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Saturday, March 31, 2007

UNH "Power to the People: A University Dialogue on Energy"

The University of New Hampshire has a group of short discussion papers that look at issues related to global warming and climate change. The papers examine subjects ranging from the problem of US reliance on foreign oil to the basics of solar energy to the ethics of energy consumption.

The following papers are included:

Click here to go to the UNH website to read these excellent articles.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Portland Press Herald reports SEA's Community Climate Challenge

The Portland Press Herald ran an article yesterday about the Community Climate Challenge - a new program from the Sustainable Energy Alliance, in partnership with Campaign Earth (visit their website at

Click here to read the article "Residents challenged to fight warming".

(If it is removed from the Press Herald's site, then you can find it in SEA’s Online Community at,96.msg258.html .)

The Community Climate Challenge is a program that tries to motivate people to make small changes to their daily lives - each of which will help to prevent some of the global warming pollution associated with our daily lives. Click here for more information and to sign up!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sydney, Australia to have power blackout to raise climate change awareness

Here is a fascinating idea: On Saturday, March 31, Sydney will have a 1-hour long blackout to raise awareness about climate change. It is being planned by the World Wildlife Foundation and is being supported by the city as well as thousands of businesses.

I wonder if this sort of event to focus attention on the issue would ever be supported in the United States by a major city...

To read more about this event, click here to go to the website for Cosmos Magazine and click here to go to the website for the event.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blue Man Group on Global Warming

The Blue Man Group thinks that we need to do something about global warming.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fox News Changes Positions - The Debate Really Is Over

In the YouTube clip posted on Calvin Jones' blog "Climate Change Action," you can see something that I, personally, never thought that I'd see - Sheppard Smith of Fox News stating that global warming is real.

"Those who would doubt global warming need to read up," Smith says. "Scientists say that we have to act quickly and go 'carbon neutral.'"

This gives me hope. Now that Fox News has finally stopped trying to debunk the evidence and the predictions of global warming experts, maybe we can all focus on the solutions that will be required to prevent significant climate change.

Click here to go to the "Climate Change Action" blog and see the video.

The time for debate is over. The time to act is now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Free Showing of "The Global Banquet: Politics of Food"

A movie from Old Dog Documentaries called "The Global Banquet: Politics of Food" will be shown on Friday night (March 16th) at 7:00 PM in Kennebunk. The event is sponsored by the Sierra Club and the Environmental Justice Committee of the Kennebunk Unitarian Universalist Church.

"The Global Banquet exposes globalization’s profoundly damaging effect on our food system in terms that are understandable to the non-specialist. It debunks several underlying myths about global hunger:
  • That hunger results from scarcity;
  • That small countries don’t know how to feed themselves; and
  • That only market-driven, chemically-based, industrial agriculture can feed the world."

More about this movie can be found by clicking here.

For more information about this event, call Bob Weurthner at 207-985-0387.

Monday, March 12, 2007

"I Want To Reduce My Energy Usage, But Where Do I Start?"

This is a question that many people have asked, especially once they see Al Gore's film. But, where do you start? If you have already installed compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), where do you go next?

Posting by Gregg Dinino on the Sustainable Energy Alliance Online Community (click here to view the post) directed readers to the "Home Energy Saver" calculator. This website is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and helps people identify ways to reduce energy usage in their homes and provide assistance to getting the work completed.

The calculator is the primary focus of this website (click here to go to the calculator). After entering your zip code, there is a questionnaire that takes about 3 minutes to complete. Questions range from the size of your house to the type of heating and cooling you use to the number of windows in the house.

The result is an estimate of your current energy bill and the projected reduced bill if recommended upgrades are completed.

The Existing Home bar shows your estimated annual energy spending and the categories (heating, cooling, lighting, etc). The "with Selected Upgrades" bar shows how you can reduce each category and save money.

This calculation is interesting, but the best part of this site is the list of options available, including estimated costs, and the specific comments about how to implement each. The information includes Economic Benefits, Additional Benefits, Upgrade Description, Purchasing Tips, and More Information. Click here to view my report.

This list is long, but doable. The important thing to realize is that that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Make a list, hang it on your refrigerator, and start crossing them on one by one.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

10 Personal Solutions to Global Warming from Union of Concerned Scientists

The Union of Concerned Scientists (click here to visit their website) is a "science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world." Global warming is one of many issues that they focus on.

It seems that there are a million different lists of "10 Things YOU Can Do To Fight Global Warming." The UCS list has some unique items:

"1. The car you drive: the most important personal climate decision.When you buy your next car, look for the one with the best fuel economy in its class. Each gallon of gas you use releases 25 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Better gas mileage not only reduces global warming, but will also save you thousands of dollars at the pump over the life of the vehicle. Compare the fuel economy of the cars you're considering and look for new technologies like hybrid engines."

I've never seen this listed as "the most important personal climate decision." I have not done the calculation, but these guys are a whole lot smarter than I am - so I will take their word for it.

