Friday, December 17, 2010


Lake Clark is a spawning destination for a portion of the largest wild sockeye salmon run in the world. Photo: NPCA Photos (Flickr)

Within Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed lies the world's largest sockeye salmon runs — and one of North America's largest chinook (also known as king) salmon runs — nine major rivers, many ponds, and an abundance of animals. But plans to build a massive Pebble Mine could put the biodiversity of this 40,000 square mile watershed at risk, according to a recent report by National Geographic.

Bristol Bay watershed is also home to the largest deposit of gold in the world and one of the largest of copper. It's also the proposed location for the Pebble Mine. The mine would range up to two miles wide and 1,700 feet deep, with plans for an underground mine of similar scale. The minerals would be extracted by both open-pit mining and a complicated underground method. In addition the mine will require a mill, damlike impoundments, a slurry pipe, and a haul road. The article points out that likely acidic runoff from the mine would be disastrous for fish. "When a sulfur-bearing ore such as the Pebble deposit is exposed to air and water, it produces sulfuric acid, which accelerates the dissolution of copper and other minerals. The resultant metal-laden, acidic cocktail can kill fish and other organisms."

The indigenous Yupik have depended on the flora and fauna in the region for thousands of years. Some area residents worry about the long-term effects the mine will have on the natural environment and those who rely on it. National Geographic reports that "[t]wo elders, believe the threat the Pebble Mine poses to the creeks, rivers, and lakes where salmon spawn also endangers the culture the fish have sustained for centuries.”

But, other residents are singing to a different tune. Lisa Reimers, who heads the Iliamna Development Corporation, is concerned for other reasons. "Outsiders want us to go back to the old ways," she tells National Geographic, adding that "some mine opponents promote a self-serving, sentimental view that ignores what it actually takes to survive."

John Shively, CEO of the Pebble Partnership and once commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources says, "The mine would provide some 2,000 construction jobs and 800 to 1,000 operating jobs." And he hopes to see half of the operating positions go to people living around Bristol Bay. Shively reiterated to National Geographic that "the design of the mine is more environmentally sensitive then ever before."

There is no doubt the Pebble Mine could bring economic fervor to Bristol Bay. But, the gold and copper won't last forever, as the article points out. "The value of this mother lode ranges between $100 billion and $500 billion. But unlike the value of the salmon fishery year in and year out—upwards of $120 million—once these geologic riches are gone, they will never come back."

As plans for the area develop, area residents are faced with one of the toughest and most consequential decisions they will ever be forced to make.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Freddy Montero's Big Assist

Futballer Fredy Montero from Seattle's Sounders FC is teaming up with Mercy Corps to assist with flood relief in his home country of Colombia.

Heavy rains have caused flooding and mudslides throughout Montero’s native country. Thousands of rescue workers are manning the area, but the death toll has risen to over 175 people with over 2 million people affected by the disaster, according to Mercy Corps.

If you are in Seattle today December 15th, there is a fundraiser at Fuel Sports Bar from 6-9pm.

If your not in Seattle you can donate directly online Here.

In Defense Of Scrooge

With all the greed and overthetopness(not a real word) going on in the world today, one can only have a little sympathy for the old lonely, Mr. Burns look alike. The ironic thing is though he may physically resemble the hunched over and greedy (bad corporation) stereo type that the Simpsons character so wonderfully portrays, Scrooge is actually the polar opposite, when it comes to his spending habits and his world views.

Slate Magazine does a wonderful job at defending this quite frugal and often misinterpreted little rich old man.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Living in a Facebook World

A Facebook intern created a map of the world using 10 million Facebook relationships.

This just goes to show how interconnected we all are! Well, almost. Kind of cool.

Full Page Link

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Africa's Anticipated Mobile Internet Revolution


Students in South Africa learn how to use smartphones. Photo: DI GameWorks (flickr)

The internet revolution in Africa will not be televised, but it will most likely be tweeted from a mobile device.

In fact, more young people in developing countries access the internet via mobile devices than in developed ones, explain Opera Software developers in a World News Heard Now article.

About 5.81 percent of total web browsing in Africa is done on mobile devices, compared to 4.7 percent in North America, according to figures cited by The Independent. And depending on the country, the percentage can be much higher. The Independent cites the example of Chad, where about 29 percent of all web browsing is sourced to mobile devices.

