Posts by SarahBurgess

Biomass by sea and by land

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in TopStory, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The ocean provides for us. It provides the air we breathe from photosynthesizing algae, the seafood we buy and sell, and the recreational tourism and educational opportunities which are boundless for business owners and educational networks. How much time do we spend thinking about, or informing others, about what the ocean gives us? Did you know the ocean may one day provide a sustainable form of renewable energy? There is incredible research being conducted and many results already shared in the scientific community about garnering alternative energy sources from the ocean, especially that of using algae as a biofuel. The horizons of funding, studying, and collaborating about sustainable and renewable energy sources have grown consistently within the last two decades. Researchers from many esteemed universities such as MIT, Kansas State University, UC San Diego, Texas A&M, and Colorado State University, plus many more, are actively seeking solutions to meet the demand of finding these energy sources and establishing sustainable supply chains from extraction to sale.   “New research could help with the large-scale cultivation and manufacturing of oil-rich algae in oceans for biofuel.” (ScienceDaily)   “Photosynthetic marine algae are attractive targets for the production of biofuels and bio-products because they have the ability to capture and fix carbon dioxide using solar energy and they grow in seawater, thereby minimizing fresh water usage.” (ScienceDirect) What the research referenced above explains is crucial to how we stand up for the protection of ocean health, whether we live on the coastline or not. Amazing amounts of biomass exist in our world’s oceans, just as a forest does. These varieties of biomass are the frontier of renewable energy research and practice. In fact, scientists and educators from our state’s very own Colorado State University are part of a regional alliance called Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR). Focused on researching how forest biomass can serve as feedstock for biofuels, BANR looks at ways beetle-killed tree biomass can contribute to a sustainable regional renewable energy industry. BANR is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Coordinated Agricultural Projects through Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP) grants. Say that 3x fast! These are currently 7 funded grant projects across the US. How proud we can be of CSU leading collaboration of this national and global initiative in our own backyard!    So – what’s the connection between oceans and forests, you may ask? Why bother writing about the two in the same blog post about sustainable energy? I’m glad you asked!  If you look back to the first paragraph of this post, I think you can easily replace oceans with forest, and algae with trees, and seafood with timber, and so on. Our seas and our lands are bound intrinsically to humans as a resource – what we do to explore, learn from, and sustain them is up to us.   If you are an interested in attending a conference this May in Seattle about Biofuels and Energy Literacy, please see more at:  NARA Conference, SeaTac, May 3-4,2016   More information about the excellent projects and organizations referenced in this post can be found at the following: Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies  USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP grant programs     Sarah Burgess is currently working as a Research Naturalist for University Wisconsin-Extension, and looks forward to transitioning back to the Rockies later this summer. Her thoughts and musings can be followed...

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Bring Live Ocean Exploration to the Mountains!

