Navigating Nature

A globe-trotting activist communicates science and the environment



Chicago Series #1: The Midwest is Not Exempt from Climate Change

I moved to Chicago almost seven months ago, and I’ve found many Midwest stereotypes to be true – the people are very friendly, the winters are very cold, the food is crazy good, and the beer is even better. But one stereotype – that the Midwest won’t suffer any severe consequences of climate change – is completely false. While we don’t have hurricanes, and live right next to the largest body of fresh water in America, the Midwest is not exempt from climate impacts – and has plenty to worry about as Earth warms.

Continue reading “Chicago Series #1: The Midwest is Not Exempt from Climate Change”

My First (and Last) Descent Down the Nuble River

Guest post by Bryant Irawan

Over the course of human history, we have explored nearly every corner of the globe. But despite globalization and advancements in science, there is one last frontier that remains – and it’s closer than you think. Sometimes we live only a few miles away from one and sometimes it courses through our very cities. I am, of course, talking about rivers. Continue reading “My First (and Last) Descent Down the Nuble River”

NYC’s High Line, and the Injustice It Represents

The lush green vines billow in the city breeze, muffled by the quiet roar of stamping feet and tourists’ conversations. The neat slices of sidewalk meld with the garden beds, tracing a line to the half-finished skyscrapers. The elevated walkway peers over the manicured streets, with glitzy shops and storefronts lighting up the avenue.

Twenty years ago, this place was sketchy during the day, and extremely dangerous at night. This is New York City’s Meatpacking District. This is the High Line.

Continue reading “NYC’s High Line, and the Injustice It Represents”

Urban Sustainability in Madrid

Para leer el artículo en español, por favor desplácese hacia abajo.

My time in Madrid, unfortunately, is almost over, so this blog post is the last one (for the moment) written in Spanish and English. I have traveled so much during the quarter, as you can see from my previous blog posts, but I’ve also been taking lots of classes, including a class about Earth and Water Sustainability in Spain. It’s been my favorite class and we’ve learned so much, not only about general sustainability themes and scientific concepts, but also about the challenges and priorities of sustainability and the environment in a city as modern and big and with the history of Madrid. Continue reading “Urban Sustainability in Madrid”

When Culture Clashes With Conservation: Managing the World’s Oceans

What do shark fin soup, whaling, and the Cape Wind project have in common (besides just being related to the ocean)? These are all examples of cultural “barriers” to marine conservation, or instances in which a human cultural value has been viewed as unsustainable when it comes to managing the world’s oceans. In fact, global carbon pollution can also be regarded as a cultural barrier to marine conservation as well, since climate change is having a devastating effect on life in the oceans (to learn more about this, see a past blog post here). Each human culture has a slightly different relationship to the ocean, and since I am interested in culture and society as well as environmental sustainability, I’d like to explore this relationship, some common misconceptions, when problems do arise, and how we might approach this issue going forward. Continue reading “When Culture Clashes With Conservation: Managing the World’s Oceans”

Renewable Energy Credits (Or, How a Good Idea is Getting in the Way of Corporate Sustainability)

Have you ever walked into a store and spotted a sign stating that the company is “100% powered by renewable energy”? Sustainability and environmental stewardship are becoming more popular in the corporate world, and many businesses are scrambling to “green” their image. But how do these companies actually go about achieving a 100% renewable status? Some have on- or off-site energy renewable generation, as exemplified by Apple’s data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Others make investments, purchase renewable energy directly, or buy carbon offsets. But one of the most popular options is to buy renewable energy credits, or RECs. One REC typically represents one megawatt-hour (mWh) of energy, which is enough energy to power 350 houses for one hour. RECs are sold by utilities and energy producers, and are bought by individuals and businesses.

Continue reading “Renewable Energy Credits (Or, How a Good Idea is Getting in the Way of Corporate Sustainability)”

Skiing Sustainably, and Why It Matters

This week, I am home in Colorado for Spring Break, so I spent a couple days skiing in the mountains with my dad and sister. On Monday, we went to Monarch, a small local resort outside of Salida. Monarch is right in the middle of the Rockies, so there are mountains in every direction. On Tuesday, we went to Copper, which is a much bigger resort in Summit County. Copper also had fantastic views, as well as 4 inches of fresh powder. Continue reading “Skiing Sustainably, and Why It Matters”

The Tanzanian Balancing Act (or, How Two Weeks In East Africa Made Me Question Everything I Thought I Knew About Conservation)

I’ve been visiting national parks like Crater Lake and Yellowstone since I was a toddler. Something about setting aside a specific area of land for the pure purpose of preserving its wildlife, ecology, landscapes, and beauty for future generations seemed so right to me. Like we had already found the solution to our rampant environmental degradation when Ulysses S. Grant signed Yellowstone National Park into existence in 1872. Continue reading “The Tanzanian Balancing Act (or, How Two Weeks In East Africa Made Me Question Everything I Thought I Knew About Conservation)”

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