Telcom experts are expecting enormous growth in continent-wide internet access. CEO Brian Herlihy of the African broadband company SEACOM told the Christian Science Monitor that total internet access in Africa tops out at about 15 percent -- a figure he expects to grow by 50 percent each year. And he expects IT spending to go up -- tripling to $150 billion by some estimates -- as telecoms, phonemakers and service operators wage price wars.

Whether its being texted or tweeted, the revolution has begun.

Kabul's First Skatepark


SKATEISTAN: TO LIVE AND SKATE KABUL from Diesel New Voices on Vimeo.

In a place ravaged by years of war, there is something new taking place: Afghan youth propelled by a deck on four wheels and armed with an abundance of self confidence and new pair of skate shoes.

Skateistan is a co-ed skateboard school and the group behind Kabul's first skatepark, says the school's founder, Shana Nolan. The school engages growing numbers of urban and internally-displaced youth in Afghanistan through skateboarding, and provides them with new opportunities in cross-cultural interaction, education, and personal empowerment, according to their website. The main objective of Skateistan is to build the confidence of Afghan kids and to give them a voice, as Nolan explains in the video above. It's been amazing for Nolan to watch these youth become empowered through skateboarding.

"There's nothing like watching an Afghan woman roll down a ramp for the first time and she has achieved something she never thought she would."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is Biking Fiscally Conservative?

Bicycle commuters pedal past stalled traffic in Portland, Oregon. Photo: (flickr)

Air pollution from vehicles using fossil fuels is creating health issues in cities across the globe. In addition air pollution is negatively impacting some city, state and national fiscal budgets. Increased vehicle congestion and rapidly growing metropolises are putting immense pressure on both the natural and human environment. Biking could be the healthiest, cheapest, and maybe even the fastest form of transportation that cities across the globe are lacking in order to solve some major environmental, health and economic issues.

Recently, dangerous pollution levels in Iran's capital city of Tehran have forced officials to shut down government offices and schools for a two-day public holiday, according to an article from Yahoo. Not only does the pollution create serious health risks, it also costs the city some major green. Yahoo cites that it costs about $130 million each day the city is shut down. A good amount of the pollution comes from vehicles on congested roads and a rapid growing metropolis of over 12 million people, according to Yahoo. On top of the growing population and congestion, similar to Los Angeles and Mexico city, Tehran is unfortunately surrounded by mountains. "The geographical location of Tehran, wedged between mountains, also means if there is no wind or rain the dirty air gets trapped," says an article from the BBC.

So what are these cities to do? Start Biking! Since you were able to turn on your computer and access the internet, i'm going to assume that you are aware that exercise is healthy for the human body. Hence, I will spare you the healthy argument for riding a bike.

Biking is cheaper. When you start biking, you stop spending money on petroleum, maintenance, insurance, etc. With the money you save, you can buy (usually more expensive) healthier food. You can save by not paying for high health insurance premiums, hospital bills and gym memberships, the list goes on.

In turn, this saves governments money on road repairs, highly technological and very expensive traffic control systems, and oh yeah, those pesky little pollution holidays that are costing some places, big bucks. In terms of national fiscal burdens, less reliance on fossil fuels (oil) for vehicles could reduce the need for military occupation in the middle east to protect oil reserves. Therefore, maybe reducing the US Department of Defense Budget, which is set to cost tax payers $708.3 billion in 2011, according to

Biking may even be faster than driving in some cities. In 2005, the city of Leon, France implemented a bike sharing system that now has 4,000 bikes at almost 350 stations, according to an article from Each bike is equipped with a computer that allows researchers to easily track trip lengths and speeds. The researchers looked at 11.6 million trips from May 2005 to December 2007, says

"Over an average trip, cyclists travel 2.49 km in 14.7 minutes so their average speed is about 10 km/h. That compares well with the average car speed in inner cities across Europe. During the rush hour, however, the average speed rises to almost 15 km/h, a speed which outstrips the average car speed. And that's not including the time it takes to find a place to park...."

So if biking is healthier, cheaper and even faster than cars, in cities, why aren't more people choosing their LeMonds, rather than their Land Rovers?

Building a Global Empire, The Chinese Way

-Check out my latest blog post at Mercy Corps, Global Envision-

“The Sleeping Giant is awake,” declares ABC reporter Diane Sawyer, who's reporting from Shanghai this week.

Sawyer is in China examining the rapid transformation of the largest emerging economy in the world – an economy growing at the rate of 10 percent a year. sawyer is on a hunt for some answers about China's rapid growth -- what it means for the American economy and how the government managed to pull off such a feat in a little more than two decades...

Click this link for the full story