The Irony of the Irony of Waste

After one of the largest Climate Change rallies in the world took place in New York on Sunday, a lot of the common trends of opponents to enviromental reform came out. The People’s Climate March (PCM) was accused of being trash generating monsters and hypocrites. The hypocrisy thing has been around for the past 40 years ago and would require much more than the length of what I plan to say to address, so I will give someone else the pleasure of addressing it. It is necessary to address the critique’s of the PCM charging it with being a wasteful, hypocritical event.

To begin with, there were 400,000 people present. Most of these people were Americans, and many were New Yorkers. The amount of waste that was generated is being criticized for being left in the streets and not in “trash” cans. What if there are no trash cans because the NYPD is paranoid that they’ll have to shut down the city looking for backpack bombers? Would the New York Post’s response be, “Environmentalists Bring Terrorists and Death to New York.”

The amount of waste that was generated in sad in itself. Over 150,000 signs were left in the street. That is unacceptable of people to do, and they should try to reuse them or find some way to recycle them. However, many of these signs were handed out by the organizers of the event, and not brought by people. Several of the people I spoke with said they were given signs off the side of the street when they arrived. The organizers of the event should be contributing to trash clean up if they are going to be giving out many large signs. The masses of groups selling goods and handing out free 8 oz (236 mL) water bottles are generating much more trash, and of a worse quality.

Some have pointed out these signs are made of cardboard, and that the many people present are promoting the logging industry. So, having seen a few protests in the last year and photographs of previous years, especially in the 20th century, do people ever bring signs not made out of cardboard? A friend of mine told me I should’ve brought a small piece of metal that has a lab safety warning printed on it. That would’ve been awesome, except it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be able to do that. Then again we’re not talking about people with reasonable expectations. Should everyone have bought solid plastics to write on the back of? Would they have pasted paper on the back so you could write legibly? The last I checked, trees come back in a human’s life time. Oil derivatives come back in a species’s life time. Many of the signs were also re-purposed from old cardboard. That is often what people do, since it’s free.

The real problem is the Starbucks coffee. Now why it was necessary to buy Starbucks coffee is questionable, but also reasonable in the situation many were in. It is physically exhausting to shout and cheer for several hours. My abdomen is still sore, and I’ve lost my voice. Water ran out before the march began, and we had to wait until about half way in to get more. I saw some people carrying their empty Starbucks cups looking for water refill stations. This was at about 11am. At around 2pm, a friend of mine, pretty exhausted, said to me, “Look…I can go to Starbucks for just a minute…it’s worth it.” A woman next to us looked at him and said, “Oh you’re not going there. You’re going to hold out.” He stayed with us. He didn’t get some burnt and overpriced coffee. Maybe some of the older people in the crowd couldn’t hold out and had to buy a coffee. Are they now hypocrites who aren’t allowed to comment on the status of the overall trend of the climate to be changing?

Lastly, maybe these same people should comment on the massive waste and destruction caused by other people. Here’s some mountains that don’t exist anymore.

Credits to Google Earth for the image.

Thanks, and keep on fighting.

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It’s technically a New Year somewhere

Even though it’s September, it’s a New Year! Well it turned a New Year a few days ago. It’s not a New Year in the United States for everyone, but a large amount of people. Perhaps even the majority of people know someone experiencing a new year now. I bet fall was celebrated as the coming of a new year in some agrarian society! It’s a year to celebrate! Another year of school is coming, be it kindergarten, freshman year, high school or undergraduate, or starting your PhD, and it’s going to be a crazy one. 

This year is going to bring a mess of brilliant ideas, terrifying issues, and crazed occurrences to the table, or at least it will for me. That’s who counts the most anyway, right? There’s a gubernatorial election in New York, and there’s a progressive candidate coming out of left field, quite literally, to upset the incumbent Democrat, Cuomo, whose pathetic cover up of an ethics investigation into his finances is leaving a sour taste in most people’s mouths. There’s the potential for war in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and pretty much any corridor from the East to the West. There’s a maniacal ex-KGB Lieutenant in charge of Russia, and Ukraine looks like a field of mice to the hawks in Congress.

The first person to live to a thousand is most likely alive. Some mad scientists have discovered what has been termed, “The God Particle”, and concluded that their current theories are still valid.  At some point this year, someone could use the idea of spooky action at a distance to build a teleportation device. I could go into more detail but I’m getting distracted, really badly. Less distraction, more writing!

As the year starts here in the city, at City, it’s looking like it’s going to be…intense. This semester is starting off with 4 classes, which is not what I’m used to, but 20 hours a week of being in the lab. At least one of my professors is absolutely full of it, and at least two are pretty incredible, brilliant, and charming. I mean, seriously, who ever heard of a math professor cracking jokes? Maybe I’m just imaging this and they’re actually lame. The classes aren’t that hard I imagine, two of them are pretty basic classes in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department, while the other two are your basic physics II and Calculus III.  In fact, for one of the EAS courses the textbook is $8 after taxes and shipping on Amazon. It’s time to learn a ton about how the world works! Or science, because that’s what it is. We really do idolize those who are able to describe the natural world around us and manipulate it for our collective benefit.

I spent this entire day writing up different documents for the club, from a class rap, the website, and before the day is over the LinkedIn. The club will be in full swing soon! There’ll have to be meetings, workshops, seminars, and a field trip. Seriously, there has to be. It’s been said a lot today. and probably for the next week.  There’s also scholarships! It’s my hope to get at least one winner for the undergraduate scholarship from my school, and propel our chapter to the forefront of student chapters across the state. Or something in that vein. It’s going to be a long semester of planning and organizing between classes and the club, but then there’s also the rest of the existence of the universe, which is much more important. Well, to everyone else, who overwhelm me in terms of sheer magnitude. 

There’s a lab! That’s definite. Definitely at the lab. Seriously, just checked the electronic time sheet system, I’m gonna be there. It’s gonna be intense. I’ve been running fecal coliform experiments with this hilarious and brilliant post doc, and in the near future I may be able to tell somebody what the count of CFU/100 mL of fecal coliform are present in a NYC plant right before chlorination. It’s a lot. Like really, in the 10^5 range a lot, so chlorination does its job well. There’s a reactor sitting in the chamber that I’m supposed to be monitoring but might be passed off onto one of the new graduate students. My coworkers are all pretty hilarious and brilliant people, which is one of the benefits of working in a lab in the engineering department. Also, everyone’s a problem solver. It’s kind of intimidating, but can also be super useful when you’re really not sure what to do.Start talking about what you’re having an issue with and someone will help you find a solution. 

There’s also a bunch of incredible environmental work being done, especially here in the City. The People’s Climate March is coming up…which is going to be truly one of the biggest protests of the decade, and hopefully not the biggest I ever attend. I’m going to need to talk abotu this more, and actually talk about it and not just give it two sentences in a half distracted recap of what’s going on in my life. Do I ever do anything else? I hope so. Must write new things!

Recently, Songza has had a very nice composition of songs in one magnificent playlist, all of them super catchy and great to listen to while doing activities like: half dancing in your room with your girlfriend, cleaning up your insane household, or doing tech support for the elderly. All activities you should be doing regularly. This brings me to the following lyric out of a British band’s most famous song, “I can tell just what you want, You don’t want to be alone.” Maybe this guy’s right. Maybe we just find someone to spend the time with so we don’t have to be alone. Sometimes I’m wondering if life is just that, so we can find some spastic permanent stimulation to ourselves and prove our own lives are worth living.

I think I’m to unfocused to finish expounding on it, and I’m going to think about it and come back to you internet. Some thoughts, hopefully novel, will be here for you internet.