As the world’s population grows and becomes more urban and affluent, the amount of solid waste we produce grows and grows. Over the past century, the total amount has risen tenfold. By 2025, the world-wide total is expected to double again. The average person in the United States throws away their body weight in garbage every month.
Those of us who grew up in Los Angeles are quite familiar with the L.A. River. It’s not much of a river at all. Just a 51-mile-long concrete drainage ditch that shows up from time to time in movies like The Italian Job and Terminator 2.
By the year 2030, two-thirds of humanity will live in cities— but we are not alone. Cities are filled with food and natural predators are scarce, so many creatures have moved in with us.
Every few years many of us face a big decision: is it time to buy a new car? The trusty vehicle that has carried us so well has gotten too rusty to pass inspection or too old to assure us of its continued reliability. What vehicle choice is best for the environment?
When it comes to addressing infectious disease, we have a short attention span. Forces are mobilized when we’ve crossed a tipping point, and demobilized when the immediate threat has passed. In the case of Zika, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency based on a strong association between Zika infection and microcephaly in newborns and a spike in Guillain-Barré syndrome.
When most people hear the word ‘ecology’ – chances are it conjures up images of scientists working in distant, wild landscapes, such as old growth forests or remote mountain lakes. Increasingly, however, ecological studies are focused on urban and suburban areas.