillars have the potential to significantly damage the bee population. In a world without bees, plastic pollution would be the least of our worries.

All in all, there is not currently one good solution on stopping plastic from entering our oceans. As with most things it will take a combination solutions such as: reducing our overall usage of plastics, recycling what plastics we do use, and finding a viable method of biodegrading plastics. 

For more information please visit:

Recycle your old clothes?

When doing your spring cleaning or even just updating your wardrobe you'll likely go through your clothes deciding what to keep and what needs to go away.  As you do this you might go through what can be consigned or what can be donated and then there's the pile of clothes that are a little too old to fit in either category.

Those clothes often get thrown away.  In fact the average U.S. citizen throws away 70 lbs a year.  That's a lot of clothing!  Luckily almost 90% of textiles can be recycled saving that much space in our landfills.  Also reusing these textiles saves energy and resources that would be needed to produce new textiles.

So how can you help close this loop? It's easy and it won't cost you anything, in fact in some places you can drop off these textiles while you find your new clothing.  H&M, Nike, and Patagonia are a few such places located in many malls so you can do just this.  These retail locations don't require any purchase from them to recycle there and will take most all textiles in any condition.

This service is free and doesn't really take any extra time if you shop at the mall anyway, but there are several other options for donations.  If you go to and enter your zipcode you can find a list of recycling centers near you that will happily take your textiles!


Why revolving doors should stick AROUND!

When encountered by a revolving door most people will find another way in.  In fact unless forced to do so only 23% of people use revolving doors.  So why are they still around (pardon the pun)?

Revolving doors are much more energy efficient than conventional doors.  This is because they let less air out of the building than a regular door.  They let out 75% less air per person.

How does this translate in to energy savings?  Most big buildings like libraries, office buildings, and others that utilize these doors condition their air.  In other words these buildings heat or cool their air for the comfort of their occupants and for the operation of certain machines.  It takes energy to change and condition the air in this manner so every time air is lost to the outside new air has to be heated or cooled to match the rest of the building.  This means that the more air lost each time someone passes through the door the more energy it takes to fix that.

Something so small adds up in a building as so many people pass through its doors.  So do your part use the revolving doors at the school library or anywhere else you come across them.  It'll help save the planet one step at a time.


Save the environment through shopping!

Save the environment through shopping!

I grew up in a house of do gooders, my parents were recycling newspapers back in the 70’s, long before curbside recycling. Growing up I volunteered at food banks and community gardens, participated in marches from the comfort of my stroller and learned the importance of giving to charity from a very young age.

As an adult I continue to help others in many ways and continue to be a positive force for the environment but when it comes to making donations my student budget doesn’t leave much room for charity so I have to be smart when I spend to ensure that I am doing all that I can.

One of my favorite ways to share my wealth is through the amazon smile program. Amazon is great because they have absolutely everything, deliver quickly to my doorstep and for every dollar I spend they donate a portion of my purchase to the charity of my choosing. As of February 2017 Amazon has donated $46,126,473.56! It is so easy, simply visit and choose the charity you would like to contribute to and every time you shop on Amazon you are donating to a good cause. 

Many other companies offer similar programs including Best Buy, Macy’s, The Home Depot and so many others. is a website that allows you to register as a consumer and shop at over 1700 stores that will donate to the charity of your choosing. Millions have been donated and at no additional cost to you and just a few minutes of time.

If you are not sure about which charity to contribute to here are a few suggestions for high impact environmental charities with integrity:

1% for the Planet: Created in 2002 by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews. 1% for the Planet works hard to identify environmental organizations that will make the greatest impact. 
Green Empowerment: A non profit organization that works with local partners around the world to strengthen communities by delivering renewable energy and safe clean water. Visit their website and learn more about their work to help create a world where everyone has clean water, renewable energy and a healthy environment.
Earthjustice: “Because the earth needs a good lawyer” Earthjustice has become an independent crusade for a better planet. Choosing to donate to Earthjustice is a way to even the scales between the big money of large corporate interests and the underfunded voice of our struggling ecosystem.

