From Madrid to Salamanca
The trip has been pretty uneventful, nothing too eco/energy related to remark on except the usual thing about how trains are amazing ways to get around. But I did notice this as an East Coaster. The amount of sprawl here is next to nothing. The only time you see buildings are when you come across a town. The rest of the way is grass, hills, rocks and treesâ€¦I want to say that itâ€™s an open canopy savannah. Part of the density may be caused by the seemingly inhospitable terrain in western Spain but a big part is that these cities were build before the car so they are built on a human scale (unlike some American cities I could name). Living on a human scale is vital to a sustainable future because a city if a cityâ€™s lifeblood is cars, its pulse will stop after Peak Oil.
There were lots of trees around the tracks but I did see wind farms in the distance a few times, but as there were a lot of trees and the farms were in the distance, I was unable to snap a picture so youâ€™ll have to take my word on it. Also, urban density preserves natural areas from development which is always a good thing...
Eco-Friendly Pest Control for Salamancan Convent
The other day I was walking around town when I bumped into a falconer feeding his falcon on his leather-gloved arm. Since it was Christmas here recently, and their are tons of days to various Catholic saints I figured he was here as part of a fair or something like that for kids. I asked him what he was doing with the falcon and he explained to me that there are far too many birds and mice around the convent and the park nearby and that he and his falcon were there to take care of that.
What a great form of pest control, both clean and green. It doesn't use harmful chemicals like DDT or inhumane traps (like the glue traps Georgetown University uses to get rid of mice- or it's what they gave me and my roommates when we had one).
Plus it's cheap and pretty cool.
I Thought I left These Ideas Behind in the US
The other day was my first day in my two week language program at Universidad de Salamanca. Itâ€™s four hours a day, the first two are language, the next hour is writing and the final one is culture. As it was the first day, we went around the room and said where we are from and what we are studying. After I said I study environmental sciences my writing professor said she doesnâ€™t believe in recycling and that they just mix everything together and throw it in a landfill. I hear that all the time in the US and I eventually got so sick of it I took a tour of a recycling plant and guess what, they actually recycled. Craziness. Maybe there are a few towns out there that have corrupt recycling programs, but the world does recycle. It would be an impressive act of subterfuge if the entire world made up a billion dollar materials industry.
In my culture class when I said I study environmental sciences, (since STIA is a little hard to explain) my professor asked me if I believed in Global Warming. I told him that it is the most important problem facing society and we must solve it immediately. He responded by saying, so you think itâ€™s real? I wish it werenâ€™t but just because I wish it were so does not mean it is. Hopefully these professors' opinions are the exception, not the rule.