To this day, scientists are still not 100% sure why exactly we need sleep.

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Greenify Halloween

How to make Halloween more eco-friendly:

add a little green to this year’s black and orange!

Isn’t it amazing when we can be environmentally friendly with little-to-no strain or even alteration to our life at all? Your child is already walking around with a Centraide box that gets heavier and heavier as the night goes on (which might be good news for you if they get tired faster), shivering profusely because they insisted on wearing that Little Mermaid or Sumo Wrestler costume (again, might be good news if they get cold faster), or having the whole night cut short because their flimsy Safeway bag broke and all their candy splattered all over the ground (yet again, silver lining). So why not be environmentally friendly and street-smart this Halloween? That is how terms like ‘Supermom’ came to be.

Let’s attack that bulging non-recyclable plastic candy-holding bag first. Why make your kid carry around this when they could be carrying around this!? Sturdy, reusable and customizable  – this tote is a great completion to any child’s outfit, not to mention can be used in the future as a grocery bag, lunch bag, or a place to put a change of clothes on the days you walk to work.

Speaking of walking over driving (like how we transitioned that?), Halloween just isn’t the same all cooped up in a car. Besides being just downright lazy (I mean, the houses are next to each other for crying out loud), it’s also irresponsible to be driving around when there are so many children zipping up and down the block all hyped up on sugar. If you live in a colder climate, blasting your heat while waiting for your kid in the car just so they can dump their candy and run back to the next house seems a little unnecessary to me. Don’t let your little girl trick you into this by pulling the old “But if you don’t drive me I’ll be cold and get sick, then I’ll have to miss school and it will be all your fault!”. If I can do a 3-hour Population Ecology final with the flu, she can do a 15-minute math quiz with the sniffles. Furthermore, maybe there is more than one reason why that Pussycat Doll costume is a bad idea?

Instead of a heated car that won’t serve much purpose on those crowded Halloween streets anyways, opt for walking or biking. Think about it this way, with that extra-sturdy reusable bag you bought them to replace that flimsy plastic one, they’ll be able to pack a nice warm shawl or sweater for when it gets chilly out. Plus, everyone knows the best kind of heat is body warmth, and what mother doesn’t want an excuse to hug her kid more without the usual squeal – “Maaa you’re embarrassing me!”? Ahhh, loop holes.

On a side note…Ohio University’s student-run ‘We’re a culture, not a costume‘ campaign went viral this week, and I urge everyone to check it out. It may not sway your vote on this year’s costume choice, but it is something to think about.

Have a happy, safe and environmentally-friendly Halloween!

Land Use/Land Cover Change

Land Use Land Cover Change

The Agricultural Revolution brought with it an intensification of land use and land cover change. More and more, humans are becoming aware of the implications of this and seeking to understand the causes of LUCC, how it operates, and how it affects our lives and environment.

There is no single factor that causes LUCC; it is a complex system with multiple proximate and underlying causes. Agricultural expansion, including slash-and-burn and pasture creation for cattle ranching, wood extraction, and road construction are all significant proximate causes. Developing countries are scrambling for foreign exchange revenue, and with the relatively low cost of land and growing international demands, agricultural expansion is critical. Poor farmers are cutting deals with international investors to use certain areas for individual reasons. Many developing countries are so concentrated on addressing political instability that land use policies and regulations are swept under the rug. Also, outdated technology and poor application techniques lead to wasteful logging practices. Although drivers such as wood extraction happen at the local level, ripple effects can reach regional—even global—scales. Regional drivers, such as national policies, also have global consequences.

LUCC contributes to local, regional, and global climate changes. An example of a local effect is Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. The addition of asphalt lowers surface albedo. During the day the ground absorbs heat which is released at night, drastically increasing the air temperature. Aerosols resulting from fossil fuel and biomass burning migrate to different regions, scattering insolation and modifying cloud properties in those areas. Scattering cools the area by decreasing the amount of insolation reaching the Earth’s surface, and changes in cloud properties may alter precipitation levels. If they migrate far enough these aerosols can have global effects as well. Deforestation and logging account for 25% of global CO2 emissions, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the thinning of the ozone layer and global warming.

