Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears
By JUSTIN GILLIS
Published: May 10, 2013
The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.
Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.
Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said.
Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most places, every flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the air, and relatively little money is being spent to find and deploy alternative technologies.
To read more, click here.
9:00 AM-2:30 PM
Yale, Linsley, Chittenden Hall
New Haven, CT
Summit participants will hear from Bill Nesper, Vice President, League of American Bicyclists, about the Bike Friendly America program and from Keynote Speaker Jeff Olson, Principal, Alta Planning & Design, author "The Third Mode: Towards a Green Society."
The summit will include breakout sessions on "Attacking the Application Process for Bike Friendly Communities, Businesses and Universities;" "Complete Streets Engineering - A Key Component to Bike and Walk Friendly Communities;" and "How to Get Your Project Funded." The program will conclude with optional bike or walk tours of New Haven courtesy of Elm City Cycling, followed by a networking and social hour at O'Toole's. Copies of The Third Mode will be available for purchase at the conference. Attendees who join Bike Walk CT will be awarded $10 off of their individual registration, registration ends April 15th.
Members, Full-time Students & Yale Employees:
Early BIrd, until April 15: $25
General Registration: $30
Early Bird: $35
General Registraion: $45
*Continental breakfast and lunch included.
For More Information: http://www.bikewalkct.org/summit-2013.html
by Heather Burns
In honor of Earth Day, I spoke with one of Connecticut's most inspirational sustainable business owners I know. Bruce Crowle, Co-Owner with his wife Joanne, of Atria Inc. shares some insight on the good, the difficult, and the rewarding elements of operating a sustainable business.
How do you personally define sustainability?
The word Sustainable is an adjective meaning ‘to maintain at a certain rate or level’. Today’s green initiatives are focusing on maintaining our planets environment at its present level for all future generations. We can only hope it’s not too late to actually reverse some of the consequences we have helped to create. To be sustainable we first have to accept that every positive action we take will help improve the environment, or at the very least, not hurt it.
What was the impetus/reason for pursuing more sustainable business practices?
I think it’s important that you personally believe ‘baby steps’ are required and cumulatively those steps will have a positive impact. Our staff has embraced Atria’s sustainable position with open arms and with conviction. They’ve helped create our policy and practices and are always looking for any way to help reduce, reuse and recycle. I’d say several of those choices played an important role in developing and putting into practice Atria’s sustainable policy.
I did experience some early inspiration back in 1973 while undertaking my senior thesis project. That involved studying oxygen levels of a cluster of small ponds in North Carolina over a 6 month period of time. The thesis concluded that when fertilizer was applied to improve surrounding grass or crops it had a measurable impact down stream (increased algae and corresponding decrease of oxygen). From this I learned that the balance within all ecosystems is fragile and that man has the greatest influence on the environment. That’s when I first really started to care how I impacted my immediate environment.
Most of Atria’s veteran staff had horticultural background before they joined us. I believe horticulturist’s have a predisposition for sustainable practices. It’s not hard to convince us that we all need to do our part to help improve the environment.
I’d say that Atria has practiced and preached sustainability because we are in the business of providing plants for interior environments and we’ve known that their presence helps reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). These gases are introduced into the space by the furniture, paint, carpeting and cleaning solutions and are the cause of poor indoor air quality.
What value has sustainable principles and practices brought your company?
The most value we get out of our company concern for the environment is our group pride in taking a leadership position. Atria was the very first company in the country to earn Platinum status in the Green Earth – Green Plants® Certification Program, the accreditation program for interior plantscape businesses. Our sustainable practices and efforts helped develop sound standards for environmentally-safe practices within our industry.
What were some of the challenges or barriers you face?
Initially, there were financial challenges. In order to implement some of the changes we knew we had to make an investment. When we first moved into our present facility the warehouse was lit with old and inefficient Mercury Halide lamps. At that time the state of Connecticut and CL&P had a great energy program where they offered to help offset the cost of installing high efficiency lighting. Atria took advantage of this offer and retrofitted every light in our 13,000 sq/ft facility. That investment paid for itself in less than 4 years and we are still reaping a return on it
Another challenge was time management. Many of the policies we put in place, such as composting all of our old plant material, takes longer than simply tossing them into the trash. Each plant is taken out of their plastic grow pot, brought to the compost pile on our property, and the pots put in the recycle bin. We also have a comprehensive recycling program that includes recycling and re-using packaging and composting all organic materials related to our products, as well as employee led efforts to collect and recycle office materials.
Our industry has always believed and communicated the fact that our products, which include interior tropical plants, live flowers, green walls and green roofs, all benefit the environment in a very positive way. In the last twenty plus years universities and college researchers have documented the many critical benefits of including well designed and professionally maintained interior plants in the office, shopping malls and homes. Those benefits include the absorption of noise pollution, increased HVAC efficiency (cost reduction), improving healthy humidity levels and most importantly reducing employee stress at work.
Where do you see your industry in five years?
