Sunday, October 23, 2011


Last week’s DC Green Student Organizations Forum was a great success! Students from green groups at Georgetown, American University, George Washington University, and Trinity Washington University met at American University to talk about how green groups can help each other and work together.

First, we did introductions, and learned about what different groups are doing on their campuses. Claire Austin (co-president of EcoAction) and I talked about the new community compost, the Greenpeace campaign against Asia Pulp & Paper, the Magis Row weatherization project, the recent victory with double-sided printing, and our upcoming trip to the Tar Sands rally, among other things. We heard about the Roots & Shoots chapter at George Washington University, about the development of a new environmental group at Trinity Washington University, and about the upcoming Food Justice Day at American. In addition, we got some great advice from GW students about how to expand our composting program.

Above all, though, the biggest achievement at the Forum was our decision to revive DC YEA – the D.C. Youth Environmental Alliance. The mission of DC YEA is “to serve as a dynamic alliance of DC Youth, creating positive environmental change in our schools, community, and government.” We gathered each other's contact information and set up the DC YEA Facebook page. Through DC YEA, we’ll keep in touch about environmental events on our campuses and in DC. We’ll be able to attend each other’s events and meet up at events in the city. Also, we’ll be able to keep giving advice to each other about our sustainability efforts on our respective campuses.

More about DC YEA after the jump, including our first event! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Anthropocene and Environmentalism

Anthropocene: the debatable new geological age marked primarily by the influence of mankind over nature.

This article in The Economist, "A man-made world," focuses on the changing forces on the earth. The enormous amount of humans on the planet, as well as the surging technology, may mean that geoengineering may be the best way to reckon the relationship between humans and the environment.

"The Holocene never supported a civilization of 10 billion reasonably rich people, as the Anthropocene must seek to do, and there is no proof that such a population can fit into a planetary pot so circumscribed. So it may be that a “good Anthropocene”, stable and productive for humans and other species they rely on, is one in which some aspects of the Earth system’s behavior are lastingly changed."

But what exactly does that mean, in terms of how we look at environmentalism and energy production? According to the article, this isn't the first time we've tried and succeeded at changing a significant way in which the earth operates (19th century brought the first attempt at geoengineering the planet, this time to regulate nitrogen levels).

"Better to embrace the Anthropocene’s potential as a revolution in the way the Earth system works, they argue, than to try to retreat onto a low-impact path that runs the risk of global immiseration."

Let's be honest here. The science is over my head. But what this article brings to light is the idea that in looking at the earth and its ecosystems, you can't consider it as it was without the influence of humans and technology. One must consider and "change the paradigm" in order to really understand what the earth should be like with humans on the planet, using the land, and whether we are doing it justice. They argue for an influx of geoengineering in order to right our wrongs. But what does that mean for hot-button issues like the proposal of the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sand mines in Utah?

When asked what the place of nature is in the age of Anthropocene, Dr. Erle Ellis maintained the importance of environmentalism in our decision making. We just have to reconsider how we think of it. We as humans in the Anthropocene are permanently intertwined to nature from this point on. As he says, "Nature is something that we create; no longer is nature what creates us... There isn't anything left that hasn't been touched by us. Nature is something that is sustained and it's our job to sustain it."

(Click picture for the full article.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Energy Security VS Environment- Obama's Dilemma

Yesterday's online issue of the Washington Post highlighted the issues Obama has to decide between in the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. Since this has been such a huge issue, written about almost every week in the papers, I won't go into the small details. But Eilperin and Mufson highlight the reasons behind the cause we're all fighting for in the protest of the pipeline.
The article starts off with, "In May, environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben — pondering a simmering energy issue — asked a NASA scientist to calculate what it would mean for the Earth’s climate if Canada extracted all of the petroleum in its rich Alberta oil sands region.
The answer to McKibben’s query came a month later: It would push atmospheric carbon concentrations so high that humans would be unable to avert a climate disaster. 'It is essentially game over,' wrote James E. Hansen, who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is one of the nation’s leading voices against fossil fuel energy."
(Click photo for article.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

D.C. Green Student Organizations Meeting

Want to get off-campus for a night and meet some other college kids who care about the environment? Come to the DC Green Students Organizations Meeting this Thursday, October 20, at American University! EcoAction will be meeting at the Dupont GUTS bus stop at 6 PM, or you can meet us at American at 7 PM. You can RSVP on the Facebook event

This is the semesterly inter-collegeiate green groups meeting, where green groups from Georgetown, American University, George Washington University, Catholic University, Georgetown Law, the University of DC, and others get together to talk about what they’re doing and to share ideas! We’ll discuss what works on campus, what doesn’t work, how to work with administration, how to mobilize the student body, and more.

What's the deal with global warming?

Flip to the News Analysis section of this morning's issue of the Times for an update on green America. Elisabeth Rosenthal, a reporter on environmental issues for the New York Times, writes about the declining importance of global warming and environmental issues in both political and civilian America. Don't get me wrong, in light of the economy, job market, and the war, environmentalism can take a bit of a back seat. But the fading importance of green thinking on the political scene is taking a hit on the rest of the US. According to a poll she referenced, only 59% of Americans believe in global warming in comparison to 70% in 2006. One of Obama's campaign plugs was for a greener America and the creation of "green jobs." But will that agenda lose priority when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline and the antithetical jobs it promises?
(Click on picture for link to article.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Future of Food

So the other day, I had an epiphany that instead of watching TV shows to distract myself from work, I should watch movies. That way it only takes up about 2 hours per two days, and the addicting factor isn't present. So on this fateful day, I pulled up Hulu and stumbled upon a documentary labeled, "The Future of Food."

