I just thought it was phenominal that of the 4 front page articles on Tuesday, February 10, 2009′s issue of the Stanford Daily, 3 of them pertained to the environment. The articles, “Eco-carnival touts sustainable living,” by Katherine Jewett, “University Eyes Research Money,” by Christine McFadden, and “Professor Contributes to Google Ocean,” by Robert Toews gave a clear impression of where the interests on this campus and in these times lie. An environment-related editorial, “The sky is spitting on me and I want rain,” by Emily Grubert, focused on a lack of community awareness of the serious droughts we are heading into this summer. In total, 4/8 non sports-related articles and editorials in the day’s issue pertained to energy and the environment. Congratulations, Daily Staff, you officially are awesome in my book! Here are some synopses of my favorites… if you like them I recommend the full articles:
Students for a Sustainable Stanford held the first ever eco-carnival last friday as part of the annual “Focus the Nation” event. I wasn’t here, but it sounded like a blast. Organizer Dani Uribe ’11 and Sasha Engelmann ’11 wanted to change the focus from last year’s panel discussions because they felt a carnival attracted more people who were not already conscientious of their environmental impacts, something we could probably consider at the Green Dorm. Continued from last year was the highly successful “green bead” program, where students pledged to adhere to specific sustainability goals in exchange for a green reminder bead bracelet. The fair also featured such attractions as a local/organic foods stand, a carbon footprint calculator station, hemp-bag decoration, and corn-ware juice pong.
IDEA: Right now, party hosts need to orderÂ recyclableÂ cups a week in advance. Could the Green Dorm be a storeroom for these cups so that smaller, less premeditated parties could come and get cups? This could serve to make the green dorm associated with both sustainability and parties in the minds of students.
Stanford researchers see the $2.6 billion in research funds allocated as part of Obama’s new stimulus package as a great opportunity to recapture some of the diminished funds resulting from the recession we all know and love. Many researchers and administrators feel Stanford sits well to recieve a great deal of this money. One problem with the funds, notes Lynn Orr, director of the new Precourt Institute, is that this funding is a lump sum, while most researchers look for a sustained funding stream, which is also expected as part of Obama’s expanded education and technology budgets: “For research, you aren’t looking for the very short-run quality that you get from a stimulus package. You’re looking for longer term programs and those are things that Obama, while he was a candidate, committed to increase very sharply.” Another interesting aspect of the article is it’s citing of James Sweeney, Director of the Precourt Institue for Energy Efficiency. He describes his excitement about researching the behavioral side of energy efficiency and sustainability. He mostly talks about things like advertising, but what better subjects does he have than the ones in the green dorm, who can be monitored both psychologically and by consumption due to the sophisticated systems we will have in place?
MY CONCLUSION: Since this is a large, lump sum of money that stanford maybeÂ receivingÂ a large portion of, shouldn’t this be able to be applied to lump sum projects, such as buildings, especially when the buildings themselves are energy and envrionment research projects? We should see if we can push those in charge of allocating this money to consider fully funding the Green Dorm with this stimulus money.
This is mostly just really cool. Professor BarbaraÂ Block, of the Stanford Hopkins Marine Station in Monterrey, CA, has been collaborating with Google Earth to include Google Ocean in the latest version, Google Earth 5.0. In it, users can track marine animal migrations, view photos of the ocean floor, and see pictures of real migrating animals. This project is aimed both at increasing awareness and at providing an easily accessible wealth of information to aid in research by other marine biologists.
This article describes people’s lack of knowledge of the fact that the world is heading into a deadly drought (I know I didn’t know!) The bay area is having it’s worst drought in 150 years, which could dramatically impact the amount of water set aside for agriculture… meaning much less food. WaterÂ withdrawalsÂ already must be cut by at least 20-30% to avoid the extinction of freshwater fish. And don’t expect to get food from elsewhere… this beast is worldwide. China is experiencing the worst drought since 1951, and we all know about the rates china has grown at since then. 43% of their wheat crop is threatened, 4,000,000 people have had their water supply cut, and perhaps most fearsome of all, a diminished water supply means poor immune systems in birds, which means rampant avian bird flu. Australia, now in their summer, is experiencing 117 degree temperatures, horrible droughts, and wildfires that have already claimed 160 lives, more than doubling the previous record set in 1983. The editorial goes on to point out that while “it’s not really scientifically sound to blame climate change for individual events, but on a trend level, these extreme events are consistent with what climate science predicts.” Â Gear up, everyone. This is why we’re doing what we’re doing, but I can’t say the outlook is so good. It seems we’re in for a storm, or, in the summer months, a horribly poignant lack of them.