May 18, 2013
Technological innovations that eliminate invasive aquatic species and pathogens from ship ballast water are spurring the growth of a multi-billion dollar industry. Ballast — water pumped into holds to balance and stabilize ships, sometimes by the millions of gallons — is often loaded from one waterway and discharged into another, in a different part of the planet. The global threat of harmful organisms that hitch a ride aboard international vessels gained worldwide attention through the Ballast Water Working Group and the Ballast Water Management Convention that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit. Both are overseen by the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO).
1983 video capture of John Cronin bringing the 25-foot Hudson Riverkeeper vessel alongside the hull of a 750-foot Exxon oil tanker to sample its ballast discharge, with crew mate Andra Sramek (in orange foul weather gear).
In an exchange of emails with EarthDesk, Gail A. Gerono, Vice President of Investor Relations and Communications for Calgon Carbon Corporation in Pittsburgh, PA, wrote, “Estimates of the size of the ballast water treatment market range from $15 billion to $30 billion. This includes new ships (approximately 2,000 per year) and retrofits of existing ships (approximately 40,000). Based on the IMO Convention’s compliance dates and the US Coast Guard’s regulation, the market should peak around 2017.”
Calgon recently acquired Hyde Marine, which specializes in ballast treatment technology. “While looking for possible acquisition candidates, one of our executives learned about Hyde Marine and the pending IMO Convention to treat ballast water,” said Ms. Gerono. Calgon’s move into the ballast treatment arena offers a lesson that applies to a host of other water issues, global and domestic, in particular the Federal Clean Water Act (see Section 101), the primary goals of which expired unaccomplished three decades ago. From ballast discharges to untreated pharmaceuticals in water, the path from problem to solution usually leads through the marketplace and its entrepreneurs. More
May 15, 2013
By Dr. Lauren Birney and Dr. Jonathan Hill
STEM — K-12 education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — is fundamental to the training of a technological workforce, the innovations environmental problems demand, and the competitive advantage the global economy requires. It is one of the few priorities on which educators, parents, business leaders, and public officials generally agree, even prompting the White House and some in Congress to jump in. But where is the real commitment from Washington? Dr. Lauren Birney, a Pace Academy Faculty Scholar, and co-author Dr. Jonathan Hill, take us to the education front line. They are part of the Pace University STEM Center Collaboratory. (A version of this post was first published on The Hill’s Congress Blog.)
STEM education is in crisis. Before the Sequester controversy engulfed Washington, projected reductions in federal aid had already created serious questions about whether American schools would be able to meet the national mandate to improve science and mathematics teaching. Now, a hard examination of the realities of sequestration moves the conversation from an abstract discussion of “what-ifs” to a very tangible set of economic realities. Even as you read this, budget directors, in the midst of finalizing 2013–14 academic year budgets, are planning for an estimated $1.3 billion shortfall nationally that will have a very real impact on school programs in the fall.
One of the first complexities that students of computer science get to puzzle over is the concept of abstraction: the fact that small symbols or chunks of programming code serve as objects, or stand-ins for the more complex sections of code that drive the software. As those of us in education wrestle with the looming effects of sequestration on our budgets, our institutions, our programs and our people – students, parents, teachers and administrators, we move quickly from the abstract concept of what sequester is to the very tangible struggle with the impact and timing of the looming budget cuts. More
May 13, 2013
The Hudson River holds a special place in our collective heart here at EarthDesk. It is just down the road from Pace Academy World Headquarters in Pleasantville, NY, we all live within its watershed, and our education and research programs touch it at every turn. Dr. Helane Levine-Keating is a Pace Academy Faculty Scholar whose teaching and art embrace the Hudson and its literary and artistic traditions. This is her reflection on John Burroughs, the Hudson River Valley’s most celebrated author and naturalist. All photos Helane Levine-Keating.
John Burroughs’ Desk and Window, Woodchuck Lodge
What does it mean to write about the environment from the point of view of a creative writer? While many works of fiction, creative non-fiction, memoirs, and poetry might incorporate descriptions of scenery or nature imagery, there are writers whose focus on nature and the environment have allowed their readers to understand nature in a new way, and, therefore, to respect the environment and generate a love for it that is akin to the way we come to love a character in a novel, a type of music or a song, a friend or a soulmate.
For many decades spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921) influenced the readers of his 27 books by his careful and loving observations of the landscapes in which he dwelt. Whether Burroughs was writing about the habits of birds, the Catskill Mountains, or the Hudson River, among his wide-ranging topics, his words encouraged generations of people to grasp the message of land stewardship and to look more closely and quietly at the beauty of their environment. More
May 9, 2013
(x-post from Animal Blawg)
There’s a story about a Canadian farmer who won a $100 million tax-free, lump sum payment in the Canadian lottery. When asked what he would do with the money, he replied “I guess I’ll just keep farming until the money’s gone.”
Now, let’s talk about animal law.
