Archive

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

When I originally came up with the idea for this blog, I wanted to incorporate the voices from academia who have direct expertise on a wide range of environmental issues. Many thanks to Dr. Debatin, Dr. Buckley, Dr. Jokisch, Dr. Kruse, Dr. Perkins, and Dr. Fogt for their contributions every Wednesday to the blog. I have compiled all of their work and credentials here. In case you missed any, check it out!

Here is a quick list of all the articles:

Dr. Debatin: What’s the Flurry About Fracking?”

Dr. Buckley: “Urban living could hold key to greener tomorrow” and “The costs of consumption

Dr. Jokisch: “The case for buying local

Dr. Kruse: “Possible consequences of the extractive industry

Dr. Perkins: “The Extractive Industry, Decision-Making, and Environmental Justice in Athens County

Dr. Fogt: “Global Climate Change: Science, misinformation, and the role of humans

And here are profiles of all the professors. I put the links down here too, just for kicks.

Dr. Debatin: Bernhard Debatin is a professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and Director of Studies of the HTC journalism program. He is also a member of the concerned citizens group “Slow Down Fracking in Athens County” (SD-FRAC) and frequent contributor to the group’s website (http://slowdownfracking.wordpress.com/).

Check out his article on how fracking could affect students and residents in Athens County.

“What’s the Flurry About Fracking?”

Dr. Buckley: Geoff Buckley is an associate professor in the Department of Geography. His research interests include conservation history and sustainability; management of public lands, especially state forests and urban green spaces; environmental justice; and the evolution of mining landscapes. Over the years his articles have appeared in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Geographical Review, Historical Geography, Urban Ecosystems, Maryland Historical Magazine, Appalachian Journal, and the Encyclopedia of Energy. His first book, Extracting Appalachia: Images of the Consolidation Coal Company, 1910 – 1945 was published in 2004 (Ohio University Press). His most recent book, America’s Conservation Impulse: A Century of Saving Trees in the Old Line State, was published in 2010 (Center for American Places). Another book, Mountains of Injustice: Social and Environmental Justice in Appalachia, co-edited with Michele Morrone, is scheduled for publication in fall 2011 (Ohio University Press).

Check out his work on urban sustainability and how our consumption affects sustainability.

Urban living could hold key to greener tomorrow

The costs of consumption

Dr. Jokisch: Brad Jokisch is an associate professor in the Department of Geography. His areas of specialization include cultural and political ecology, agriculture, population, migration, and Latin America.

He took a hard look at our food system and how it ties into the environment.

The case for buying local

Dr. Kruse: Natalie Kruse is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Kruse holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and Geosciences from Newcastle University, and a B.C. in Civil Engineering with a minor in Geological Sciences from Ohio University. A winner of the Marshall Scholarship, Kruse won the Best Paper award from Mine Water and the Environment in 2009. She also won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and the Morris K. Udall Scholarship.

Dr. Kruse, an expert in extractive industries, examines the potential impacts of shale gas.

Possible consequences of the extractive industry

Dr. Perkins: Harold Perkins is an assistant professor in the Geography Department at Ohio University. He conducts research on the political economy of environments, including claims for environmental justice.

He wrote a little bit about environmental justice and who has the decision-making power in Athens County.

The Extractive Industry, Decision-Making, and Environmental Justice in Athens County

Dr. Fogt: Ryan Fogt is an Assistant Professor of Meteorology in the Department of Geography.  He is also the director of the Scalia Laboratory for Atmospheric Analysis.  His research interests span a wide range of topics on climate variability and change, with a particular focus on Antarctica.

Dr. Fogt wrote about the science behind global warming and climate change, and the misinformation being spread by certain groups that oftentimes leaves the public confused.

Global Climate Change: Science, misinformation, and the role of humans

Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

 

Brief eco-news roundup for today: Apple looks to go green, Los Angeles bans plastic bags, and the story of an ancient civilization that was “upended” by climate change.

 

1. “Apple Dumps Coal—Sort Of

Tech giant takes another step in its quest to be a green leader.

 

2. “L.A. OKs ban on plastic bags at checkout

Los Angeles becomes the biggest city to ban plastic bags and the latest in the state of California, where bans of various degrees are in place.

 

3. “An Ancient Civilization, Upended by Climate Change

Climate change took out an ancient civilization. Are we paying attention?

Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

 

What devices should you unplug to save money and energy? Why is natural gas threatening carbon storage? Could skyscrapers of the future be covered in windows that double as solar panels? If any of these questions interest you, dive into today’s articles!

 

1. “Unplugging These 6 Gadgets Will Cut Your Electricity Bill

Saving money and energy: two good things that often go hand-in-hand. But it’s not just about turning off our gadgets, we should be unplugging them too. However, some make more of a difference than others. Find out in this article.

 

2. “With Natural Gas Plentiful and Cheap, Carbon Capture Projects Stumble

Last week I wrote about some carbon storage initiatives here. However, cheap natural gas may be discouraging energy companies from pursuing carbon capture technology. Natural gas does burn more cleanly than coal, but it is still a fossil fuel that emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases when burned as fuel.

 

3. “Will Solar Windows Transform Buildings to Energy Producers?

Sneak preview (from the article): “The vast amount of glass in skyscrapers and office buildings represents enormous potential for an emerging technology that turns windows into solar panels.

Businesses and entrepreneurs are looking to utilize this technology. It is definitely a fascinating proposition.

The term sustainability is used so often today it has come to mean both anything and nothing. At one end of the spectrum, it is used by advertisers to sell “green” items and technologies that promote a way of life that is clearly unsustainable. At the other end, sustainability is linked to an emerging worldview that aims to protect and conserve resources, build strong human communities, and strengthen our connection to the natural world. Ask ten people on the street what the definition of sustainability is and be prepared for ten different responses!

Before we can even think about sustainability, we need to address a couple of points. First, we need to recognize there is a problem. In America, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is our consumption of resources. Whether it is the food we eat, the water we drink, the gas we burn, or the electricity we use, we need to understand that everything we depend on for survival has a source in the earth and that our consumption has social and environmental impacts, both here and abroad. In other words, all of us are responsible in some way for the environmental changes occurring all around us.

Unfortunately, many of us are only vaguely aware there are environmental costs to our consumption. When we flip a light switch on campus, for example, the electricity that illuminates the room comes from the burning of coal. Few of us, however, are aware of the costs associated with coal mining. Likewise, when we purchase a computer, a key component of the circuit board is copper. How many of us are aware of the environmental damage associated with copper mining? Because few of us ever witness the destruction of mountaintop removal or visit a giant open pit mine, we fail to make the connection between our resource use and the environmental damage associated with it. Thus we are lulled into thinking there is no cost to our consumption. According to Martin Pasqualetti, the problem lies in the fact that our landscapes of consumption – shopping malls, residential developments, etc. – are far removed from our landscapes of resource extraction.

Encouraging people to adopt more sustainable practices is difficult when so few of us get a chance to witness the environmental impacts of our consumption. Even when we do, it is easier to keep doing what we are doing than to change our habits. It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear someone confess to feeling a little guilty about using resources wastefully, but then admit they will most likely not change their ways. “I’m just one person,” they say. “What difference can one person make?” Of course, it’s true. One person doesn’t make a difference. However, when you add up all our “individual ecologies,” collectively, we can have quite an enormous impact.

This leads us to the second point we need to address. Many of us want to do the right thing and often say we are doing the right thing but too often our words and our actions do not align. Harold Nicolson once said, “We are inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals, others by their acts.” Unfortunately, we’ve gotten quite good at this. In sustainability circles this is known as the “green gap.” Consider a recent study focused on the U.S. Approximately 68% of those surveyed say that walking, biking, or taking public transit to work is an important thing to do but only 27% of us actually do it. Likewise, a whopping 81% of Americans agree that buying food grown locally is important but only 49% of us ever do.

For those of us who recognize there is a problem and are willing to do something about it, there are plenty of resources to turn to, especially here at Ohio University. A good place to start is with the university’s sustainability plan (http://www.ohio.edu/pacsp/sustainability_plan.html).

As the plan suggests, there is more to living sustainably than simply behaving in a more environmentally benign manner. Geographer Rutherford Platt offers us a glimpse of what a more “sustainable future” might look like. It is a “vision” with five parts:

• Green: protection and restoration of ecological services;

• Restorative: promotion of physical and mental health and safety of residents;

• Efficient: conserve energy, matter, water, and time;

• Equitable: inclusive, being socially and environmentally just;

• Neighborly: maintain a sense of community and a sense of place.

