Tag Archives: climate change

A New Approach to Green

A New Approach To Going Green- Kansas Takes The Lead

Kansas probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of sustainability, but you’d be surprised — the Sunflower State is making immense progress in saving energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

This piece in The New York Times highlights the humble beginnings of the Climate and Energy Project, a small nonprofit group whose missions is to get people to limit their fossil fuel emissions. Kansas town managers are attributing the state’s new resolve largely to a yearlong competition sponsored by the Climate and Energy Project that “set out to extricate energy issues from the charged arena of climate politics” as noted in the article.

What sets this project apart from the countless other sustainability initiatives is the approach.  The decision was made to focus on thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction and economic prosperity, using these four pillars to try to rally resident of six Kansas towns to make a change in their energy use.

Why did the conversation have to be about climate change, countered project chairwoman Nancy Jackson. If the goal was to persuade people to reduce their use of fossil fuels, why not identify issues that motivated them instead of getting stuck on something that did not, the Times article reported.

Despite a hefty roadblock — according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press just  48 percent of people in the Midwest agree with the statement that there is “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer” — the project trudged on and worked to overcome the skeptics.

By the looks of things, it’s going well. One of the cities has already reduced its energy use by 5 percent and a wind turbine factory will be built in the Reno County area, creating as many as 400 local jobs.

Hopefully this will serve as an example for other communities who aren’t so quick to embrace the green movement. This unique approach proves that there you can always find a  way to move toward a sustainable future.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Battling Urban Sprawl by Creating Parks

Green News Roundup – Recycling, Oil Spill, Climate Change & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about stylish ways to recycle your paper, climate change regulation, urban sprawl and more.

Please feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Two-in-One Design
The talented folks over at Pigeontail Design have come up with a way to recycle all that junk mail and decorate your living room at the same time. How you may ask? Answer: The Papervore. This versatile piece of furniture doubles as a coffee table AND a paper shredder. Just crank it and be rid of all those pesky flyers. On that note, here are some quick links about recycling paper here in the Valley: phoenix.gov and www.recyclearizona.net.

Gulf oil spill figures may be double earlier estimates
Unfortunately the oil spill disaster isn’t getting better any time soon. According to government scientists, as many as 40,000 barrels of oil per day have been gushing into the gulf. And even more bad news, BP has said that the blown-out well won’t be plugged before August.

Preventing Urban Sprawl with Parks
Phoenix has mastered urban sprawl, however, what if we could conserve land by creating more parks? This blog suggests that urban sprawl could be reduced if cities simply provided citizens with more park space. Parks provide citizens with the same open, natural space that yards do, but parks do it in a more space-conscious way.

Senate Rejects Republican Effort to Thwart Carbon Limits
This article from The New York Times details how a Senate vote could effect potential climate change legislation in the future. On Thursday, June 10, the Senate rejected an attempted block on new EPA carbon emissions limits. The EPA released findings in 2009 that showed that carbon emissions were a threat to human health and the environment. Limiting carbon emissions is a contentious debate on both sides of the aisle.

Green News Roundup- Moving Toward a Meat-Free Diet

Green News Roundup – Meat-Free Diet, BP Oil Spill In Perspective

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about curbing meat and dairy intake to save the world from impacts of climate change, the BP oil spill in perspective and more.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet
Meat lovers beware! According to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report a “global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.” According to the report, as the global population grows to a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable. To reach their conclusions, the panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. “Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.” The only way to reduce these impacts would be a worldwide diet change, one that doesn’t include animal products. What do you think? Can we lower our meat intake?

BP Oil Spill in Perspective
We’ve been hearing many news reports about the size and scope of the BP oil spill, but it’s difficult to put the facts into perspective when you’re observing from a distance. Sometimes the true devastation cannot be accurately portrayed. However, thanks to a new website there’s a way to bring the spill to a real-life vantage point. The site www.ifitwasmyhome.com uses satellite map technology to illustrate how the oil spill would look if it was in your state, near your home. The results are staggering. When I visited the site, I saw all of Phoenix and many surrounding communities covered in the black oil. The imagery is effective in showing just how serious this oil spill is.
For more photos of the oil spill and its aftermath visit the Huffington Post website.

AZ Energy Guide
Ever wonder what you can do to save money and make your home more sustainable? Well a local company has come up with a FREE solution to help you do just that. AZ Energy Guide makes it simple. Just log on, specify your property type, power company, average monthly bill and see what kind of savings there are available to you. Then, to further inquire about available rebates, simply type in your address. This website makes saving money with solar a no-brainer.

Green News Roundup- Biogas Powered Data Centers

Green News Roundup – Greenhouse Gases, Biogas-Powered Data Centers & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about greenhouse gases, biogas-powered data centers and more. Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

One Moos and One Hums, but They Could Help Power Google
“Information technology and manure have a symbiotic relationship,” said Chandrakant D. Patel, director of H.P.’s sustainable information technology laboratory. If these words are come as a surprise to you, you’re not the only one! According to this New York Times piece “with the right skills, a dairy farmer can rent out land and power to technology companies and recoup an investment in the waste-to-fuels systems within two years.”
It seems to be the perfect solution for all parties involved, companies need places to build and power their large computing center and “dairy farmers have increasingly been looking to deal with their vast collections of smelly cow waste by turning it into something called biogas.”

