What happens when an oil spill on a river ignites? Check out this stunning videos from Moscow, Russia.
River fires holds a special place in the history of the environmental movement, especially in the US. This is hardly the first time such a spectacle has occurred. Those familiar with history will recall the infamous Cuyahoga river in Ohio. Once considered the “most polluted river in the US”, the Cuyahoga river caught on fire, a lot. In 1969, TIME magazine ran a cover story on the river that burns (the river caught on fire in June of that year, but the cover photo was actually from an early fire). The concept of water polluted to the point of flammability shocked The conscience of the nation was so shocked that drastic political action was spurred. Many argue it was keystone event that led to the Clean Water Act (which governs the protection of our surface waters to this day) as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today Pope Francis released a unique and striking encyclical, the highest form of papal doctrine, addressing a wide breadth of ecological concerns. The document is notably ambitious in scope, wonderfully clear and concise, and passionate in its call for environmental stewardship and the development of a new moral ecology with greater concern for the Earth. Pope Francis, who worked as a chemist before entering the seminary, stands firmly with modern science; the document leaves no doubt that humans are responsible for the rapid degradation of the environment witnessed over the last 200 years. I was particularly impressed with the inclusion of social, economic, political, moral and cultural discussions that are fundamental to solving the environmental crisis we face. As a whole, I felt the encyclical made a convincing moral, ethical, and practical argument for drastic change in our relationship to the earth.
It’s wonderful to see so much attention brought to these fundamentally important issues. The coverage in the news has been widespread; even the presidential candidates have made (rather bland) remarks concerning the document.
The best opinion is an informed opinion; read the encyclical yourself. Unlike most encyclicals, which are addressed to Christendom, this encyclical is addressed to all the people of the earth, regardless of faith. You can read the encyclical on the Vatican’s website here.
Dams devastate river systems; fish can’t migrate, the natural hydrology is altered, temperatures change, sediment transport is prevented. The removal of unnecessary dams is a wonderful way to revitalize river systems. Several dams have been removed in the Pacific Northwest in the last few years. Check out this stunning video of the Condit Dam being removed from the White Salmon river in Washington state.
What if you could help restore the Colorado River, simply by watching a video and taking a pledge?
In two minutes you can restore 1,000 gallons to this once mighty river, and learn how to save more water every single day.
“Because past environmental destruction was the result of ignorance, we can easily forgive it. Today, we are better informed. Therefore, it’s essential that we make an ethical examination of what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.” – Dalai Lama 3.24.2015
The headlines in space news are all about Mars these days, but NASA is doing some seriously cool science here on Earth too. This last January NASA launched SMAP, a satellite designed to measure soil moisture from orbit.
Beavers have been historically trapped for fur and killed to prevent them from building dams. Environmental managers now recognize the important role these creatures play in wetland ecosystems. Watch this amazing time-lapse from Oregon Metro of beavers and nutria constructing a dam together (guest appearance from some amazing birds).