The aims are laudable but making them a reality will be challenging. We must recognize that there is a cost to our consumption and we must be willing to act.

Dr. Geoff Buckley is an associate professor in the Department of Geography. His research interests include conservation history and sustainability; management of public lands, especially state forests and urban green spaces; environmental justice; and the evolution of mining landscapes. Over the years his articles have appeared in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Geographical Review, Historical Geography, Urban Ecosystems, Maryland Historical Magazine, Appalachian Journal, and the Encyclopedia of Energy. His first book, Extracting Appalachia: Images of the Consolidation Coal Company, 1910 – 1945 was published in 2004 (Ohio University Press). His most recent book, America’s Conservation Impulse: A Century of Saving Trees in the Old Line State, was published in 2010 (Center for American Places). Another book, Mountains of Injustice: Social and Environmental Justice in Appalachia, co-edited with Michele Morrone, is scheduled for publication in fall 2011 (Ohio University Press).

Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

Last week, about 300 Athens residents convened to learn more about the new oil and gas leases being proposed by Cunningham Energy and attorney John Lavelle. You can read that story here. In response to this, today’s news stories will focus on fracking.

1. “Athens County to be Fracked Through the Back Door?

Dr. Bernhard Debatin is a member of the concerned citizens group “Slow Down Fracking in Athens County” (SD-FRAC) and frequent contributor to the group’s website. He has been closely following fracking in Athens and gives a detailed breakdown of Cunningham Energy in his latest post.

 

2. “New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years

New peer-reviewed research has raised even more questions about the impacts of fracking. This study examines the possibility of groundwater contamination.

 

3. “Brooklynites: Don’t Frack Our Beer!

On the lighter side of things, fracking could contaminate our beer! Clearly, this is unacceptable. But really, to quote the article, “The brewmeister of Brooklyn Brewery says toxic fracking chemicals like methanol, benzene, and ethylene glycol (found in anti-freeze) could contaminate his beer by leaking into New York’s water supply.” Read on for more about fracking potentially botching the brew.

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu
The Dictator | Directed by Larry Charles | Rated R


Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy always seems to work best the less scripted he is. The more room for error he has, the better it seems for him to come up with material to push his situations further.

And it also seems that, the more he is able to interact with real, normal, non-acting people, the better. The more he is able to catch random people off-guard, the more he is able to bring in the laughs.

So looking at Cohen’s newest comedy, The Dictator, and seeing that everything, or nearly everything, is scripted and involves actors and enclosed situations, a sweat of fear can trickle down your face.

If you look at Cohen’s filmography pre-Borat, you will find a film called Ali G Indahouse, based on his character Ali G from Da Ali G Show, which also fostered Borat and Bruno. Unlike Borat and Bruno, Ali G Indahouse was fully scripted. The result, in my opinion, was quite poor. Despite some bright moments, Ali G Indahouse didn’t capture the spirit and edge that he was able to achieve later in his film career. The movie, therefore, became boring and oddly unfunny.

So, does The Dictator fall into the same traps as Ali G? Yes. Does it fail to capture the uncomfortable hilarity from his past films? Yes. Is it unfunny? No.

Although the movie doesn’t live up to Borat, or even Bruno, The Dictator is still able to remain amusing — not hilarious — throughout.

The movie is directed by Larry Charles, who also directed Cohen in Borat and Bruno. Charles seems to know best how to pull the most out of Cohen through these situations and keep him on his toes.

Therefore, Cohen’s earnestness, and occasional room for improvisation is what keeps the movie engaging through its quickly tiring material.

These days, shock humor simply can’t due on its own. Neck-deep into the R-rated, raunchy comedy boom that has been about since the successes of The Hangover and Borat, comedy already seems to have pushed moviegoers off enough to where jokes about rape, murder, and other taboo subjects of the past are just not eye-popping anymore.

So seeing Cohen trying to push his shock humor once again in a comedy doesn’t do the trick anymore. Multiple jokes throughout the film will fall flat.

But it’s not Cohen’s delivery of the lines; most other comedians wouldn’t be able to make this movie work with its script. Cohen, though, is not most comedians. Cohen’s dedication to his material and general fearlessness is able to make more moments in this film work than should.