If You Build It…
In this piece in the New York Times Green Blog, it’s revealed that actor Kevin Costner “has been overseeing the construction of oil separation machines to prepare for the possibility of another disaster of the magnitude of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.”
Costner is most famous for his acting roles, but he is also an environmental activist and fisherman. He purchased the nascent technology from the government in 1995 and even put $24 million of his own money to develop the technology for the private sector. This week it was revealed that BP’s chief operating officer, Dough Suttles, stated that the company had approved six of Ocean Therapy’s machines for testing. The centrifuge processing technology essentially acts like a giant vacuum, that sucks oil from water, separates it and sends it back into the water 99.9 percent purified.

National Academy of Sciences urges strong action to cut greenhouse gases
This week, the National Academy of Sciences called for big changes in the actions to cut greenhouse gases. They called for “taxes on carbon emissions, a cap-and-trade program for such emissions or some other strong action to curb runaway global warming.”

These actions would increase the cost of using coal and petroleum, but the Academy argues that this is necessary as we continue to battle the negative impacts from climate change. The three reports, totaling more than 860 pages provide some broad outlines for the U.S. to respond to this ever-increasing threat.

EPA: BP Must Use Less Toxic Dispersant
The latest updates on the BP Oil Spill are available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website. On Thursday, May 20th, the EPA issued a directive requring BP to “identify and use a less toxic and more effective dispersant from the list of EPA authorized dispersants.” Dispersants are a chemical that is used to break up the oil so that the oil beads are more easily degraded.

Green Economy

Green News Roundup – Building A Green Economy, Solar Power & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about the benefits of making your home energy efficient, building a green economy and solar in Arizona.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.


Best of Green 2010: Business and Politics

Find out who the best political ambassador is, the best politics Web site, the best non-profit partnership and so much more, all with a “green” twist.

Building a Green Economy
This New York Times Magazine essay addresses how to cut greenhouse gas emissions without further injuring our economy. Along with a synopsis of climate change economics, the author dives into controversial aspects of the issue and sorts it all out so we don’t have to.

Arizona to world: Do we have solar!
The LA Times spotlighted Arizona’s efforts to draw solar companies to the Grand Canyon State. Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO Barry Broome is quoted in the article, emphasizing the state’s commitment to a sustainable economy.

Motivating People to make homes energy efficient
In this piece from the Washington Post, the author makes the case for energy efficient homes and looks at why homeowners don’t implement more measures. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration data, in the U.S. buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming. However, making your home more energy-efficient reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Urban Land Institute

Earth Day 2010: A Pivot Point for Land Use and Community Building

By Patrick L. Phillips
Chief Executive Officer, Urban Land Institute

The fortieth annual recognition of Earth Day finds the world of land use in the midst of change, much as it was in 1970. However, in terms of community building, where we’ve been over the past four decades is not where we are headed for the next 40 years. What we’ve learned is that we can build in a way that both accommodates growth and protects — even enhances — the environment.

When the recognition of Earth Day began, people were moving to suburbia by the hundreds of thousands, returning to downtowns primarily to work or shop in department stores. Suburban malls were still innovative; the average home cost about $23,400 and covered 1,400 square feet; the average car cost $3,900 (plus $39 for an eight-track stereo); and a gallon of gas cost about 36 cents.

Triggered by relatively cheap housing, cars and gas, our urban regions were continuing the postwar form: growing outward in two general patterns – rings, based primarily around major highway construction that circled around cities; or linear growth tracking a spine of major highways. The result was the familiar “hub and spoke” metropolitan pattern. Our cities were growing in spite of the environment, not in harmony with it.

Even as urban sprawl was advancing, the Urban Land Institute warned of the potential for dire consequences. A 1970 article in Urban Land magazine cautioned, “We have carried the concept of conquest and dominion over nature to a point where large areas of our living environment have become not only unsightly but downright unhealthy.” It implored the land use community to be aware of development’s toll on air and water quality, and to appreciate “the interplay between the natural earth forces and land development activities.”

It was a fortuitous message then, and one with even more relevance now: How we use land matters. Land use has an enormous impact, not just on the natural environment, but on the long term economic and social viability of our cities. Vast demographic, financial, and environmental shifts are necessitating a major overhaul in what and where we build, and will continue to do over the next 40 years leading to Earth Day 2050.
Among the forces of change now in place:

  • The U.S. population has grown by more than 100 million people since 1970, with an additional 150 million expected over the next 40 years;
  • The first wave of baby boomers are hitting 65 — most will shun retirement and stay in the workforce, and many, if healthy now, could still be alive in 40 years;
  • The children of baby boomers, Generation Y (the most technologically connected generation in history) has started to enter the housing market and workforce;
  • Household size is shrinking, due to more people living alone, delaying marriage and childbirth, and having fewer children;
  • The U.S. is now the largest importer of oil, rather than the largest exporter, leading to stepped up efforts to develop alternate sources of energy;
  • The U.S. transportation infrastructure system, once a world leader due to the new interstate highway system, is now falling far behind Asia and Europe in terms of transportation investments;
  • Concerns over climate change have resulted in an increasing number of government mandates aimed at limiting carbon emissions from vehicles and buildings; and
  • The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression has 1) thrown credit markets into prolonged turmoil; and 2) left many markets with unprecedented housing foreclosures, causing a decline in the homeownership rate and a long-term change in the perception of homeownership as the American Dream.