Looking ahead, I believe that the inclusion of plants, green walls and roofs will be the norm for new construction projects and LEED certification credits will include plants. Cities will use live roofs to cut down on pollution, green walls and large atriums will be more prevalent in hospitals, universities and in corporate settings. This has been the case for many years in places like South America, Europe and Asia, and in some cities here in the U.S. as well.
10:00 AM-4:00 PM
West Hartford, CT
Free And Open to the Public!
The CT Holistic Chamber of Commerce presents Re:Create CT; an up-cycle, and green living event that will take place on Saturday May 4th, from 10am-4pm in Elizabeth Park, West Hartford. It will be the destination event of the year for like-minded people, both business and consumers whose commitment and purpose is to foster a healthier community. Free to the public. It’s evident that this “going green” trend is on the rise and Connecticut seems to be taking notice. But with so many businesses and practitioners are offering alternative methods to health and wellness, they still struggle with accessibility to the masses. The CT Holistic Chamber of Commerce has created this event with a mission to change all that. Re:Create CT will have three distinct elements, all tied together by the “green” theme. An artisan marketplace will provide a fun and unique shopping experience with artists who specialize in up-cycling, re-purposing, and using eco-friendly materials. Think about those old vinyl records you have in the basement… ever think about turning them into party bowls? ........ The Opportunities are endless!!
Fairfield Forestry Committee presents the Roots to Branches Tree Workshop at the Connecticut Audubon Society on Saturday, April 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The event is rain or shine. Fun for the whole family!
Join Connecticut State Foresters Chris Donnelly and Rob Rocks, Fairfield's Tree Warden Ken Placko and members of the Fairfield Forestry Committee for a special indoor/outdoor program. Learn how our past shaped the Connecticut forests of today and why it is so important to manage our trees for tomorrow. The indoor presentations will be followed by interactive outdoor workshops on:
1) Tree Planting
3) Tree Identification and Wildlife Habitat
4) Invasive Plant Identification
Arrive at 9:00 a.m. or anytime throughout the morning. Refreshments provided. Donations are welcome ($10 suggested). Children are free. The Connecticut Audubon Society is located at 2325 Burr Street in Fairfield.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.fairfieldct.org/forestry.htm.
Feel like catching a good flick? Check out the film events happening in April and May at Audubon Greenwich. For more information or to RSVP, contact Jeff at email@example.com or via voicemail at 203-869-5272 x239.
Friday, April 5
Birders: The Central Park Effect
Birders: The Central Park Effect reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds and the equally colorful New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration. The spectacular wildlife footage captures the Park’s bird life mostly goes by unnoticed by the 38 million people who visit America's most famous park each year. (61 min.) Event & film details on website. Receptions at 6:00 pm. Film at 7:15 pm. $15/adult & $5/under 21.
Friday, April 12
Seeds of Freedom & Genetic Roulette
Two films and guest speakers about the GMO foods issues at hand
6:00-9:00 pm @ Audubon Greenwich
The GMO-free and GMO-labeling movements are active nationwide and are determined to regain a healthy, sustainable food system in the US. Join us for an evening of food, film & thought-provoking discussion with experts and advocates who are working to enable positive change. Includes Q&A. (Note: This event was scheduled for dates in Feb. & March but canceled due to unforeseen circumstances – weather and water damage)
Space limited & RSVP is required. Wine & Cheese Reception with eco-friendly exhibitors start at 6:00 PM. $15/adult & $5/under 21. Most suitable for adults but interested youth are welcome.
Hummingbirds are the only birds able to hover, fly backwards, and upside down. To fuel their acrobatics, they are constantly in search of nectar-rich flowers. To promote hummingbird-friendly native plant gardening, Geoff LeBaron, Director of the Christmas Bird Count, will introduce Audubon’s new Hummingbirds @Home initiative and screen the NATURE documentary film, ‘Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air’. Suggested donation: $10 adults; $5 youth. Nature Store Sale & Reception from 6:00-7:00 pm.
Friday, May 24
Last Call At The Oasis: Water
Water - the earth's most valuable resource. Countless living things need it to survive but it's very possible that in the near future, there won't be enough clean water to sustain our planet. From Academy Award-winning director Jessica Yu, this film sheds light on the vital role water plays and it introduces us to individuals who are championing revolutionary solutions. Event & film details on website. Receptions at 6:00 pm. Film at 7:15 pm. $15/adult & $5/under 21.
13 April 2013
$15.00 per Person
People's Action for Clean Energy (PACE) is sponsoring a tour that will introduce the public to the latest trends in solar power. This tour will feature two seminars, where experts in the field will talk about how implementing solar panels can help everyone to live cleaner, healthier lives. There will be a presentation on how the solar panels will be able to charge electric vehicles enough that they will be able to handle an 18 mile commute before the fuel from the gas tank even needs to take over. Owners of these electric vehicles will also be available to share their real experiences with these cars. Later, guests will be able to see how entire houses can be customized to reduce energy costs both to the environment and to the family budget. Also, guests will see the incredible opportunity for cost shaving that can be captured by encouraging their entire community to go green. Registration for this tour is required and is non-refundable and it costs a mere $15.
