Monday, November 26, 2007


Apparently, a new word is surfacing into our modern language dictionary. It's called "eco-anxiety," and it refers to a negative emotional feeling we get when we're not engaging in environmentally-benign activities. There's an article about this in Time Magazine* - it's a cute article, but it left me with a question: Are there any virtues to living a "green" lifestyle? Maybe if I considered the benefits of adopting these eco-friendly behaviors my eco-anxiety would be dramatically reduced.

*Thanks, Len, for sending me the link to this story! :0)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Flattering, But So Not True!

I was just reading my friend's blog, and he posted his results from the Blog Readability Test. I figured I'd do the same - I was sure my results would be lower than his (am I detecting a confidence issue here?!?). So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out my results. And now, the cynic in me is convinced there's something fundamentally wrong with this test!! (I say this not to offend any readers, but to question the underlying assumption that one must be a genius to write these posts, which I'm clearly not!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Denying the Sustainability Zeitgeist

It seems to me that we are on the verge of a sustainability zeitgeist - you'd almost have live under a rock to avoid hearing current issues on global warming, climate change, and so on. The evidence is surmounting and compelling; I think people are growing more aware of these environmental problems.

Of course, that doesn't mean everyone is going to do something about it.

I remember sometime ago, a friend commented on how she couldn't understand why a person would NOT do something pro-active to save the environment. Yah, sometimes it is difficult to adopt another perspective, but today I found a page that offers some insights into what "others" might be thinking about in regards to this issue.

I've selected a few examples for you to enjoy:

Rhett-Butlerist Features - “Peak Oil? Planetary Collapse? Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Translation: Aggressive denial of information not in keeping with one’s world view.

Y2K features : “They said everything would collapse with 2000, and it didn’t.” Translation: A belief that any prior concern about societal problems that didn’t occur demonstrates the impossibility of any others happening in the future.

Submissive features: You're probably right. [Shrug]" Too hard/scary to think about... Translation: A response that acknowledges the reality of the threat, but is emotionally frozen or unwilling to devote emotional time and energy to the matter.

Magical Thinking : “Don’t worry, we can build a car that can run on air!” Translation: Proposes solutions that are clearly outside the realm of physics.

To read more of these enlightening comments, follow the link to the Energy Bulletin.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Blogging Malaise

Maybe it's just "that time of the year" when everyone is swamped with work - I know that's been the case for me recently, as I've been busy advising students, attending many (e.g., Sustainability committee), many (Diversity committee), many (Recycling committee) meetings, teaching three classes, grading statistics HW assignments, writing three grant proposals and student letters of recommendation, and analyzing data in my 'free' time.

Phew...I'm going to have to stop for a moment and catch my breath. :0)

What I can say is that despite being so busy, everyday I think about the environment and try to do my part to be eco-friendly. I also like to use examples that draw upon environmental issues when I teach statistics and cognitive psychology. Just this morning I talked about using a 2-way ANOVA to determine if the rate of ferrets dying in Colorado could be due to both climate change and an increasing flea population. (Yah, it's perfectly OK if you didn't understand that last sentence!! But the story is actually legit - it was first mentioned in the NY Times last Spring.)

Anyway, there's not been much time for reflection, that's for sure. Hopefully, I'll be able to take a breather in the near future! But not right now - I have another student-advising appointment in exactly 1 minute!! :0)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coming Up: America Recycles Day

My friend, Diana Mendelsohn, is co-organizing an event for America Recycles Day, which is on Nov. 15. She's asked me to help spread the word about this event, so here's what's happening:

From 10am to 11am at the St. Joseph County Solid Waste District office, Diana will give a short talk entitled, “Want to save or make money? Tips on how to reuse, reduce, restore & recycle everyday & make it work for you!” Displays and information will be available, and there will be a showcase of items made from recycled materials (i.e., garden stepping stones, an "earth-wagon" made from reused plastic, recycled art). There will be light refreshments and door prizes, too.

And if you're interested in signing a pledge to recycle, click here. Based on these pledge entries, six winners will be randomly selected to receive a year's worth of free curbside recycling or a basket filled with recycled goods.

Monday, November 05, 2007

South Bend Rallies for Climate Action!

So yesterday was the big day when we rallied for governmental leaders to take action to help reduce carbon emissions. Approximately 90-100 students and faculty from Notre Dame, Saint Mary's, and IU South Bend met with community members and local organizations at the Morris Center in downtown South Bend. Although it was a wee-bit nippy, I was encouraged to hear politicians speak about this issue. Congressman Joe Donnelly discussed how grassroots efforts helped sway the votes to prevent BP from polluting Lake Michigan any further. Mayor Steve Luecke talked about South Bend's efforts to reduce pollution in the St. Joseph River and use methane for generating electricity. And several Green candidates asked the audience to vote for them in tomorrow's election.

Click here to watch a news clip from yesterday's rally and click here to read about it in the South Bend Tribune.

P.S. I submitted my NSF grant today (3:07am, to be precise) - Woo hoo! :0)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Kerry Temple's Last Call to Step It Up

In today's South Bend Tribune, Kerry Temple asks the question of what a person's to do in response to global warming and climate change. In short, we're asked to do the right thing. He writes:

And that means taking some simple measures to improve one's quality of life and the life of the planet. Maybe it means finding support and encouragement in a group of like-minded people. Maybe for some it means finding cooperative initiatives to make one's local community better (mending the Earth one place at a time and avoiding that overwhelming sense of global despair). Maybe it means sending a message to government and business leaders that they, too, need to step up, and now.

Read the rest of Kerry Temple's op-ed piece here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Consumed by the National Science Foundation

The deadline to submit my grant proposal is quickly approaching (Nov. 5), so I'm entirely absorbed into writing and jumping through all the NSF hoops. My goal is to submit this application on Saturday. (I've learned the hard way, of course, that it's better to turn things in early!)

In the meantime, I've been feeling quite neglectful for not posting on the blog. I'm sorry!! I've been meaning to discuss The Urban Farm, for example, but I'm utterly consumed by this NSF proposal at the moment! I can't wait to get this proposal off my desk and into the hands of the kind folks at NSF!! :0)