Category Archives: Environment

University of Oregon Sophomore Jumps The Fences

-Eleni Pappelis

When fox hunting became a more fashionable sport in the 18th century, competitive horse jumping first started to develop. Due to fences around enclosed properties, horses and their riders required training so they were able to clear the fences and get to the foxes.

Today, the objective of jumping is to complete a course with no mistakes. Each course tests skill, precision, and training. This winner of a competition is the horse and rider who clear the course fastest with the least amount of penalties. Penalties are given when any part of an obstacle is knocked down or when a horse refuses to make a jump.

Ali Levy, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, has been riding horses since she was 8 years old. While competing at a horse show, she takes at least three classes a day, in which she must memorize a ten-jump course and is expected to execute it perfectly.

“Long story short, I have to do it flawlessly and still look good,” Levy says.

While she attends school during her off-season, Levy rides at least once a week. When it becomes closer to a show, she trains for five hours a day, six days a week.

“I love this sport because it takes me away from my busy life for a few hours. It is nice to leave campus for a while to spend some time relaxing,” says Levy.

Levy intends to join the club team at University of Oregon in the future and is excited to compete on the team because of the many horses she will have the opportunity to ride.

“I really enjoy riding different horses because it makes me better,” she says.

Elephants and Rhinos and Bears in Oregon? Oh my!

-Emily Fraysse

Bobbing his head forwards and back, he lunged right for our car.

“Roll up your window! Roll up your window!” screamed my mother in the driver’s seat.

Of course, in the first thirty seconds of driving into the Wildlife Safari Park, we get attacked. Before this moment, we never thought we would experience a full-grown ostrich bombarding our car, especially not in Oregon, but we did. Thankfully, before the beast could do any damage to the paint job of the Toyota Rav4, the workers at the Wildlife Safari shooed him away to the side of the road.

The park, located in Winston, Oregon, consists of two main areas: the drive-thru and the Village. The Village houses an array of animals such as wolves, flamingos, Egyptian geese, kookaburras, alligators, lemurs, bobcats, and bearded dragons. Another part of the Village is like a petting zoo, with pygmy goats, lamas, miniature donkeys, and horses. But the most amazing part of this park lies in the rest of the 600+ acre lot. Guests get the chance to experience animals up-close by driving through the five sectors (Africa Section, Wetland Area, The Americas, Asia Section, and Tiger and Cheetah Area) of the park.

It was traveler Frank Hart’s vision to create a non-profit facility in the Pacific Northwest with its main goal being to save rare and endangered species. Thirty-eight years later, through education, conservation, and research, not only has it become a fantastic wildlife safari, but the zoo is one of the top breeders of cheetahs in the United States. Since the zoo opening in 1972, there have been 171 cheetahs born in the park.

Going along with its goal of protecting the diversity of species, it created the Conservation of Rare and Endangered Species (C.O.R.E.S.) program in January 2005. Connecting with researchers all over the world, the Safari’s website explains that the program is creating, “scientifically-controlled managed breeding programs, public awareness of wildlife conservation issues, and in some cases, reintroduction of wildlife bred in captivity back into secure habitats.” Currently, it is working on cheetah reproduction projects as well as an African Elephant conservation and reproduction center.

Check the website for inside events including bear feed, breakfast with the bears, camel rides, cheetah encounter, elephant barn encounter, elephant car wash, and lion feeding!

The Paper Cup Demise

-Tamara Feingold

There’s something about holding that venti-sized paper cup with a cardboard sleeve that I just can’t get enough of.

I’m not going to lie, I texted about five friends in panic when Starbucks updated its cup design last March without warning me. Needless to say, I’m a drip coffee with a little bit of half-and-half and Splenda connoisseur and there’s nothing that says “I’m ready for class” like a good strong cup o’ joe. It’s the last dirty little un-environmentally-friendly habit I’ve hung on to. I ride my bike, don’t use paper towels, and carry reusable grocery bags. I judge people with Hummers.

But when I walked into The Buzz coffeehouse on campus a couple of weeks ago, my usual twenty-ounce drip coffee was $2.75. A little steep for a black cup of java, right? Right. That’s because The Fishbowl, The Buzz, and Union Market have all adopted a new pricing plan:

Use a disposable paper cup: You pay the beverage price plus 50 cents

Use a reusable mug: You pay the beverage price minus 50 cents

As attached as I am to that status symbol of steaming joy, this new payment plan is irresistibly sensible. The concept, which is the result of a recent contest hosted in the EMU called Fifty for Five Thousand, includes all profits from the paper cup tax returning to future sustainability projects.

