Juggling poverty and health: Food Corps, Let’s Move and food deserts

This is an opinion column written by a Sustain Mizzou member.

If you page through American history, our country has a tendency to take notice of pressing issues too little and too late. Humanitarian problems are pushed by the wayside as the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. The correlation between poverty and poor health in the United States is an ongoing battle that is neglected by both the state and federal government.

The government needs to seek great improvements in the welfare system, in terms of matching problems with solutions. During the Great Depression, FDR’s Great Deal initiated a number of programs to alleviate the country’s shortcomings with federal aid. A lot of these policies have functioned throughout the years to keep Americans’ heads above water, yet still below the poverty line. Continue reading Juggling poverty and health: Food Corps, Let’s Move and food deserts

Discussion on “Contemporary criticisms of the received wilderness idea”

This week, Environmental Reading and Media group is taking a look at J. Baird Callicott’s “Contemporary criticisms of the received wilderness idea.”

“I am not here criticizing the places we call “wilderness.” Quite the contrary. Rather, I criticize a name, a concept, the received wilderness idea. I am as passionately solicitous of the places called wilderness as any of the defenders of the classic wilderness idea. However, in my opinion, the name “wilderness” improperly colors them, frames them and makes them available for inappropriate uses and abuses.” – pg. 1

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Do names for areas (natural areas, national recreation areas, national parks, wilderness or national forests) change your perception of the area?
  • Do you agree with the author that wilderness is an ethnically charged title for land? How have wilderness areas changed over time?

Feel free to answer in the comments section!

The Reading and Media Group meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the second floor lounge of the New Student Center. New readers are always welcome, and cookies are always plentiful.

Learn to fix your bike with MU’s new Bike Mechanics College

Kevin Petersen repairs a tire at Bicycle Mechanics College. Photo by Benjamin Datema.

Bicycle Mechanics College at Mizzou is a series of courses that will teach you everything you want to know about maintaining, repairing and re-building your bike. These small, laid back, personalized classes are intended for cyclists of any experience level, from beginner to advanced!  All BMC classes include student handouts with references to helpful online resources.  The Bike Mechanics College is taught by League of American Bicyclists certified League Cycling Instructors (LCI) who are also experienced professional bike mechanics.

They have three classes left this semester, which will cover:

Week 3 (April 19): Hubs, bearing and bottom brackets

What a hub is, how it works and how it wears, hubs, freewheel, headset, bottom bracket, pedals,  maintaining and repacking hubs, dissassembling and reassembling bearings.

       Student handouts include:  Diagrams of bike hub systems and related online resources Continue reading Learn to fix your bike with MU’s new Bike Mechanics College

Columbia Earth Day this weekend

Columbia Earth Day banner

Sustain Mizzou will join over 200 booths at Columbia Earth Day!  You can find us on Eco Avenue, which features 30 booths focused on sustainable living from a wide variety of perspectives. We’ll have an interactive housing map, information on all our projects and PRINT COPIES OF FOOTPRINT!  Come check it out!

Tina Casagrand will present some Reading Group material and philosophies at the Eco Avenue Schoolhouse, where short workshops will be happening three times an hour between noon and 5 p.m.  See the full schedule after the jump. Continue reading Columbia Earth Day this weekend

Energy privatization: How it can help

This is an opinion column by a Footprint writer.

by Adam Wilson

Good news! A new solar power tower is being constructed in California. Expected to be completed in 2013, the solar plant will produce an estimated 392 MW of electricity, which is about equal to the total amount of solar power installed in the U.S. in 2009, according to the article.   This article at Gizmag goes into greater detail about the plant in question, but largely glosses over its other main point, the fact that internet-giant Google is investing $168 million in the project.  This is why I love Google.  They are a progressive company that has invested a lot in making the internet more open and accessible, as well as in other ventures such as clean energy.  The problem is the fact that corporations are the ones who have to, and are indeed expected to by conservatives and libertarians, invest in the green energy sector.  This is problematic because clearly they are not doing enough of it.  It is much more lucrative for corporations to produce and deal in fossil fuels, because our government subsidizes oil, coal, natural gas, etc.  Changing our energy usage to renewable energy is as simple as reducing, and eventually ending, subsidies for oil and other fossil fuel companies, and subsidizing the production of solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, and wind energy.  For a more in-depth look at this, check out this website.  While there may be problems with this, it needs to be discussed, along with other solutions such as direct government spending on renewable energy infrastructure.

Free Showing of Carbon Nation

The Columbia Office of Sustainability is co-hosting a showing of Carbon Nation at Ragtag Cinema this Thursday 5:30-7:30.  Carbon Nation breaks away from the gloom and doom of climate change by documenting positive solutions that keep our air and water clean, reduce greenhouse gases, and protect our national security while providing economic savings and opportunities. This upbeat film is appealing across the political spectrum. Its cast of characters includes entrepreneurs, visionaries, scientists and even a former CIA director.

  • Moderator: Bill Allen, MU science journalist
  • Barbara Buffaloe, Columbia office of sustainability, reducing our community’s carbon footprint
  • Dave Brune, MU bioprocessing engineer, aquaculture, microalgal biomass and biofuels
  • Steve Borgelt, MU biological engineer, energy systems and new opportunities for students
  • Laura McCann, MU environmental economist, incentives for innovation
  • Tina Casagrand, MU student and President of Sustain Mizzou


What’s your take on wildlife refuges? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to know.

By Nicholas Mustoe

Every fall migrating ducks rest and feed in shallow water as they wind their way down the major waterways of this country. Every day red-cockaded woodpeckers peck away at long leaf pine trees. Sonoran pronghorn squeak out another day in the most arid of environments in the United States. These events of natural splendor are just some of the occurrences on the over 150 million acres that make up 553 national wildlife refuges run by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service is the only agency with the explicit mandate to conserve and protect our nation’s plant and wildlife species. This is a task that refuge staff work on tirelessly as the challenges facing conservation continue to evolve and change.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing their vision document to adapt with these changes. It is currently in draft form and they are soliciting comments from the public. Now is a great time to read what the agency has planned and help steer the Fish and Wildlife Service’s goals and priorities for the coming decades.

For more information, visit http://americaswildlife.org/

A note on nuclear energy and safety

This is an opinion column written by a Sustain Mizzou member which became part of a discussion during our latest Environmental Reading and Media Group.  Read to the end for a list of other articles we discussed.

The recent disaster in Japan highlights the importance of building safety codes, disaster preparedness drills for areas prone to calamities, and a quick response from the authorities to prevent people from freaking out and shooting their neighbors or looting stores. On these fronts, the Japanese have handled the disaster exceptionally well. Aside from people in Tokyo hoarding essentials as soon as news of the disaster hit, everything remains mostly orderly and under control. The kind of power contained in a magnitude 9 earthquake is hard to fathom. Every additional number increases the intensity of the quake logarithmically– meaning a 2 earthquake on the Richter scale is 10 times as strong as a 1. You can do the multiplication for how strong a 9 would be.

Callaway Plant
The Callaway nuclear plant in Fulton, Missouri.

However, the media is not focusing on the important story: that of a nation hit by a one two punch of nature’s most ferocious disasters and attempting to pull through. Instead, they’d rather wave the glowing, radioactive shirt of the Fukushima nuclear power plant to show how inherently dangerous nuclear power is. Around the world, publications as diverse as Der Spiegel in Germany and the New York Times here have called into question the safety of existent nuclear power facilities. It’s almost absurd, actually, how some Germans are going bonkers over the remote possibility that a 9.0 earthquake and following tsunami might cause some of their plants to blow up. Continue reading A note on nuclear energy and safety