"2. Choose clean power: More than half the electricity in the United States comes from polluting coal-fired power plants. And power plants are the single largest source of heat-trapping gas. None of us can live without electricity, but in some states, you can switch to electricity companies that provide 50 to 100 percent renewable energy. (For more information go to"

Residents and businesses who are customers of Kennebunk Light and Power can choose to buy some or all of their electricity from green sources through the KLPD Village Green program. For more information, contact

If you do not get your electricity from KLPD, then contact your utility and ask how you can buy green energy. If nothing else, it will let them know that there is a demand for such products. Customer demand - knowing that there are people willing to pay a premium for clean energy - is a key to getting power companies to offer green electricity.

"4. Unplug a freezer: One of the quickest ways to reduce your global warming impact is to unplug the extra refrigerator or freezer you rarely use (except when you need it for holidays and parties). This can reduce the typical family's carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 10 percent."

The amount of electricity consumed by an extra freezer is significant. If you can get away with only one for even a part of the year, you will save money AND carbon dioxide emissions.

"8. Buy good wood: When buying wood products, check for labels that indicate the source of the timber. Supporting forests that are managed in a sustainable fashion makes sense for biodiversity, and it may make sense for the climate too. Forests that are well managed are more likely to store carbon effectively because more trees are left standing and carbon-storing soils are less disturbed."

Another consideration is to buy things made from bamboo, which is a fast-growing type of grass that can be made into everything from kitchen utensils to flooring to clothing.

"10. Let policymakers know you are concerned about global warming: Our elected officials and business leaders need to hear from concerned citizens. Sign up for the Union of Concerned Scientists Action Network to ensure that policymakers get the timely, accurate information they need to make informed decisions about global warming solutions."

This is true for local and state officials as well as federal ones. Let your representatives know that you fully support their efforts to met the challenges of global warming - and that you want action sooner rather than later.

The whole list can be found on the UCS website (click here to see the list) along with other information about global warming.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Another Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb Campaign

Previously, I wrote about the One Billion Bulbs website and it's efforts to get Americans to replace their incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). There is a significant reduction of global warming pollution when CFLs are used - and homeowners save money, too. Installation of CFLs is often encouraged as the first step to take when trying to reduce energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions.

I found another website trying to motivate the public to install CFLs. Yahoo! has created a website called - claiming that it only takes 18 seconds to install a CFL - and, thus, make a difference against global warming. The website states:

"What kind of difference can one CFL make? Consider this: If every American swapped just ONE bulb for an ENERGY STAR labeled CFL, it would collectively save more than $8 billion in energy costs, prevent burning 30 billion pounds of coal, and remove 2 million cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere. Just imagine the difference we could make if we replaced all of the lights we use most!"

The site also points out that if you've considered trying CFLs in the past, but were turned off by the high price or the lack of styles, it is time to look again. Prices have come down dramatically over the last few years. In many places, there are also rebates and government subsidies for CFLs. In Maine, an organization called Efficiency Maine (click here for more information) offers an in-store coupon to reduce the cost of CFLs.

As for styles, the days of few options are behind us. In the past, the only CFLs available were the spiral ones that replaced the 40/60/100W incandescent bulbs in what I think of as "normal light fixtures". Today, there is a CFL to fit virtually any lighting situation. Small globes, large globes, dimmable - even ones that look similar to the traditional light bulb with no visible spirals.

If you haven't already, take the 18 seconds necessary to replace an incandescent bulb with a CFL. If you have already replaced one, then do another. This is the easiest and, I think, most cost-effective way to begin to reduce your carbon footprint.

See the Wikipedia entry to learn about CFLs.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sustainable Energy Alliance - Presentation on Global Warming Solutions

On Wednesday, March 7th at Christ Church in Kennebunk, Sara Lovitz of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) will speak on “Global Warming—Science, Policy, and Solutions” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, at Christ Church on Dane Street in Kennebunk. Sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Alliance, the event is free and open to the public.

Clean Energy Outreach Coordinator for the NRCM, Lovitz recently trained with Al Gore’s Climate Project. She will discuss the science of global warming, including the predicted and current impacts of changing climate with an emphasis on community- and state-level policy solutions.

Lovitz will also talk about the proposed Power Plant Global Warming bill now under review in the state legislature. The bill, Lovitz notes, “is the most important remaining step in Maine’s Climate Action Plan to reduce global warming pollution.” The bill would allow Maine to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), pronounced “Reggie.”

RGGI is a program of national if not international significance. Based on input by state agencies and stakeholders throughout the Northeast, RGGI sets a limit on the amount of global warming pollution from large fossil fuel-burning power plants in nine Northeastern states, including Maine. For more information about RDDI, click here.

The proposed Power Plant Global Warming Bill would reduce global warming pollution from these plants by nearly 20% by the year 2019. Together the nine states add up to the seventh-largest source of global warming pollution in the world with more than 30% of this pollution coming from dirty power plants. Using a flexible, market-based approach that has already worked to reduce acid rain and ozone, the bill would stimulate economic investment and support both energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Lovitz holds a degree in chemistry from Colby College and an M.S. in Natural Resource Planning from the University of Vermont. She also served as a graduate intern at the Communities and Small-Scale Mining group at the World Bank and has done atmospheric chemistry research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Sustainable Energy Alliance will hold its monthly meeting after Lovitz’s presentation and all are invited to attend.

For more information about the Natural Resources Council of Maine, click here.