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Friday, December 29, 2006

Disturbing News - Canadian Ice Shelf Breaks Free

CNN reports that a large ice shelf in northern Canada has broken free and is now a "floating ice island." Warwick Vincent, an expert on Arctic conditions says, "This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years. We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead."

Though I hope that Mr. Vincent is wrong about the rate of warming accelerating, I suspect that he is correct. Time is short - which is why we need to continue our work to reduce the global warming impact of our lifestyles.

You can read the CNN article here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holiday Break

Greetings! While 2006 expires its last gasps, I am taking a breather from writing the blog. But do not fear!! I will be back in 2007 with more great information about climate change and global warming and how we can all make small changes to our lifestyles to reduce our impact on the environment.

2007 will be a very exciting year. Many think that the coming year will go down in history as THE year that non-fossil fuel energy sources go mainstream. We will have more opportunities than ever before to choose green alternatives. Very exciting, indeed.
If you have any questions or ideas for future topics, please be sure to post a comment!!!

In the meantime, my best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"WorldChanging: A User's Guide For The 21st Century"

If you are waiting for solutions to global warming and climate change to be invented, the wait is over. At least that is what the folks at Worldchanging think. The organization "was founded on the idea that real solutions already exist for building the future we want. It's just a matter of grabbing hold and getting moving. "

To move us all in this direction, the folks at Worldchanging have a website and a book (see below) devoted to providing "tools, models, and ideas for building a bright future." Their content is broken in sections, including:
  • Stuff
  • Shelter
  • Cities
  • Communities
  • Business
  • Politics
  • Planet

On the website and in the book, there is information about various topics within each category as well as resources to go to for more information. For example, the Shelter category discusses green remodeling, lighting, going off the grid, furniture and home decor, etc.

"Worldchanging: A User's Guide For The 21st Century" is a virtual encyclopedia of information about anything green. It can either be read from cover to cover or by picking and choosing which topics are relevant.

In the Forward, Al Gore writes, "To build that future, we need a generation of everyday heroes, people who - whatever their walks of life - have the courage to think in fresh ways and to act to meet this planetary crisis head-on. This book belongs in the library of every person who aspires to be part of that generation."

One of the goals of the Sustainable Energy Alliance (SEA) is to recruit people to be part of this generation - the generation that decides to give hope to the future of the planet.

If you visit this website every once in a while or thumb through the book (click to purchase WorldChanging from every so often, you will learn that you have many options in making your life greener. And this knowledge, I hope, will be the first step toward continuous change!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Five Ways To A Greener Holiday

In a recent newsletter, Co-Op America suggests five ways to "green" your holiday:
  1. Make your holiday meals local and organic. Find resources from Local Harvest, the Eat Well Guide, and Co-op America's Good Food Guide.
  2. Give green gifts. Search our Green Pages™ for everything on your list, or check out our Real Money article on cool solar gadgets for exciting energy-saving gift ideas. (Or, give loved ones the gift of your time, talents, and affection, and direct your consumer dollars toward those in need.)
  3. Use recycled or tree-free gift wrap. Old maps, comics pages, or even festively decorated brown paper bags can be turned into beautiful giftwrap without the waste. Or, consider using reusable gift bags or tree-free/reusable giftwrap, both available in the Green Pages™.
  4. Find a sustainable tree. Our Real Money article gives you the low-down on the sustainability of different types of trees, whether live, artificial, or even potted (and re-plantable!).
  5. Recycle everything! After the holidays, check out Earth 911's excellent recycling information by searching for area resources in your ZIP code, or by jumping straight to their holiday page for tips on recycling trees, wrapping paper, product packing materials, and other leftovers. (Also, don't forget to recycle your obsolete electronics if you receive new ones as presents. For example, the Rechargable Battery Recycling Corporation, can show you how to recycle power tools, cellular and cordless phones, camcorders, digital cameras, and more, and our Real Money article gives you resources for recycling your old computer.)

I have to admit that we have not done all of these! Though we did buy a compact fluorescent bulb as a gift for each household in our family.

If we each do something to make our holiday just a little greener, we can start to make a real difference.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Green Day Speaks Out About Global Warming

The punk rock group Green Day is teaming up with the Natural Resources Defense Council to get their fans and others active in the fight against global warming. At, there are videos from the band discussing their thoughts about climate change and the federal response (or lack thereof). There are also ideas for action, information about how to speak out for action, etc.

You can see the video on YouTube.

Whether you are a fan of Green Day or not, I think that their message is well-spoken and right on target. I hope you'll take a few moments to listen!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

How Many Miles On Those Grapes?

Have you ever thought about how many miles your apples have on them? Ever wondered how many pounds of global warming pollution were emitted to deliver your lettuce greens to you in February?

There is a growing movement that suggests that eating foods grown and produced locally has a myriad of benefits, including improved nutrition and less carbon dioxide emissions during transit. The Eat Local Challenge blog has articulated 10 Reasons To Eat Local Food:
  • Eating local means more for the local economy.
  • Locally grown produce is fresher.
  • Local food just plain tastes better.
  • Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.
  • Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic.
  • Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.
  • Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story.
  • Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism.
  • Local food translates to more variety.
  • Supporting local providers supports responsible land development.

For those people in Maine, the Get Real Maine website has information about where to find local foods.

