Rick Barnes

Lisa Sherman

Rachael Patching and Roland Kahurangi

Rick Barnes

Golf is a fun sport to many around the world, and it’s also known as a water guzzler for grasses that are chemically-treated to keep insects at bay. While some may think that the idea of being concerned about the use of chemicals and water-use on golf courses is exclusively a concern of private course project managers, superintendants, landscapers and city planners who are interested in policies that reduce water use and hazardous run-off, it is a concern that many golfers and golf professionals (and their families) share.

According to the USGA, fear of chemicals in the environment ranks high on the list of anxieties for many Americans and therefore to address that concern they explain their method of assessing how much of a given chemical is considered hazardous on their website. They describe their hazard index and how they determine what exposure dosage would put a golfer at risk.

However, it’s not just USGA statements or public environmental concerns that have opened the golf industry up to consider how much pesticide to use, groundwater contamination from polluting run-off, and water conservation in preparation for happy golfing. In fact, The Environmental Institute for Golf (EIG) has been around since 1955 as part of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. They help increase education and advocacy, and provide scholarships and grants to provide the latest environmental and agronomic techniques to maintain healthy turfgrass and protect environmental resources through sustainable practices. Many local golf courses have taken their own initiative. Golf courses in the Twin Lakes region of Minnesota (Oneka Ridge Golf Course and Prestwick Golf Club) are currently working on ways to recycle rainwater and direct storm water to the courses to keep greens green to reduce reliance on the aquifer and reduce phosphorous pollution to nearby lakes. Applewood Golf Course in Golden, Colorado is considered the granddaddy of organic golf courses and Vineyard Golf Club, on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is considered have the strictest of organic standards. Green Golf Communities and Links Magazine highlight courses that demonstrate consistent environmentally-friendly practices.

On the individual level, it’s always nice to highlight a superintendent who is doing everything they can to turn concern into action while demonstrating a love of the sport and leadership. Rick Barnes is one of those unique individuals. He is the lead golf course superintendent for Sun City’s Okatie Creek Golf Club and Hidden Cypress Golf Club in South Carolina. He led the effort to maintain “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries” through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses for the courses. He is being recognized for Environmental Stewardship by Audubon International. The two courses first earned the designation in 2005 and were redesignated in July 2014 and every two years in between.

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses is endorsed by the United States Golf Association. It provides information and guidance to help golf courses preserve and enhance wildlife habitat while protecting natural resources. The two courses are among 901 courses currently designated in the world.  To earn the designation, the golf course must meet goals in six specific preservation criteria: Environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation management, water quality management, and outreach and education. They did.

So, if you have any golfing friends in South Carolina, let them know that there’s a great superintendent in town leading golf course efforts that loves the game enough to apply sustainable practices.  It’s exciting to learn about Rick Barnes and it’s just as exciting to find out that that there are eco-friendly efforts under way in the great game of golf that maintain the fairways and consider the impact to the grounds.

Sources: TwinCities.com, MPRNews, Golf Digest, New York Times, Island Packet, Bluffton Today, GolfersMD.com, Hilton Head Monthly

Lisa Sherman

Coallect your yoga mat and your strap, because founder Lisa Sherman partnered her Yogis Beyond Coal with the Sierra Club in early July 2014 to highlight coal dangers in Asheville, North Carolina. Over 50 yogis stretched their limbs coallectively and underscored that clean energy and healthy living are as inseparable as a Sun Salutation and Downward Dog.

“The practice of Yoga is a key element of healthy living as individuals – but health is also a collective pursuit. Asheville’s coal plant threatens the health of individuals and communities throughout western North Carolina.” said Lisa Sherman, Yoga Instructor and Founder of Yogis Beyond Coal.

The event called Move for Movement drew attention to Asheville’s coal burning plant at Lake Julian owned by Duke Energy. It is the largest single source of carbon pollution in Western North Carolina.  The leak from their coal ash ponds contains toxic heavy metals that have been polluting their groundwater and the French Broad River.

Arguably, not a very settling feeling comes over you, even if you have done yoga to try to release tension just thinking about it.

You have to feel respect for someone like Lisa for founding Yogis Beyond Coal, but also for her awesome Facebook posts. A day before the actual event, “NC politicians underwhelm yet again…” precedes a post from the News Observer “Weak coal ash bill an affront to North Carolinians.” The bill actually eased cleanup requirements and the timeline for Duke Energy among other loosened regulations.

