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We are our environment

2013 July 26

Humans are a part of our environment. We cannot separate ourselves from our all encompassing surroundings.

The Show, by Craig Leaper, July 23, 2013

The Show, by Craig Leaper, July 23, 2013

Congratulations to Craig Leaper for today’s featured moment in time.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene contributes to the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted through Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Into the Woods: Where we Walk

2013 July 19

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” ― Henry David Thoreau

When was the last time you took a walk, footstep by footstep, and let that walk inspire new thinking?

Places and peaceful moments like this, await those who seek it. What is the quality of life, the kind of environment, we want?

Cranberry Meadow Trail 2 by David Nelson on Flickr,  New Hampshire, August 13, 2011.

Cranberry Meadow Trail 2 by David Nelson on Flickr, New Hampshire, August 13, 2011.

Tell us about a favorite walk you’ve taken, as a comment below. Did you hear a different bird, or see something new? Is it part of your routine, or was it an unforgettable escape? 

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene, will help create a larger picture. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

A Snail’s Peace: Today’s Featured Scene

2013 July 18

Not all of us make the time to stop and smell the leaves – or even peak at what might be perched there. Thankfully, some do.  Sometimes the smallest places in nature show off the biggest wonders in nature’s grand design. 

Snail, Shawnee National Forest, Illinois, June 23, 2013.

Snail, Shawnee National Forest, Illinois, by mayhem62930 on Flickr, June 23, 2013.

Congratulations to Chris Taylor for today’s picture, captured in Pound Hollow in the Shawnee National Forest.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene, will build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Help I.D. This Photograph!

2013 July 17

They were on a mission. Nearly 100 freelance photojournalists crossed the country on Amtrak’s new rails, hiked through our National Forests, faced down crop dusting planes and fierce situations – just to get that shot. The life of a photojournalist sounds glamorous to many of us, but it’s not easy work, especially not back then.

There were no pocket-sized digital cameras in 1973. You had to schlep it all, get there (no digital gps either), protect the film, develop the film, and mail it to EPA for consideration for the final selection. The criteria was wide, “…document the lives and environment across the United States. The broad collection of pictures will speak for themselves” – Gifford Hampshire, Documerica Project Director.

However, one still had to include information and captions; don’t forget the cataloging. On the run, they needed to jot enough notes to remember when, what, and why they took the picture.

DOCUMERICA: COAST OF CALIFORNIA, 05/1972 by Dick Rowan.

DOCUMERICA: COAST OF CALIFORNIA, 05/1972 by Dick Rowan.

That didn’t always pan out. Now, we need your help. In this California coastal scene – who is on the ball today, or who has been there (here?). If you know where this is, tell us. Better yet, send in a matching snapshot today and we’ll add it to our Then and Now group. We guarantee it’ll be an easier job of documenting the scene today.

The first person to match it correctly will get some fame on EPA social media, and extra kudos here.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

A Smog Day: Today’s Featured Scene

2013 July 16

Fact: Since its adoption in 1970, the Clean Air Act has helped reduce emissions of key air pollutants by almost 70%. Today’s chosen photo shows us what the smog-filled air around Los Angeles looks like today. While we’ve made a lot of progress, there’s still more work to do before we can breathe easy.

Los Angeles smog

Los Angeles smog, by Andrew Hall on Flickr, March 31, 2011

State of the Environment, with the help of Documerica, gives all of us the chance to reflect more easily on our progress. What did our environment look like in the United States when EPA began its work? We have photos of our baseline. The picture is clear among the thousands of images taken, and thankfully preserved, from 1971-1977. Seeing the change together depends on you.

Share what you see in our environment today. State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and quality of life as you see it. No view is too small.

Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to State of the Environment on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

That ’70s Show: California

2013 July 15

The Documerica Returns exhibit remains on display in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Public Library’s Wallace Stegner Environmental Center is hosting this display in the Main Library’s Skylight Gallery from July 1, 2013 – October 1, 2013. Map and Directions

Over the coming months, we will be featuring scenes of the past from the pacific coast and southwestern United States. This week, the spotlight continues on California. Use our quick guide below to search the amazing Documerica treasure-trove for yourself.

DOCUMERICA: Southern California -- Big Sur Coastal Area, 05/1972 by Dick Rowan.

