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Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Posts Tagged ‘Earth Day’

Amusing Monday: Earth images on Earth Day

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Today is Earth Day and a good time to consider the Earth as a whole. Thanks to an impressive set of videos released by NASA in celebration of Earth Month, we can take a wide-angle view of the entire planet.

The first video serves to demonstrate the many images generated by NASA’s fleet of science satellites and aircraft. The space agency chose to accompany the video with music rather than narration, which ties together the images better than a detailed description. To delve more deeply into the science behind the images, visit NASA’s “Missions” page.

The second video shows the beauty of the Earth as seen from the International Space Station. The third is a blend of Earth images, computer animations and glimpses of the science behind it all. Although these videos are not amusing in a humorous way, I hope you’ll find them worth a look on Earth Day.

If you would like more NASA videos, still images and explanations, check out NASA’s “Earth Month 2013.”


Earth Day activities scheduled for the weekend

Friday, April 20th, 2012

A few quick notes on Earth Day activities this weekend.

First, if you haven’t been to Pacific Science Center in Seattle lately, you may be surprised by some of the new events and exhibits on tap for this weekend.

Of special note is “Science on a Sphere,” a new permanent exhibit that uses computers and video projectors to animate a globe, which is used to demonstrate atmospheric changes and the effects of heating and cooling across the Earth’s ocean and land masses.

Special programs on the sphere Sunday include “Chasing The Rain” at 10:50 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. along with Oceans, Earthquakes & Tsunamis. The exhibit, provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is similar to spheres installed in about 80 locations throughout the world.

“To the Arctic 3D,” being shown throughout the day in the Boeing Imax Theater, presents an up-close look at a landscape of immense glaciers, spectacular waterfalls and snow-crusted peaks while telling the story of a polar bear and her cubs. Check ahead for reservations.

Check out the Earth Day page for other events at Pacific Science Center on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Orca Network is holding its annual “Welcome the Whales Day” tomorrow on Whidbey Island. Costume-making and a critter parade are part of the fun. On the educational side, Bruce Mate, director of the Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, will discuss gray whales and the animals he has tracked throughout the Pacific Ocean to discover their migration patterns.

For local events, I wrote a piece in the Kitsap Sun about Earth Day activities in Kitsap County.


Earth Day is defined by the human spirit

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

To me, Earth Day has always meant two things: education and action. Of course, I would never object to the entertainment that accompanies many Earth Day events, because learning and good deeds ought to involve fun and laughter.

For years, my wife Sue and I drove over to Sequim on the Saturday after Earth Day to help clean up Dungeness Spit, which happens to be the place she and I went on our first date many years ago. We stopped going for health reasons but hope to get started again.

Tracyton resident Don Larson has organized the Sinclair Inlet Cleanup twice each year for the past 21 years. Now Don and his fellow organizer John Denis are a couple of guys who truly understand the Earth Day spirit and what it means to give back to your community.

Don told me this week that he was impressed with the crew that showed up at Saturday’s cleanup. He was particularly inspired by Jim Anderson, a 66-year-old Bremerton resident who regularly picks up trash along the Bremerton boardwalk as he moves along in an electric wheelchair, accompanied by his guide dog Raffle.

“He’s a phenomenal guy,” Larson said. “He has these hand-grabber picker-ups. He and his wife Jackie clean up periodically all year long as he moves around the waterfront.

“With Jim and Jackie, the human spirit really comes out. You hear about all the bad stuff in the world, then you meet a person like that who gets out and helps the community. It just makes you feel good.”

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Amusing Monday: The many sides of Earth Day

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Two years ago for Earth Day, Lewis Black on “The Daily Show” turned his sarcasm to what he called “the equivalent of Christmas for our home planet.” He actually made a few good points. So, with Earth Day coming up on Friday, I thought it would be appropriate to share this video with you.

The second video comes from “The Colbert Report,” in which Stephen Colbert celebrates Earth Day with a little trash talk for other planets.

If two men shouting insults in celebration of our “blue planet” fails to strike a chord, I offer you another view of this “holiday” from Bea Wildered, a cartoon character on Planet Green.

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Environmental ed takes on social challenges

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Environmental education has undergone a revolution since the first Earth Day 40 years ago, as I describe in a story I wrote for Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, which I called “The Evolution of Environmental Education.”

Poulsbo Elementary first-grader Ella Jagodzinske, 7, looks for worms under a rock in the school's courtyard wildlife habitat.
Kitsap Sun photo by Larry Steagall

Now in Washington state, requirements approved by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction are designed to take another huge step in preparing young people to understand all sorts of environmental tradeoffs and write environmental policies for the coming decades.

The word “sustainability” is emphasized in the new “Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Education Learning Standards.” Unlike other educational standards, this new approach does not include specific grade-level expectations.

The standards call for an understanding of: 1) Ecological, social and economic systems, 2) the natural and built environment, and 3) sustainability and civic responsibility.

I hope you’ll read the Sunday piece, which includes an interactive map of environmental programs and projects across the Kitsap Peninsula. You’ll meet Lisa Hawkins, a first-grade teacher who built an outdoor classroom — a certified wildlife habitat — in a courtyard at Poulsbo Elementary School.

This amazing young teacher has a special relationship with her students, especially when they are exploring freely and finding connections among living things.

Here are some links for creating habitats to foster environmental learning at all grade levels.

National Wildlife Federation

Time Out: Using the Outdoors to Enhance Classroom Performance

Certify Your Wildlife Garden

Creative Habitats for Learning

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Schoolyard Habitat Project (Chesapeake)

Schoolyard Habitat Program (Sacramento)

Lisa Hawkins, first-grade teacher at Poulsbo Elementary, engages her students in the wildlife habitat she and an earlier class created in a courtyard at the school.
Kitsap Sun photo by Larry Steagall


Regional EPA chief discusses top issues

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Dennis McLerran, the new regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, held his first news conference today, saying he wanted to touch base with reporters during Earth Week.

Dennis McLerran, EPA regional administrator
EPA photo

This year is not only the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, he noted, but also the 40th anniversary of the EPA. McLerran said he was a freshman at the University of Washington in 1970, the year of the first Earth Day. (That’s the year that I graduated from Mercer Island High School. Like McLerran, I have been involved in environmental issues for much of the last 40 years.)

Coming to the EPA from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, McLerran said he has had to expand his horizons to take in all environmental issues. “Wall-to-wall briefings” has been “kind of like drinking from a fire hose,” he said today.

The regional administrator said he was taking many clues from his boss, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson — including focusing on her top seven priorities:

  • Taking Action on Climate Change
  • Improving Air Quality
  • Assuring the Safety of Chemicals
  • Cleaning Up Our Communities
  • Protecting America’s Waters
  • Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice
  • Building Strong State and Tribal Partnerships

Additional notes from McLerran’s comments and responses to questions:


Amusing Monday: Animals Save the Planet

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I have to admit a certain fondness for the clay animated creatures that have come to life thanks to Aardman Animations, which has fostered a bunch of creative animations, including Wallace & Gromit.

Since this is the week of Earth Day, I thought I would present the series of Earth-friendly tips offered by some strange but lovable animals. The short videos were produced for Animal Planet in the UK, and I’m not sure if they were shown in the U.S.

Aardman Animations, started by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, has an interesting history. Starting out with simple projects in 1975, the animations grew more sophisticated through the years. You may remember their first full-length movie, “Chicken Run,” which won numerous awards.
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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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