By Megan O’Malley
A new school year elicits a complicated and nostalgic mix of emotions for children returning to the classroom. As summer slips away, students may begin to dread setting the alarm clock to an early morning hour, yet they may also feel eager to experience the fresh faces, advanced academics and confidence that comes with being one year older and wiser. For students at Roadrunner Elementary School, the excitement of the new school year is elevated not only by what will occur inside the classroom walls, but by the school building itself. The 2014-2015 school year marks the first year that The Safari, the inaugural project of the Green Schoolhouse Series and the first LEED Platinum certified school built by volunteers in the nation, will be open for students, teachers and the community. Read more
By Kelli Vu
Biosphere 2, located near Tucson, is a center for the development of scientific research, outreach opportunities and the cultivation of plants and insect species. Since July 2013, marine ecologist Rafe Sagarin has been the key member leading one of Biosphere 2’s most prominent studies that explores the relationship between the desert and the ocean. Despite the distance between the ocean and the desert, he hopes to build a living model that will illuminate how closely related the desert is to the ocean.
Sagarin’s project is titled “Desert Sea,” in which 676,000 gallons of salt water in Biosphere 2’s Ocean Gallery will be transformed to replicate the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. Sagarin says, “Many people think that the desert is very far away from the ocean, but we are very close to this ocean.” He points out that many people do not associate the desert with the ocean, but through the Desert Sea project they can see the connection.
Getting this message out to the public is only phase one. The second step is making the schematics for the transformation. Here, Sagarin will bring together a team of experts with knowledge about the history of the gulf, aquarium science and animal care to help develop the plan. The next step is to raise the funding for the project. Current fundraising efforts are providing for experts and outreach teachers to run curriculums at Biosphere 2.
The Desert Sea project will be a great opportunity for both K-12 and university-level students to learn about the ocean outside of their classrooms. Primary students studying ecology will be able to learn about living organisms in the ocean. University students can test different marine biology technology to see how it affects different types of sea life.
Once the Desert Sea is completed, scientific experiments can help researchers study a variety of ocean-related issues. With the Desert Sea acting as a control group, Sagarin and his team will be able to research overfishing issues by studying how the fish interact with different nets. Additionally, changing the ocean chemistry will help them better understand the carbon pollution that is currently affecting our oceans. The Desert Sea project also will provide an opportunity to study the effects of different bacteria colonizing in the ocean and examine waste products left behind by them.
While the project may be only an eye-pleaser for many Biosphere 2 visitors, those who look closer can experience new discoveries regarding the relationship between ocean and desert. The Desert Sea project will feature a rock shore, giving visitors who normally associate an ocean with a sandy shoreline a different perspective and allowing scientists to research a range of habitats beneath the rocks. With a cactus island built in the center of the ocean, Sagarin hopes to make the link between the desert and sea apparent for both visitors and scientists.
Photos courtesy of Biosphere 2
By Steve Totten
The city of Tempe has decided to trade in its khakis and collared shirts for some overalls.
The city recently announced that Rio Salado Golf Course, a par-33 nine-hole public course that has been operated by Illinois-based sports-management group Kemper Sports for the last 19 years, will slowly transform into a community garden.
According to Tempe Public Information Officer Amanda Nelson, Kemper asked to end its contract with the city early. Neither the city nor Kemper commented any further as to why the course closed, but signs point to declining profits.
Arizona Republic reporter Bob Young pointed out that the National Golf Foundation reported that more golf courses have closed than opened for the eighth consecutive year.
Tempe PIO Amanda Nelson did point out that the city has two other municipal courses that are “very successful.” But she did acknowledge the challenges in the golf course industry.
“Golf is in a state of flux right now,” Nelson said.
Perhaps it was this realization that pushed the city to accept a proposal from Ken Singh of Singh Organic Soils, LLC to turn the 63-acre course into a community garden.
Singh is co-owner of Singh Farms in Scottsdale, which has 20 acres of crops, livestock and food for the public to come enjoy.
Singh said that he made the proposal for simple reasons.
“There’s not much to say,” Singh said over the phone as he was observing the former golf course. “We outgrew our farm, and we wanted to bring life back to the land.” Read more
By David M. Brown
Skylights are shining, sustainably.
A generation ago, those who wanted to add direct light from the sky into their homes had to also invite the attendant heat gain. In the desert, this was a bright prospect for our luminous winters, but not a very cool idea in summer, when direct sunlight on windows, especially those flat on the rooftop, has traditionally been a budget buster.
Stylish lunches start with a Furoshiki ECO lunchwrap kit. Eliminate lunch wrapper trash by packing favorite edibles in a stainless steel container, wrapped in double-sided washable cotton fabric decorated using wooden block and wax batik techniques. A spork made of sustainably grown bamboo is included. $35
3 Monkeys Throw
This throw is classic, cozy and conscious. Made from 75 percent pre-consumer recycled cotton, the sock monkey has never been more sustainably stylish. $50
Sawtooth Eco Sunglasses
If the sunny Arizona sky has you squinting, check out these sustainable shades from Proof Eyewear. As one of the pairs featured in the Environmental Conscious Optics collection, these sunglasses are sustainably sourced as well as biodegradable, renewable, and hypoallergenic. $120
More than just a visually interesting centerpiece, the Aquafarm proves that fish and food are friends. This double decker system creates a symbiotic ecosystem ideal for everyone. $60
Alchemy Goods Ad Bag
From billboard ad to your go-to bag, this tote is an upcycling treasure. Not only is the material constructed from old billboard advertisements, the tote also features handles made from seatbelt straps and bicycle inner tubes. $30
Vegan Cork Backpack
Eco-conscious shopping doesn’t have to stop once school starts. This Corkor backpack is made from vegan materials and cork. $131
By Anton G. Camarota, PhD
The healthcare industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy. According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, 2013 spending on physician office visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions was 18 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. As of February 2014, the expenditures on U.S. healthcare were estimated to become $3.05 trillion annually. As can be expected with any industry of this size, significant negative environmental impacts have been a part of routine operations.