Posted by on Jan 8, 2016 in Got Ocean?, TopStory | 0 comments

Sitting on a 211-foot ship just off the coast of California this summer, I went down to the studio, put on my headset, and with the help of a stellar production team in Rhode Island, starting talking to teachers at a summer development workshop in Colorado. As live ocean exploration and the power of videoconferencing united us, we discussed how engaging classrooms to science in another realm can have a lasting effect on their students. This past year I was a Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust for the year, delivering outreach about ocean exploration and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education to audiences around the world. Part of my audience was the 4th and 5th classes in Ft. Collins, CO at Lopez Elementary – A Leader In Me school. Twice during the school year in 2015 I was able to connect with students at this school to talk about the excitement of deep sea exploration, experiment with scientific concepts like pressure and density during hands-on labs, and encourage them to follow along with live undersea exploration during the 6-month long expedition season of E/V Nautilus in 2015. I was thrilled to connect students from Colorado with the excitement of ocean exploration and I know more students are out there in the state ready to apply for the experience of a lifetime. As part of my fellowship I sailed on board Dr. Robert Ballard’s Exploration Vessel Nautilus for three weeks in August off the coast of California. This ship has spent 3-6 months each year since 2008 sailing the world’s oceans, exploring and sharing live exploration with a global audience through www.nautiluslive.org. “The Ocean Exploration Trust was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard to engage in pure ocean exploration. Our international programs center on scientific exploration of the seafloor and many of our expeditions are launched from aboard Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, a 64-meter research vessel operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust. In addition to conducting scientific research, we offer our expeditions to explorers on shore via live video, audio, and data feeds from the field. We also bring educators and students of all ages aboard during E/V Nautilusexpeditions, offering them hands-on experience in ocean exploration, research, and communications.”    – from OET Website The excitement of pure ocean exploration by E/V Nautilus is brought in real-time to your fingertips through a live, streaming feed on the website Nautilus Live. When the expedition is underway questions and answers are addressed from a live chat box and over the air by a Science Communication Fellow and the rest of the team in the control room. From now until the next expedition begins there are highlight reels and footage from 2015 and previous years available at the site. Take a spin around the site – you’ll see highlights from previous years of exploration across the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and beginning in May of 2015, the Pacific Ocean for the very first time. Watch a timelapse of the historic transit of E/V Nautilus through the locks of the Panama Canal. Marvel at black smokers and incredible lifeforms living in extreme environments. Click on interviews with the Corps of Exploration – a diverse and talented group of over 120 scientists, engineers, videographers, high school students, college interns, and ship crew members who join Nautilus on its exploration of the known and unknown. See more events and get notified for updates about the 2016 season on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Videos galore await you at YouTube. Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – how can YOU join the Corps of Exploration? Each season the...

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Gift to the Planet

Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in Got Ocean?, TopStory | 0 comments

It’s the last week before Christmas – one of many holidays celebrated by people on Earth this time of year. There’s also Hanukkah, Kwanza, and 11 other multicultural celebrations in the month of December alone. With these holidays, many traditions are observed and practiced between family, friends and communities. Today, I’d like to focus on a few parts of a well-known tradition of gift-giving, and wrapping said gifts. Who doesn’t love to open a gift? And, doesn’t it add that much more giddiness when the gift is disguised by wrapping, a box, or a bag? Unless you’re a toddler, you’re probably going to find much more joy in the gift under all the disguise.  But, what about all that wrapping paper and ribbon – is it necessary to exhibit what our gift is about? Does the type or color or design of paper really add to the experience for the person we’re gifting? Maybe…but I lean towards no. Could we challenge ourselves to find alternative, reusable wrapping and remove yet another single-use material from our lives? Can we make small changes that stack up to big change for our Planet, our environment, our Ocean? YES and YES. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste can increase by as much as 25%.  Food scraps, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to 1 million tons per week to a landfill (EPA). Many of you are aware of what garbage looks like before, during, and after it goes to the landfill. Think overstuffed bins ready for curbside pickup with a wind gust blowing litter away and eventually into a storm drain which leads to the ocean. About 38,000 miles of ribbon is used each year, and likely thrown out after a single-use. If this was saved, it would be enough ribbon to tie a bow around the Earth (CalRecycle)! The amount of waste we can avoid by making small changes is amazing to think about and act on. Below is a smorgasbord of ideas – pick one, pick many – you can try this holiday season, then work on making the idea a habit year-round. Isn’t generating less waste the least we can give back to the Planet this season and every season? Look for alternative types of “wrapping” around your house – newspaper, magazines, brown paper bags, saved packaging from mail-order products, reusable bags, and baskets are all great ways to give a gift with an extra use on the side. If you buy wrapping paper, please seek responsibly made material, such as paper from a sustainably managed forest, 100% recycled paper, or thicker/heavier gift wrap that is molded easily to be flattened and used again in the future. Cloth wrapping paper is also a great alternative! Don’t forget to recycle unwanted/unusable paper afterwards. Invest in and collect gift bags and responsibly made, durable gift wrap ribbon. Then, make sure your family, friends, and guests know they can leave it with you if they don’t choose to save and use again for themselves. Avoid using ribbon all together – get creative with a simple sprig of evergreen or berries, or snatch up a pinecone to use in your design. As always, use your reusable shopping bags when you’re out and about looking for those special gifts. Many stores give you a small discount for providing your own bag, and depending where you live, this may already be a mandatory practice. Every time you refuse a single-use plastic bag at the store, you’re contributing one less that could eventually end up HERE. Be kind to your wallets by reusing....

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