Category Archives: Environment

Reflections on Nearly Three Decades Working at the EPA

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Carl R. Howard: The first US environmental statutes (the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, were enacted in 1970 and 1972, respectively. Hazardous waste and toxic substances statutes followed in the mid-70s and 1980s. I studied the first environmental cases in law school in the early to mid-1980s and joined EPA shortly thereafter. What changes have occurred in this field over the past 30 years? What other issues have jumped to the fore? At one point cancer was a major concern for the environmental, and other, communities. It still is, but now we have a greater concern as well…
 
Bio: Mr. Howard is a New York City boy, born and bred. He escaped to beautiful Middlebury College where he graduated in 1981 (after founding the Middlebury Pranksters Ultimate Frisbee Team in 1976). Mr. Howard pursued a career in environmental law at Hofstra Law School on Long Island, graduating in 1986 when he joined the US EPA, Region 2 office back in New York City. For nearly 30 years he has prosecuted polluters and enforced hazardous waste laws and over-seen clean-up of contaminated sites. He is also a past Chair of the New York State Environmental Law Section and current Co-chair of the Global Climate Change Committee of the New York State Bar Association. Come to his talk today to learn more!
When: 12:30-1:20
WhereHillcreast: The Orchard (103)
 

Midd Geographic Now Accepting Submissions

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Midd’s premier student-run publication for independent research, travel, and cartography Middlebury Geographic, is now accepting submissions for its fall issue.  Middlebury Geographic is designed to capture and celebrate the stories, independent research, and worldwide initiatives of the Middlebury College student body. Middlebury Geographic attempts to reflect and reinforce the college’s tradition of international awareness, diversity and critical inquiry.

Inspired by the widely circulated National Geographic and J.B. Jackson’s Landscape magazine, Middlebury Geographic combines quality journalism with narrative photography and creative cartography, in attempt to present geographic concepts to the “intelligent layman,” rather than the specialist. Since established in the Spring of 2009, Middlebury Geographic has continued to publish two issues every academic year.  Check out past issues here.

If you are interested in writing a short or long piece, or submitting photography or maps, send them on over to mgATmiddleburyDOTedu.  Submissions are due by Halloween.  Big thanks to Lillie Hodges & Anthea Viragh ’15 for the tip and for organizing this year’s publications.

TODAY: Saha Global Leadership Program Virtual Info Session

Did you know: 
780 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water.

 Water-related diseases, like diarrhea, dysentery and cholera, kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
The most vulnerable population are children under the age of five.
Globally, 1.3 billion people, over 18% of the world’s population, live without electricity.

That’s where Saha Global comes in:
38,108 people served
100% sustainability rate

Saha Global is an incredible non-profit based in Northern Ghana, looking for students and young professionals who:
  • Are passionate about international social justice, environmental sustainability and public health
  • Are peer leaders looking to build project management skills
  • Looking for a unique experience Northern Region, Ghana
  • Can help a rural community solve its water or electricity needs by starting a small business

Sound like you? If so, be sure to Join Kate Clopeck, Saha’s Co-Founder and Executive Director for a virtual info session on October 20th at 5pm and learn how you can make a sustainable impact during your winter or summer break by participating in their three-week Global Leadership Program in Ghana. Register for the online info session here! Read on for more info about Saha Global:

Saha Global empowers women in rural communities in northern Ghana to solve their village’s need for clean water and electricity by providing business opportunities. They do this by bringing leaders from around the world to Ghana through our Global Leadership Program where they train local women to launch profitable social enterprises such as sustainable pure water and solar energy businesses. All of the revenue from these businesses stays in the community and is managed by the women entrepreneurs. To date, Saha Global has launched 71 clean water businesses and 5 solar electricity businesses, which empower 164 women entrepreneurs who serve 38,108 people. 100% of these businesses are still in operation today.

The three week Saha Global Leadership Program in Ghana has run successfully since the Summer of 2010, and over 10 Midd students have participated. The Saha site explains the program as follows:

Young leaders who participate in Saha’s three-week Global Leadership Program will be trained to become Saha Field Representatives. Before traveling abroad, they will fundraise to cover the start-up materials needed for each community business, as well as their in-country travel expenses. Once in Ghana, they will participate in a vigorous and comprehensive training program designed and led by our Saha Global team. Groups of four will be partnered with a rural community in which they will first introduce the business concept and its particular health, social and economic benefits, and then train local women to launch either a clean water or solar business.

By the end of the three-week program, these businesses will be up and running and the women entrepreneurs will be fully in charge of all operations. Our Saha Global team will then monitor the business for the next 5 years to ensure long-term success.