All these changes are taking place as the U.S. is becoming an increasingly urban nation, and as our urban regions are evolving into different nodes of employment, housing and recreation spanning 40 or 50 more miles. It is difficult to predict exactly what the city in 2050 will look like. However, what is clear is that piece-meal, haphazard and poorly connected development is a thing of the past. It’s also clear that the majority of the growth will occur not in downtowns, but in the suburbs. And in these areas, less land will have to be used to accommodate more people. This change in how suburban areas grow will have a major influence on the environmental and economic sustainability of entire metropolitan regions.

Going forward, this is what we can expect: building more densely to conserve energy, water and land, and to reduce the need to drive. Better coordination of land use planning and transportation planning, so that more development is oriented toward transit options. And, reusing and adapting obsolete space in a way that reflects the changing needs and desires of a much more mobile society – a society in which many are likely to rent longer and change jobs much more frequently.

At 40 years, Earth Day 2010 marks a pivot point for land use and community building. Looking forward to Earth Day 2050, it’s important to consider how the impact of urban design and development meets residents’ expectations for livability, amenities, flexibility and choice. Ultimately, cities are about what’s best for people, not buildings, and not cars. The places that get this right will be the winners in the decades ahead.

www.uli.org

Uncertainties of Climate Change

Valley Forward Hosts Panel On Uncertainties Of Climate Change

On March 24, Valley Forward hosted a luncheon for its members at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix. But this wasn’t an ordinary luncheon. It featured a panel discussing a topic that relates to us all: the uncertainties of climate change.

The panel — moderated by Grady Gammage, Jr., of Gammage & Burnham — was made up of four panelists:

David Modeer, general manager of the Central Arizona Project
Henry Darwin, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Gary Yaquinto, president of the Arizona Investment Council,
and Warren Meyer, proprietor of The Climate Change Skeptic

Each panelist brought their own unique view to the discussion and opened the eyes of the attendees by revealing all aspects of climate change. The differing opinions of the panelists proved to be the perfect recipe for a lively debate. Warren Meyer, who runs the Web site climate-skeptic.com staunchly defended his opinion that though he doesn’t deny that the world is warming, he has a different take on it than most. He talked about a second theory that he later described on his Web site:
“This second theory is that the climate is dominated by strong positive feedbacks that multiply the warming from CO2 manyfold, and increase a modest one degree Celsius of warming from man’s CO2 to catastrophic levels of five or even 10 degrees,” Meyer writes.

Meanwhile, tthe other panelists added their input into the discussion. Gary Yaquinto talked about the potential economic effects of controlling greenhouse gases while Henry Darwin focused on the position of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

The luncheon was a great success in shedding some light on this topic and giving the public some insight into the effects on Arizona.

www.valleyforward.org
www.climate-skeptic.com
www.cap-az.com
www.azdeq.gov/
www.arizonaic.org
www.gblaw.com/

Green Cosmetics

Green News Roundup – Climate Change, Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Packaging & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about planning for climate change, eco-friendly cosmetic packaging, and homemade nontoxic spring cleaning materials.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to share by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles focusing on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.


When ‘Green’ Consumers Decide, ‘I’ve Done Enough’
Although it seems odd, a new study seems to indicate that those who purchase ‘green’ products may have a tendency to be less generous and possibly even be more inclined to thievery. The article speculates that perhaps those consumers are compensating for the fact that, in their minds, they have already done their part to help the world.

    Planning for Climate Change in the West (Policy Focus Report)
    The product of the joint venture partnership of the Lincoln Institute and the Sonoran Institute, this report focuses on the political and cultural aspects of preparing for climate change. It includes a survey of government officials indicating skepticism, and explains why these officials are focusing on sustainability and economic efficiency instead of climate change.

      Now, the Cosmetic Jar Matters, Too
      You’d think the most important part of make-up would be, well, the make-up. But last year, one in five women reported that eco-friendly cosmetic packaging matters just as much to them as how well the product inside works. This article explores why, and delves into how the cosmetics industry is responding to this new sudden demand.

        Coral Reef Extinction Could Cripple Nations’ Economies
        Coral Reefs are dying quickly, and most people assume that doesn’t affect them. But as the foundation of the ocean food chain, coral reefs are necessary to keep the planet functioning. Without them, poverty and hunger will prevail, and it could influence politics and economies in a very negative way.

        How to Spring Clean With Nontoxic Homemade Products
        Spring is finally here, which means it’s time to get cleaning. This year, try these homemade, environment-friendly products. They’re easy to make and easier to use!