Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

vote for green edge nyc!

March 16, 2009

Okay, I know just a few days ago I was telling you to vote for the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, and here I am telling you to vote for GreenEdge (the NYC-based sustainable-living social networking site). The great thing is, you can vote for both. What does voting for these great organizations mean?

Well, there are 4 grants up for grabs from Green Mountain Coffee at the tune of $200K each (more details). With these funds, I think groups like Brooklyn Greenway and GreenEdge NYC will do amazing things for our community, and inspire similar initiatives to sprout up across the nation.

And now that I think about it, both of these organizations are about connecting people. The Greenway physically connects Brooklynites to communities from Greenpoint to Red Hook and also to Manhattan. GreenEdge connects people looking to get involved in the sustainable living scene – from food-foraging groupies to neighborhood potluck dinners. This grant would provide both groups with a greater opportunity to reach more people and to help more people reach out to others.

So please, take a minute and help these great orgs get a much-deserved grant.

You can vote for both!

Vote for GreenEdge NYC
Vote for Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

You only have until Saturday, March 21 to vote, so hop to it!

thoreau, climatologist

October 29, 2008


[Photo: Image design by C. Davis and C. Willis.
Photographs depicting those groups in decline
courtesy of K. Cerrudo, A. Miller-Rushing,
J. Novak, T. Barnes, and C. Rushworth.]

Unbeknownst to him, Henry David Thoreau was a climatologist. His recordings of plant flowering patterns from 1851 to 1858 are helping modern climate scientists determine plant abundance and decline in New England. They can then, in turn, link those patterns to climate change.

One of the things they’ve discovered is that flowers are blooming seven days earlier now than in Thoreau’s time. And they could only find 7 of the 21 species of orchids Thoreau recorded. An excerpt:

Henry David Thoreau endorsed civil disobedience, opposed slavery and lived for two years in a hut in the woods here, an experience he described in “Walden.” Now he turns out to have another line in his résumé: climate researcher. He did not realize it, of course.

Thoreau died in 1862, when the industrial revolution was just beginning to pump climate-changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In 1851, when he started recording when and where plants flowered in Concord, he was making notes for a book on the seasons.

Now, though, researchers at Boston University and Harvard are using those notes to discern patterns of plant abundance and decline in Concord — and by extension, New England — and to link those patterns to changing climate.

Read the rest.

[New York Times]

millions of good things

October 22, 2008


Bette Midler, the founder of the New York Restoration Project, planting a Carolina Silverbell tree.
(Image: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)


If we are going to beat global warming, we are going to have to weatherize millions of buildings, install millions of solar panels, manufacture millions of wind-turbine parts, plant and care for millions of trees, build millions of plug-in hybrid vehicles, and construct thousands of solar farms, wind farms, and wave farms. That will require thousands of contracts and millions of jobs — producing billions of dollars of economic stimulus.

~Van Jones
The Green Collar Economy

It’s only the beginning…

Million Solar Roofs [Cali.]
The plan will provide 3,000 megawatts of additional clean energy and reduce the output of greenhouse gasses by 3 million tons which is like taking one million cars off the road.
~Arnold Schwarzenegger

Million Trees [NYC]
Trees help clean our air, and reduce the pollutants that trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate other respiratory diseases. They cool our streets, sidewalks, and homes on hot summer days. Trees increase property value, and encourage neighborhood revitalization. And trees make our City an even more beautiful and comfortable place to live, work, and visit.

Million Building Retrofits [S. Bronx… coming soon]
Drafty buildings create broke, chilly people — and an overheated planet.
~Van Jones

signs of change

October 21, 2008


[Image: J. Schnakenberg/AMNH]

Starting this Friday at the Union Square Greenmarket, leave your mark on the world by adding your name to the traveling “Signs of Change” globe. It’s an awareness activity related to the recently opened exhibit, Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future, at the American Museum of Natural History.

Stop by to sign the 5-foot-diameter white acrylic globe, choose your color — browns and greens over the continents and blues and purples over the oceans. Signing the globe is a commitment to reduce your carbon footprint. Seeing the globe with so many signatures is a reminder that every voice counts and contributes to positive change on a large scale.

Related posts
climate change exhibit @ AMNH
learning events @ AMNH

can nyc be an exemplary eco city?

October 21, 2008

That was the question posed last night at the Open Center, in a lecture of the same name. The panelists approached sustainability from both an individual and governmental perspective.