For more information about Saha Global, read their story hereSaha is currently accepting applications for 2015 Winter Global Leadership Program, which takes place in Ghana from December 28th – January 20th (J-TERM), as well as their summer 2015 program. Don’t miss the online info session today! All are welcome. 

What: Virtual Info Session for Saha Global
Date: Today, October 20
Time: 5 – 6pm
Place: Online, register here

Persuasive Technology for Positive Behavior Change: Employee Engagement as a Sustainability Super Strategy

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Come to the talk by Sarah Finnie Robinson, a founding partner of WeSpire. Leaders often say their organization’s greatest asset is its people – but in reality, this is only true when those people are fully engaged at work. WeSpire develops persuasive technology for this opportunity, and now works with global Fortune 500 corporations on sustainability solutions. Tour of the platform, customer stories and the inside scoop on the Boston tech start-up scene.  Cosponsored with Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Be sure to grab your lunch and bring it over.

Date: Today
Time: 12:30pm-1:20pm
Place: The Orchard, Hilcrest

Op-Ed: The Middlebury Dilemma

(An environmental perspective)

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A middbeat contributor weighs in on the People’s Climate March from a few weeks ago where more than 130 students travelled to New York to protest the UN’s 2014 Climate Summit, and speaks to the culture of environmentalism at Midd.  Feel free to share your thoughts below and join in on the conversation.

“Shoulda, Coulda, Didn’t”, was the call to arms for the 400,000 other people marching across New York City in arms against the global climate change crisis at the People’s Climate March two Sundays ago. Mass demonstrations like the PCM are often points of conflict in our generation—radicals want to burn down all industrial institutions while the opposition continues to lobby in favor of fracking, fossil fuel excavation and emissions. Efforts to change the culture of our current energy investments and security are numerous and strong, but bureaucracy for change is slow and often painfully ineffective.

Middlebury College has branded itself as a big leader on the environment nestled away in an idyllic Green Mountain setting. The decorous history of our institution seems to speak for itself: in 1965 we were the first college to offer an environmental studies major, more recently in 2007 we pledged to go carbon neutral by 2016, and we were the cradle of the international climate change movement 350.org.  At the PCM, 130 Midd students turned out to put pressure on the 2014 UN climate summit. The issue of global warming isn’t a new item on Middlebury’s agenda. A few weeks ago Middlebury scholar and leading environmentalist Bill McKibben, Middlebury Physics Professor Richard Wolfson, and student activists stood in front of a standing audience in St. Stephen’s chapel, exposing the dangers of rising temperatures: acidification of the seas, drier and more frequent droughts and the increased intensity of hurricanes—we all can think back to Hurricane Irene that swept chaos across Vermont in 2011.

Yet there is a kind of darkness that breeds a strong sense of discomfort in Middlebury’s current environmental agenda. The college’s support for the Vermont Gas Pipeline, which will be used to transport fracked gas across Vermont, having fossil fuel firms in our endowment portfolio, and the obstinate lack of transparency in the administrative rings exposes a destructive inconsistency between Middlebury and its green mission – or rather, its pseudo-green one. The Middlebury mission statement reads:

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MONDAY: Saha Global Info Session, Global Leadership Program in Ghana

Did you know: 
780 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water.

 Water-related diseases, like diarrhea, dysentery and cholera, kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
The most vulnerable population are children under the age of five.
Globally, 1.3 billion people, over 18% of the world’s population, live without electricity.

That’s where Saha Global comes in:

38,108 people served
100% sustainability rate

If you’re passionate about international social justice, environmental sustainability and public health, you should absolutely attend the Saha Global information session tonight at 6pm in Hillcrest 103, led by Kate Clopeck, Saha’s Co-Founder and Executive Director (there will be FREE PIZZA)! Previously known as Community Water Solutions, Saha Global is an incredible non-profit providing innovative and sustainable water purification and solar electricity services in Northern Ghana, and they’ve got an outstanding 3-week Global Leadership Program (offered over J-term and summer), which various Midd students have participated in. Having been a summer Saha Global fellow myself (Leah Fessler ’15), I can vouch for this non-profit’s fantastic reputation. Here’s the basics:

Saha Global empowers women in rural communities in northern Ghana to solve their village’s need for clean water and electricity by providing business opportunities. They do this by bringing leaders from around the world to Ghana through our Global Leadership Program where they train local women to launch profitable social enterprises such as sustainable pure water and solar energy businesses. All of the revenue from these businesses stays in the community and is managed by the women entrepreneurs. To date, Saha Global has launched 71 clean water businesses and 5 solar electricity businesses, which empower 164 women entrepreneurs who serve 38,108 people. 100% of these businesses are still in operation today.

