commencement, part II: A shout-out to John Graves

May 29, 2010

I began this summer with a book I received for Christmas. It’s called Goodbye to a River, written by John Graves and published in 1960. 1960. It may be the most contemporary account of aquatic resources I’ve ever read.

Read what Graves said about the Brazos River 50 years ago. As you read, keep in mind what my friend Kurt says about environmental issues. He says environmental issues are basically the same, but the scale and intensity differ from place to place.

From Goodbye to a River:

“And furthermore that while all the rivers may continue to flow to the sea, those who represent us in such matters will at least slow down the process by transforming them from rivers into bead strings of placid reservoirs behind concrete dams…

Bitterness? No ma’am…In a region like (insert your region here), scorched to begin with, alternating between floods and droughts, its absorbent cities quadrupling their census every few years, electrical power and flood control and moisture conservation and water skiing are praiseworthy projects. More than that, they are essential . We river-minded ones can’t say much against them — nor, probably should we want to. Nor, mostly, do we…”


Can we say much? Do we? Do I? I am trying to find my voice. Check out the following link on Alabama Aquatic Resources I spear-headed this endeavor. I’m interested to see how it will play out.


Hey CES Juniors and Seniors!

May 6, 2010

Your final projects/final exams are posted on the pages to the left. Look for the Title CES: Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Look for your grade level and click on the  link.

I have listed and linked about 20 different websites. Feel free to email me your suggestions. I will edit the pages with new links every 48 hours. I encourage you to take the time to look at several differnet vantage points. You are all quite smart. You know that the Nature Conservancy and the American Petroleum Institute will have different angles on this oil spill. I can’t wait to see how you interpret their ideas, and I’m equally interested in hearing your ideas.

CES, week 29, Water, water, water…1

March 26, 2010

Monday (3/22/10): Finish Energy Audits, Introduction to Aquatic Resources
Tuesday (3/23/10): Continue with Aquatic Resources, Assign personal water budget assignment
Wednesday (3/24/10): Begin estimating household water use
Thursday (3/25/10): Continue estimating household water use
Friday (3/26/10): Analyze household water use data

Okay, so everything got pushed back b/c of Senior Retreat. We’ll be back up to speed next week.

ces, week 26: It’s all about Energy

February 21, 2010

One of the ideas floating around the room lately has been, “It’s all about money.” The point being that environmental solutions are only tenable if they’re economically feasible. After a weekend of hiking, driving, talking, and paddling, I’m coming back to the idea that the money doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t have clean air, clean water, and clean soil. You know, natural capital.

This week we’ll begin to untangle one of the thorniest issues in environmental science: energy. We’ll keep things pretty close to the surface, but we will have an opportunity to explore transportation energy, and electricity generation. The focus here is on you, your behaviors, and the cumnulative effects of individual action. Like the little signs around ASFA say, “Little Things Add Up.”

Monday (2/22/10): Introduction to Energy Resources

Tuesday (2/23/10): Transportation Energy 1

ces, week 24: Agriculture, continued

February 9, 2010

Nuts, bolts, pros, cons. What does it all mean? It means we’re all part of a food system. That’s the reality of the 21st century. You could take an entire class in any one topic that comes up in this unit. You could spend your life researching one aspect of agricultural science. Ever hear of a “cow college”? It’s a slang term for places like Auburn, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech. These are state “ag” schools, and the students who go to these schools may spend their lives wrestling with these issues.

We’re going to pick and choose our topics. Monday it’s all about local produce. Then we’ll look at global malnutrition, and finally at geneticially modified foods. There’s no “one way” to teach agriculture and food. This is our way.

Monday (2/8/10): Tour of ASAP gardens

Tuesday (2/9/10): Finish pros and cons of agricultural practices

Wednesday (2/10/10): Finish global malnutrition and introduce GM foods

Thursday (2/11/10): GM Food DNA extraction

Friday (2/12/10): Introduction to PCR: Polymerase Chain Reaction

CES/APES: The world is connected

February 4, 2010

Energy Experts Say Water Use and Energy Consumption Linked, Urge Conservation

Do you know how much water it takes to light your house? How about the electricity involved in watering your prize-winning tulips? As it turns out, it’s a lot more than you’d think.

Due to expected population growth and urbanization in the United States—especially in drought-prone Western States like Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Nevada—two top energy experts at a AAAS discussion urged the federal and local governments to explore new strategies to meet nation’s burgeoning water and electricity needs.

Water and energy resources are inextricably intertwined, the experts said. Electricity generation requires a massive amount of water usage and water delivery requires energy to move into your home, and therefore conservation efforts cannot focus on a single resource.

“Without efforts exploring how we can better use water and electricity . . . business as usual will put us on a collision course with these two natural resources,” said Michael Hightower, Water for Energy project lead at Sandia National Laboratories.

For more information, read the full story.

CES, Week 23: Food, Fuel and Water 1: Agriculture

January 31, 2010

So, when we were winding down last Friday, some of you guys were getting depressed about all these people. I think it’s wise to be a bit depressed, but I also think we should be hopeful. Our species is remarkably resilient. As the next two to three decades unfold we will have to deal with remarkable challenges, but we’ll get through it. If leaders make good decisions, and people make intentional, intelligent choices we can potentially have a healthier planet than we have right now.
This week we’ll begin looking at three of our species’ biggest challenges. How can we feed 6.3 billion people?

Monday (2/1/10): Exploring The Demographic Transition/Introduction to Global Agriculture
Tuesday (2/2/10): Introduction to Global Agriculture (cont)
Wednesday (2/3/10): Pros and Cons of Hi throughput agriculture and agrodiversity
Thursday (2/4/10): Field trip to the gardens (weather permitting)
Friday (2/5/10): What if there isn’t enough food? And one solution…GMOs
Monday (2/8/10): The science behind Genetically Modified Food

CES: Demographic Data is on sharepoint

January 29, 2010

I uploaded 3 jpeg (image) files to sharepoint. Go to the CES Lab data folder in my shared documents folder, and you will see three files each entitled “snapshot” with some ridiculous number attached to the word “snapshot”. Those are the files they want.

Have a nice weekend.

CES, Week 22: Human Demographics Continued

January 24, 2010

We will finish our investigation of developed and developing countries. Remember the driving question: Is there a distinct boundary between developed and developing countries? The bell interrupted our investigation last week, but we’ll pick right up where we left off. Interesting to note the near complete inversion of TFR and IMR for Somalia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The numbers are beginning to tell us the story of development. One thing I will push you on this week: what are barriers to development? As the class unfolds, we’ll be looking at how all these people get their food, their fuel, and their water.

Monday (1/25/10): Compare Economic Data across nations
Tuesday (1/26/10): Compare economic engines across nations (compare exports, imports, and connections)
Wednesday (1/27/10): In-class writing assignment: working on follow up questions
Thursday (1/28/10): Exploring The Demographic Transition
Friday (1/29/10): Campus Recycling, finish in-class writing assignment

CES, Week 21: Human Demographics continued

January 19, 2010

We will continue our data mining on Wednesday and we will spend the rest of the week trying to answer the Big Question for this unit: What is the point at which a country becomes “developed”? On Thursday we’ll figure out how to organize all your data, and we’ll start out trans-national analysis. On Friday, the work will continue.

Wednesday (1/20/10): “Data Mining”. Last day of in-class research

Thursday (1/21/10): Whole-class activity: what metrics matter, and how shall we compare these countries?

Friday (1/22/10): Continue  trans-national  comparison (short day, focus Friday.)