Rohit Aggarwala
Director of the Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability in NYC

According to Rohit, PlaNYC started out as an economic plan. But with population projected to reach 9.1 million residents by 2030 (it’s currently over 8 million), it became clear that the focus needed to be on sustainability.

One consideration led to another: if you think about land use patterns, especially with regard to housing, you can’t ignore transportation infrastructure; when you consider transportation, air quality becomes a factor; a contributor to poor air quality is the city’s current energy resources — yet another layer; and those energy resources also pollute our waterways, so there’s water quality to think about.

Its population growth makes New York City unique among old American cities. There was no model to follow. So the mayor’s office turned to other cities around the world. For example, London was the model for congestion pricing, which is up for reconsideration. Or as one NYTimes reporter put it, Governor Paterson is “rescuing the controversial program from the brink of death.”

Read the full PlaNYC report.

Starre Vartan
One of the original green bloggers (eco chick), author of The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green, and managing editor for the Greenopia guide

Starre offered up 7 of her top 10 ways to live sustainably in NYC (her time was cut short).

In general, she says to consider what you do most in your daily life, and then figure out how you can make changes to reduce your impact.

[NB. I’ve paraphrased a bit]

1. Food. Support farmer’s markets and local food, as our food miles add a considerable heft to our carbon footprint.

2. Goods. Buy local. There are many great designers of furniture, clothing, and other goods right here in NYC. When you consider a simple article of clothing like a t-shirt, think about all that went into it. The cotton, grown with chemical fertilizers and treated with pesticides is grown in one country. Then it’s shipped to another place to be dyed. Then the fabric is sent somewhere else to be sewn together. The tags may be sewn on in an entirely different place. The carbon footprint of a t-shirt is astronomical! (Read about the perfect t-shirt ever made [!])

3. Transport. Keep using public transportation. Bike if you’ve got one. There are bike advocate groups you can join or support (like Recycle a Bicycle). Limit cab rides or share with a friend (or try a service like Ride Amigos).

4. Toxins. Get them out of your life. One of the simplest, easiest, and least expensive ways to do this is to swap your cleaning supplies. Toxic chemicals from cleaning products pollute our waterways and our bodies. Waste treatment facilities only filter out bio-organisms, so those cleaning biproducts are mixing together in our water. Another way to eliminate toxins is changing your beauty products.

5. Energy. Switch to clean energy through services like ConEdison Solutions, which offer wind and hydroelectric power that feeds into the grid (which unless you’re off the grid, and you’d know if you were, you’re hooked up to). It may cost a little more per month, but what you’re paying for is clean air and health. It’s really the one place you should spend a little more to help save our health and the planet.

6. Junk mail. Sign up for services that stop junk mail, like GreenDimes or DMAChoice (I know it works, ’cause I’ve used it!).

7. Office. Green your workplace. Some motivated employees may already be volunteering to help reduce the carbon footprint of their office. But many businesses still have along way to go to achieve eco-friendly status. Implement recycling, start a campaign to eliminate paper cup use (bring your own!), encourage printing on both sides. These steps will make the office more sustainable and help the bottom line!

Visit Eco chick for more green living tips.

Janna Olson
Sustainability consultant and NYC market manager & researcher at Greenopia

I was excited to see Janna there, as I’m currently taking a class with her (which I’ll write about soon). She had some technical difficulties (her Mac couldn’t communicate with the overhead projector), but Janna raised some really compelling points — many of them directed at Rohit Aggarwala.

One of the concepts Janna discussed was distributed energy generation, specifically solar empowerment zones — a term coined by City Councilmember and Infrastructure Task Force co-chair Daniel Garodnick [OnEarth]. Essentially, buildings in areas of the city that have been identified as suitable for photovoltaic solar panel installation (“low-density areas that have buildings with large rooftops to create a synergy for an entire neighborhood to become solar-powered,” according to Garodnick) would be given incentive to invest in solar. This method makes solar more cost-effective through sharing of maintenance responsibility, tax incentives, and the potential for a consolidated connection to the grid within the zone.

Janna also talked about the usefulness and importance of the Greenopia guide. While helping consumers living in cities like New York find green businesses, the guide helps green businesses — some of which might have a limited marketing budget — get the attention they deserve. She also stressed that living green should not be a chore, it can and should be a fun endeavor.