The three week Saha Global Leadership Program in Ghana has run successfully since the Summer of 2010, and over 10 Midd students have participated. The Saha site explains the program as follows:

Young leaders who participate in Saha’s three-week Global Leadership Program will be trained to become Saha Field Representatives. Before traveling abroad, they will fundraise to cover the start-up materials needed for each community business, as well as their in-country travel expenses. Once in Ghana, they will participate in a vigorous and comprehensive training program designed and led by our Saha Global team. Groups of four will be partnered with a rural community in which they will first introduce the business concept and its particular health, social and economic benefits, and then train local women to launch either a clean water or solar business.

By the end of the three-week program, these businesses will be up and running and the women entrepreneurs will be fully in charge of all operations. Our Saha Global team will then monitor the business for the next 5 years to ensure long-term success.

For more information about Saha Global, read their story hereSaha is currently accepting applications for 2015 Winter Global Leadership Program, which takes place in Ghana from December 28th – January 20th (J-TERM).

The CWS Summer Fellowship is an incredible opportunity, and if you’re at all interested please come learn more this afternoon. All years are welcome!

What: Saha Global Leadership Program info session
Date: Monday, September 29
TIme: 6-7pm
Place: Hillcrest 103 (the big classroom in Hillcrest)
Cost: None, but there will be FREE PIZZA!

Grape Harvest Party at Lincoln Peak Vineyard

unnamedIf you’re not slammed by work today, we highly suggest you make the quick drive to Lincoln Peak Vineyard for the Grape Harvest Party. Picking grapes and crushing them with your feet, live music, bubbly wine, VT cheese and sausage, and it’s free… what’s not to like? If you’ve never been, Lincoln Peak Vineyard is just three miles north of Middlebury, right off Route 7.

And, if you’ve got no time for anything but reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic today, just watch this and be happy.

Date: Today, September 28
Time: 12-5pm
Place: Lincoln Peak Vineyard

Yellowjacket Traps

It is Fall—and the Yellowjackets (Vespula maculifrons) are here. (Though they’ve already been here since late spring.) So what’s the college doing to combat these aggressive, stingy pests? Traps, most noticeabley seen outside of Proctor Dining Hall.

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According to Professor of Biology Tom Root, the wasps are attracted to the sugar water or pheromones in traps, fly up into the trap, and indulge in the sugar water or pheromones. Because the wasps don’t know how to fly down once trapped, they fly around aimlessly until they die of dehydration (the former trap) or eventually drown in water (the latter trap).

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Yellowjackets flying around aimlessly. (click to zoom)

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             Drowned Yellowjackets and other insects.

So what exactly is a Yellowjacket? Let us compare them to the humble Honey Bee.

  • One is a bee and the other is a wasp.
  • They’re both about the same size: 1/2 inch. 
  • Honey bees have amber/brown and black alternating stripes and appear fuzzy. Yellow jackets have bright yellow and black stripes.
  • Honey bees die when they use they’re stingers. Yellow jackets do not (their stinger is retractable!)
  • The honey bees behavior towards humans is generally gentle—unless its hive is threatened. Yellow Jackets are notoriously aggressive.
  • Honey bees like nectar and pollen. Yellow jackets like to consume other insects, sugary drinks, and human food (especially meat). (Hellllllo Proctor!) Yellowjackets also live on/in the ground (Helllllo again Proctor!).

Before you turn those traps upside down—they’ll be gone in the winter. But this really begs an important question. Why aren’t these traps outside of Atwater Dining Hall?

Middlebury’s First Running Club!

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Do you love to run but get tired of running the same trails alone? Want to meet more recreational Midd runners, and explore new trails? This year Middlebury’s first running group is tearing up the TAM! The group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays on the track at 4:30 pm. Tuesdays are long runs and Thursdays are a variety of track workouts. Check it out no matter what your fitness level is! The mission of the club is to connect runners around Middlebury and give runners the opportunity to switch up their routines with some fun workouts! If you are interested in joining you can email kblodgett@middlebury.edu or come out on Tuesday or Thursday!

Neva Hassanein Lecture: “Cultivating Food Democracy”

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Tomorrow afternoon in Axinn 229, Neva Hassanein will speak on how local, sustainable alternatives to the food system are developed, and how they are examples of democracy and resistance in action. Hassanein, a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, will share her experiences getting the University of Montana’s student farm up and running, as well as her community-based research on local food systems and infrastructure in Montana. Whether you’re a regular volunteer at the Middlebury College Organic Farm or have never been to a Farmer’s Market in your life, this is a great talk to attend if you’re interested in learning more about how and why our decisions about food matter.

Date: Wednesday, September 24
Time: 4:30-6 pm
Place: Axinn 229