Google oceans, cutting oil subsidies, beach-bound tsunami debris
(Photo courtesy of B Rosen)
The Lorax peddles SUVs to elementary kids
The main character from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax,” a book that has long been considered a timeless screed on the environmental perils of overconsumption, is now being used to hawk gas-guzzling SUVs to school children, reports the Washington Post. In the book, the Lorax speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. But recently, the fuzzy character showed up at Alexandria’s James K. Polk Elementary School, encouraging kids to persuade their parents to take a test drive of a Mazda SUV. In exchange, kids could help raise money for other schools’ libraries and qualify for a sweepstakes entry. At the event, a Mazda rep defended the move, arguing that the eco-friendly Lorax would like the new SUVs, which have “really good environmentally friendly technologies,” like getting 35 miles per gallon. Yikes! (If that's considered "good" gas mileage, I'd hate to know what's poor gas mileage.) Luckily, not all the kids were taken in by the greenwashed marketing pitch. For example, when a group of kids walked past the car and started excitedly yelling, “Lorax car!” , one student quietly pointed out that the Lorax doesn’t even drive a car.
Google takes its street view to the oceans
Ocean enthusiasts who are terrified of the water can now take a virtual swim among parrotfish, coral reefs and other sea creatures, all without getting wet, thanks to a new Google venture that brings Google Street View to the oceans, reports the Wall Street Journal. Partnering with oceanographers and the international insurance company Catlin Group Limited, the program will give ocean access to anyone with a computer. It will also allow scientists to track data such as migration patterns, sea turtle populations and the health of the Great Barrier Reef, which, among other reefs, is under constant threat from climate change. As with other environmental programs like wilderness treks and farm-to-school initiatives, the hope is that Google Oceans will inspire people to protect the ocean environment, which are under threat from overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and now climate change.
Obama wants to cut oil subsidies while Bieber banks on electric car
Despite record profits, oil and gas companies continue to receive about $4 billion in subsidies every year, and that has to stop, says President Obama. According to the New York Times, Obama is calling on Congress to end oil and gas subsidies entirely and instead use that money to fund a “clean-energy future” that includes proven, clean technologies like wind power, solar panels and electric cars. Speaking of electric cars, teen idol Justin Bieber recently jumped on the clean energy bandwagon with the gift of an all-electric car Fisker Karma for his 18th birthday. But Bieber isn’t the only celebrity to hop into one of these exhaust-free beauties. Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio was the first to drive away in the electric sports supercar, which runs up to 50 miles on a lithium-ion battery pack and includes an eco-friendly interior.
Tsunami of Japan’s debris heads to the West Coast
It’s been almost a year since Japan was first hit by an earthquake, then a tsunami, then a nuclear meltdown, but the world is still experiencing fallout from the disastrous trifecta, reports the LA Times. In Japan, concerns over radiation exposure remain, while in the U.S., Hawaiians wearily eye the Pacific in anticipation of the first wave of tsunami debris to hit their beaches. (The rest of the West Coast, excluding California, will most likely see debris in 2013.) Last year’s tsunami created between 1 and 2 million tons of trash, including lumber, rooftops and chunks of metal. Most of it is expected to eventually make its way to the final resting place for most ocean garbage—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which stretches across the North Pacific Ocean for hundreds of miles and is mostly made of plastic.