The Hazards of Methane and Coal Processing

See the flame? That’s gas flaring at an oil refinery.

Methane emissions and coal mining have received attention from the current Federal government administration. You can read about the regulations and policy here, here, or here. Instead of rehashing all of that, I want to take a look at the hazardous properties of these chemicals. Let’s get a little hazmat’ish today and address the hazards of methane and coal processing chemicals.

First, I breakdown the health and environmental impacts of methane. Methane emissions can be part of the gas flaring at oil and gas production sites. Then I look at a few of the chemicals involved in coal processing. They are the unsaid, and often unknown, part of “clean coal.” Continue reading

Top 5 Worst Things You Do To the Environment

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Coal on its way to be burned to power and cool your home and office.

What are the worst things you do for the environment? I’m not referring to deliberately dumping oils or toxins, or hunting the last of a species. I’m referring to those activities that you may take for granted. These are actions you take due to a combination of choice, comfort, convenience, and necessity, such as heating your home with fossil fuels. Even though I work in the environmental field, there are several day-to-day actions I take that I know are not environmentally friendly. So this post was both for me and you.

Below I identify the five worst things I do to the environment, plus five more that you might do. There is one action you can take, or may have taken, that is beginning to stand above the rest for its potential negative impact on the environment. That is to vote for and/or support an elected official who opposes environmental protection.

The top five worst things I do to the environment. I discuss the impact of each below.

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Is Science Gone From the Environmental Field?

wind turbines

What would science know about designing wind turbines?

A friend of mine, a hydrologist doing actual hydrology, simplified something I’ve been thinking about. He said when his work crosses over to the environmental field it’s like a vacation. There’s no charts or data to analyze. It’s simply check-the-box, compliance, and explaining. “There’s no real science anymore.” That’s the line that hit me. Although I refer to myself as an environmental scientist, I’d been thinking about how I do little actual science. Then he said it. “There’s no real science left in the environmental field.” Bam! He’s right, from a certain point of view. Is science gone from the environmental field? Continue reading

Top 5 Environmental Blog Posts of 2016

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Yellowstone National Park. An image from my favorite post of 2016

Thanks to everyone who came to the blog in 2016. There was an 80% increase in readers from 2015. The blog continues to grow! Here are my Top 5 environmental blog posts in 3 categories: my favorite posts of 2016, most read posts of 2016, and my favorite early blog posts. I’d recommend checking out the lists if you came here for something other than what’s listed. If you enjoyed a post or one listed below, share it and spread the positive environmental messages.

My top 5 favorite posts of 2016

  1. Joy of the National Parks in Photos
  2. The World’s First Fully Solar Powered Beer Fest
  3. The Joy of Science & Natural History Museums
  4. What are HCFCs and their Connection to Costco and International Diplomacy
  5. Environment of Beer: Coors Brewery Tour

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2016 Gifts: Protect Our Winters & The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado

One of the ways I’ve chosen to become more involved in the environmental community is to make regular donations to environmental organizations or causes. I’ve donated before, but this makes it official and public. It’s not only coming from me, it’s coming from this blog as an official endorsement. I’ve chosen 2 organizations for The National Environmental Professional 2016 gift – Protect Our Winters and The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado.

Publicizing the donation is an effort to extend the reach of my gift by promoting these organizations. It might introduce you to them. It may inspire you to give or to get involved. Or it may inspire you to find a similar cause that is close to where your live or within your work/life community. We need as many positive stories about the environmental community as possible. Continue reading

Environmental Inspiration: Found

Summit County, CO always inspires me.

My last post was about how I hadn’t been inspired me to write. That changed on November 8. The newly elected representative in the White House is worrisome for those working in the environmental field or any science field. Threats to the Clean Power Plan, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, promoting the unhealthiest, carbon-intensive fuel source, opening preserved public lands to oil and gas drilling, and generally halting energy and environmental progress. It’s the disregard for science, health, and information (aka facts) that’s most troubling. I’ve found my environmental inspiration. I’ll continue to use this space to share the stories that enlighten, entertain and inform people. As for the above photo: skiing in Colorado always inspires me. Continue reading

Environmental Inspiration: Finding It or Not

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Maybe another environmentally conscious brewery will help me find my environmental inspiration.

It’s been 2 1/2 months since my last post. That’s my longest drought without writing. I wondered if I’d lost interest in writing and creating. No. I wondered if I’ve been busier. Not really. The only reason is that nothing has inspired me to write. It’s that simple. I haven’t found any “environmental inspiration.”

Writing this blog is about telling stories from the perspective of an environmental professional that excite, entertain, or educate me. As a science communicator, it’s important to me tell the stories of the environmental profession. If I can find my environmental inspiration, or tell of someone else’s, that will hopefully be conveyed to the reader.

There’s been plenty I could have written about: lack of climate or science discussion in the election coverage, pipeline protests, environmental art, science education, or Nobel Prize winners. But none of it brought me here.Why? There’s several reasons I thought about: family, vacation, work, maybe even football season. No. All of those things have inspired me to write in the past. Well, not exactly football, but other sports.

Of course, it is odd that I’m writing about how I couldn’t find something to write about. That’s the idea. I hope this will reinvigorate my writing and help me find my environmental inspiration. I’ve heard several professional writers give similar advice; “If you want to be a good writer, write every day.” There’s also countless stories and advice about creating small daily habits to achieve big goals. I don’t plan to write every day. But I am setting a goal of 10 posts over the next 5 months, November through March.

Until then, here’s 3 of my favorite articles from the past few months.