Category Archives: Our Echo

The Outdoor Classrooms of the EarthEcho Water Challenge

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Most classrooms and schools are pretty noisy places in my experience. The hustle and bustle of everyone coming and going, doors and lockers opening and closing, bells ringing, and the hum of artificial light glowing in the classrooms is not what I’d consider a truly peaceful place.

The classroom and natural laboratory that Miami-Dade Country students get to visit at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center on Key Biscayne while participating in the EarthEcho Water Challenge, however, is a far more beautiful place indeed.

The shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean off of Key Biscayne here in Miami are, in fact, extraordinary. The last time I visited the Biscayne Nature Center was when I joined famed world explorer Philippe Cousteau, founder of Earth Echo International, and Sean Russell, the EarthEcho Water Challenge Manager, as we worked with hundreds of local students to help them collect data so that they could participate in the EarthEcho Water Challenge.

The shallow waters that day were still, like a sheet of glass, and the blue, cloudless sky was endless. The beach’s sands were warm and bright white and all in all, it was the perfect setting for the children to gently collect sea life with their seining nets and water samples to test and learn about the importance of our world’s waters.

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As part of the day’s fun, the students participated in the EarthEcho Water Challenge by collecting water samples, testing their samples and then both interpreting and reporting their findings. Along with the wonderful Biscayne Nature Center staff and the students’ teachers we taught the children how to use the EarthEcho Water Challenge kits to test the water’s pH, dissolved oxygen content, turbidity, temperature, and more, and then how to interpret and log their results on line. That work allowed the students to join nearly 1,500,000 people from 143 countries all over the world in participating in the EarthEcho Water Challenge.

And as lovely as our day with the students on the shores of Biscayne Bay was, perhaps the best part is that you too can participate in the EarthEcho Water Challenge!

This year, EarthEcho International and its Youth Leadership Council have created a new program: EarthEcho Water Challenge Ambassadors. Anyone from ages 13-22 can apply to become an ambassador and in doing so, receive an EarthEcho Water Challenge kit that will guide you through all of the steps including testing the pH, dissolved oxygen content, turbidity and temperature of your local waterways and then report your monthly data for use in the Challenge’s Annual Report. You will also be responsible for putting together an event on or around September 18th, World Water Monitoring Day, where you can showcase your work.

Once you have been accepted and received your water quality kit, the rest is easy and includes three steps:

  1. Test: Use your water quality kit to test the water.
  2. Share: Once you’ve tested the water you then enter your data online to our international database and share your story and photos on social media using @MonitorWater #MonitorWater.
  3. Protect: Once you’ve entered your own data you can use it and the resources on our site to educate others in your community about how they can join you in protecting our planet’s water resources.

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If you would like to apply to be a Water Challenge Ambassador and have the opportunity to work alongside the Youth Leadership Council members, as well as EarthEcho leaders, visit www.monitorwater.org/ambassadors.

Whether your own personal classroom becomes the ocean or a lake, pond, stream or canal near you, have fun completing the EarthEcho Water Challenge. And once you do, I do hope that you will engage others in your community about share what you learned and what your concerns are about protecting our planet’s waters.

Together we can test water quality, share our data, and protect our environment, so sign up today to become an EarthEcho Water Challenge Ambassador!

Water, Water Everywhere: Earth Echo’s Water Challenge

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I want you to think of a body of water that’s close to where you live. It might be a lake or a pond, a river, a canal or even the ocean. While you think of an answer I want you to consider that 71% of our planet is comprised of water and of that figure nearly 97% of earth’s water is in our oceans. Water is, to say the least, very important to life here on earth.

Now, as you picture that special place I want you to ask yourself if you know anything about the quality of that water? Is it safe for drinking? Can you swim in it? Can marine organisms live there or other creatures use it to drink and eat?

You probably aren’t quite sure but there is an easy way to find answers, while also helping to study and protect our planet’s water and its called the EarthEcho Water Challenge. Here’s world renowned explorer Philippe Cousteau and me explaining a bit about World Water Day:

EarthEcho International, a non-profit organization founded by Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their grandfather, famed environmentalist Jacques Cousteau, and that I proudly serve as a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) member for, has created the EarthEcho Water Challenge. By participating in the challenge you get to collect data and help perform all sorts of cool science while also bringing awareness to the importance of protecting earth’s water.

This year, EarthEcho International and its YLC have created a new program: EarthEcho Water Challenge Ambassadors. Anyone from ages 13 to 22 can apply to become an ambassador and in doing so, receive an EarthEcho Water Challenge kit that will guide you you through all of the steps including testing the pH, dissolved oxygen content, turbidity and temperature of your local waterways and then report your monthly data for use in the Challenge’s Annual Report. You will also be responsible for putting together an event on or around September 18th, World Water Monitoring Day, where you can showcase your work.

Once you have been accepted and receive your water quality kit, the rest is easy and includes three steps:

  1. Test: Use your water quality kit to test the water.
  2. Share: Once you’ve tested the water, you then enter your data online to our international database and share your story and photos on social media using @MonitorWater #MonitorWater. By doing so, you join a network of nearly 1,500,000 citizens from 143 countries all over the world and become part of the solution for clean water and healthy waterways worldwide.
  3. Protect: Once you’ve entered your own data you can use it and the resources on our site to educate others in your community about how they can join you in protecting our planet’s water resources.