For those of you hoping to save some money without carting a travel mug around campus all day, fear not. There’s an Adopt-a-Mug program allowing students to use a mug stocked by the coffee shop.

What’s so wrong with an occasional paper cup of coffee, you ask? Usually, the coffee cups aren’t made from recycled paper and the plastic coating that keeps your beverage warm also means it ends up in a landfill. According to the Environment Action Association, Americans consume about 400 million cups of coffee per day, which is disturbingly comedic.

If nothing else can get to poor college students, it’s a raise in prices. Especially in coffee, which I consider to be vital to the finals/no sleep/early classes experience that is the University of Oregon.

For that reason, as I sit in The Buzz listening to The Black Keys I’m sipping out of my brand new, twelve ounce, stainless steel with a screw lid and mug full of piping hot coffee. And if I, a diehard daily paper cup fiend, can switch over, so can the rest of Eugene.

NOTE: 12 OZ coffee mug not recommended for true coffee drinkers. What was I thinking? Someone get me a 20 OZ for my birthday.

Personal Farms in the Sky

-Laura Lundberg

Climate change is beginning to threaten and hurt our environment more and more each year. With the human population continuing to grow at rapid rates, and with deforestation, ocean acidification and air pollution, it seems that this world is in need of some innovative technologies to help repair some of the damage. There have been many different types of new, sustainable practices that have been gaining support and being implemented inside cities and individual homes all across the world. One of these nifty inventions is known as the SkyFarm.

Manuel Dreesmann, a designer, is the genius behind this concept. A green technology that aims at improving individual lifestyles and health, Skyfarms aim to raise awareness and make sure that people know exactly where their food comes from – by growing plants and crops themselves on their own balconies.

The Skyfarms operate much like hanging ornamental baskets do on balconies. They aim to save space for apartment owners (or renters) by hanging from the ceiling, and each plant or crop sits neatly inside a white acrylic pot that has a transparent domed cover.  One interesting feature about these Skyfarms is that they also come with a handle and a balance, so with just a pull of the handle, your Skyfarm will lower itself to you to be tended to. Another pull and its back up to the ceiling.

According to Dreesmann, Skyfarms aims to “[improve] the quality of living, reducing energy and water use, and generally making the building more sustainable — here’s a gardening solution also geared towards green-thumbed residents of apartment towers that’s decidedly a bit more tangible (and a touch less frightening).”

This is certainly a handy invention that thinks into the future of humanity. Manuel Dreesmann believes that more people will be moving into closer quarters, and cities will begin to overrun the countryside, leading to the loss of the essential acres necessary to make and produce food. Dreesmann says on his website that, “You can grow your own food, which means you can be sure that no toxics are sprayed and you can see by yourself the process from a little seed to a delicious arugula salad.”

Skyfarms are just one new way of looking at the world and thinking about something that can be changed. Something that is a relatively cheap, easy fix that will sustain the human population, so that everyone can know where their food comes from and doesn’t have to worry about whether they live in cities or in the countryside.

A Lamp that Requires a Sacrifice

-Laura Lundberg

There are some very interesting gadgets and gizmos out there that are meant to help keep the world sustainable and reduce the amount of energy humans consume. One of the most interesting new gadgets on the market is something that is 100% sustainable, emits cool colors, and requires just a bit of a sacrifice that really gets people thinking twice about how much energy they use. What’s this item? It’s called the Blood Lamp.

Invented by Mike Thomspon, an English designer based in the Netherlands, Thomspon wanted to make people stop and think  before simply wasting energy. He came up with the idea of this somewhat disturbing green gadget when he was studying for his masters at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. He was researching chemical energy for a project when he discovered the Blood Lamp’s chemical component – luminol.

Luminol is a chemical that forensic scientists use to find traces of blood at crime scenes. Luminol works by reacting with red blood cells, turning the red blood cells a bright, neon blue that glows. While the chemical used to make the lamp work seem simple enough, it’ll be more work to actually get yourself to light it. The lamp works by someone mixing in an activating powder into the glass. Then, all you do is break the top of the glass, cut yourself and a few drops of blood into the glass. Sounds simple enough, but is also extremely daunting and will make you think twice before using this type of lamp.

Thinking twice is exactly what Thompson wanted too. He said in an article for LiveScience that, “It kind of triggered this thought in my mind, that if energy somehow came at a cost to us, then maybe it would make us think differently about the way we use it,” and that the lamp “forces the user to‘rethink how wasteful they are with energy, and how precious it is.” He explained. If you want to see a video of the Blood Lamp in action, you can check it out on YouTube, although we warn you, there is blood.

