Earthman Rap. As good today as it was in 2007. Thanks to Sarah Miller of grist.org for finding this gem!
Teachers: check out the Earthman Project’s cool web site for some great resources to bring music, art, and the environment into you classroom.
Have 26 seconds? Watch how global temperatures have changed between 1880 and 2011.
While temperatures have been blistering this summer, this video takes the longer historical view. It comes to us from our friends at NASA and is an amazing 26-second animation depicting how temperatures around the globe have warmed since 1880. That year is what scientists call the beginning of the “modern record.” You’ll note an acceleration of those temperatures in the late 1970s as greenhouse gas emissions from energy production increased worldwide and clean air laws reduced emissions of pollutants that had a cooling effect on the climate, and thus were masking some of the global warming signal. The data come from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures. As NASA notes, “in this animation, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.”
As Dr. Eugene Cordero took to the stage at the TEDxSanJoseCA conference last month, he showed a slide with a picture of his favorite tee-shirt and posed this question to the audience: How far do you think you could you go on the energy you get from eating one burrito? This drew an appreciative laugh from the audience as he began to explain. What do you think? Is the claim on his tee-shirt correct? How would you go about figuring this out?
Questions like these fuel the imaginations of us here at The Green Ninja Project. Our scientists, educators, and filmmakers create engaging, fun, and creative ways for students to learn about the science behind our changing environment. The Green Ninja™ energizes, activates, and engages students (and teachers!) to make a difference. We create resources teachers can use, such as:
Stay tuned to hear more about our upcoming projects. In the meantime, check out Eugene Cordero’s 13-minute TEDx talk and tell us where you fall on Eugene’s burrito enjoyment index. And see the Green Ninja make his dramatic entrance with a special-delivery burrito. You won’t believe how high he can leap. Go Green Ninja!
–Julie Noblitt, Green Ninja Team
How can human-powered dj sets, orchestras made of vegetables, and online gardens help change the world? Though none of these activities may seem connected, they are all bringing kids of all ages fun ways to learn about the environment. Innovative activism encourages everyone to get involved, targeting everyone from family units to teenagers with headphones permanently attached to their ears. Creative outlets like art and music can drive discussion about bigger issues or even be solutions themselves.
Global Inheritance is a non-profit dedicated to “thinking creatively in solving world issues.” They work with schools, music festivals, and employers to provide outside-the-box ways to view energy consumption. They hand out popcorn popped with ethanol fuel, challenge you to power your own playground with energy you create using giant hamster wheels, and have artists customize recycling bins for use at high-traffic events. They host outdoor days for kids to complete crafts, learn about the environment, and even have created a 2011 Teen Choice Awards Energy Offset that used Tour de Energy bikes to collect energy to power the event.
Green Allowance is a site that offers both kids and parents financial incentives to go green. After agreeing to sponsor, you complete a simple sign-up process (you can either allow your child to sign up alone or be included on the account) and they are presented with a garden. The trees in this garden represent energy-saving activities, and even display how much money you’ll save yearly by completing the tasks. In some cases, Green Allowance has partnered with electric companies to know your savings exactly. As you complete the tasks and report back to Green Allowance, your garden grows and kids can collect their earnings.
Even the United Nations is finding new ways to increase global dialogue about “climate change, species extinction, freshwater crisis and any other environmental issues”. The UN Music & Environment Initiative partners with artists, events, and venues to reach young people. The Initiative also hopes to change how people inside of the music industry approach planning their events and packaging their products. You can find a list of participating artists here, but younger children might be especially interested in The Vegetable Orchestra.
The Vegetable Orchestra performs on instruments made entirely of, you guessed it, vegetables. They purchase the vegetables at farmers and local markets, whittle them into instruments, perform, and then use the leftover instruments to cook a hearty veggie stew for their audience.
How do you get the kids in your life involved in the environment?
With Labor Day just around the corner and summer coming to a close, backyard barbecues and other get-togethers abound. However, entertaining doesn’t have to mean mountains of waste and cheap disposable party favors. Recyclable materials you have lying around your house can be transformed into easy decorations. I made these simple paper fans (easy tutorial here) out of old newspapers and magazines to hang from trees in the backyard. Just make sure they are tied securely so that they don’t fly away, and recycle them after the party!
Simple steps such as sending out e-vites instead of paper invitations can help make sure that friends and family stay informed, without the waste. When it comes to convenience, some of the biggest environmental offenders are unrecyclable paper plates, cups, and utensils. Reusable items are the best way to go, especially multipurpose items like Mason jars which make great drinking cups and vases. But if you can’t bring yourself to do any dishes, invest in biodegradable or compostable plates. After your guests leave you can simply toss them in your compost heap. Worldcentric offers a great array of everything from cutlery to trash bags, and they donate a quarter of their profits to grass roots social and environmental organizations.
When it comes to choosing meats to grill, remember to keep in mind the carbon footprint of your diet. Processing meats creates emissions, but not all proteins stack up the same. Red meats like lamb and beef release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so consider chicken or turkey burgers.
New technologies are emerging in order to make the act of grilling itself less harmful for the environment. The gas vs. charcoal vs. electric grill debate is a complicated one. Gas uses non-renewable fuels, charcoal emits double the carbon dioxide of gas, and electric can have the highest greenhouse gas emissions of all if the energy that powers your house isn’t green. New recyclable items like the FlameDisk use ethanol to heat and cook food, and they eliminate the time that used to be spent waiting for grills to heat up.
Enjoy your Labor Day!