We encourage you to learn more and apply by visiting www.monitorwater.org/ambassadors.

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Righteousness or Reality?

Righteousness

Just when I thought I’d heard everything possible from the Trump Administration’s attack on our environment, including doing all they could possibly dream up to deny that man’s use of fossil fuels to power our cars and utilities and lives contributes to our planet’s climate crisis, comes this headline:

Energy chief Rick Perry says fossil fuels can prevent sexual assault

Wait.

What?

It will not surprise anyone that Perry, the former Governor of Texas and 2016 Presidential Candidate who is now President Trumps Energy Secretary, is a loyalist to fossil fuels given that his home state is filled with the stuff and that most of America’s biggest oil companies are based there. But now it appears that we’ve learned he is not only deeply biased but perhaps delusional too.

At an event sponsored by Axios and NBC News Perry explained that on a recent trip to Africa a girl there told him that electricity was important to her because she wanted to avoid using a lamp that produces noxious fumes to read at night, to study. He then went on in the interview to say:

“electricity also was important from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.”

When I read the word righteousness I immediately think of its use in the context of religion or morality. To hear the United States Energy Secretary, a member of the President’s Cabinet, use it to tout the use of fossil fuels or to seemingly suggest that fossil fuels serve a righteous purpose is alarming. Could he be trying to suggest that God supports the use of fossil fuels? Or that the distribution and use of fossil fuels hold some moral purpose? You can decide for yourself by reading the article that caught my attention here but such a statement is troubling on any level (sickening really) and to read his comments that there is a link, or what he called a ‘positive role’, between fossil fuels and preventing sexual assault, is deeply disturbing. 

REAL NEWS FLASH To Secretary PerryElectricity is generated all over the world by all sorts of power sources other than fossil fuels including clean, sustainable sources such as the sun (solar), water (hydro) and wind.

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I’ve been to Africa but I’ve not yet been to India. Thankfully former late night TV host and comedian David Letterman traveled to India as a Correspondent for the Season Two Premier of National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously entitled ‘A Race Against Time’ where he reported finding children studying at night by noxious kerosene burning lamps. He also reported that some 300 Million people in India (nearly the equivalent of the entire population of the United States) have no electricity of any type and that solar power is being used to provide electricity to change their lives for the better.

If you’ve not seen Years of Living Dangerously, a show that’s been called ‘must watch television’, then click here and start with David’s excellent episode and while you’re at it catch the episode entitled Saving Miami to learn about Miami’s plight.

Reality

I believe that our planet’s climate change crisis is the most significant issue that my generation will ever face. Of that I am certain and while I don’t know Jeff Dorian I sure do agree with what he wrote in a Letter to the Editor in the November 2nd edition of the Miami Herald and want to share it as a dose of reality.

DENYING REALITY

I smoked cigarettes for 30-plus years. I ignored the warnings — liked them too much; kept thinking they wouldn’t affect me. The odds were in my favor. There is no family history of cancer, and my diet and exercise regimes were excellent.

Then came the heart attack.

I quit smoking, but the damage was done: irreversible loss of functioning capacity. If only I’d quit sooner, surely my health would be much better today.

All of us face a similar dilemma today. We must give up fossil fuels. Most Americans don’t think carbon emissions will affect them. The threat seems unsure and far in the future. We enjoy cheap fuel and fast cars too much. We don’t know how to give them up.

The warnings, again from scientists, again are clear and easy to understand. The deniers in Congress are once again denying and supporting business interests over protecting the public interest.

Once again, the damage is irreversible. My heart is not going to get stronger, and the ocean is not going to recede. People are now dying from effects of carbon emissions and associated climate change.

The solution, though not easy, is exquisitely simple: Just Google carbon fee.

– Jeff Dorian, Plantation

The debate on whether man has impacted our climate is long over97% of all scientists agree that that’s exactly what has happened and that carbon in our atmosphere has never been higher and that earth’s temperatures have, in 137 years of recorded data, never been hotter. And if we set politics, and ridiculous statements such as what Secretary Perry said last week aside, even the Trump’s Administration knows the truth and just published it on Friday November 3rd in America’s annual National Climate Assessment.

Hundreds of experts from 13 agencies in our federal government and the academic world researched and wrote the report which was then peer-reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. You can find the report here and once you’ve read it, or read one of the many articles published about it in recent days like this one, we should all ask ourselves whether we, as citizens of this planet, will continue to allow politicians and their puppets to lie to us, to disrespect us, or do we decide to elect leaders who are serious about solving this well documented problem?

IF the Trump Administration’s goal is to truly do what’s righteous for our country’s future then allow me to suggest that the President announce that the United States will quickly become the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels and that America will install solar power any and everywhere in our Country as well as in places such as Africa and, for that matter, India too. Make it our generation’s ‘trip to the moon’ as President Kennedy did in the early 1960’s when he made sending men to explore the moon our national focus. The reality is that such an inspirational initiative would create millions of jobs while changing people’s lives and our environment for the better at the same time.

Now that is a reality that I can support and one that would be truly filled with righteousness.

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