According to Charlotte Business Journal, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) produced the second-highest amount of carbon dioxide among the nation’s 100 largest utilities in 2012, behind only Ohio-based American Electric Power. According to Solar is Rising and The Union of Concerned Scientists, North Carolina power companies spent almost $1.8 billion to bring in 18.7 million tons of out-of-state coal in 2012 and $1.7 billion of that came from Duke Energy. North Carolina has no coal supplies of its own.

Lisa’s ongoing Yogis Beyond Coal events draw positive attention to a very serious concern shared by many North Carolinians. Over time given more public scrutiny, Duke has been relying less on coal in keeping the lights on and supplying power to residents and businesses, according to a Ceres 2014 Benchmarking Air Emissions report. From 2010 to 2012, Duke’s carbon emissions dropped 16.3 percent to 134.4 million tons from 160.5 million in 2011. In 2012, they produced 100.9 million megawatt-hours of electricity from coal. That’s 25.9 percent down from 136.1 million in 2010.

Yogis Beyond Coal envisions a North Carolina that can shift boldly to solar power, wind energy and the full suite of clean energy solutions that create jobs while protecting people, health and environment. Their spreading their vision in fun ways. In March, they were part of Glow Yoga, where 60 yogis did yoga in a blacklit room. 

As Rachel Maddow and the New York Times investigate Duke Energy’s wastewater pollution, Yogis Beyond Coal post these articles to inform their supporters and participants. Earlier this year, Duke Energy in hoping to avoid a cleanup operation threatened that the cost to cleanup their 37 toxic coal waste pits would have to be covered by ratepayers.

Yogis Beyond Coal also collect petition signatures and deliver them to Duke Energy to pressure them to change their policies and practices. To Lisa and her Yogis Beyond Coal, environmental regulations should protect citizens to provide clean living and clean water for public health, because protecting polluting Duke Energy is a stretch, and not a yoga stretch by any stretch of the imagination.

Sources: Sierra Club, Yogis Beyond Coal Facebook, Mountain Xpress, Citizen Times

Rachael Patching and Roland Kahurangi

“A zealous cast of disparate – and utterly charming – characters bound together by their love of outdoor curling, attempt to uphold the sport. But a changing climate in the highlands of New Zealand could mean that outdoor rinks may soon become a thing of the past.”

After finding inspiration in the adventures of Jacque Cousteau, Rachael pursued her own interest in filmmaking. Her interest led her to pursue a Masters in Science Communication and Natural History Film Making at the University of Otago and Natural History New Zealand. In 2012, she won multiple national and international awards including Best New Zealand Short Film, Best Emerging Talent and was nominated for a Panda Award alongside films produced by Animal Planet, BBC and Disney for her graduate documentary film ‘Gone Curling’ that she produced with her film partner Roland Kahurangi. They chose outdoor curling as their documentary topic, because it was potentially at risk from a changing environment.

Unlike its indoor relative, outdoor curling was dependent on the ideal weather conditions and “we looked at a culture at risk because of warming weather”, Rachel Patching said.

The documentary, which was filmed in Central Otago, was one of three finalists in the Newcomers category at the prestigious Wildscreen Festival.

“The festival is the Oscars for natural history, wildlife and environmental films, so the other entrants are mostly people in the industry working for Discovery, National Geographic, or their own companies, often with budgets of hundreds of thousands – not students working with $NZ $3,000,” said University of Otago’s Centre for Science Communication, Professor Lloyd Davis.

The film deals with global warming and its effects on the lives of people involved in outdoor curling. I find it very interesting to read Roland’s description of the approach they took in making ‘Going Curling.’

According to GreenPeace New Zealand, when the movie premiered in Naseby, Rachael said they received a mixed response. In part enthusiastic, but there were a few “hecklers” in the crowd who didn’t like the climate change reference preferring to attribute warmer winters to a cyclical weather pattern for now.

Who wouldn’t want to get their film seen at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival? Rachel Patching describes the film not only in terms of showing off keen curlers, but also in terms of addressing climate change issues and the effect on communities that rely heavily on winter for their social values.

While options are on the table on how to preserve this sport in the face of climate change — like taking it indoors and inventing other post-climate change versions of the sport — many communities around the world that enjoy the sport, like Scotland, aren’t all that excited that now they have to play on manufactured ice.

Despite the consequences of climate change, apparently, the sport is growing fast around the world, so if you have a stone, and a slab of ice, here are some instructions on how to curl. And check out ‘Going Curling’ to enjoy the sport and to get a deeper understanding of a culture at risk.

Sources: University of Otaga Magazine, New Zealand Curling, Preditor Production, Otago Daily Times, Roland Kahurangi Payne thesis submitted to The University of Otago, Vimeo, Greenpeace New Zealand, Facebook, Women Travel New Zealand, Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Upnorth Explorer, USA Today, Policy Mic




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