Academy for Conservation and the Environment teacher takes tundra trip

He commutes more than an hour each morning, but Brooklyn high school teacher Chandler Griffith has gone farther for his students - more than 1,000 extra miles. Griffith was among 10 U.S. teachers who traveled to the Canadian Arctic this fall on a two-week fellowship to study global warming. Griffith is also among the founding teachers at a new small high school, the Academy for Conservation and the Environment, which opened on Flatlands Ave. in Canarsie this September. "We didn't want to force-feed the kids," he said. "We wanted to give them an appreciation for nature before we had them automatically start wanting to save the environment and the world." Griffith did research in Churchill, Canada, sponsored by the environmental group Earthwatch, writing each day on a blog as students sent questions by e-mail. The experience was life-changing in many ways for the students, said ACE principal and school founder Michelle Ashkin, who worked as a science teacher for 10 years at Manhattan's High School for Environmental Studies. "That we could send a teacher [to the Arctic] was extremely exciting," Ashkin said. Teachers for the new high school were selected based on their interest in the subject - and Griffith clearly demonstrated that, Ashkin said. Griffith, 24, who taught special education for two years in the Bronx as a New York City teaching fellow, went out onto the Arctic tundra to take samples of the vegetation - and to get his students more interested and engaged in the effects of the melting Arctic landscape. "Thank God it wasn't winter," said the Miami native. "To me, it couldn't have been much colder. I would have died. It's probably not somewhere I'll go too often, but it was really cool." Students sent Griffith a lot of questions about Arctic wildlife, particularly polar bears, about whom some budding environmentalists were very concerned. He was able to tell them he saw a few - and even snapped a few pictures of the 1,000-pound beasts from a safe distance. "I Continue Reading

President Barack Obama puts his stamp on environment policy – reversing Bush emissions initiatives

WASHINGTON - President Obama followed through on campaign pledges Monday to push pricey new clean air standards, signing orders that would cut car exhaust and boost fuel economy. In another stark shift from the Bush administration, Obama ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether Team Bush erred last spring in stopping California from enacting car emissions standards that are tougher than Uncle Sam's. The Bush White House deemed it too confusing to allow differing state and federal regulations, and the auto industry has complained California's scheme is too expensive, with estimates running as high as $5,000 a car. But even with the government loaning car makers more than $17 billion to help keep them alive, Obama said the greater cost is to do nothing. "At a time of such great challenge for America, no single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy," Obama said. "For the sake of our security, our economy and our planet, we must have the courage and commitment to change." California's rules would essentially require cars eventually to get about 42 miles to the gallon. Obama also sign a related order to ensure the federal standard rises to 35 miles per gallon, starting in 2011 – up from the current average of 27 miles per gallon. He seemed to agree with Team Bush that two standards would be confusing, but he blamed Washington for failing to lead the way while states like California and New York wanted tougher standards. "This refusal to lead risks the creation of a confusing and patchwork set of standards that hurts the environment and the auto industry," Obama said. And he seemed to hint there would be some sort of federal help make sure car makers can build the cleaner cars. "We will fully take into account the unique challenges facing the American auto industry and the taxpayer dollars that now support it," Obama said. "Our goal is not to further burden and already struggling industry. It is to help America's Continue Reading

Study: Google searches bad for environment

Green is the new black. Yes, it's in to be green. Millions of people are rushing to make their lives more eco-friendly.  From recycling programs to LEED-certified buildings to hybrid cars, we're jumping on the green bandwagon. But despite your best efforts to go green, you may be harming the environment by doing something you likely do every single day: using Google. Researchers have discovered that when a person performs two Google searches on their desktop computer they are creating about the same amount of carbon dioxide as would be produced if they had boiled a cup of tea, according to the Times Online.  CO2 is believed to contribute to global warming. “Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power,” Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon, told the Times Online. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.” How is it possible for a simple Internet search to produce so much CO2?  It lies in the way Google operates.  The search engine produces a lot of CO2 because each time you search, your request is sent to several different servers instead of just one.  This system allows users to get fast results but produces more CO2 than if your request was sent to only one server. A study by Gartner found that the global IT industry produced about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the world airline industry, according to the Times Online.   “Data centres are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, told the Times Online. Google claims it is a leader in environmentally friendly computing, according to the Times Online. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Crazy for Animals keeps it clean and ‘green’ for pets and the environment