Various health effects stem from the urban heat island phenomenon of city temperatures being generally higher than the surrounding area. Elevated magnitude and length of heat waves amplify public health risks associated with excessive heat, and aid in the formation of low-level ozone. Ozone, along with air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds can cause acute respiratory infections, chronic bronchitis, and even lung cancer. Urban waste is a problem because as landfills reach capacity, many cities will opt for incineration which releases toxic fumes that some studies have shown to interfere with sexual development and fertility.

It is becoming increasingly evident how the drivers, climate effects, and health consequences of LUCC are related to anthropogenic activities. Understanding this complex system is key – knowledge is power; the power to nip global environment change in the bud!

Celebs that Rock! Environmentally Conscious Celebrities

We’ve all heard about California senator Arnold Schwarzenegger revealing his secret love child, French actor Gerard Depardieu peeing on the carpet of a passenger plane, and Hugh Hefner’s runaway bride Crystal Harris calling off the wedding then heading to Vegas to ‘drown her sorrows’. But what about those celebs that take time out of their busy schedules to promote environmental awareness and activism to help make this world a better place for future generations? Don’t they deserve just as much attention, if not more? We think so. Today we’re turning the spotlight on deserving environmentally conscious celebrities. Let’s hope it stays there for a while.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Let’s play a game – ready, go. What is the first word that come to mind when we say… Leo? If you said “tigers”, then you read our mind, and not just because they’re both wildcats. For over a year and a half now, Leo has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund for their Save Tigers Now campaign, which aims to double the tiger population by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. Somewhere between filming Shutter Island and Inception, DiCaprio found time to travel to Asia to help the WWF kick off this ambitious endeavor.

Mark Ruffalo

DiCaprio’s Inception co-star, Mark Ruffalo, has an ambitious endeavor of his own—abolishing the use of fossil fuels. He is also taking a stand against fracking—the process of injecting huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break up rock formations and release gas for harvesting. Ruffalo maintains that the “energy, and time and people power” spent on ensuring the safety of natural-gas-exploiting communities should be put towards renewables instead.

Sophia Bush

What’s hotter than Sophia Bush sporting a red satin sash in efforts to entice her One Tree Hill boyfriend Austin Nichols into the bedroom? How about Sophia Bush sporting a green “Respect your mother” shirt (Mother Nature, that is), in efforts to entice fellow environmentalists to take action around the BP oil spill. Now THAT’S sizzling! I wonder how many people could be “enticed” to take a stand against climate change if she exchanged that red sash for a “Go Green” one? Hmm…

Adrian Grenier

Entourage may be over, but Adrian Grenier’s fight for the environment is not. A self-proclaimed environmental activist, he has a slew of projects, from his show Alter Eco on Planet Green—which demonstrates how viewers can make simple changes to their lifestyle—to advocating various charities like Global Green and The Best Friends Animal Society. Grenier was also the recipient of the 2008 Blue Sky Award for Environmental Activism. Way to use your powers for good and not evil, Aquaman!

Cameron Diaz

Last—but definitely not least—on our list is blonde bombshell Cameron Diaz. In her documentary Cameron Diaz Saves the World! she goes zipping around the country in a hybrid car in efforts to inspire the masses to ‘ask questions’ about their surroundings rather than simply accepting obliviousness. Promoting engagement with her bubbly and approachable personality is what Cameron does best! She even helped former US Vice President Al Gore form Save Our Selves, which threw the Live Earth concert back in 2007. Talented actress, bombshell, and environmental activist – what more could we ask for?


Ever wondered what it would look like to see Arctic sea ice loss in real time? NCAR scientists Marika Holland and David Bailey have created a video that speeds up this process for us viewers, using monthly data from 1979 to the present, and even adding some future projections up until the year 2100.