Saturday, September 3, 2011

Silly Sustainability Saturday for Labor Day weekend 2011

Time for another tour through the lighter side of sustainability this week, with sustainability news that is funny, silly, fun, or simply positive. After a week like this, people who care about the environment could use some.

This week's news over the jump.

In last week's Silly Sustainability Saturday, I discovered that the Maddow Blog over at MSNBC was a good source for fun sustainability stories. I went back to that well and found that the water had replenished itself. That means that her site is a renewable resource. :-)

Maddow blogger Will Femia wonders about the politics of fast food:
In what often seems like a bought and paid for democracy, we cast a ballot every time we buy and pay for something. As such, I avoid "voting" corporate whenever I have a reasonable alternative at hand. So, since I know this blog enjoys an informed liberal readership, I'm asking, can there be progressive fast food?
He leaves the answers to that question up to his readers, but only after discussing this ad for Chipotle that is disguised as a critique of factory farming and advocacy of sustainable agriculture.

The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.
And, yes, that's Willie Nelson singing Coldplay's "The Scientist."

As for the answer to the question, check out the comments. The readers from Chicago talk a lot about locally owned alternatives to the national fast food chains. Here in metro Detroit, the places that fill that role are the Coney Islands, which aren't quite fast food like Superdog in Chicago, or Tommy's Burgers in Los Angeles. "Buy local" is a valid sustainable economic strategy, even if it is a necessary but not sufficient environmental one.

Femia also uses a light touch to explain how wind turbines survive hurricanes in Where 80s Scott Baio, green energy and natural disasters intersect. The one-word answer to the implied location is "feathering."

In other light sustainability news, Maddow blogger Tricia McKinney has been raising two monarch caterpillars. They've just started pupating.

Now for some environmental stupidity.

Huffington Post brings its readers the story of Lucien Lionel Chenier, who decided to spray paint his name on Duck on a Rock in Grand Canyon National Park.
Lucien Lionel Chenier, visiting Monday from Ottawa, Ontario, only managed to scrawl "LUCI" in red letters on the Duck on a Rock outcrop before his screaming tour leader and other bystanders stopped him, the National Parks Traveler reported.
I worked as a Park Naturalist at Channel Islands National Park, and I don't know what I'd have done to a visitor who did that while I was leading a tour. Probably called the nearest Ranger in the Protection Division (Law Enforcement), which is what the tour leader did.
Chenier faces two criminal counts, one for damaging U.S. property and a second for disposing "of refuse in other than a refuse receptacle."
Since he's not a U.S. citizen, he'll probably never be allowed in the country again, either. I hope it was worth it.

If the above looks familiar, it's because Chenier received the Bronze for Worst Persons in the World on Countdown last night.

You've heard of man bites dog? The story is now man bites snake.
A snake bite in a north Sacramento neighborhood left the victim seriously hurt, but the injured party isn't whom you'd expect.

Police say a python underwent emergency surgery after a man allegedly bit the creature twice.
Graphic video at the link.

Fortunately, the snake survived. As for the suspect, he's in worse legal shape than Chenier.
Senk was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully maiming or mutilating a reptile and booked on $10,000 bail.
Senk is in danger of serving several years on a felony charge. At least he can dry up in prison, as he was so drunk that he didn't remember biting the snake.

Huffington Post also had something positive about the environment in Green: The New Normal--Normal, Illinois, that is.
Conventional wisdom may hold that climate action and sustainability are on the back burner in the current political and economic climate, but that's not Normal.

Led by Mayor Chris Koos, Normal, Ill. is moving quickly toward a better future by utilizing smart energy, transportation, planning and water policies that push the envelope but at the same time make a lot of sense in the current economic climate. State Sierra Club leaders had a chance to hear from Koos about many of these projects during a recent visit. Working with the town council, local businesses and a vibrant community, Koos is making Normal into a showcase for smart sustainability.
What's perhaps most impressive about Normal leading the pack on sustainability is that the town is, well, normal. Normal doesn't have especially unique geography, economic conditions or demographics. Like anywhere, it has residents who want a cleaner environment and need good jobs. But Normal does have Chris Koos, and with the support of the community, he's quietly showing the way to a better future -- for Normal, and for all of us.
Click on the link in the title for five paragraphs of great examples of sustainable actions taken by Normal, its citizens, and its civic leadership.

Think Progress also has a positive sustainability story: NFL Teams Continue To Promote Clean Energy, Recycling By Changing Their Own Stadiums
The National Football League would not seem to be an industry embracing environmentally friendly practices, what with soaring stadiums, huge screens and lights, and piles of food wrappers left behind by fans. But with the advent of a new season, teams are starting new programs, such as Reliant Energy’s plan to buy renewable energy credits for the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium, or continuing existing ones, like the Philadelphia Eagles recycling programs.
Examples from seven NFL franchises, including the Detroit Lions, and links to articles about sustainability initiatives by the NBA, WNBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball, at the link.

Finally, Grist has its own selection of articles illustrating the lighter side of sustainability.

How to assess hurricane damage using waffles
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has an idiosyncratic (and tasty) way of determining the damage caused by a hurricane: the Waffle House Index. The iconic Southern chain is so widespread -- and so stalwart -- that you can gauge a storm's severity based on whether the local Waffle Houses closed.
If the location is closed, then things are really bad. That's where FEMA gets to work first.

Raising chickens is totally rock and roll
Jenifer Jourdanne has expensive tastes, expensive shoes, and "designer chickens." In an essay in xoJane, she talks about how her long-standing backyard coop didn't dent her rocker cred:
Yes, raising your own food is cool.

Speaking of food choices being cool, Grist asks Are vegetarians more fun in the sack? You'll have to click on the link to get the answer.

And that's it for this week's silly sustainability news.

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