Read an interview with Janna [alldaybuffet].

Sign up for an upcoming eco event at the Open Center:

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, and Still Have a Great Life

with Colin Beavan (No Impact Man) and Janna Olson
Friday, January 16 2009, 7:00pm – 10:00pm

vimeo climate change video contest

October 20, 2008

Brighter Planet and 1Sky put together a video contest to inspire the next president to take action on climate change. Climate Matters winners will be announced tomorrow, October 21st.

Here’s one of the finalist videos. Go to Vimeo for more.

Climate Matters from Brighter Planet on Vimeo.

The top videos will be delivered to Washington just before the November elections to ensure that our next president and next Congress receives the message loud and clear: America is ready for bold leadership on climate change!

[Vimeo]

the lost 8 years

October 17, 2008

Many in the environmental community consider the past 8 years of Bush Administration Policy as the lost 8 years. Here, Environmental Defense Fund shows us some of the devastation that ensued under the watch of our careless rulers.

Lost Eight Years by the Numbers

Over the last eight years, global warming took its toll on the world.

While climate scientists confirmed that it is undoubtedly a man-made phenomenon and predicted its disastrous future effects, the Bush Administration worked with various members of U.S. industry to bury this evidence and block action.

Check out our 10 Facts About the Lost Eight Years to learn more.

150,000
The number of people who died in 2000 due to debilitating diseases caused by climate change in 2000, according to a 2003 study by the World Health Organization.

20 billion
The net tons of water oceans gain each year through melting glaciers and ice caps, according to a 2006 study by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

1,260
Square miles in area of the Larsen B ice shelf that collapsed off the Antarctic Peninsula in 2002 – this area is roughly the size of Rhode Island.

2050
Year by which polar bears could be at or near extinction according to the U.S. Geological Survey in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

4.5 feet
The amount the seas could rise by the end of the century, according to scientists at the University of Arizona.

928
Number of peer reviewed papers used in a study that found there were no serious challenges to the global warming consensus that the phenomena was real and largely man made.

385 ppm
The concentration of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere in 2008 – the highest level in at least the past 800,000 years and 37% higher than CO2 concentrations at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

$200 billion
The amount of economic losses resulting from the intensity of climate change through the year 2005, according to the reinsurance company Munich Re.

0
Number of global warming bills passed by the Senate.

0
Number of global warming bills passed by the House.

Sources:

  • McMichael, Anthony J., ed. Climate Change and Human Health: Risks and Responses. World Health Organization. 2003.
  • “NASA Finds Arctic Replenished Very Little Thick Sea Ice in 2005.” The Earth Observer. Volume 19, Issue 3. May/June 2007.
  • National Snow and Ice Data Center. “Larsen B Ice Shelf Collapses in Antarctica.” March 18, 2002.
  • Roach, John. “Most Polar Bears Gone By 2050, Studies Say.” National Geographic News. September 10, 2007.
  • Borenstein, Seth. “Global warming’s rising seas projected to overtake unique U.S. coastal spots in 100 years.” Associated Press. September 22, 2007.
  • Oreskes, Naomi “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” for Science December 4, 2004.
  • Hansen, James. “Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming.” The Huffington Post, June 23, 2008.
  • Faust, Ebhard. “Climate Change impact on the (re-) Insurance Industry and Munich Re’s Response.” Global Roundtable on Climate Change Session II at Columbia University. November 14-15, 2005.

What do you think?

Leave your answer to the following questions posed by Environmental Defense Fund:

With a new administration only months away and a significantly new Congress just around the corner, do you think the United States will finally give environmental concerns the priority they deserve? Or will we end up falling into the pitfalls of the past, with political disagreements hindering progress?

an open letter to the new president

October 17, 2008


[Image source: 7×7]

Michael Pollan challenges the future president to take a serious look at revolutionizing the current state of the food industry in a recent NY Times article. An excerpt:

After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.

Read the rest. [NY Times]

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer on the Colbert Report

October 16, 2008

Okay, it’s from February of last year. But it’s just as relevant today.

learning events @ AMNH

October 16, 2008

Some great opportunities to learn more about the world that’s changing around us are coming up at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in conjunction with the new Climate Change exhibit.