While the Blood Lamp is a cool idea, and a great way to get people to start really thinking about how much energy they use, one has to think that there is an easier and just as green way to get light – and light that isn’t a weird neon blue color either. Still, I guess if worst comes to worst (perhaps in a post-apocalyptic world) one might be all too willing to cut their fingers to get a little light.

A Campaign That's Good Enough to Eat!

-Laura Lundberg

There are many different clubs and groups on the University of Oregon campus, and each deals with different aspects of improving campus, Eugene or even the world. Many of these groups cover a wide range of topics to cover the variety of majors and interests of the University’s students. However, there is one group on campus that is already making as big of changes as they can to the University, and that’s the Climate Justice League.

The Climate Justice League began two years ago in 2010, and they didn’t start small. They launched their first campaign, Take Back the Tap, which aimed to get rid of all sales of bottled water on campus. This campaign has already sparked a wildfire of support, with more drinking fountains appearing on campus, more recycling areas for water bottles and a lot more reusable water bottles being seen on campus. The campaign is also currently in the process of passing the UO Senate and becoming a “law” on campus. Due to this overwhelming support from the Take Back the Tap campaign, the Climate Justice League has recently started another campaign that deals with the earth instead of dealing with water.

It’s called Edible Campus, and it’s already received quite a bit of support from the Climate Justice League’s Facebook followers and students on campus. Edible Campus aims to promote the construction of on-campus gardens, where students, faculty and other community members can collectively plant and grow what they need. This isn’t just a Climate Justice League campaign, though. It’s also a collaboration with the Center for the Advancement of Student Learning (CASL), Slow Food Eugene, the Sustainability Center and the Residence Hall Association.

According to the Climate Justice League’s website, they say that the goals of Edible Campus are to “Demonstrate low-impact lifestyle choices and edible gardening practices to local community, students, and visitors, and to offer experiential learning opportunities through for-credit coursework, work parties, workshops, and tours held at the grounds.” They have other goals such as using grey water and water catchment on their irrigation systems, as well as to maximize efficiency through the use of composting and other such practices.

While this campaign is only in its infancy, the Climate Justice League and CASL came up with the idea to use a vacant lot next to their fully sustainable house on Moss Street– this way visitors, students, and other community members can come to the lot and not only tend the gardens, but they can also tour the house and learn more about sustainable building and sustainable practices. The Climate Justice League has also put out a summary of this project and a call for anyone wishing to get involve to help. On their website, the Climate Justice League writes that, “We need your help with gathering student, faculty, administration, and community support for the project, grant writing, planning garden logistics, and more!”

If you wish to get involved with the project or want to make your support known, visit the Climate Justice League’s website for more information.

Boycotting Girl Scout Cookies

-Laura Lundberg

Nearly every college student eagerly anticipates the beginning of Girl Scout cookie season. While some wonder what kind of new flavors there will be this year, and if the Girl Scouts will be dropping some of the less desired flavors, I wonder one thing – Why has Girl Scouts not made it apparent that palm oil is one of the main ingredients used in all of the popular Girl Scout cookies such as Tagalongs, Thin Mints, and Samoa’s?

The Girl Scout cookie funds many things, including teaching girls about money management, helping to fund summer camps, Planned Parenthood, and welcoming transgender children into the Girl Scout ranks, but there is one incredibly negative thing that the Girl Scout cookies do – help the destruction of Orangutan populations and their native habitat.

Palm oil, a plant that is used in many products, is one of the leading causes of deforestation in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Thousands of acres in the Southeast Asian rainforests are destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, and the Borneo Orangutans that reside in the rainforests have been pushed to the brink of extinction due to the overwhelming amount of deforestation.

An article on MongaBay says that, “Relegated to ever smaller fragments of forest, wild orangutans began to face starvation as their food sources were depleted, forcing them to venture into newly established oil palm plantations where they feed on the young shoots of palms, destroying the tree before it produces any oil seeds. Viewing the wild orangutans as pests, plantation managers started paying $10 to $20 for each dead orangutan — a strong incentive for a migrant worker who may earn just $10 per day.”

For the most part, Girl Scouts USA kept the use of palm oil in their products under wraps; however, two senior Girl Scout members, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, discovered this tragedy and brought the issue to the masses, as well as the members of Girl Scouts USA. The two girls began campaigning to try and get the Girl Scouts USA to stop using palm oil in their products and after months of being ignored and even being censored on Facebook, Girl Scouts USA finally addressed the issue by initiating a policy.

The policy says that beginning this cookie season (2012 – 2013), Girl Scouts USA will be purchasing Green Palm certificates to offset the use of the palm oil in the cookies. Girl Scouts USA also says that they will be letting their customers know that they are purchasing these certificates by telling them on the box.

