What the frack?

Citizens concerned about the threat that Marcellus Shale drilling has and will have on their communities' well-being are taking matters into their own hands. Literally. Across Pennsylvania and New York, bloggers and independent journalists have been tallying and analyzing how gas wells, rigs, frack water, gas and water trucks, and more affect life above the Marcellus Shale.

We are really excited this week to host an independent journalist and two Pennsylvania bloggers who have covered the Marcellus Shale issues on the ground.

Hannah Abelbeck, who joined us last month, has worked for Voices of Central Pennsylvania covering environmental news for the last year. She has done two in-depth stories on the Marcellus and interviewed a few dozen people from several counties in Pennsylvania and New York.

Don Williams keeps his eye on the effects of Marcellus activities at his blog Susquehanna River Sentinel. He was born in northeastern PA not far from the heart of the Marcellus Shale Zone. I don't think it would be much of a stretch to say that Don is outraged at what he sees as the degrading effect that the natural gas industry has had on Pennsylvania. He uses his training in Earth and Environmental Science to look at water and land issues especially.

Karen keeps a quite different blog at Frack Country Blues. While she is certainly concerned and perhaps outraged, she writes, "Because sometimes all you have left is gallows humor…" Her blog uses comics to illustrate the problems that Marcellus drilling industry is creating, particularly in the Tioga State Forest near Wellsboro, Pennsylvania about 100 miles north of Penn State University Park.

She combines the comics with news stories and commentary to "to raise awareness about the consequences of natural gas drilling and the plight of the communities that live above the Marcellus shale – a plight that echoes the experiences from the gas fields in the western states where the air quality can be worse than Los Angeles’ and where the water is not just toxic, it’s flammable."

Flammable? Yes. Flammable. Watch this trailer for the movie Gasland.

Yes. Flammable.

Maybe that's an anomaly.

Guess not.

Hopefully today we will be enlightened further on what's going on at these places and what we might be able to do about it.

Listen in today on The Lion 90.7 from 5-6 pm to get more up to speed on this sustainability issue.

We hope to continue this conversation next week with some other bloggers and community activists in New York and Pennsylvania as well.


Don Brown @ DotEarth

A few months ago we did a show with Don Brown (Asst. Professor of Science, Technology and Society and lead blogger at Climate Ethics) on the ethics of climate change. On that show, we talked about how and why climate change is a moral issue and what people can and ought to be doing about it.

Always a busy man, Don was recently interviewed by Andy Revkin over at Dot Earth about why an academic has started blogging:
My blog is a way of focusing on actual arguments about climate change policies as they unfold, teasing out these arguments the often hidden ethical questions, and inviting the world to see these questions not as “value neutral” scientific or economic questions but as ethical issues. A blog is the only way to do this that I know of that is relevant and timely to many of the climate change issues as they unfold. Most academic environmental ethics is neither relevant to actual public policy disputes nor timely. (It is often also far, far too abstract.) There is a huge need to do ‘applied’ climate change ethics as most ethical analysis in the academy on environmental issues has not engaged policy-makers or the general public. Yet climate change and several other global environmental issues are raising civilization challenging moral, justice and ethical questions that need to be teased out of policy debates.
I (Peter Buckland) have worked with Don on several occasions and have found this to be one of the most rewarding and refreshing aspects of working with him. His work is at the front what might be our largest collective problem - climate change - and it is confronting its hardest challenges. As he did on our show, Don focuses us on how our language controls our thinking about something and how in the case of economics and science our "value neutral" thinking and talking has actually landed us in some big problems.

Read on at DotEarth.


Michael Mann's name cleared by Penn State investigation

This in from Climate Science Watch, the New York Times, and DotEarth: Michael Mann, a climate scientist and professor in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences has been exonerated of the charges that he had violated accepted scientific practice. This is only the end of this part of the climate denialism movement though.

Watch an interview conducted with him yesterday on his exoneration.

We dealt with this topic earlier this year when we hosted Ed Perry of the National Wildlife Federation who called so-called "Climategate" a sham. Listen here.

What is Penn State doing about sustainability?.

This question is the elephant in the room for us. Penn State University owns an enormous amount of property, runs one of the highest energy bills in the state, uses vast amounts of water, tens of thousands of people, and schools about 80,000 students each year. That's a lot of resources to move that comes with a sizable ecological footprint.

How does something so big move on a more sustainable path?

How does it reduce its carbon footprint when its main campus is running on coal, some of which has recently been traced to mountain top removal?

How do you mobilize employees to become less wasteful? To reduce, reuse, and recycle?

What research is and can be coordinated at a university to reduce its and its graduates' ecological impact and expand human capacities within reason?

How do you try to get sustainability into the broader curriculum?

The list can go on and on.

Today we are going to learn how some of this, and much more, is happening. We have the good fortune of hosting Erik Foley-DeFiore, Penn State's Manager of Sustainability (pictured at right with his co-workers Milea Perry and Lydia Vandenburg). Hired last year, Foley-DeFiore has an MBA from St. Francis University and has worked extensively on funding enormous wind power projects in Pennsylvania. He was recently elected as President of the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium, a coalition of over 50 Pennsylvania colleges and universities that have made a commitment to sustainability in some fashion.

Listen today from 5-6 pm on The Lion 90.7. Call in to ask questions at 865-9577.

What is Penn State doing about sustainability?.