Future events @ AMNH

The museum plans to host several programs related to the exhibit including:

  • International Polar Weekend celebration (February 7-8, 2009)
  • World Water Day celebration (March 21, 2009)
  • A series of interactive exhibits introducing kids ages 9-12 to the science of climate change and possible solutions to global warming
  • A series of panel discussions bringing together world experts to discuss and debate the implications of climate change for our future (starting in January)
  • Additional programs focusing on the effects of global warming on the wine and coffee industries


Upcoming programs for adults

These selected programs examine both personal and industrial responsibilities regarding sustainability.

FutureFashion: Connecting an Industry to Sustainable Practices
Thursday, October 23, 6:30pm
$15 ($13.50 Members)

Industry experts, Julie Gilhart, Fashion Director of Barneys; Scott Hahn, President of Loomstate; and others, participate in a discussion with Leslie Hoffman, executive director, Earth Pledge, and Greg Loosvelt, Earth Pledge’s carbon footprint assessment expert, about ways the fashion industry is working to reduce its environmental footprint. Learn about Earth Pledge’s FutureFashion initiative, which encourages sustainability by working within the fashion industry to promote renewable, reusable, and nonpolluting materials and processes. On exhibit will be one-of-a-kind creations made as part of this collaboration by a few top designers, including Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, and Rodarte.

Global Kitchen: Wine and Climate Change
Tuesday, October 28, 6:30 pm
$20

What consequences will global warming have on the wine industry? In this discussion and wine tasting, climatologist Gregory V. Jones, Southern Oregon University; author and blogger Tyler Colman, DrVino.com and Wine Politics; and Evan Spingarn, wine importer and distributor, will address such topics as redrawing the wine map, wines and their cultural identities, and calculating wine’s carbon footprint.

Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival
Friday-Saturday, November 14-16
$10 ($9 Members)

This sidebar to the international documentary film festival will include two sessions on climate change and global culture. Post-screening discussions with filmmakers and specialists will follow these films. Selected works will circulate in the Traveling Film Series domestically and internationally.

Peace with Seals
Saturday, November 15
Directed by Miloslav Novak. Peace with Seals (Mir s Tuleni) tells the story of biologist Emanuele Coppola’s hunt for the Mediterranean monk seal. Conversations with marine biologists and philosophers, as well as the beachgoers on the Mediterranean shores, who have supplanted the seals, lead him to believe that the only monk seals left are those preserved in Coppola’s extensive collection of archival footage. (U.S. Premiere)

Recipes for Disaster
Sunday, November 16
Directed by John Webster. Recipes for Disaster features the filmmaker and his family in a quest to reduce their carbon footprints by going one year without using oil-based byproducts. Their goal of “green living” seems manageable at first, but surviving without everyday essentials, like goods packaged in plastic, becomes increasingly challenging. (U.S. Premiere)

March Point
Sunday, November 16
Filmmaker and producer in person
Directed by Annie Silverstein. Intent on finding solutions to the pollution caused by two oil refineries in their native land, three teenage members of the Swinomish Tribe arm themselves with cameras and travel across the country to meet the politicians who can help. Following the screening will be a discussion with the filmmaker and producer. (NY premiere)
Co-presenter: National Museum of the American Indian

Upcoming programs for kids and families

Adventures In Science: Climate Change Sundays
11 am–12:30 pm
(for 4th and 5th graders)
1:30–3 pm
(for 6th and 7th graders)
$30 each; $75 for all three

In conjunction with our new exhibition, these hands-on workshops introduce young audiences to the science of climate change and potential solutions. Participate in all three sessions and earn a certificate.

What Is the Difference Between Climate and Weather?
AS101908
Sunday, October 19

When people ask about the weather, we know what they mean: is it sunny, rainy, or hot? But what does climate mean, and how is it different from weather? In this workshop, we’ll use fun activities to compare their differences and similarities and learn why climate is so important.

What Is Climate Change?
AS102608
Sunday, October 26

Is Earth really getting hotter? Will a polar bear one day be your neighbor? Using the new exhibition Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future, we will examine the elements of climate change, its impact on Earth, and what that means for animals like polar bears, penguins—and us!

What Can We Do about Climate Change?
AS110208
Sunday, November 2

We know that Earth’s climate is changing—but what can you do about it? Is recycling enough? What exactly are greenhouse gases? Discover just how much energy you use in your daily life, and learn ways you can reduce your personal impact on the planet and help others to do the same.

To register for these programs, call 212-769-5200 or visit www.amnh.org.