Apologia: Many readers have noticed that there have been no new posts since Christmas. The reason is that once in a while my day job gets in the way. One project that has required a great deal of effort is my work as an expert witness before one of the highest courts in the Netherlands. In this case I provided scientific support for citizens in the village of Harlingen, Friesland whom have challenged the permitting of an incinerator along the coast. You can get more details at the website for Henry S. Cole & Associates. So to all of our subscribers and followers I apologize for the hiatus and invite you to share forthcoming posts.
Armenian Environmental Network: In the past few months, I have also been appointed to the Advisory Board of the Armenian Environmental Network (AEN). My wife Claudia and I got to travel there in October to see our son Genya (Yevgeniy) who is a Peace Corp volunteer. Armenia a small country located in western Asia, is a great place to visit with incredible history and historical sites. Armenia is the oldest Christian country in the world. It’s capital Yerevan is a thoroughly “Europish” modern city, one remarkable for (a) it’s multitude of tree-lined streets, parks and squares (b) it’s outdoor cafe life from spring to autumn (c) its ancient cathedrals and historical sites (d) several huge farm markets that will knock your socks off and (e) fabulous restaurants. In the photo notice how broad the sidewalks are — this nicely separates social life from motor vehicles.
But Armenia is a nation with enormous environmental and economic challenges. On our visit we were able to go to cities, villages and natural areas and had extensive discussions on the issue of waste management, deforestation and sustainable village development with NGO staff, experts, and residents of towns and villages. Here is what we found: only about 7% of the nation remains forested (much lost within the last 50 years). And the remaining forests are being threatened by clear cutting, illegal logging for fuel, roadways and mining projects. Deforestation creates many problems including massive erosion, landslides, the loss of traditional forest resources, loss of cropland and damage to streams, rivers and lakes.
The government of Armenia has done little to protect these critical resources and those who protest are likely to face intimidation. AEN is beginning to provide support for the grassroots groups that are fighting to preserve forest ecosystems and I am hoping to play a role in this effort. One of the largest controversies is large mining project near the village of Teghut located in the northern province of Lori. You can read about it here.
Interview: I was interviewed by ECOPRENEURIST, a blog that focuses on the issue of sustainable enterprise — from what is real to what is “green wash.” EP managing editor Priti Ambani recently interviewed me on a major theme of Ekos-Squared, what we might learn from resilient ecosystems about economics. To see the interview and more click here.
Joe Nocera gets one wrong: Joe Nocera is a NY Times financial columnist and I generally love his writing on the irresponsible behavior of big finance; but when it comes to the environment — that’s another matter. In an op-ed of Monday (February 27) Joe Nocera suggests that environmental groups critical of “fracking for natural gas” are being hysterical. He endorses the Environmental Defense Fund as being the responsible “hard headed” and “practical” group that has the right perspective on the issue. He quotes Fred Krupp, EDF’s president as saying that the states and not U.S. EPA should regulate fracking. We don’t agree with Nocera and we certainly don’t agree with Mr. Krupp. See why here.