Category Archives: not-so-green

In other news, people still stupid

So, these idiots are replacing the Sunchips compostable bags that they spent millions developing and producing with the old plastic non-biodegradable bags because the new ones are too noisy?  That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

NEW YORK (AP) — Frito-Lay hopes to quiet complaints about its noisy SunChips bags by switching out the biodegradable bags for the old packaging on most flavors.

The company is switching back to original packaging, which is made of a type of plastic, for five of the six varieties of the chips. It will keep the biodegradable and recyclable bags for its sixth variety, its original plain flavor. That’s its second best-selling, after Harvest Cheddar.

The snack maker said the switch started in the middle of September and should be complete by middle to late October.

The bags were launched in April 2009 with a big marketing effort to play up their compostability because they’re made from plants and not plastic.

But that which makes them compostable also makes them loud. The bags have a different molecular structure from the original packaging, and they’re stiffer. So people complained about the noise. Groups on Facebook abound with names such as “I wanted SunChips but my roommate was sleeping…” and “Nothing is louder than a SunChips bag.” [LINK]

North Atlantic Trash Gyre aka TRASH EVERYWHERE!

So before I start I’ll say that I realize that GreenMNP has sat mostly dormant for a few months.  There are a few elements that have contributed to this.  Our Main Ninja, Jessie, has had her hands full pursuing her various real-life interests.  Also, our new format for the site in general is aimed at slower more content-rich material – a slight change from the furious ninja pace you may be used to.

Approximately the Speed of Light

A few months back we brought you a post about the supposed “North Pacific Trash Gyre.”  Basically, what this refers to is a swirling mass of trash in our ocean that is definitely not beneficial for marine life – or non-marine life, for that matter.

In a dramatic second round of the petroleum wars,  the same organization that discovered the NPTG has found another site of destruction: the North Atlantic.  This news was broken by Anna Cummings and Marcus Eriksen, both researchers for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Of course, skeptics will immediately argue (and could be right) that you don’t see this garbage and therefore it doesn’t exist.  The problem, according to the researchers, is that most of the trash is located below the surface.  Before we get into the specifics of the Gyre, we’ll show you some random pics of trash in the ocean to get you riled up:

Garbage in the North Pacific (subject matter of our last post)

Researches originally found the trash gyres by doing what’s called “trawling.”  This, more or less, involves dragging giant nets that collect water and particulate matter and later analyzing what comes up.  The researchers in question were quite horrified when they found that PPM (parts per million) levels of plastic were particularly elevated.


an example of trawling

Clearly it’s a ridiculous proposition that there’s no trash in the ocean, especially given that we live on a planet where so many people use products that incorporate non bio-degradable elements every day.  Plastic, which is an oil-based substance, may be the most ubiquitous, if not the most nefarious of all of these pollutants.  While chemicals like mercury cause immediate and measurable damage to biological organisms, plastic tends to break down into particulates that could be harmful to living things in the long run (if you use your common sense).

The SEA Organization, which sponsors semesters at SEA, allowing undergraduates to participate in marine research, has also carried out several studies that seem to confirm the high abundance of the plastic contaminant in our water:

For more than 20 years SEA has been carefully measuring the abundance of plastic marine debris in the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea on the sailing oceanographic research vessels SSVs Westward and Corwith Cramer, and also in the North and South Pacific since the arrival of the SSV Robert C. Seamans in 2001.

More than 6150 surface net tows have been carried out from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean Islands, collecting 64,000+ plastic pieces that have been handpicked from net samples. On cruises from Hawaii to the west coast of the U.S. samples have been collected in the much-popularized “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.

a fish with a piece of plastic embedded in stomach

The effects the buildup of plastic in our oceans, in the bodies of marine animals, and ultimately the larger mammals (read: humans) that ingest them are still largely unknown.  Additionally, like so many of the last century’s environmental hot topics, how concerned one should be could depend on who you ask.  Left wing environmental organizations put out studies that are frequently contradicted by studies funded by the businesses with the most stake in the matter.  Though the results of these contradictory studies may often be correct, because of the political push and pull and the nature of science itself, we will most likely remain in a dubious position of indecision until the effects are rampant or the threat disappears.  I know I don’t sound like an optimist right now, but reality bites.

WTF is a Gyre??

A “gyre“, in oceanographic terms, is a rotating set of currents that basically swirl in a circle.  The currents are caused by such factors as wind currents, the shapes of land masses, ocean temperatures, the shape of the sea floor,  um, and God.  The trash gyres came to be known as such because of the currents that swirl in a circular fashion and tend to cause trash (and other solids) to concentrate in certain places.  While out trawling the oceans for plastic, researchers noticed that the concentrations of plastic are higher in certain areas than in others.

the five major ocean gyres

Like I said before, it can be hard to see these gyres because the plastic being measured is often times in the form of particles that are super-small.  That is not to say that there’s not blatantly tons of junk floating around in these very same places.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right spot.