Register Here: http://www.pace-cleanenergy.org/site/webtickets/tour20130413
First Place winner
Harwinton residents, Paul and Diane Honig, teamed up with builder Wolfworks, Inc., to design and construct a ‘Passive House’ that ensures remarkably low energy demand, something that is aligned with the goals of the Zero Energy Challenge. The Passive House design means that a building takes the greatest advantage of available “gains” while minimizing energy “losses.” The resulting energy balance provides the home with exceptional comfort and health, simplified operation and dramatically lower operating costs.
The home also had the lowest Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index by implementing measures including: windows that captured solar energy, rigorous sealing of all potential sources of air leakage, reduced thermal bridging to help remediate any problems with insulation, the installation of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and more. These measures earned the top spot for the Honigs and Wolfworks, Inc.
“Investing the extra money up front to build a more sustainable house was worth it,” said Paul Honig, “By taking advantage of incentives and rebates offered through the Residential New Construction program, administered by CL&P, we were able to offset those upfront costs considerably.”
Second Place winner
Peter Fusaro of Preferred Builders Inc. saw the ZEC as a way to bring his idea of a high-performance house to life. After tearing down the original structure at a home in Old Greenwich and recycling its old materials, Fusaro and his team rebuilt the home from the ground up, installing only top-of-the-line energy efficient products.
“I have been in the building industry for more than 25 years and have become more energy efficient in the way I design, build and live every day,” Fusaro said. “After construction was complete, our home in Old Greenwich received six energy and environmental certifications, which I am extremely proud of.”
To achieve these certifications, a number of energy-efficient features were added to the home including high-efficiency tank-less hot water heaters, air conditioning units and a natural gas boiler. The garage features an electric vehicle charging station, and the home is equipped with a sophisticated circuit breaker that connects to the Internet and can show a homeowner just how much energy is being used at any given time. Learn more about “The Performance House” in Old Greenwich by clicking here.
It could be called lending a helping branch.
Scientists from The Nature Conservancy are using small branches from large survivor American elms in a handful of locations throughout New England to try to develop new Dutch elm disease-resistant strains of the stately tree that, decades ago, was among the most prominent in city parks and streets throughout much of the United States.
In coming days, aided by Chesterfield arborist Jim McSweeney, Conservancy ecologist Christian Marks will visit several Western Massachusetts sites to take sample branches for large elms that survived the onslaught of Dutch elm disease that ravaged the American elm population in the Northeast from from the 1950s through the 1970s and continues into the present. Samples also are being taken from sites in Connecticut and Eastern New York.
“The disease has had a profound impact on trees that were treasured by so many people in city parks and streets,” Marks said. “It also had a dramatic impact on floodplain forests along New England’s rivers.”
Before Dutch elm disease, American elms, among New England’s largest trees, would grow to dominate the forest canopy, creating a unique ecological niche that combined flood tolerance with shade tolerance
The elm still is the second most abundant tree species in the floodplain forests of the Connecticut River watershed; however, today’s elms are typically much smaller than those that preceded the disease, and the unique niche the larger trees created has been mostly lost. Restoring it would benefit these crucial floodplains.
“An array of bird species and other plant life rely on these floodplains, but they also have important benefits for people,” Marks said. “Among other things, they absorb flood waters and blunt the impact of ice-buildup, protecting communities from potentially expensive and dangerous flooding.”
If you've got nothing planned this Thursday night, you may want to head over to Chocopologie in South Norwalk. Franz Knipschildt, renowned chocolatier of Knipschildt chocolates and the Chocopologie restaurants in South Norwalk and New Haven, has paired up with Red Bee Honey. Marina Marchese, founder of Red Bee Honey, will help present the menu of dark chocolate with artisanal honey made by her own Italian bees.
Tickets are $75 per person and the event runs from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Chocopologie is located at 12 South Main Street in South Norwalk. Call to RSVP at 203-854-4754 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 April 2013
Registration Fee Depends on Status
Nathan Hale Inn & Conference Center
The Northeast Recylcing Council is hosting Collecting Textiles: Make it Work for Your Community at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. This event will offer municipalities, recycling coordinators, schools, colleges, universities, and civic groups an opportunity to learn key information about key players in the textile reuse and recycling industry. The even will also include practical information on how community leaders can set up textile reuse/recycling programs that can work for them. For a full schedule of the day, feel free to check out the agenda here.
*Registration Ends March 19, 2013: So Register Now
NERC Member (Board or Advisory Member): $285
Students, Nonprofits, Municipal Employees: $100
For More Information: http://www.nerc.org/
To Register: http://www.nerc.org/registration/indexSpg13.php
This event will bring together families and communities from all over central Connecticut who are looking for answers on how to reduce their own carbon footprint. It will be THE Earth Day event in downtown Hartford. Come enjoy speakers, vendors, non-profit environmental groups, along with street and folk artists. We anticipate the participation of local schools from elementary to college. It will be a fun, inspiring, and informational day for the whole family!
