Posts filed under ‘the environment’
First, I want to thank the commenter Sarah from my post the other day that recommended a link to Elena’s Motorcycle Rides through Chernobyl. I spent several hours looking through her images and reading her story…as well as digging through flickr trying to find more images from other photographers. I ended up discovering some work by Igor Kostin re-posted there, and was particularly engrossed by his images. Horrifying though some of them were, it turns out that he is basically the only official photographer to have taken images of what was happening in Chernobyl during the actual time of the disaster.
This led me to searching for the photography book “Zones of Exclusion: Chernobyl and Pripyat” by Robert Polidori. I became a fan of his photography after having seen some of his images up close and in person at an art show at the Armory in NYC several years back, but really became a true devotee after looking through his “After The Flood” collection about Hurricane Katrina. Anyways I received the book in the mail today, and as I guessed his images were particularly compelling. He has a true gift with a camera, and it was interesting to see the utter desolation left behind in the wake of such a large catastrophe. Not just a home here or there, but entire cities and villages. The immense scale of the area affected is what’s truly staggering. Here are two images from the book.
Showing the deserted city of Pripyat, with large apartment buildings in the foreground.
These disaster pictures of Pripyat reminded me of something more local that I’ve actually witnessed first hand. Riding through rural pennsylvania (ironically on a motorcycle as well), I came upon the coal-mining town of Centralia. There isn’t much left of it any longer except for streets that head to nowhere, one bench at an abandoned bus stop, a graveyard and about 4 houses. You feel as if you’ve stepped into the twilight zone because every visible sign of life has disappeared…and there’s terrible smelling smoke rising from the ground. All of this was caused by an underground fire in the coal mine that was accidentally started back in the late 70′s. Today it’s a ghost town with all it’s inhabitants evacuated and moved on…everything is gone except the mine fire is still burning today all these years later.
Honestly, I’m not trying to be depressing… but images like these really should serve as reminders for us to be stewards of the environment (on a macro level) and of our neighborhood & city (on a micro level). Something that provides energy & jobs for the short term, also has the potential to destroy enormous swathes of land for hundreds of years…not to mention destroy thousands of lives. Litter and broken windows may not be an obvious equivalent, but just the same can slowly erode the quality of life in a neighborhood and help lead to the increase of crime.
Let’s remember to do what we can each day while remaining hopeful for the future…and to aspire to learn from the mistakes of those that came before us.
Well, I had no idea that my little window upgrade could also save me some bucks come tax time!! According to this Forbes magazine article, there are a number of improvements you can make to your home to improve energy efficiency that will save money come tax time. Oh…and of course, they’ll save money on your bills too!!
So clearly, many of the things on this list most of us won’t be able to do such as install a wind turbine in our backyard. However, I was extremely pleased to find out that with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 increased the credit from $200 to $500 for upgrading your old windows to new energy efficient ones. Now if only that $500 tax credit could be put towards installing a new geothermal heating system… I’d love to not have to pay so much money to the gas company each month!
Thanks to Charles & Hudson for pointing out the article! I was planning on starting my taxes tonight!
And yet, I can’t help but acknowledge that something good is coming out of all this. We’re all worried and [at long last] beginning to reconsider our daily habits. How can we get around town without driving? Do we really need those plastic bags or can we bring our own? Maybe we can finally try our hand at planting that vegetable garden…
I think most of us are struggling to figure out just what this all means for us. It’s hard to change your habits overnight. I love reading the blog The Simple Family because that’s exactly what she writes about – how she can keep it simple. I think about that alot too, and often I’m not sure exactly what I can do. What the best practices are…
Likewise, I know that many big companies are having to re-evaluate that as well. Today I was invited to participate to be on a “Green Committee” for my un-corporate corporation. Just like every person, they’re struggling to figure out ways to keep costs low, but acknowledge they need to do more to become more green. I’m excited to be able to meet and discuss the ideas I have with a larger group that is also thinking and sharing ideas. It shocks me to think about how much energy my office building must consume everyday. There are very few CFL’s to be found there…and of course, 70% of the employees leave their computer on 24 hours a day. And don’t even get me started on how we only just started recycling paper and plastics about a year ago…
I know at home (and at work) I try to conscientious about being green by doing things like: 1) not leaving the lights on unnecessarily 2) trying to use CFL’s (not in every light fixture because I don’t like the light quality…but even that is up for discussion). 3) trying to always bring my own shopping bags to the grocery store. 4) not using the air conditioner unless I absolutely have to. 5) biking to the store when possible. And yet, I know that even these things aren’t enough. These little things won’t turn back the tide on years of neglect for our planet. And yet, still we must struggle to do what we can. Figuring out what to do….
As gas prices continue to soar, it is going to only worsen. Maybe instead of being called “House Obsession,” my blog will be called “Gasoline Obsession.” I want to do all I can to not only ensure my future, but the future of everyone else coming up behind me. And yet, I feel just about as lost as a child in how to navigate this new change. And so, I’m going to continue to spend more time at home doing those little things that I think help…and crossing my fingers for the best.