Monday, March 7, 2011

Ozone Cookbook!

 Are you a vegetarian? 

Do you find yourself throwing together the same boring meals all the time?

Wait, Union's own environmentally conscious Ozone House puts together a vegetarian cookbook?

 Ozone cookbook is an entirely vegetarian cookbook created by Ozone House. It is sold in the spring, and all proceeds go to a great cause. Submit your favorite recipes! It's seasonal this year so if you know of a great fall soup, or some awesome chip dip for the summer, please write and design an 8.5 X 11 (i.e. standard computer paper) with your recipe, and either scan it and email Maddie Cullerton at, or put it in mailbox #0468.

Be sure to submit your recipes by the end of spring break/the first Wednesday in April!

Is it time you take a walk on the wild side...and go green by not eating meat?

Do it in the Dark!

If you weren't at the last U-Sustain meeting, then you missed the results of Do It in the Dark, Union's campus-wide energy saving competition!

At the meeting, we heard from Professor Puliafico about the competition for all student dorms, Minerva houses, off campus housing, and Administrative buildings.

Trophies with a light bulb fixed to the top were handed out to these first place winners in four different categories based on the size of the building:

Apartment Living: 702 Roger Hull Place
Mid-Size Living (Minerva Houses): Golub House
Large Dormitory (Fox, Davidson, College Park Hall): Richmond Dorm
Administrative Building: Silliman Hall

Congratulations to the winners!


Have you ever heard of SCEAC?

The Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Council is made up of volunteers who share a strong commitment to preserving and enhancing the County’s rich environmental resources. 

What does the council do? 
  • It advises the County Legislature on matters affecting the preservation, development and use of the natural and man-made features of the County
  • It evaluates activities, projects and operations that may effect the environment to determine where major threats to environmental quality exist
  • It raises public awareness concerning the importance of a healthy environment, gathers and disseminates public comment on environmental issues and encourages public support of environmentally sound policies and actions.
  • It improves the coordination and effectiveness of programs undertaken by the public and private agencies to preserve and enhance the environment.
  • It assesses the state of the County’s environment and produces an annual report that includes discussions of current problem areas and outlines priorites for future action.
  • It recommends additions to the County Nature and Historic Preserve.

 So...What does this have to do with Union College?

Students from Union act as liasons between the college and SCEAC. They attend meetings and listen in on just what's going on with environmental politics in Schenectady County. 

Jane Williams, '13 summarizes the latest meeting held this February.

Guest speaker Larry Simpson spoke about his company's website its new partnership with Schenectady County. This site is focused on getting money and funding to citizens for green initiatives. This site will tell you where to get a free energy audit for your home and how to get tax credits for investing in energy efficient appliances and homes. 
There was also a long talk about Earth Hour, a global event that promotes awareness of energy reduction. 
 It started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has since grown into a global movement with hundreds of millions of people from more than 4,500 cities and towns in 128 countries across every continent! Some of the world's most famous sights--Buckingham Palace, China's Forbidden City, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, Brazil's Christ the Redeemer Statue, the Empire State Building, and the Sydney Opera House-- remained in darkness for a whole sixty minutes to promote Earth Hour!

So turn off your lights at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday March 26th and celebrate Earth Hour!

See you there!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Union's Winter Environmental Speaker Series...Continued!

Catch the latest in Union's Environmental Science, Policy and Engineering Winter 2011 Seminar Series:
 “Inside the Controversy on Genetically Modified Food”

Did you hear Ronald Herring of Cornell University speak on “Global Rifts Over Biotechnology: Politics, Science, Political Science”?

Want to find out what he said?

Here's a summary of the talk written by Shabana Hoosein, '11.

Ron Herring is a political scientist who is pro GMO. He started his talk off by explaining that there are two global risks to genetically modified foods. The first risk pertains to the recombinant DNA work in plants. The second risk is the contentious dynamic between supporting and opposing networks. For example, some networks are concerned with the safety of consumption and other networks promote GMOs as the solution to feed the poor. He explains that there is a diffusion of this technology that counterbalances in society. As the amount of GMO crops increase, the amount of transgenic free zones increase as well. I suppose this was his way of letting the audience know that the increase of GM use is acceptable.
Ron continued to explain the outrageous GM myths that affect people (for example: infertility, cancer, abortion, suicides and even homosexuality). He uses these examples to convince the audience that information from the media is not reliable. I can understand the point that he makes on farmer suicides. The makers of “The World According to Monsanto” did not make a very strong point about this topic. It seemed like the film was biased and selective in the scenes referring to farmer suicides. As Herring said, I believe that people in India are strong family supporters and they would not commit suicide because of their farms. It is difficult for me to understand the truth behind his argument because I have not talked to farmers in India. However, his argument about farmer suicides was the strongest part of his talk.
Out of all the gene modifications that are occurring in the world, Herring seemed to like Bt cotton the most. According to his talk, Bt has drastically increased the yield for small farmers. He said the rate of Bt adoption has increased to 98% after 2006. Although he provided great numbers, he didn’t take some things into consideration. Other anti-GM papers have acknowledged the increase in cotton yield since the introduction of Bt cotton. Nonetheless, they also took climatic conditions into consideration. For the past decade, climatic conditions have been great which may be contributing to the positive yield in cotton production. He also mentioned that the rate of adoption has drastically increased. His assumption was that GM use had increased because farmers are buying more GM seeds. However, he did not mention that transgenic crops have also increased due to cross-pollination. In addition, farmers may have thought that these seeds were great in 2006, but they may have changed their minds more recently. Ron did not have any current data in his presentation.
Overall, I believe that Ron Herring was fairly biased. He only showed two sides of the story when the second side helped him prove his point. He was blatantly trying to convince the audience of one idea. However, the audience was smarter than that. My favorite question was: Where is your research funded from?

 So, how do you feel about GMOs?