In Joan Stack's world, being "green" has a distinctly warm and fuzzy feel. Stack is so adamant about helping the environment and animals that she melded her two passions and built the city's first eco-friendly pet boutique, Crazy for Animals. The boutique, in the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, is constructed primarily of environmentally friendly materials - including energy-efficient lighting - and even the shopping bags are made of recycled paper. Stack said she gave the most thought to what others might easily overlook - the floor. "My first consideration was that, because dogs are always licking the floor, I wanted to make sure that it was nontoxic," Stack said. Stack and her architect, Justin Pogrob of Simplex Studio, made sure to pick materials that contained little or no toxins, leading them to choose a bamboo floor and hand-waxed cabinets. "If you see shine, then that means it's been glossed over by some chemical and it's not good for the environment," Stack said. The merchandise at Crazy for Animals - which specializes in holistic foods and spa products for pets, predominantly dogs - is equally eco-friendly. Even the staff's polo shirts are made from a new fiber derived from corn. "Anything that helps the environment is great for me," said Stack, who lives in Middle Village with her family, which includes numerous dogs. She also runs a pet adoption center called Bobbi and The Strays. Melissa Basile, 29, owner of a 2-year-old white Maltese named Deliah, has been a loyal customer for over a year and admits to being a little neurotic to when it comes to her dog. But she said she feels completely at ease putting Deliah on the floor of the shop or in the dog run, a piece of artificial grass surrounded by a white picket fence made to look like a yard. "I don't worry because even if she eats the grass I know she won't get sick because everything is 'green,'" Basile said. It's that peace of mind that keeps customers like Continue Reading

Editorial: Dollars for the environment mean we all win

We applaud Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed funding commitments to statewide water quality projects, especially for the Caloosahatchee reservoir.On Monday, Scott announced a major part of his final budget as governor, seeking $1.7 billion for environmental programs, including $355 million for Everglades restoration and $105 million for the C-43 reservoir. When completed, it’s designed to capture 55 billion gallons of stormwater runoff, which normally flows into the local basin.C-43 is important to help keep harmful water from flowing into the Caloosahatchee River and creating harmful algae blooms that not only have a devastating impact on seagrass and marine life, but also the tourism industry. Few people want to travel to the Sunshine State if they know dirty, smelly water will be part of their vacation plans.Although this funding is crucial, we encourage local officials to add a much-needed water treatment component to the C-43 project, which is scheduled to have its first storage cell done by 2022. Storing dirty water and then releasing it into the Caloosahatchee is still a hazard. Complex solutionOf course, C-43 isn’t the only solution to this complex environmental puzzle.Reinforcing the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee; other big water storage and treatment projects planned south of the lake; possible storage wells north of the lake; the continued restoration of the Kissimmee River, plus reducing nitrogen and phosphorous levels — all play crucial roles in cleaning our water.Scott’s environmental budget must be approved by the state House and Senate, but there is little chance they will fight the governor since the Florida Legislature has been a big supporter of water projects.Locally, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, who is a candidate to succeed Adam Putnam as state agriculture commissioner, have been champions of clean water efforts and land conservation.Arranging Continue Reading

IU basketball environment ‘second to none’ for top-10 guard Darius Garland

BLOOMINGTON – Winston Garland grew up in Gary. He was recruited by Bob Knight.So when he brought his son, five-star point guard Darius Garland, to Hoosier Hysteria this weekend, Winston Garland had him prepared.“Every time I get a chance to go into Assembly Hall, it gives me chills,” Winston Garland said. “I passed that on to Darius. I told him that I don’t want this to have anything to do with your (recruitment), but there’s nothing better than Indiana basketball.”Darius Garland, an elite point guard and the No. 10 prospect in the 2018 class per the 247Sports Composite, was one of two top-10 official visitors in Bloomington this weekend for IU coach Archie Miller’s first Hoosier Hysteria.The Garland family has visited Indiana and seen Assembly Hall before — they were in the stands for the senior day win over Maryland in 2016 — but this weekend marked Garland’s official visit.And it represents an important early step forward under Miller, who also hosted New Albany star Romeo Langford for Hysteria. IU has four commitments in a 2018 class ranked among the best in the country. Adding one or both of the five-star prospects on campus this weekend would cement Miller’s first full recruiting class as one of the program’s best in recent memory.Landing Garland would mean hauling in one of the country’s top prep point guards, and giving IU two in the class that must replace a five-senior group graduating after this year. That’s part of the reason why the Garlands took such a close look at what life under Miller and his staff might be like for their son, who plays high school ball at Brentwood Academy in suburban Nashville, Tenn.“The visit was absolutely the best,” Winston Garland said. “Had a chance to see them practice, and I totally understand why coach Miller’s teams, they rank amongst the best on the defensive end. It was super intense. Even though he had Continue Reading

Report: Indianola City Hall not a ‘hostile work environment’