Borat showed the hidden racism and prejudice to foreigners many people have; Bruno did the same thing towards homosexuality. The Dictator, though, doesn’t really have anything to say. It’s just a general summer comedy, but with Cohen’s off-the-cuff brand of humor thrown in.

If Borat is Cohen on full speed and Ali G Indahouse is Cohen dead in the water, then The Dictator is Cohen on cruise control. It all sort of feels rushed together, including a number of poor edited scenes, very obvious continuity errors, and scenes that just don’t know how or where to end the joke. But at the same time, it remains enjoyable and breezy. It’s not a film to rush out to the theater to see, but it probably would be a fine rental later in the year.

RATING: 3/5

By Daniel Royston | dr545910@ohiou.edu

The end of the school year is looming, and that can only means the summer is getting closer.  Along with summer comes a plethora of new, long-awaited music to be released. Let’s take a look at the significant studio albums set to drop this summer in order of scheduled release.


Curren$y: The Stoned Immaculate (June 5)
— With his eighth studio album and second release through Warner Bros., Curren$y will be leading off the summer releases, as the album hits stores during the first week of June. After seven released albums, The Stone Immaculate  will likely prove to be Curren$y’s next classic as the already confirmed features include Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Wale, Big K.R.I.T and 2 Chainz. If you are looking for some relief from studying during finals week, I suggest giving this one a listen to brighten your mood.


Maybach Music Group
: Self Made Vol. 2 (June 26) — Collaborating again for their second album from the MMG label, Rick Ross, Wale, Meek Mill, Stalley and Omarion are set to follow up from their previous 2011 summer album, Self Made Vol. 1.  Leading up to their next album release, MMG has been on fire this year with the releases of various mix tapes from fellow label signees such as Rick Ross (“Rich Forever”), Stalley (“Savage Journey to the American Dream”) and Meek Mill (“Dreamchasers 2”). Like most people, I fell in love with Vol. 1, and it has since been no turning back for the MMG label. Vol. 2 will not disappoint.

Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album (TBA, July)—Lupe’s next expected album is set to release sometime in the middle of summer, with an official release date not yet announced. His last studio album release came over a year ago with Lasers, which was released on March 8, 2011. The only music we have heard from Lupe this year was his surprise mix tape release of Friend of the People, which dropped on Thanksgiving Day. His first Food and Liquor was an instant classic, so we can expect the same result with the sequel.


A$AP Rocky: LongLiveA$AP (TBA, July)
—The proven rookie from Harlem, A$AP exhibited his talents with his first mix tape, LiveLoveA$AP, which dropped on Halloween last year. With another scheduled release sometime in July, expect A$AP to be just another household name in the industry as you should expect bigger names to appear on his forthcoming debut album. He went on tour this year with Drake’s nationwide Club Paradise Tour, along with Kendrick Lamar and the three proved to collaborate well together. It only goes up from here for the A$AP mob. To get a taste of what’s to come, check out his first released single, “Goldie.”

2 Chainz: Based on a T.R.U Story (August 14)— Following up from his latest mixtape (T.R.U REALigion), 2 Chainz is set to release his long-awaited debut studio album in the late summer. 2 Chainz has already confirmed to the public that he will be bringing along Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Ludacris, Meek Mill, Rick Ross and Chris Brown to be featured on the album. He has also already teased fans with two singles from the album, “No Lie” and “Supa Fly.” I strongly recommend keeping up with this album as it is rare for first albums to be classics, but with the supporting cast, you can expect it for sure.


Wiz Khalifa: O.N.I.F.C
(August 28) —Though scheduled to release late in the summer, following his performance at Ohio University, Wiz Khalifa’s fans should be definitely looking forward to his second studio album. Last summer, Wiz came out with his first hit studio album, Rolling Papers, and will continue this summer album release tradition. I suggest listening to his most recently released mix tape, Taylor Allderdice, to help make the time go by faster.

Big Sean: FFO” (TBA, Summer)— Despite limited details available to the public, Big Sean has, stated that he plans to release his sophomore album sometime this summer. Standing for “Finally Famous Over Everything,” Big Sean’s album is a follow-up from his first G.O.O.D Music album, Finally Famous, which was released in late June of last summer. Sean’s name has been popping up more frequently in the recent weeks with his contributions to Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2 and the G.O.O.D released single, “Mercy.”