2 March 2013
Registration Fee Depends on Status
Wilton High School
Join the Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association as they celebrate 31 years of growing better together! There will be over fifty vendors providing fresh local food, crafts, and books as well as a raffle that includes offerings such as a basket of gardening supplies. Lunch will be Included for an extra fee, but it is worth the price. During the lunch break, attendees have the opportunity to taste delicious local flavors concocted by chefs involved in Fairfield County's farm-to-restaurant program. The New Connecticut Farming alliance will also meet during this time to discuss news and share information.
Guests may select from a wide variety of workshops to attend. There is no need to register for your desired workshop, you may simply show up at the allotted classroom. A program will be handed out to you upon registration that looks exactly like the link provided above. Parents and families are welcome to participate in children's workshops as well. There will also be a screenings of the GMO documentary "Genetic Roulette" throughout the afternoon, where Elaine Titus of GMO Free CT and GMO Free Moms will be available to answer any questions.
Schedule for the Day Registration Fees
8:30-9:30 : Registration (pre-register at this link) Non-Member: $60
9:30-10:45: Workshop I Member: $50
11:00-12:30: Opening announcements and Keynote Student/Senior: $35
12:30-2:00: Lunch Children: FREE
2:15: 3:30: Workshop II *Lunch is optional: an extra $15 for adults
3:45 to 5:00 ~ Workshop II and $8 for children
2013 Conference Program: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/2013%20WC%20programOPT.pdf
Register at: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/2013WC_registration.html
If you forget to register for lunch: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/winterconference_lunch_registration.html
For more Information: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/index.html
Have you noticed the weather getting more severe? As Frank Bruni said in his Op-Ed, "The Land of the Binge," in the February 9th edition of The New York Times, "Even our weather is extreme: superstorms, Frankenstorms, snowmageddons."
Granted, he was mainly talking about our American society's inability to take things in moderation, particuarly with our intake of food. But still, it's hard to get past the weather we've been having of late. Historic droughts followed by historic storms.
Is it global warming? The evidence says yes. Even though we have tracked a decrease in snowfall in recent winters, it really packs a wallop when a storm hits. That's mainly because the air and the waters are warmer, meaning they pull in more moisture. So when it's cold enough for a snow storm, it easily becomes a blizzard. When it's just a little rain shower, it doesn't take much to suddenly dump inches of rain.
See this article originally reported by the Associated Press.
Climate contradiction: Less snow, more blizzards
By SETH BORENSTEIN | Associated Press – Tue, Feb 19, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — With scant snowfall and barren ski slopes in parts of the Midwest and Northeast the past couple of years, some scientists have pointed to global warming as the culprit.
Then, when a whopper of a blizzard smacked the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow in some places earlier this month, some of the same people again blamed global warming.
How can that be? It's been a joke among skeptics, pointing to what seems to be a brazen contradiction.
But the answer lies in atmospheric physics. A warmer atmosphere can hold, and dump, more moisture, snow experts say. And two soon-to-be-published studies demonstrate how there can be more giant blizzards yet less snow overall each year. Projections are that that's likely to continue with manmade global warming.
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of The New York Times.
April 4th, 2013
FREE, Registration Required
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, Connecticut
The CCSU Global Environmental Sustainability Action Coalition invites the public to learn and to teach one another about the actions that we, as human beings, must take to ensure that we live in such a way that we are able to satisfy our needs while ensuring that our children and grandchildren will be able to satisfy their own. The symposium will offer 3 classes, two performances, a panel discussion, a tour, and an optional attendance at the town meeting, as well as opening and closing notes from distinguished professionals in sustainability. This event is FREE: anyone can register online to show up. *Exhibitor tables are still open.
9:45-10:00 AM: Symposium opening and welcome with Dr. Charles Button and Dr. Jack Miller (tentative) at Alumni Hall
10:00-10:45: Transportation, Migration, and Sustainability in Four Worlds Alumni Hall
Dr. John Kelmelis expands upon a possibility raised by the United States National Intelligence Council when they published Global Trends 2030: Alternative World. This work explores four very possible future worlds. Dr. Kelmelis will explain what each of these worlds might mean for our future as well as what strategies we might use to make the most of each circumstance at the local, regional, national, and global levels.
11:00-11:45: Panel Discussion: Electric Cars and Alternative Vehicles Alumni Hall
The president of the New England Electric Auto Association (Dave Oliveria), an environmental writer and speaker (Jim Motavalli), the Senior Associates Autos Editor for Consumer Reports (Eric Evarts), and a natural gas car owner (Joe Booth) all come together in one place to talk about the real value that hybrid, extended hybrid, and electric vehicles hold. This is a special opportunity to discover what users and reviewers genuinely think about these alternative vehicles.
