Earth Day Sustainability News

As we approach Earth Day 2013, I thought it would be a fun idea to share some of the sustainability news that has caught my attention in the last couple of months. I get most of my news from the NYTimes and NPR. The Times is more heavily represented here because it is just a lot easier to save online news articles than it is a radio piece, but there is certainly  lot of coverage of education and environmental issues in both sources.

I’ve broken these stories into categories: Politics and Policy, Food and Agriculture, Energy, and Ecuador. Some could, of course, be cross-listed in other categories. If I were to draw a venn diagram of Sustainable Summer, these would be a few of the overlapping circles that inform our central focus on sustainability. Sustainability is an interdisciplinary concept that must take into consideration ideas from the natural sciences, social sciences, and culture. As educators, one of our objectives is to help students see the interconnectedness between seemingly disparate subjects and to make the invisible visible. It is our responsibility to do this using a fact-based and balanced approach. We clearly believe that environmental sustainability is a critical issue, and that may be perceived as having left-leaning political bent. However, our organization is apolitical and we do not represent “extreme” environmental views. We think it’s important to also represent legitimate arguments against “progressive” environmental politics and policies. There are many.

Education is about discovery. We try to show, not tell. But we have to start the discussion somewhere. If you’re curious about some of the ideas that inform our curriculum and approach, you will find some representative examples below.

Politics and Policy

NYTimes: New Guidelines Call for Broad Changes in Science Education

New standards for curriculum, which at least 26 states have pledged to consider, take a firm stand on climate change and evolution and emphasize hands-on learning.

NYTimes: How Green Is Your School?

A growing number of graduate-level management courses are teaching sustainability, in and out of the classroom.

NYTimes: A Secretary to Match the Setting

Sally Jewell, the president’s nominee to head the Interior Department, shares the passions of the people who use the 500 million acres of public land.

NYTimes: Cuba’s Free-Market Farm Experiment Yields a Meager Crop

Although the government has liberalized many aspects of agriculture, inefficiencies caused by central control mean the food situation has gotten worse in some ways.

NYTimes: Food Politics Creates Rift in Panel on Labeling

A committee of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics dismissed a member whose objectivity on genetically modified food was questioned, but she also questioned others’ objectivity.

NYTimes: The Scary Hidden Stressor

The brutal winter drought in China is connected to a global wheat shortage is connected to the Arab Spring is connected to…

Food and Agriculture

NYTimes: The Global Farmland Rush

Agribusinesses are using land in poor countries for crops that are exported and do not improve food security:

NYTimes: Look Carefully at Those Seeds

It’s time to order for the backyard garden. If you avoid chemicals, the typical choices might not work for you.

NYTimes: Major Grocer to Label Foods With Gene-Modified Content

Whole Foods, the first retailer in the country to require such labeling, said all foods sold in its stores would need to be labeled within five years.

NYTimes: Coffee’s Economics, Rewritten by Farmers

Some coffee farmers are taking control of more of the supply chain, roasting and marketing their own beans for greater profit.

NYTimes: Grasping at Straw

Even if your yard is asphalt, there’s an easy way to grow vegetables.

NYTimes: Slow Food Quickens the Pace

A gastronomic movement’s founder reflects and finds reasons for optimism.

NYTimes: Lost in the Supermarket

A new book about processed food is so much fun you almost forget how depressing it all is.


NYTimes: Crowdfunding Clean Energy

There are plenty of recent signs that we may be witnessing the coming of age of solar power.

NYTimes: In Search of Energy Miracles

While scientists race to develop a technology, probably nuclear-based, that can slake our energy thirst without a huge environmental cost, it would be folly to wait that long to tackle carbon emissions.


NYTimes: Chevron Aims at an Activist Shareholder

Chevron subpoenaed a hedge fund’s shareholder proposals as it tries to find ammunition in its fight against an $18 billion judgment in Ecuador.

BBC: Ecuador’s Energy or Environment Dilemma

Ecuador is building a big Chinese-funded hydroelectric plant to help serve its energy needs but critics say the spectacular San Rafael Falls  are threatened, as Irene Caselli reports.