DOCUMERICA: Southern California — Big Sur Coastal Area, 05/1972 by Dick Rowan.

DOCUMERICA: Tony Owen Organic Farm; Seeding Machine, 04/1972 by Tomas Sennett.

DOCUMERICA: Tony Owen Organic Farm; Seeding Machine, 04/1972 by Tomas Sennett.

DOCUMERICA: Crop duster plane over Imperial Valley farms, May 1972 by Charles O'Rear.

DOCUMERICA: Crop duster plane over Imperial Valley farms, May 1972 by Charles O’Rear.

Read about a recent chat with Charles O’Rear about this day in the field.

DOCUMERICA: Bill Roothier, entomologist with the California Department of Agriculture, stapling paper bag to a mulberry tree. The bag is full of cryptolaemus lady beetles used to eradicate the comstock mealy bug, 05/1972 by Gene Daniels.

DOCUMERICA: Bill Roothier, entomologist with the California Department of Agriculture, stapling paper bag to a mulberry tree. The bag is full of cryptolaemus lady beetles used to eradicate the comstock mealy bug, 05/1972 by Gene Daniels.

The call for photos for Documerica’s modern, sister-project is ongoing with a special call to match these scenes of the past with what they look like today. State of the Environment will continue highlighting submissions through the end of 2013. You can search for 1970s images of San Francisco, California and other locations in two places:

1. A selection of Documerica is available on Flickr. Check out the 1970s in:
San Francisco; California; Hawaii; Nevada; Arizona; New Mexico

2. Search the full Documerica Collection housed by the National Archives. Search by state, landmark, year or topic with in the OPA database. You will see a search page like this. Simply type in your state or key word to get started.

Example of search results OPA Database

 

Documerica covered each of the 50 U.S. states, as well as select territories and international locations from 1971-1977. Help others match images near them by sharing: bitly.com/DiscoverDocumerica.

All Then and Now entries will be shared far and wide. Check out this entry from Aspen, Colorado:

If you have trouble finding photos, please let us know as a comment here and we will get back to you!

Enjoy, have fun, and we look forward to your contributions to this historic project.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Weekend Wanderings

2013 July 12

Last week, we asked for your reflections on your favorite tree. Here was our favorite response shared on this blog and Facebook:

“My favorite tree may just be the D.H. Lawrence Tree in San Cristobal, NM – a giant sequoia at the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, which Georgia O’Keeffe once painted. I just happened to look up while reclining on a bench outside the Lawrence cabins, and there it was — completely recognizable from my having seen the painting, even though I had no idea where the tree in the painting was in real life! I suppose that was partly the power of the painting — but I think it was mostly that like me, the artist recognized the power of the tree. — Shelley Winship” Read the other responses on Facebook.

This weekend’s question: What’s Not Quite Right?

There has been much progress for our environment over the past four decades. This has been the result of greater government protections, but also because of the continued level of public awareness and action. This weekend, share your thoughts. As you walk down a nearby path, canoe down a stream, or drive to the grocery store – what small thing do you notice that’s not right, not just yet?

Paul_in_SV Creek Cleanup, Los Gatos Creek, San Jose, CA May 15, 2013.

For me, it’s many things of course, but one recent moment inspired this post. Cigarette butts are not biodegradeable. Talk about small things, but it’s a telling small thing. Stopped at a stoplight, I had a moment to ponder out my window. As I looked down, I saw piles of cigarette butts lining the edge of the roadway. What are we thinking, when we toss things out of our cars? Perhaps it’s simply that we aren’t thinking. It’s those tiny things, those small moments that are hard to catch, but make all the difference for the quality of our world.

I hope you’ll take a minute to share your thoughts with us and a picture too. What about our environment, is not quite right in your eyes? We’ll share our favorite story here, next Friday.

Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to State of the Environment on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

- Jeanethe Falvey, U.S. EPA Project lead for State of the Environment

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Caption This! Today’s Featured Moment

2013 July 11
baby swallow - Caption Contest, by Marina.G.G.pictures on Flickr, June 23, 2013

Caption Contest, baby swallow by Marina.G.G.pictures on Flickr, Thompson Island, Massachusetts, June 23, 2013

Share your caption as a comment to this post or on EPA’s Facebook page. We look forward to your thoughts – no idea is too bird-brained, we promise.