12:00-1:45 (*with second free registration): Water Wars Performance and Lunch Alumni Hall
While you enjoy your lunch, the Sonia Plumb Dance Company will be performing Water Wars. This is an emotionally charged piece of art that exposes the very important and very tenuous relationship that human beings have with one of our primary sources of life: water.
Learn how to raise your own bees for honey from one of the area's top experts, Al Avitabile, Emeritus Professor at the Biology Dept. of UCONN, and co-author of “The Beekeeper’s Handbook”. In this five-session course Al will give you the beekeeping tools and confidence necessary for setting up and tending your own hives including collecting “homegrown” honey. Anyone interested in bees is welcome to attend.
When: Mondays: March 11, 18, and 25 7-9 PM. Field Trips: Sat. April 6 & 13 1-3 PM
Cost: $50.00 for all five sessions.
Registration: www.flandersnaturecenter.org or call 203-263-3711 x 10. Hurry and reserve your seat - group size is limited for best instruction.
Spring is around the corner!
Learn about Organic Gardening from Bill Duesing, Executive Director of the Connecticut Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association (CTNOFA), just in time for the 2013 growing season! Bill is one of the leaders of the local, organic food movement and has devoted his work to promoting greater local food sufficiency through education, lectures, writings, media and community outreach for over 3 decades. A graduate of Yale University, Bill is also an accomplished writer and the author of, “Living on the Earth: Eclectic Essays for a Sustainable and Joyful Future”. He is also the owner of the Old Solar Farm in Oxford.
When: Tuesday, March 26th @ 7:30 PM
Where: Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust | 5 Church Hill Rd., Woodbury, CT 06798
Cost: $12 members/ $15 non-members
An interesting element of this concept is that it appears to be very viable. With the emergence of car sharing, house swapping, and other community driven sharing programs - it seems we're well on our way. This video does a great job at creating additional context and broadens the applicability of this concept beyond the home to the work place.
Call2Recycle® is pleased to announce that the Northeast Recycling Council’s (NERC) member states recycled over a million pounds of rechargeable batteries and cellphones through their participation in the Call2Recycle program in 2012 – that’s equivalent to the weight of 40 school buses! Pennsylvania and New York lead collections with total weights of 319,113 and 242,061 pounds, respectively.
“The Northeast continues to be a leader in environmental stewardship and demonstrated commitment to diverting materials from the waste stream through multiple initiatives, including recycling, “ said Todd Ellis, Account Manager at Call2Recycle. “We applaud NERC’s members for their continued support of battery recycling and their promotion of the safe reclamation of these materials.”
Battery and cellphone recycling diverts potentially hazardous materials from the waste stream and ensures that valuable resources are reused.
A bit of additional commentary by yours truly ...
While I'm thrilled to see that batteries are being collected and recycled - and that the NE states are displaying a leadership role in the effort - I continued to be concerned about the number of batteries that are being manufactured in the first place. Also wondering what percentage of total batteries that were disposed of were recaptured for recycling ... while a million is impressive, if it represents only a small percentage of what was actually thrown away into land fills, I dare say we have a ways to go to feel proud of our accomplishments.
Via our friends at Northeast Recycling Council
The Regional Water Authority, New Haven, Connecticut is one of the newest members to join the State Electronics Challenge. The Challenge takes the mystery out of buying green office equipment, using it efficiently, and recycling it responsibly by providing a simple, straightforward process.
The Challenge is a free program that provides public sector entities with access to tools, resources, and technical assistance to green their purchase, use and/or recycling of office equipment. It documents the success of participating programs and provides Partners with annual sustainability reports that detail reductions in energy use, GHGs, and waste. Exemplary programs are acknowledged through the Challenge’s awards and recognition program.
To learn more about the State Electronics Challenge, register for an introductory webinar. There are two webinars scheduled:
Who’s Eligible to Join the Challenge:
The State Electronics Challenge is funded by a grant from the EPA Region 5 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and with the support of its sponsors—Samsung, Panasonic, Sims Recycling Solutions, the Consumer Electronics Association, and the ISRI R2/RIOS program.
Livestock falling ill in fracking regions, raising concerns about food
28th January, 2013
In the midst of the US domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying.
While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.
Last year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.
The authors compiled 24 case studies of farmers in six shale-gas states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, describes how scores of animals died over the course of several years.
In Ireland, they're chipping away at the national debt by charging people for the amount of garbage they produce. Picking up the recycling, however, is free. Something this country should consider, or will Congress fight about that too?
See the video below from The New York Times.
The Today Show reported that the fish you're eating is just a big, fat bait and switch. Cheaper and lower quality fish--often times with high levels of mercury--are being labeled as higher quality fish. So you think you're getting a nice meal, but you may be paying through the nose for a bad one.
See the clip below.
While New Jersey got the brunt of Superstorm Sandy a month ago, residents along the coastline of Connecticut got extensive damage as well. There are still people without power and heat or their homes were destroyed--even more than from Hurricane Katrina. The question is how big will other storms be in our future and can we handle it?
