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Eco Op-Ed

Eco Op-Ed is your environmental forum. While not endorsing all viewpoints expressed here, we embrace the adage that a mind functions best when open; therefore, we welcome a wide range of ecological opinion. To join the discussion, add your comment below any piece.

How to Stop Buying, Find Eternal Happiness and Save the Earth
Saturday, 01 November 2014 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

Jewelry photo by Orin ZebestWhen presented with a wild idea, at least if it’s a good one, many scientists tend to say about the same thing: ‘I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a good metaphor to think with.’

Punctuated Equilibrium is a good metaphor to think with.

It’s one of the ideas evolutionary biologists use to explain why most sexually reproducing species see very little evolutionary change throughout most of their history, but this stasis is punctuated by periods of intense fluctuation.

The Punctuated Equilibrium theory says that life likes stasis and that when evolution does occur—when stasis is upset and a species splits into two—it happens in localized, rare and rapid events. Read on…

The Five-Year Baby Ban
Monday, 20 October 2014 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

1935 Dionne Quintuplets photo by J HayneI’m about to ask you for a favor. It’s a big favor, maybe the biggest favor you’ve ever been asked for. Most likely you’re not going to want to grant it. Perhaps you won’t like me for asking. So before I begin, I’d like to tell you a little about why I’m asking.

A couple of years ago, I was talking to a friend about the $2 billion that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is spending to eradicate diseases plaguing the Third World. This number is not small change. The $800 million the Foundation donates each year for global health equals the total budget of the United Nations World Health Organization, comprised of 193 nations. “But you know the worst part?” my friend asked. “Most of that money is for fighting diseases in children. And unless something changes, we better hope they fail.” Read on…

Hocma for Spaceship Earth: The Time Is Now, the Choice Is Ours
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

'Spaceship Earth' Book photo by m nicolasnova “Spaceship Earth” is a phrase not used much any more, but it’s been around for a while and seems worth revisiting.

Everybody’s best guess at an origin dates back to Henry George’s 1879 book, Progress and Poverty, and the line: “It is a well-provisioned ship, this on which we sail through space.” It popped up again in 1965, when Adlai Stevenson said, “We travel together, passengers on this little ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil.”

But it was Buckminster Fuller’s 1969 Operating Manual for the Spaceship Earth that firmly cemented it into our consciousness. When he used the phrase, he meant it literally: we are literally surrounded by a vast and hostile universe. The average temperature in intergalactic space is three degrees above absolute zero. The nearest source of warmth is usually several hundred million light years away. Read on…

Watch those Carbs: Join the 350 Club!
Friday, 01 August 2014 00:00  |  Written by Fiona Sinclair, Ph.D. | Commentary

Incandescent Light Bulb photo by Thomas BrightbillThe 100-watt light bulb has officially been turned off in Europe. Nearly two hundred years of high-illuminating incandescence has reached its final demise. As we turn into the ninth year of the 21st century, this evildoer of carbon emissions is relegated to the dustbin of history.

This is just a step though, a baby step. For every hour the 100-watt light bulb has lit the faces of dreamers, it has drawn on about 1/10th of a kWh (kilowatt-hour) of energy, most likely forced from its source in coal, gas or atomic fission and leaving a cloud of carbon or a mile of half-lives in their wake. Read on…

Bangladesh Confronts Climate Change With Eco Innovation and Floating Communities
Friday, 23 May 2014 00:00  |  Written by Marita Prandoni | Commentary

Boat School Exterior photo courtesy of ShidhulaiIn early June, a heavy cushion of wet air hangs over the isolated backwaters of Chalan Beel in northwestern Bangladesh, signaling the start of the seasonal, torrential monsoons. As the skies darken, Ratna Khatun and her cousins Shakila and Rupali file up a plank and into a sheltered deckhouse, several other enthusiastic children scurrying behind. The girls take their seats in the front row, which has been reserved for the most studious. Read on…

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Eco Tip

Lower your thermostat temperature in winter and raise it in summer. In winter, set your thermostat to 68 degrees or less during the day (and wear a sweater) and 55 degrees or less at night (and add an extra blanket). Wear less or use a fan instead of air-conditioning on all but the hottest summer days. When you must use air-conditioning, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or more.  More tips...

Eco Quote

The packaging for a microwavable 'microwave' dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes and a landfill dead-time of centuries. — David Wann, Buzzworm, November 1990   >More quotes...