This project is the story of the wild, wacky, and wonderful near you. Share what you see through your lens. State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and environment as you see it. No view is too small.

Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to State of the Environment on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

A Peek into Our Future

2013 July 10

This June, the king tide encroached upon the east coast of the United States. It came across sidewalks, roadways, into driveways, and up into parks. This is a look at what our future holds with climate change and rising sea levels.

king tide contributions from tbird_220, cre_mc, and jamal kadri1 on Flickr for State of the Environment

king tide contributions from tbird_220, cre_mc, and jamal kadri1 on Flickr for State of the Environment

While the place and time of a king tide is never the same - it depends on gravity between our Earth, moon, and sun – NOAA helps us predict when these higher than average tides will occur.  Find out when and where near you.

Prediction allows time for preparation. In many cases these higher tides cause coastal flooding. This year, we asked you to take a photo for State of the Environment. Above, is a look at some of the king tide scenes submitted over the past three years.

State of the Environment is a story of our world through you and your camera (or camera phone of course). It is open to pictures of things that you see. No view is too small to join in.

Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to State of the Environment on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Photo credits to above collage (L-R):

(red suv) cre_mc June 22, 2013, Manasquan, NJ
(New Jersey houses) tbird_220, June 22, 2013
(Washington, D.C.) jamal kadri1 April 19, 2011
(one way – boats) cre_mc June 22, 2013, Manasquan, NJ
(girls- truck) cre_mc June 22, 2013, Manasquan, NJ
Alexandria, VA, cre_mc April 20, 2011
(bench and fence DC) jamal kadri1 April 19, 2011
(Alexandria, VA) cre_mc, April 20, 2011
(dad and girl- bike) cre_mc June 22, 2013, Manasquan, NJ
(New Jersey roadway) tbird_220, June 22, 2013

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

A View from Space

2013 July 9

The wildfires that have occurred this year in the western United States are not a new phenomenon, but they have proven to be as grave and severe as ever. If you haven’t seen this view yet, we wanted to be sure you caught it.

Smoke from wildfires has the potential to travel into our atmosphere, dispersing pollutants and particulate matter in far away areas. These two photographs taken from astronauts on the International Space Station, provides the right perspective to see that happening.  

According to NASA, satellites indicated that smoke from this set of wildfires reached European airspace by June 24. A reminder yet again, that pollutants – naturally occurring or the result of human activity – do not follow the boundaries or paths laid by mankind.

Astronaut View of Fires in Colorado, June 19, 2013, by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, International Space Station.

Astronaut View of Fires in Colorado, June 19, 2013, by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, International Space Station.

From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:

“…The images show a plume wafting from the West Fork Complex fire… To the northwest, a smaller plume from the Wild Rose fire is also visible (upper image).

While the Wild Rose blaze was fully contained by June 25, 2013, the West Fork Complex was still raging through the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests. The West Fork Complex is a combination of three fires: the West Fork fire, the Windy Pass fire, and the Papoose fire. Lightning ignited the first of the blazes on June 5, 2013, and together they had charred approximately 75,000 acres (30,000 hectares) by June 25. The fires were burning in rugged terrain with large amounts of beetle-killed spruce forests.

The West Fork Complex fire was so hot that it spawned numerous pyrocumulus clouds—tall, cauliflower-shaped clouds that billowed high above the surface. Pyrocumulus clouds are similar to cumulus clouds, but the heat that forces the air to rise comes from fire instead of sun-warmed ground.

Scientists monitor pyrocumulus clouds closely because they can inject smoke and pollutants high into the atmosphere. As those pollutants are dispersed by wind, they can affect air quality over broad areas. As noted by the University Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) Smog Blog, smoke from western fires contributed to elevated concentrations of particulate matter over large sections of the eastern United States.

Preliminary observations by the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite indicate the West Fork Complex fire lofted smoke plumes as high as 13.5 kilometers (8.4 miles) into the atmosphere. Satellite observations also show that smoke reached European airspace by June 24.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.”

Curious about particulate matter and your air quality? Check out a color coded map of the United States to find out more: www.airnow.gov

State of the Environment is challenging our thoughts about our quality of life around the world.  Share the places and happenings in our environment as you see them. No view is too small to be a part of this picture .

Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to State of the Environment on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.