See the clip from last night's Nightly News with Brian Williams.
by Eileen Weber
If it has ever occurred to you that mowing your lawn with a gas mower is polluting the environment, you are not alone. Dan Delventhal, owner of MOWGreen, had that very same thought.
Every time he mowed his own lawn, he considered the fumes adding to the gunk in the air. And once his brother died of an environmentally caused cancer, that was the tipping point. With his brother in mind, he kicked off his new business in 2007, which is focused solely on getting the “gas off the grass.” In fact, this year MOWGreen has reached its one million auto-mile equivalent of saving 32,000 pounds of carbon emissions into the air.
“People don’t realize that using a gas mower is twenty times more polluting to the air than driving a car,” said Delventhal. “I want to change lawn care.”
by Dr. Amy Wiesner
Many people have heard of qi gong, though they probably aren’t sure what exactly it is. For thousands of years, it’s been used in China to promote both mental and physical well-being.
The definition of qi gong is two-fold. “Qi” refers to our vital force or life energy; “gong” means to cultivate. Therefore, qi gong is a discipline which cultivates our qi. This is a form of energy medicine, like acupuncture, as qi isn’t quantifiable. Nevertheless, in China, being able to direct and manipulate qi by using Traditional Chinese Medicine has been successful form of medicine for thousands of years. Qi gong uses gentle movements with meditation and breathing control to balance the body.
One might ask what the difference between tai chi and qi gong is. Tai chi is a more martial form of cultivating qi--it is more physical. Qi gong is about gentle movements.
There have been many studies over many years regarding the health benefits of qi gong. These studies have shown that a regular qi gong practice can decrease hypertension, strengthen the heart, decrease stroke occurrence, increase bone density, positively affect cancer and cancer patients and increase brain function and brain regulation.
There are many forms of qi gong, but to get started on some movements, go here. Qi gong is a beautiful and soothing practice that has lasting benefits for both the mind and body.
Even better, you can do it anywhere. No need to hop in the car and drive to the gym spewing fumes into the air. Qi gong goes wherever you go.
Image courtesy of cancer.ucsf.edu.
OSPREY – A festive filmmaker’s event with top Osprey experts!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
3:00-5:00 pm at Audubon Greenwich
Local Greenwich ospreys are the stars of a new film in development! Meet filmmaker Jacob Steinberg and learn from top researchers and esteemed authors. Watch previously unseen footage from this documentary-in-development that follows the lives of a pair of osprey that have nested in Greenwich Harbor for 10+ years. Food, drink and music will add to the fun. Supporters of the film project will be mentioned in the film credits and receive special gifts. All ages welcome but most suitable for adults & interested youth. Suggested Donations ($10-20) will benefit both the OSPREY project and Audubon Greenwich. RSVP requested to Jeff Cordulack at 203-869-5272 x23 or email@example.com
Green industries aren't making as big a splash as they should be. While solar and wind power have gained momentum, fossil fuels are still king. Global warming is now acknowledged as a real problem, but we're still no closer to changing it. With the upcoming election, Obama's track record on creating more green jobs didn't pan out as well either. And, David Brooks' op-ed posted in The New York Times yesterday says as much.
See the excerpt below.
A Sad Green Story
by David Brooks
Published October 18, 2012
The period around 2003 was the golden spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to curb global warming. I got my first ride in a Prius from a conservative foreign policy hawk who said that these new technologies were going to help us end our dependence on Middle Eastern despots. You’d go to Silicon Valley and all the venture capitalists, it seemed, were rushing into clean tech.
From that date on the story begins to get a little sadder…
The biggest blow to green tech has come from the marketplace itself. Fossil fuel technology has advanced more quickly than renewables technology. People used to worry that the world would soon run out of oil, but few worry about that now. Shale gas, meanwhile, has become the current hot, revolutionary fuel of the future…
All in all, the once bright green future is looking grimmer. Green tech is decidedly less glamorous, tarnished by political and technological disappointments.
The shifting mood was certainly evident in the presidential debate this week. Global warming was off the radar. Meanwhile, President Obama and Mitt Romney competed to see who could most ardently support coal and new pipelines. Obama is running radio ads in Ohio touting his record as a coal champion.
This is not where we thought we’d be back in 2003.
Global warming is still real. Green technology is still important.
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of GoGreen.ae
With the second round of presidential debates scheduled for this evening, one topic that probably won't get a lot of air time is green jobs. A shame since, according to this op-ed in the Huffington Post, job growth in the green industry has grown more than in other industries. Those states that have more green jobs fared better during the downturn. Green jobs are manufacturing-heavy and add a boost to the working middle class. See the excerpt below.
What's Really Happening With Green Jobs
Posted: 10/15/2012 4:56 pm
Green jobs are one of America's best-kept secrets, but they shouldn't be. When you consider the fact that at least 3.1 million Americans already work in green jobs, and that green industries and businesses can help solve some of our country's biggest problems -- from pollution to poverty and economic stagnation -- you'd think we'd be hearing our leaders talk about green jobs all the time.