An hour and a half long (perfect for my lunch break), the film was about the truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that are omnipresent in our consumer-driven lives. America's commercialism aside, it was an unsettling account of what you would think is unauthorized pesticide use. Since the extent and type of pesticide use is so new (and patented), the EPA doesn't have sufficient data or reason to set parameters to restrict the use of these pesticides. And even worse, we don't even have the right to know whether or not pesticides were being used in the making of our foods. Even in organic farming, their crops are vulnerable to infiltration of pesticides from farms that use them. The result of which is the disturbing reality that we've dug ourselves into a deep hole of food unnaturalism from which we may not recover, at least without a consistent and powerful concern displayed across the country.

(Click picture for quick-link to the full documentary... and mind-blowing, unsettling reality.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Communal Composting has begun!

The Magis Row Meditation Houses, Georgetown Energy, GUSA, the Georgetown Garden, and EcoAction are excited to announce that a communal compost has been started at Georgetown! A large, sealable compost bin is now set up in the backyard of 3611 O Street, which is one of the two Magis Row Meditation townhouses, associated with Georgetown’s John Main Center for Meditation.

How will it work? In this first pilot phase, thirty residents on Magis Row and in other off-campus housing who have demonstrated interest are receiving individual composting buckets for their kitchens. They will empty these buckets into the communal bin whenever they are full. Many thanks goes to GUSA for the money for these buckets, and to the Georgetown Garden for the communal bin!

If this goes well, we hope to order more buckets for even more residents, both on- and off-campus, to use, so email us if you’d be interested in receiving a bucket in the future! When the communal bin is full, we’ll bring the compost up to the Georgetown Garden by Kehoe Field, where it will provide fertilizer for students’ plots.

Lots more information after the jump...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tar Sands Rally - 10/7

What are you doing this Friday at 12 PM?

A. Nothing.

B. Something I don’t feel like doing anyway.

C. Something important that I can’t miss.

I’m going to guess that 95% of you answered A or B. In that case, I’ve got something exciting and worthwhile for you to do! Come to the Tar Sands rally at the Ronald Reagan Building, for the final State Department hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline. (Don’t worry, there’s no risk of getting arrested this time.) Here’s a link to the Facebook event, and here’s the invitation:

"Three months ago when Bill McKibben and others put out a call for a sustained nonviolent action at the White House against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, we didn’t know what the response would be. But the urgency of the issue drove 1,253 people to take a leap of faith, and risk arrest to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

We made history from August 20 – September 3. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is now the biggest environmental decision facing the President before the next election. We have an opportunity to hold President Obama to his campaign promises and begin to put a dent in the flow of carbon into the atmosphere.

Monday, October 3, 2011

EcoAction News!

Here's the news for EcoAction this week! 

First of all: Like our Facebook page!

Thanks to all of you for coming out to our movie screening of Tapped last Wednesday. 
A big shout out goes to Patricia Cipolliti for helping with the awesome flyers!

Our next meeting will be next Wednesday, October 12 at 8:30pm (Location TBD). 

Upcoming Events in October

Afternoon Power Clean-Up with Office of Off-Campus Student Life (OCSL)
Friday, October 14th | Time: 1:00 PM | Location: meet at OCSL office
Join OCSL and EcoAction, as clean-up our Georgetown neighborhood. More details to come. 

Trip to the Farmers Market in Burleith 
Saturday, October 15th | Time TBD | Meet at front Gates
Join the board and go to the farmers market in Burleith to buy groceries

Nature Walk and Birdwatch / Picnic
Sunday, October 16th | Time: 8AM | Location: Dyke Marsh Wildlife Refuge
Venture off into the nature with an expert and observe the birds. We will walk through the picnic area, the marina, and down Haul Road. The dirt trail that goes through Dyke Marsh and ends in a boardwalk and observation platform. Contact Megan (mag293) for more information. 

Lots more after the jump!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Obama and Environmental Regulation

This post is by Claire Austin (SFS '12), co-president of EcoAction.

When I voted for Obama in 2008 (take that, underclassmen) I was sure he’d be the meanest, greenest President we’ve ever had. At first it seemed to be the case: the administration made strengthening environmental regulations a policy priority, and started programs like Cash for Clunkers. This was the administration when the Waxman-Markey bill passed in the house (gasp!) and the EPA, now under the guidance of Lisa Jackson, was well on the way to setting a maximum ground-level ozone limit recommended by the panel of scientists that advise the EPA on Clean Air Act Issues. We were sure that when the Affordable Care Act passed, the environment would be next on the agenda.


Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog, and is created when sunlight interacts with chemicals released from combusting fuels and other industrial processes. It has the same chemical composition as the layer of the stuff in the atmosphere famous for its hole, but the O3 molecule’s concentration in the lower levels of the atmosphere is dangerous for living things. Ozone, like other gases, is measured in parts per billion. If you have a billion marbles, the EPA says that 75 of these marbles can be ozone. This means manufacturers have to work to reduce their emissions of the gases that lead to ozone buildup at the local level. The limit was set in 2008, when former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson lowered the limit from 84ppb. The EPA was recently told to stop its progress in drafting a regulation that would lower the limit further to between 60 and 70ppb.