Asian elephants are endangered. Elephants in circuses are brutally mistreated. In 2000, a lawsuit was brought under the Endangered Species Act, claiming that the elephants’ treatment by Feld Entertainment (parent of Ringling Brothers) violated the “No Take” provision of the ESA and should be enjoined. In late 2009, following a lengthy litigation, a judge threw out the case after deciding that the former circus worker who was the lead plaintiff lacked credibility, was paid for his testimony, and that there was therefore no standing for the plaintiffs to sue. The decision was a travesty on many levels (some of which I’ve blogged about elsewhere). Perhaps most disturbing was the fact that the treatment of the elephants became wholly ancillary to a ridiculous debate about people.
Now things have gotten even worse. Feld has won a ruling seeking attorneys fees from the animal advocacy groups who sued. Feld claims those fees approach $20 million. Among those responsible are several members of the legal team that represented the advocacy groups, including the public interest/animal law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal.
There is nothing here that is good. The court’s failure to reach the merits of the case essentially granted Feld and similar operations a license to continue mistreating animals. Now, the same judge has penalized those who brought the case, basing his ruling on a deeply flawed assessment of their motives and actions.
I have followed this case for years. In my opinion, it was rock solid and ethically prosecuted. I also know personally a number of the lawyers who litigated it. They are outstanding attorneys. Both of these rulings dishonor the legal system.
These are bad times indeed for animals and for those of us who care about them. Henceforth, when students ask me whether they should go into animal law, I’m going to answer that they should by all means do it — until the money’s gone.
May 7, 2013
Four months ago, a dozen Pace University students and two professors embarked on a journey, aiming to understand the forces imperiling sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula and make a film about efforts to mesh turtle conservation with the need to sustain the economies and culture in the region’s fishing villages.
This was the third year in which the Pace course “Producing the Documentary” focused on efforts to balance human affairs with the environment. The last two films were on shrimp farming and cork forests and both were featured on Dot Earth, the blog of one of our professors.
May 4, 2013
Can water have economic integrity? A team of students from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business believe so and have called for an amendment to the Federal Clean Water Act that would add the term “economic” to the law’s primary objective “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”
Alexandra Dunn, in the role of Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, questions students from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business; to her left, Judge Glen Bruening. The four Lubin students are flanked by their counsels from Pace Law School. L to R: John Bowie, Gregory Costello, Brian Porter, Cody Pannella, Anthony Vitale, Thomas Canova.
They presented the controversial recommendation in prepared testimony before a blue-ribbon panel of environmental law experts and former government officials who were assuming the role of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Theirs was one of six teams that appeared at the mock senate hearing on the Clean Water Act held April 26 on the Pace Pleasantville campus. More
May 3, 2013
Prof. Noushi Rahman, Pace U. Lubin School of Business
Is there a measurable “green bottom line” that justifies in financial terms companies’ efforts to cut environmental impacts?
The key word here is measurable, and measuring such factors is the specialty of Dr. Noushi Rahman, a professor of management at the Pace University Lubin School of Business. As one of this year’s Pace Academy Faculty Scholars, Rahman has turned his skills at assessing corporate performance to this question.
This is the second of two posts (the first is here) in which he explains his work:
As a response to mounting stakeholder and shareholder pressures to reduce harmful impacts on the environment, firms across a variety of industries have started to embrace environmentally responsible practices in the past decade.
But can investments in environmental responsibility yield a sufficient return to sustain themselves given the corporate focus on the bottom line? Many scholars have conducted empirical studies to examine the relationship between corporate environmental performance (CEP) and corporate financial performance (CFP). More
May 1, 2013
The arts play a vital role in calling attention to the special nature of our planet — and our species. Here’s one example that I posted on Twitter (and then on Dot Earth) today but is also worth sharing here:
Here’s the description of Molloy’s method from his 500px page:
396 photos merged into one image using the lighten blending mode in Photoshop. I think this one pretty much covers the color spectrum of sunsets, lacking only the darker reds. I can’t get enough of this technique!
To your eye, what photography and art best captures the human-planet relationship?
April 30, 2013
In a recent conversation with Donna Kowal, the program coordinator for the Pace Academy and the organizing force behind the creation of EarthDesk, I laid out some practical tips for blogging a better planet (that’s the title of my fall course at Pace). Here’s the introduction and a link to the full discussion:
For me blogging is not just about page views or unique visitors, but about inquiry, dialogue and meaning. My blogging is a portrait of me learning, not me telling others what to think or feel.
If I had to choose the top three traits and goals for aspiring bloggers, they’d be:
Blog about subjects you can’t stay away from, that excite or energize you, and then the blogging process won’t seem like work. It will simply be a part of how you live and communicate.
The best blogs are not merely output, but are part of a broader conversation with a community that you help create. That means that a big part of blogging is not blogging – but building community by reading, commenting and linking (especially linking) to others exploring similar issues or ideas, including people who might disagree with you. This will implicitly involve Twitter, Facebook and email lists. (With almost every Dot Earth post, I send an e-mail to contacts, experts and other bloggers who I think would be interested.)
Don’t be afraid to blog slowly sometimes. There are plenty of aggregators snatching nuggets from the flood, but meaning and consequences tend to build more through reflection – or at least a rhythm that involves “reviewing the bidding,” as one of my former New York Times editors liked to say after a busy day of reporting some breaking-news story.