What do you guys think of this situation?  As of right now there exists no reliable method in which to clean the ocean, and there’s a fat chance there ever will be.  In my opinion, this is a much more tangible problem than carbon in the atmosphere.  Maybe the government should try regulating product packaging to reduce this problem, given that a great many alternatives exist to plastic.

the trash has invaded

If you’ve ever seen the Industry commercials, you know that plastic is a wonderful substance that has greatly advanced our society.  Its subsequent breakdown in our oceans, however, may be our downfall.

SOC Surfrider Foundation Commercial: “Plastic Has No Place Here” from Ryan Fitzgerald on Vimeo.

Here’s a video from Algalita:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJvifVrGi8o[/youtube]

MNP is well aware that “gyre” is also, amongst other things, what slithy toves do in the wabe.

Rare Earths, Bane and Boon

(Photo by Thomas Lee, for NYT)

Below is an excerpt; to read the full story, please go to the New York Times by clicking here.

GUYUN VILLAGE, China Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.

Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.

Western capitals have suddenly grown worried over China’s near monopoly, which gives it a potential stranglehold on technologies of the future.

In Washington, Congress is fretting about the United States military’s dependence on Chinese rare earths, and has just ordered a study of potential alternatives.

Here in Guyun Village, a small community in southeastern China fringed by lush bamboo groves and banana trees, the environmental damage can be seen in the red-brown scars of barren clay that run down narrow valleys and the dead lands below, where emerald rice fields once grew.

Reality: Clean Coal by the Coen Bros.

You may have seen this spot on the tellie recently – I saw it last night watching something embarassing like Hardball with Chris Matthews… but I had no idea it was the Coen brothers until I was informed by our ninjas at the We campaign. 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_U1Z0vezw[/youtube]

Plus a behind the scenes look at possible new spots on the way:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs9k6UojyD8[/youtube]

.: sign up -> We Can Solve It

.: there is no such thing as clean coal -> This Is Reality

FOX, FOX, FOX…

So, once upon a time I had a job, and, every morning I’d walk into it to the sound of FOX & Friends, a so-called morning show being watched by the night guy that I was going to relieve. Well, let me say that over the years I’ve grown an appreciation for the subtle ignorance of the show, and the nuances. It’s almost like an aged cheese… except never really on the sharp side. Anyway, a few glasses of wine ought to make it easier to swallow.

It’s not that I’m, like, down with women in skimpy bathing suits championing a cause, as is seen in this video about PETA, but it’s just the attitude which this show takes that makes me sort of cringe. The dude introducing the story says, “For sommme reason PETA has a problem with the way KFC treats their livestock,” as if there’s absolutely no tangible reason why someone might be disgusted with KFC’s practices. Well, he doesn’t say that exactly, but he definitely *WANTS* to be saying that.

Then, to make matters worse, the guy goes on to ask if “liberal causes like these have gone too far.” Excuse me? Since when is caring about what you eat and the environment actually something liberal? I feel that conservatives have backed themselves into a corner by choosing to define anything environment-oriented/science-supported as a “liberal cause” and denying objective reality. PETA, that said, is clearly a “liberal” group and does tend to use shock-value tactics, but, what difference does a simple categorization make if you agree with the cause? Hell, I care about my taxes and my finances – making me… a conservative?

Note: I will refer to him as “the guy” for we do not speak the name of the evil one on this blog. Also, the guy DOES indeed have a point about PETA, but it’s poorly made. And, at what cost?

Anyway, sometimes I wonder if they broadcast this crap so I’ll link to it… or because they actually believe the words coming out of their own mouths. “They think they environment is more important than humanity.” I’m not even going to start on how silly that is…

The Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally

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Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage.  The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators).  This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state.  I was absolutely stunned.  The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by.

Thanks to my sis for passing along the good news.

.:: For more photos & a first hand account of the rally –> check Mudflats

A Texan With a Plan, Or Just Another $cam?

I heard about this dude T. Boone Pickens months ago, I forget where, and then heard about him again a couple months later on some news program, then yesterday, as i was waiting in the airport (on my way to Texas no less), I was reminded of him again by a ‘Pickens Plan’ commercial on some news channel (which was simultaneously flashing stock/energy numbers across the bottom of the screen).  Now, call me skeptical, but When rich old oil hounds miraculously turn into earth-loving crusaders overnight, and then voluntarily drop however many $$$ on a major advertising campaign for their earth-loving cause, one has to wonder…is this ninja for real?

Decide for yourselves, watch his tv spot:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2bOug1d20c[/youtube]

Then watch this PSA from Zaproot.com (be forewarned, this chick talks at the speed of light):
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70HFEHB6dag[/youtube]

I say, never trust a Texan.  What do y’all think?