Girl Scouts USA also has a plan to get their licensed cookie bakers to pledge to use certified, sustainable palm oil by 2015, and Girl Scouts USA has also told their bakers to “use as little palm oil as possible, and only in recipes where there is no alternative.”

All of these policy ideas will certainly help the orangutans and their native habitat, but this doesn’t make up for the continual loss of the old-growth rainforest that orangutans used to live in, nor does it help any of the new growth rainforest that still has the potential to be destroyed to make room for more palm oil plantations. However, anything helps, and Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen have started a petition to help get palm oil out of the Girl Scout cookie recipes as quickly as possible, and they have also started a Facebook page where those interested can join together. Boycotting the cookies, which is what I will be doing until at least 2015, is another way to help support making Girl Scout cookies a palm-oil-free reality.

Follow Laura at @LMLundberg

Flux Playlist: Rain, Rain, Go Away

-Flux Blog Staff

We’re about to enter our third week of the Winter term, and  if you haven’t already noticed, the weather has been pretty crappy. We here at Flux feel your pain and want to help you forget about the endless supply or rain that we will endure over the next few months. This week’s playlist is filled with songs that will remind you of those warm Summer  days that seem so far away. So grab a pair of headphones and drown out the rain with this weeks Flux Playlist!


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Mike:

  • Wouldn’t it Be Nice -The Beach Boys
  • Bowl of Oranges -Bright Eyes
  • Santeria -Sublime

Diana:

  • Heart it Races -Dr. Dog
  • Where is My Mind? -The Pixies
  • Closer to the Sun -Slightly Stoopid

Jessica:

  • In The Summertime -Mungo Jerry
  • No Rain -Blind Melon
  • L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. -Noah and the Whale

Sam:

  • 21st Century Life -Sam Sparro
  • Walking on Sunshine -Aly & Aj
  • Pinch Me -Barenaked Ladies

Tamara:

  • Sunshine -Jonathan Edwards
  • A-Punk -Vampire Weekend
  • Two Princes -Spin Doctors

Tiana:

  • Sunshine -Atmosphere
  • Summertime -Kenny Chesney
  • Double Vision -3OH!3

Good News for Penguins

-Laura Lundberg

Oil spills are a catastrophe, and there is little that can be done to combat the tons of slick oil that leak from the ships that have run aground. The New Zealand oil spill that occurred on October 5th, 2011 has been severely damaging to the local ecosystem.

The cargo ship known as the Rena was 775 feet in length and it hit the Astrolabe Reef near the port of Tauranga, causing more than 350 tons of oil to leak out into the open ocean. Environment Minister, Nick Smith, said in an article on BBC that, “This event has come to a stage where it is New Zealand’s most significant maritime environmental disaster.”  The reef quickly became too toxic for fish to handle, and wildlife birds also become doused in the slick, toxic oil and cannot fly. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) over two thousand seabirds were found dead, and hundreds of birds who were still alive and covered in oil were taken to special wildlife recovery areas.

However, there is good news for some of the animals affected by the oil spill. On November 22nd, forty-nine little blue penguins were released off the coast of New Zealand. The National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Team took in about 343 little blue penguins left in their sanctuary, working to be de-oiled and rehabilitated back into the wild.

A spokesperson of the WWF, Bob Zuur said that, “Releasing the birds is a trade-off between risk of being re-oiled and the not inconsiderable risks of keeping the birds longer – for example disease, birds reducing condition, ongoing stress, social disruption and domestication. We believe the team at the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Team made the right choice in releasing the first of the little blue penguins, taking these factors into account. There is also a possibility of a second clutch this breeding season.”

The public was also involved with helping these little penguins get back on their feet and ready to be released, and a surge of people knitting sweaters for the penguins became popular. The sweaters (some patterned like a mini tuxedo and others in vibrant neon colors) were made to keep the penguins warm and safe while they waited to have the oil cleaned off of their feathers. The sweaters also kept the oil-soaked penguins from preening their feathers and ingesting the toxic oil. People all over the world rose to the occasion, and eventually the organization had over 1,000 sweaters ready to put on penguins – thus protecting them and making them look adorable at the same time.

There is hope that another batch of penguins will be released as early as this week, and with microchips inside each penguin that has been released, it will be easier to find them and monitor them to make sure the penguins end up back home in their natural habitat.

The World Wildlife Fund also produced a quick video of the penguins being released, which shows them being released, and talks about the de-oiling of the penguins and the WWF’s plans to release and monitor more of the penguins that are still in captivity, waiting to be clean and free of oil so that they can go back to their home in the open ocean.

Photos taken from ThinkProgress.org and aktnz.co.nz