1. News: I know that when I tune into environmentally geared news, it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the wealth of information released up-to-the-minute. Also the birds falling from the sky and fish going belly up in the Chesapeake Bay. They’re quite distracting. But yes, there’s a lot to pay attention to and eventually my brain calls it quits. Mercy, please! For that reason, I’d like to specifically point out this article about plastic in our ecosystem by environmental attorney Lisa Kaas Boyle (via Huffington Post). It’s the kind of information that really ought to get more attention in the deluge of current events. It gives you the numbers on how much disposable plastic we throw away each year and the impact that has — not only on the environment, but on us. Not happy information but relevant and certainly important.
2. Books: If you haven’t read it yet, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is an absolutely amazing piece of dystopian, post-apocalyptic eco-fiction. I’ll keep this as spoiler free as possible but the premise is pretty fantastic: what happens in a post-oil age when our genetic meddling with our food sources finally catches up with us? Bacigalupi’s world is breathtakingly complex and brilliantly imagined. He clearly has an in-depth understanding of the many factors influencing what happens to the world around us: political, social, religious, geographical. It’s not just a story about climate change, for instance, although climate change is an aspect of it. It’s a full portrait of a near-future world where calories are the new currency and countries struggle to stay ahead of genetically engineered diseases and blights. And because all of that would not matter one bit without compelling characters, it’s a damn good story, too. It’s easy to see why this picked up the Nebula and the Hugo Award — even if speculative fiction isn’t usually your cup of tea, I’d recommend this book.
3. Websites: It can be pretty challenging to get a global perspective on overpopulation and energy use. But Breathing Earth tracks births, deaths, and carbon emissions every second. Distressingly mesmerizing, it makes a fantastic educational tool and is a good reminder of the large scale issues facing us as a species and a planet. The inimitable Hank Green talks about it in this vlogbrothers video — and if I can squeeze in a double recommendation, his website, EcoGeek is a pretty fabulous resource. CAUTION: Breathing Earth does have sound effects. So if you don’t want it to do that . . . you should probably turn off your sound.
4. Products and services: If you’re like me, you were probably a little disturbed by the news that AAA is a less than earth-friendly organization. Yes, I love our planet, but I also really like that if/when my car breaks down in the ass-end of nowhere, there is an organization that will come rescue me (for an annual fee). The cool thing is that there’s a solution to this moral dilemma: the Better World Club. Not only do they offer nationwide roadside assistance for cars . . . they do for bikes as well, which is more or less fantastic. Other member benefits include: discount hybrid car rentals, eco-travel services, and insurance opportunities. They also donate 1% of their annual revenue to environmental cleanup and advocacy. They do tend to run about $10 higher than AAA, but aside from digging into the beer fund, it’s not much of a sacrifice.
5. Twitter users: So I realize a lot of this stuff can be pretty damn depressing at times and I know it often leaves me wondering if there’s really anything anyone can do to make the world a better place. Yes, friends, even I have trouble maintaining my constant idealism <sarcasm>. Which is why the final recommendation this week is that you follow @dosomething on twitter. They represent the website dosomething.org which is a great system for organizing people across all causes and interests. The neat thing about their twitter is that they often feature inspiring projects and information on how to get involved. Tends to make you feel a bit better about your day. Especially after . . . you know, the falling birds and stuff.