Browsing Archive: February, 2015

The Ethanol Mandate Versus Reality

Posted by Antonio Chaves on Thursday, February 26, 2015, In : environmental news 

Grain prices are dramatically lower due to high yields and lower demand for ethanol fuel. I have never been a fan of setting aside land to grow biofuels, and I have always regarded the ethanol mandate (for putting ethanol in gasoline) as a particularly egregious example of politicians implementing bad policies just to buy votes. While I feel for tenant farmers struggling to pay the rent, they partly have themselves to blame for their participation in this charade. 


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Reverse Desertification: A Win-Win Means of Carbon Sequestration

Posted by Antonio Chaves on Saturday, February 21, 2015, In : environmental news 
Reversing the process of desertification is a winner on many levels, not only because it provides more arable land, but also because it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, addresses one of the greatest concerns of climate change (the growth of deserts in lower latitudes), and increases biodiversity. With most forms of geoengineering there are too many unknown consequences, and with emission reductions we know more about the dire economic consequences than the ecological advantages. Hence, mor...
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The Brave New World of Geoengineering

Posted by Antonio Chaves on Monday, February 16, 2015, In : environmental news 

Without a major technological breakthrough, no country will sacrifice its economy to reduce its carbon emissions in a large way. Hence, nothing short of a world government along the lines of that in North Korea can make this happen now, and most people (like myself) prefer to take chances with global warming than live like the North Koreans. Consequently, some environmentalist prescribe geoengineering as a means to offset anthropogenic climate change. This article cautions ag...


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For Environmentalists Who Like Long Showers

Posted by Antonio Chaves on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, In : environmental news 
Like most Americans, I appreciate the relaxation that comes with a warm shower. But as an environmentalist I am mindful of how much water and energy this consumes. I somethings thought about designing a means for recirculating water in a shower after the dirty water has gone down the drain. This shower designed in Sweden has taken this idea a step farther by means of instant purification as well as recirculation, thereby saving a whooping 90% of the water otherwise consumed. The only thing mi...
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The Cost-Effectiveness of Vaccination

Posted by Antonio Chaves on Friday, February 6, 2015, In : environmental news 

While on the topic of my activity using the WHO database, I will relate this to the recent measles outbreak in the U.S. Based on this article, “herd immunity” kicks in at about 92-94%. Shockingly, some counties of California have immunization rates is as low as 18-23%. Evidently, some people in these counties feel they can “afford” to refuse vaccination because of their access to first rate medical care in the event that their children are stricken. This is not the ca...


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Alleviating Poverty by Eliminating the Use of Solid Fuels in the Home

Posted by Antonio Chaves on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, In : environmental news 

This article highlights the cost-effectiveness of subsidizing modern stoves (such as gas or electric) in order to phase out solid fuels like firewood and dung. The devastating effect of indoor pollution from solid fuels has been thoroughly documented by the WHO.  In one of my lab activities (2-5: Risk Factors and Health Outcomes in Africa) students compile raw data from the WHO interactive website. This culminates in a graph with solid fuel use on the x-axis and childhood dea...


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Most Radioactive Places on Earth

Posted by Antonio Chaves on Monday, February 2, 2015, In : miscellaneous science news 
This easy to understand video puts radioactive exposure in perspective by measuring it in terms of "bananas" (the radiation contained in a banana due to its potassium content). Much like the chart I referred to in an earlier post, this video puts many concerns to rest with regards to routine exposure like cordless phones and microwave ovens. I was particularly shocked at the amount of radiation absorbed by smokers. Would this be the main reason smoking causes lung cancer?
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About this blog

This blog was originally created in January 2013 to serve as a means for providing updates on science activities from the environmental science lab manual Ecology, Development, and Sustainability. I have now expanded its purpose to include other items of interest to science teachers. 

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