Efficient cars have become more present in the mind of sustainable thinking, but what about all of the things we do before we even leave for work? Heating water is an energy intensive endeavor. I made a calculator that converts your shower’s energy into miles driven using energy equivalences.
This does NOT mean that I advocate hippie stench…just something to zone out and consider in the shower tomorrow morning. (again… you have to scroll back up a little bit to see your result. God bless people who work with computers for a living.)
If you didn’t get it from the title of my blog, I love the Great Gatsby. And, if you haven’t read the last page of that in a while, I have included it here. For me, Gatsby has always embodied the central dilemma: human desire is expansive and while our world is elastic it is also finite.
As a bonus, this article from the Paris Review is a real treat for anybody who gets lost in books.
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Andy Revkin (Dot Earth Blog on NYT) just posted a blog about our Clean Car Calculator website! Very cool! If you don’t follow Andy on Twitter, I highly recommend it!
With appropriate dispersal and available habitat, plants will migrate over the next century as temperatures rise and rain patterns shift. This will have interesting implications for peoples and cultures of place, such as Native Americans. The local environment that was once so culturally formative and integral will transition to new regions and new ecosystems. Specifically, the tribe native to this region were very tied to their local ecosystem.
Before missionization, hundreds of Chumash villages dotted western California’s mountains, beaches and islands. Each village functioned independently for most of the Chumash history, and their cultures and languages varied according to locally available fish, plants and weather patterns.
The Santa Ynez Chumash remain as the only of these that has been federally recognized by the United States government. While this does very little to acknowledge the diversity and dynamic nature of these individually unique and independent tribes, the Santa Ynez have a fascinating and beautiful history that is being maintained by strong environmental, language and cultural programs.
One plant that has been important to this band of Chumash and will certainly be effected by a changing climate is Toyon . This plugin allows you to view the future distribution possibilities for this culturally essential plant (note that it no longer holds much territory in the currently designated reservation.)
Using a database of current locations for plants and a program called Maxent, I modeled the future range of Toyon. This range is based on several metrics of future climates, predicted from IPCC’s climate scenarios. Parameters include temperature, rainfall and soil conditions. To learn more about Maxent go here, and to learn more about IPCC climate scenarios check this.
I took the output from Maxent and overlayed them onto Google Earth. The result is a time lapse that shows the potential habitat for Toyon currently, at mid-century and then at the end of the century. This is not where Toyon will be, but shows the potential of where it could be.
The trick to viewing this is to pull the large slider back to the left, and then click on the smaller slider, joining to the larger one. You can then slide time forward to see how the the range of potential Toyon distribution moves. (I am sure that James Frew would have a solution for this…but what hasn’t he figured out).
This was a component of my thesis “Climate Action on Tribal Lands”, an extensive project that took a group effort. For this piece of it, I owe the brilliant, beautiful and now beach bound Amy Willis all the credit in the world.
I think that Google Earth is a great way to view environmental information, and I will try to share some of my favorite sites in the upcoming weeks!
"I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live..."