The next time that you are in the grocery store, take a moment to consider how far your food traveled to get to you. With super-efficient, refrigerated transportation, it is now possible to buy fresh produce grown thousands of miles away - but that doesn't mean that we should... Instead, if we all start choosing foods that are produced as nearby as possible, it will go a long ways toward reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the food industry.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Record Efficiency for PV Solar Cells

Even with the higher cost of solar panels, there are obvious environmental benefits to anyone who can choose to install them on their rooftops. New research suggests that the costs may be coming down.

An article from Renewable Energy Access reports that Spectrolab, Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing) has developed a new process to make photovoltaic solar cells with more than double the efficiency of current cells. If commercialized, the 40.7% efficient cells could reduce the installed price to about $3 per kilowatt.

To find out about the incentives available on your state, go to the website for the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

To find out more about PV solar cells, see the Wikipedia entry on Photovoltaics.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Web Resource: David Suzuki Foundation

Dr. David Suzuki is well-known in Canada as a scientist, environmentalist, and broadcaster. The David Suzuki Foundation works to "to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us." The website contains information about Sustainability, Oceans and Sustainable Fishing, and Climage Change and Clean Energy. Some of the information is Canada-focused, but it is generaly applicable to those in other countries as well.

On the What You Can Do page, there are links for actions that can be taken "At Home" and "At Work," as well as information about living a Carbon Neutral lifestyle.

This looks like a good resource for ideas about how we can make the necessary changes to meet the challenges of global warming and move toward a more sustainable society.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Al Gore on Oprah!

Mr. "Inconvenient Truth" himself was on Oprah this week spreading the word about the dangers of global warming and climate change. Given that when Oprah picks a book for her book club, it immediately becomes a bestseller, we can only hope that having Al Gore showcased on her show will turn on the compact fluorescent lights in the minds of her legions of fans.

You can find information about this at Oprah's website, along with ideas for things that you can do. One of my favorite pages lists how your can combat global warming when you go to the grocery store:

  • Instead of regular aluminum foil or plastic wrap, purchase recycled aluminum foil
  • Look for items without extensive packaging
  • Bring a cloth bag to the grocery store instead of using its plastic bags
  • Buy local and organic.

Hopefully, Oprah will help push the message of "An Inconvenient Truth" into the mainstream. If you have not seen the movie, it is out on DVD and can be purchased at

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Supreme Court Shows How Far We Have To Go...

There is an excellent editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer the summarizes the views of Supreme Court justices when they heard the case brought to them by various states (including Maine) and other organizations to require EPA to regulate CO2 emissions. See my 11/27 blog for more information about this important lawsuit.

The newspaper notes that the opinions of some of the justices are indicative of the opinions of many Americans. "Despite melting glaciers, rising sea levels, disappearing species, and volatile weather, many in America - beginning with President Bush - remain unconvinced. They insist on more conclusive evidence before curbing the greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the Earth and causing the climate to change."

This is the challenge that we face. But, as each of us continue to make small changes every day - and slowly more and more people wake up to the risks - we will turn the tide. With or without the EPA and the federal government.

Spread the word!!! The more that we all talk about these issues and some of the solutions, the more likely we are to convince someone who is skeptical or doesn't believe that anything can be done.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Turn Off Your Computer!!!

How much energy is wasted - and carbon dioxide emitted - due to business computers being left on overnight? According to an article in The Independent (UK) called "Office workers who leave computers on all night "add to global warming", an equivalent of over 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide - the same as about 120,000 SUVs - is wasted each year in Britain from people leaving computers on overnight.

The article also describes other "ghost power" users - i.e. appliances that use a significant amount of energy even when turned "off". This includes:
  • "Dishwashers - Dishwashers left on at the end of their cycle consume 70 per cent of the power used when they are running.
  • Television - The average television is left on standby for up to 17.5 hours a day. In 2004, Britain's 62 million television sets consumed about 8 per cent of their energy consumption in standby mode.
  • Washing Machines - Washing machines use just under 20 per cent of normal requirement on standby.
  • Tumble Dryers - Tumble dryers can use 38 per cent of normal power while waiting at the end of a cycle.
  • Lighting - Turning unnecessary lights off would prevent 375,000 tons of CO2 emissions and save £55m in bills. Other appliances with high standby use are cordless telephones, radios, and stereos."

There are many ways that you can help to reduce this amount of wasted energy.

  • Set up your Windows XP computer to standby and hibernate to save energy. See this website for instructions.
  • Unplug any appliances that are not being used.
  • Purchase a power strip that allows you to control computer peripherals (speakers, printers, etc.) so that they automatically turn off when the computer is off. I bought one from that has been working well so far.
  • Of course, when you are shopping for a new appliance, consider it's energy efficiency and buy EnergyStar whenever possible.

Little by little, we can make small reduction that compound to make significant progress! Aim for solutions that are automatic (like setting up your computer to standby and hibernate!).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Coming To A Reality TV Show Near You

MSNBC reports that Leonardo DiCaprio is working with television producers to air a new reality show that will focus on turning a town "into a “‘green’ utopia of tomorrow.”

“We’re going to take a devastated community and help transform it as a prototype for the future,” Executive producer Craig Piligian said. “At the end of the day, we’re all going to have to change the way we live, the way we burn and use fuel ... We’re trying to show the country and the world by example, town by town by town, how we can change the way we live and fight global warming.”

After watching the members of the town struggle to transform themselves, the show will feature a "call to action" with information about how people can get involved with environmental programs.

I could find no word on whether DiCaprio would make an appearance on the show.

If a network picks this show up, it will be interesting to see if this can get viewership on the scale of "Survivor" or "The Amazing Race." If so, the educational opportunities of this type of show are significant simply due to the number of people that could pay attention to the issue!