Helpful Links:
Amazon Smile

Short on cash? Most of these websites have links for online activism and volunteer opportunities.

Not an online shopper? Learn about credit cards that give to charity in this article from Nerdwallet, How to Maximize Your Online Donation to Charity.

Scientific Fact?: Climate Discourse Part 1

A grievance that arises due to lack of functional empirical understanding of data is the dichotomous assumption that knowledge is held by the public. Dialogically, most scientist, utilized vastly different reference frames from which they speak that give rise to an incongruence in discussing climate issues. A significant number of Americans (57% to be precise) disagree or outright are unaware of the general scientific consensus that CC (Climate Change) is an anthropologically driven phenomenon (Cook et al. 2013). Since scientific research experiences a high level of rigor and scrutiny (i.e peer review, conferences, refusal processes, and falsifiable fundamentalism) it is not difficult for scientific researchers to state the climate discourse as a fact given its level of agreement. However, public discourse is widely unaware of this fact. Further, the public is accustomed to the condensed and mostly simplified versions of information. In these spaces, most scientists are faced with a different set of expectations and realities that deviate from the larger public expectation that influences public policy. In an article published in Nature the author postulates the idea of constructed validity through his advice to the scientific community, he cautions scientist by saying that, “ [they] must not be so naïve as to assume that the data speak for themselves” (Climate Fear, 2010). This like the “cold” example, as it demonstrates that public opinion while filled with simply a differently held value to contextual understanding which is not naturally necessary with objective and quantitative information. With these core assumptions, we can begin to detangle the intricacies of climate change dialogue and the tensions which address our climate policy.

What do you see in the following graph?

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S. A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., ... & Skuce, A. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters8(2), 024024.
Climate of fear: the integrity of climate research has taken a very public battering in recent months. Scientists must now emphasize the science, while acknowledging that they are in a street fight. (2010). Nature, 463(7286), 141. Retrieved from

Become A Leader: Become A Partner

The Global Community Needs Your Help

Are you looking to build strong communities, engage in diverse cultures, and become part of the solution for global change? If so, then this is your opportunity! Don't fret just yet, there are opportunities to make a difference locally, here in Portland, OR, and abroad

And if traveling simply isn't your thing, but you're eager to join, donate here!

Becoming part of the solution for global change is more than meets the eye - it's becoming a leader and guiding those who need it most. Simon Sinek discusses how great leaders inspire action in the following TedTalks:

Become a greener version of you. Inspire others to engage in Green Empowerment and be the difference and the generation that influences change for a better environment and future. 

Cleaning Up Our Beaches and Oceans

               Beach and Ocean pollution is a continuing problem on our planet.  Animals can become sick and trapped diminishing populations.  This effect marine ecosystems as well as the seafood, making some things toxic to eat.  Not to mention, it makes beaches unpleasant to visit and look at.  But what's being done?  So far there have been efforts to pick up trash from beaches and we can help as well by not leaving behind our own waste on the beach and picking up any that might have been left behind by someone else.  The tricky part is cleaning up the oceans.  There have been three inventions that have really helped with this difficult process.

            This first invention was invented by Boyan Slat when he was 16 years old.  This was the start of The Ocean Cleanup which he founded at age 19.  Slat invented a floating barrier that uses the ocean's currents to collect garbage while still letting wildlife pass.  The next invention is the Seabin, invented by Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, which is only suitable in calm waters and its main purpose is to clean up marine docks.  It uses a 110V or 220V water pump to collect around 1.5 kilograms of floating debris a day into a collection bag and costs about one U.S. dollar a day to power.  Technology has also been developed to allow for oil absorption by the Seabin.  The last invention is the SeaVax is a 160 feet long unmanned solar and wind powered vessel that uses sonar to detect garbage in the ocean and avoid harming marine life.  It sucks up garbage and compacts it.  The garbage it then either picked up out at sea or the SeaVax comes back to shore with the garbage to it can be properly recycled and disposed of.

            These inventions and beach cleanup will make an impact in cleaning up the oceans, but reducing the pollution in the first place starts with us.


The Ocean Cleanup Project


The Seabin

The SeaVax

The seavax model on the water