A new report released last week by the Economic Policy Institute takes a close look at green jobs data, and finds that the growth and benefits of the green economy are even stronger than we previously thought. Among the report's findings:
Green industries are growing faster than the overall economy. Clean energy jobs have grown nearly two-and-a-half times as fast as jobs in the rest of the economy.
States with green jobs fared better during the economic downturn. In general, the greener a state's economy is, the better it has done in the recession.
Green jobs are manufacturing-heavy. Roughly one-fifth of all green jobs are in manufacturing. That's important because we desperately need manufacturing jobs -- America has lost roughly 5.5 million jobs in manufacturing since 2000.
Green jobs create pathways into the middle class. Jobs in the green economy tend to require less formal education than jobs in the rest of the economy, while paying better wages. And that's an excellent formula for creating pathways out of poverty. The EPI report underscores just how well green jobs perform in this area. It finds that for every one percentage point increase in the green intensity of a given industry, there is a corresponding .28 percentage point increase in the share of jobs in that industry held by workers without a four-year college degree. That's important. When Americans who can't afford college can still land a healthy, family-supporting job, it means more opportunity for more people. That benefits us all.
To read more, click here.
by Eileen Weber
Sometimes, inspiration can happen when you least expect it. And if you’re Michelina Docimo, a writer who has been previous contributor to this site and a certified sustainable building advisor, that Eureka! moment took place at the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens in 2009.
That year, there was an exhibit of artist Kathy Hirshon’s hand-painted panels of wood in diptychs and triptychs called Spirited Trees. It was a one-woman show that Hirshon created specifically for the Bartlett. Initially, she was thinking of working with other mediums like silk or leather. Then, she said she had her own Eureka! moment.
“I literally slapped my forehead,” she said. “I’m at an arboretum. I should be working with wood!”
And when she did, she felt like a channel for what was produced. She used watercolors and ink as well as a wood burning tool. One line led to another and another. A nose in one piece became an eye or an ear in another. It all just flowed together.
That’s exactly what captured Docimo’s attention. While she was covering the exhibit for an article in ARTES Magazine, she found it spiritually moving in a surprising way. Because of Hirshon’s work, she came to the realization not only are these trees a part of nature but so are we. We are all one. We are all connected.
That is one of the key elements in Hirshon’s core beliefs. She said that all life is connected and we are all one mind. Docimo clearly got the message, but she took it one step further.
She wrote a book of stories and poems, Echoes: Listening to the Voices in Spirited Trees, based on Hirshon’s work that included interviews of some of the regions spiritual heroes: a rabbi, a jewelry designer, a childbirth educator, a vegetarian chef and author, and many more.
“It sounds like it has nothing to do with sustainability,” Docimo said of the connection between the book and her profession. “It’s a mindset. It’s about living in a kind and spiritual way. It’s about respect.”
What do farms have to do with climate change? A whole lot. But if you're in the House or Senate, you're not even considering that. The current farm bill being tossed around Congress will accelerate global warming with more greenhouse gas emissions while making farms more vulnerable to those emissions. In a "meat-heavy" food system like ours with very little crop diversity and chemical feritilizers, we've set ourselves up for the kind of summer we had this year: hot and dry with low crop yield. Why not try the organic approach to farming? Nah, agribusiness wouldn't hear of it!
See the excerpt below from The New York Times about how the farm bill will actually affect the future.
Harvesting a Climate Disaster
By MARK HERTSGAARD
Published: September 12, 2012
The farm bill is not only the centerpiece of United States food and agriculture policy, it is also a de facto climate bill. And in this respect, both the Senate and House versions of the legislation are a disaster waiting to happen.
Consider, for a moment, the summer of 2012. For an agricultural superpower like the United States, it should have set off alarm bells. The hottest July on record and the worst drought in 50 years — both driven partly by global warming, scientists say — have parched soil and withered crops across the Farm Belt. Yet America’s lawmakers aren’t even remotely addressing the issue in a piece of legislation that will affect the climate profoundly for years to come.
The proposed farm bill — Senate- or House-style, take your pick — would make American agriculture’s climate problem worse, in two ways. Not only would the bill accelerate global warming by encouraging more greenhouse gas emissions, it would make the nation’s farms more vulnerable to the impacts of those emissions.
Indeed, instead of helping farmers take common-sense measures to limit their land’s vulnerability to extreme weather, the legislation would simply spend billions more on crop insurance — sticking taxpayers with the bill. “It’s like giving a homeowner cut-rate fire insurance but not requiring fire extinguishers,” said Jim Kleinschmit of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of NCCCUSA.org.
by Eileen Weber
Whether you’re shuffling the kids to college or you’re moving into your first apartment, you’re still moving all your stuff. If you are like everyone else, you’ll grab a fistful of cardboard boxes and call it a day.
