should you read A Sand County Almanac?

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold is easily one of the most influential environmental texts. You will surely read about it in your intro environmental science course.  I somehow made it to professorhood before I had actually turned the page.

Is it worth the read?

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positive action: feeding america.

I was recently perusing restaurant menus online, which is something I occasionally do. I came upon a restaurant that featured a children’s menu as well as a dog menu. The offerings were not extensive, though they did offer a steak for $10. For the dogs; not the kids. Though presumably you are free to order whatever you want for whomever you want.

Feeding America claims to be able to deliver 10 meals for every dollar donated. They are doing great work in addressing the hunger issue in the United States and have been very active in helping Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

They are the organization I most recently supported with a donation.

You do not need to have money to give to get involved. Though they are a national organization, they work at the community level through food distribution centers. They welcome volunteers.

Link to their site to see how you can get involved and check the video below:

bad news.

“Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.”

~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

 

It’s hard to be an optimist when you work with environmental issues.  That’s the story line that I hear anyway.  It became the basis of such a common question in my environmental science courses – ‘how can you teach this course and not be completely depressed?’ students would ask – that I began to interject empowerment clauses throughout the semester to stop students from becoming despondent.  My final lecture is now a discourse on optimism and possibility and is probably the antithesis of anything you might expect by way of concluding a semester spent groveling in the wastewater of civilization.

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low hanging fruit.

A new film worth seeing, Wasted looks at one of the great tragedies of our time – the fact that people go hungry while we throw away food.

Our wasteful tendencies have far reaching consequences, ranging from overfishing to climate change.  These are things we generally don’t associate with the uneaten food on our plates.

The narrative breaks down the food waste issue into a stepwise approach to mitigation.  To me, this is the best kind of environmental problem to have.  The solutions are manageable, and within our grasp.  They involve beautiful things, like gardens, and they invite a fresh look at our cuisine.  The solutions can be homegrown and delicious.  What more could we ask for?

Check the trailer here –

debris.

This has been an intense period of time for me. Half of my family, virtually everyone on my wife’s side, is recovering from the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.  Two weeks in, they have just gotten running water, but are still without power.  Unless you have spent time in the islands, I don’t think you can fathom trying to sleep amidst the intense heat and humidity without so much as a fan to stir the air and nevermind the mosquitos.  In most places, the vegetation is stripped bare, so there is no longer even shade from trees.  It’s sweltering.

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agua caliente.

Although I am currently thousands of miles away in Thailand, I keep thinking of what an important transition it is in my life when summer turns to fall, and the desert, off limits due to the heat of summer for so many months, once again welcomes us to explore.

Though I frequently espouse the beauty and grandeur of the big-ticket destinations like J-Tree and Anza-Borrego, there are countless other unsung places that will welcome your thirst for adventure or solitude.

A more obscure region that will take a little more effort to access is Agua Caliente.  Part of the San Diego County Parks system, it’s on the fringe of Anza-Borrego, out the Butterfield Stage Route along S2, and has hot springs to make the arduous journey worth your while.  Stock up before the drive –  it’s a desolate road.  Spend the weekend, hike the trails, or tackle them on mountain bike, and be sure to soak in the pools.  Discover the desolation and enjoy the millions of stars at night.  Now you are initiated into desert life.

Oh, and they now have cabins if camping isn’t your thing.