The investigation into Indianola City Manager Ryan Waller's conduct has been suspended and, according to the partial version of a report released Wednesday evening, there is no evidence of a "hostile work environment" at city hall.The report on Waller, which was put together by Homefront Security in West Des Moines, outlines six complaints from employees.Complaints range from claims of "yelling and intimidation" to an employee who was "fearful for his/her physical safety."However, while three of the charges were judged to be unfounded or "lacking a sound basis, groundless, unwarranted," three others were labelled unsubstantiated, meaning that there is "insufficient evidence or corroboration to prove the allegation."The burden of proof fell onto the victims in this case, and there were no recordings or documented accounts of the allegations against Waller.City council member John Parker, Jr. said it took two days to make the report public because city attorney Doug Fulton advised the city council to protect the identity of the employees who made the complaints so if they have any future issues they need to feel comfortable speaking out.Parker said while the investigation is suspended, there are still things that need to be worked out among Indianola's elected officials and staff members at city hall.The six-member city council was previously evenly split on whether Waller should keep his job, and were calling for each other to resign before an Oct. 30 meeting where council members discussed the report and Waller's conduct."We have a lot to work on," Parker said. "We have to get back to working together as a council and realizing we might not agree with each other, but we do need to work together for the good of the city of Indianola."Mayor Kelly Shaw said there needs to be clear expectations and clear lines of communications among all actors in city hall in the future."That includes elected officials and appointed officials," Shaw said "It's Continue Reading

Pope Francis: It’s Christian to protect the environment

VATICAN CITY — If you are a Christian, protecting the environment is part of your identity, not an ideological option, Pope Francis said Monday."When we hear that people have meetings about how to preserve creation, we can say: 'No, they are the greens!'" Francis said in his homily at morning Mass, using a common name for environmental activists."No, they are not the greens! This is the Christian!" he said."A Christian who does not protect creation, who does not let it grow, is a Christian who does not care about the work of God; that work that was born from the love of God for us," Francis continued. "And this is the first response to the first creation: protect creation, make it grow."The pope — who took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment — has made care for the environment a hallmark of his papacy since he was elected nearly two years ago.In fact, the pontiff is preparing a major document, called an encyclical, on the environment. It is likely to reiterate his frequent calls for governments and individuals to take steps to combat climate change, a phenomenon he attributes in part to human activity.That conclusion, and his focus on protecting creation, as he calls it, has angered some conservative Catholics in the U.S., who see it as further evidence that Francis is pushing a liberal agenda that slights traditional Catholic talking points on issues like abortion and gay marriage.The issue is likely to get more heated in the coming months. The encyclical is expected by July, and Francis will be making his first visit to the U.S. in September.In his homily Monday in the chapel at his Vatican residence, Francis dwelt on the first reading of the Mass, the passage from Genesis that recounts the creation of the universe."In the 'first creation,'" the pope said, "we must respond with the responsibility that the Lord gives us.""Even for us there is a responsibility to nurture the Earth, to nurture creation, to keep Continue Reading


UNDER THE THEME "Sustainable Development: A Balancing Act," Caribbean and international journalists will gather next month at Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) to discuss how media can promote tourism development and the preservation of the region's environment. Counterpart International and its Caribbean affiliate, Counterpart Caribbean, is presenting the session, which will be held in Puerto Rico from Feb. 9 through 13 at the Normandie Hotel. Counterpart Caribbean Chairman Basil Springer said delegates to the forum will examine "how we motivate our best people to engage in tourism development, which creates wealth while revitalizing local culture and conserving the fragile environment. " "The diligent pursuit of the social partnership model is an optimal strategy towards the objective of sustainable development, and the media should be included in the social partners to act as a catalyst in the achievement of the objective," said Springer. He says journalists and media companies can effectively convey sustainable development strategies and information to the public. Among the sponsors and supporters of CMEx San Juan are Almond Resorts, American Express, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, Black Entertainment Television (BET Jazz), the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and the Caribbean Hotel Association. Toussaint hailed Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint, who certainly made news in 2005, has been named Person of the Year by Everybody's magazine. The New York-based publication is also reissuing "The Fire Next Time!," an in-depth 2003 interview with the Caribbean-born labor leader. Toussaint was the key union official in contract negotiations with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and he led the 34,000-member union on a three-day subway and bus strike. "Like thousands of other Caribbean immigrants, Trinidad and Tobago-born Toussaint came to Continue Reading

Leaked copy of Pope Francis’ environment encyclical calls for urgent action

VATICAN CITY — A draft copy of Pope Francis’ eagerly awaited encyclical on the environment calls for urgent action to protect the Earth and fight global warming, which the Pope says is “mostly” due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the document that was leaked to the Italian newsweekly L’Espresso and published on its website Monday was not the final version and that the official encyclical would still be released as scheduled on Thursday. In the draft, Francis lays out both the scientific and the moral reasons for protecting God’s creation, noting that the poor are already suffering the most from air pollution and toxic dumping and will continue to bear the brunt of rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions. Francis backs up his comments with science showing the impact on the planet of the continual loss of biodiversity in Amazonian rain forests, the melting of Arctic glaciers, the overfishing of the seas and the pollution of the world’s water supply. Continue Reading