But cardboard isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, they aren’t sanitary—particularly if you reuse boxes. All sorts of vermin and insects can leave their germy remnants. And unfortunately, most people end up throwing them out which simply adds to our growing landfill piles. According to Earth911, recycling one ton of cardboard saves nine cubic yards of space in a landfill and 46 gallons of oil. And even if you do recycle, cardboard is susceptible to oil and water which contaminates the material making it unusable or recyclable anyway. While some people actually do recycle their boxes because almost every town has a recycling program, about ten percent of them still end up in landfills.
By Stephen Meno
First Lady Michelle Obama launched her crusade against obesity by encouraging everyone to begin growing their own gardens. She started by growing her own on the White House lawn in April, 2009. While there is the obvious effect of providing a supply of fresh vegetables for consumption, I think there is a deeper, underlying consequence of teaching people how to grow.
Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending. And as environmentalist and indigenous rights activist Winona LaDuke has pointed out countless times, our country have more shopping malls than schools as a result. What that says is material possessions matter more than knowledge.
Even more, we have a presidential candidate who refuses to acknowledge climate change is caused by man in his energy policy report; members of Congress who do not even understand basic sexual mechanics; and children who think food only comes in boxes. Instead of acknowledging the natural world around us and how it functions, we gain meaning in our lives with stuff.
While Starbucks Coffee Company may be a huge corporation and you can find one on every corner (if you look close enough to the Rover images from Mars, I think there's one there, too), they really do put their money where there mouth is. They talk about sustainable practices and recycled materials. But what about the coffee grounds and day-old pastries? They've taken today's garbage one step further to tomorrow's usable product.
They break down the materials by a process that converts plant-based items into an acid. The acid can be used as detergent, medicine, or even plastics. Who knew today's cake pop and tall skim latté would have such an impact?
See an excerpt from Environmental News Network below.
Coffee Scraps at Starbucks Reused as Plastics and Consumer Products
From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published August 22, 2012 09:00 AM
According to the ACS, 1.3 billion tons of food is dumped in landfills, incinerated, or otherwise trashed every year around the world. They celebrate the success of Starbuck's new "biorefinery" at their 244th National Meeting and Exposition.
"Our new process addresses the food waste problem by turning Starbucks' trash into treasure — detergent ingredients and bio-plastics that can be incorporated into other useful products," said Carol S. K. Lin, Ph.D., who led the research team. "The strategy reduces the environmental burden of food waste, produces a potential income from this waste and is a sustainable solution."
The potential exists to expand this technology to not just coffee chains, but to all major food services, including school cafeterias. Between the new biorefinery and various composting technologies, not a single food scrap would ever have to be thrown away.
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of Starbucks Coffee Company.
NEW YORK (August 21, 2012) – Americans are throwing away 40 percent of food in the U.S., the equivalent of $165 billion in uneaten food each year, according to a new analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council. In a time of drought and skyrocketing food prices, NRDC outlines opportunities to reduce wasted food and money on the farm, in the grocery store and at home.
“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path – that’s money and precious resources down the drain,” said Dana Gunders, NRDC project scientist with the food and agriculture program. “With the price of food continuing to grow, and drought jeopardizing farmers nationwide, now is the time to embrace all the tremendous untapped opportunities to get more out of our food system. We can do better.”
NRDC’s issue brief – Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm To Fork to Landfill – analyzes the latest case studies and government data on the causes and extent of food losses at every level of the U.S. food supply chain. It also provides examples and recommendations for reducing this waste. Key findings include:
by Stephen Meno
It can be argued that Bill Gates is probably one of the smartest men alive. So, it’s a strange feeling for me to come out and say that Bill Gates is wrong. He, like many other people around the world, has been captivated by this fallacy that genetically modified organisms (GMO) will feed the world. And really he is not to blame. Multinational corporations, like Monsanto (in which, interestingly Bill Gates owns 500,000 shares), have been campaigning and misleading the public with this idea to maintain their image and ensure that they will reap countless dollars in profits.
The marketability of GMOs comes from their resistance to pesticides, which makes it easy to believe that they increase agricultural productivity greatly. But unfortunately, they are having the opposite effect at disastrous costs.
Katie the goat, a Connecticut nanny goat found to have excessively high carcinogens in her milk indicating inoperable cancer, has died. She was a symbol of anti-nuclear power.
See the Huffington Post article:
Katie, Connecticut Goat That Was Anti-Nuclear Symbol, Has Died
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut goat that made headlines in 2006 after visiting the state Capitol on a mission to inform officials about nuclear radiation has died.
Katie was diagnosed with inoperable cancer after living near Dominion Resources Inc.'s Millstone Nuclear Power station. Her death at her home in Redding on Sunday was announced in a news release.
Katie's mission took her from the state Capitol in 2006 to Washington, D.C., on March 11, 2012, where she strolled before the White House to mark the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
Her milk had tested positive for potent carcinogens that are associated with bone cancer and leukemia, and she became a familiar presence at anti-Millstone rallies.
She was a white nanny goat believed to be in her late teens.
Image courtesy of MothersMilkProject.com.