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79 posts from May 2009

May 27, 2009

What the Frack?

Well water New EPA head Lisa Jackson is taking another look at the natural gas industry's policy of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals into crevices deep in the ground to push out natural gas. Regulation of this process was exempted in 2005 from the Safe Drinking Water Act, leaving frack monitoring up to the states, who lack the EPA's resouces.

Since then, fracking has been found responsible for contaminating well water, filling a basement with methane and blowing up a house in Ohio, and poisoning 17 cows in Louisiana. Some 35,000 wells are fracked each year, according to hydraulic fracturing pioneer Halliburton.

Continue reading "What the Frack?" »

Green Your Drinks: Wine

Choose green wines Raise your glasses: We'd like to propose a toast (or three) to the green life. This week we'll give you green tips about ecofriendly drinks.

Tip #2: Follow the "Green Line"

Looking for a winery that embraces sustainable farming practices? Remove the guesswork by consulting the results of Sierra's ecofriendly wine taste test. Next, consider location. People living in the western half of the United States should opt for wines from California, Oregon, or Washington. If you live on the East Coast, you're better off buying wine from France or from local vineyards. According to the American Association of Wine Economists, transporting vino by sea is less carbon-intensive than driving it long distances. So depending on where you live, even varietals from Australia and Chile can be sipped without guilt.

Share your tips: What's your favorite green wine?

May 26, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 26, 2009

Sí, Says S.C.: Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope applauded Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, noting her rulings in favor of environmental protection. Sierra Club

Humans + Nature: The U.N. named 22 new biosphere reserves, including a mountain in North Korea and a somewhat urbanized region in southern Germany. Dot Earth (NYT)

It’s Time: Time magazine published a well-illustrated “Global Warming Survival Guide” with 51 green tips. No. 1 is “Turn Food into Fuel,” No. 22 advises us not to eat meat, and No. 44 is “Check your tires.” Time

Chew on This: Sustainability-minded students at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh petitioned to banish KFC from campus. Treehugger

Iw, Canada: In response to the E.U.’s ban on seal products, Canada's governor general ate a slaughtered seal's raw heart to show support for the country's seal hunters. San Francisco Chronicle

--Avital Binshtock

Congresswoman Speaks for Trees

Shade tree The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) bill, which has passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate, represents the biggest change in American energy policy in the last 30 years. ACES is a definitive push away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy, creating millions of green jobs.

Last week, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) proposed an addition to the comprehensive energy act that would encourage planting shade trees to fight global warming, save electricity, and clean the air. Matsui was rebuked by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who is concerned that the incentive for energy companies to plant trees would take away from contributions to nonprofit tree-planting organizations. Matsui then clarified that her amendment would provide matching grants to support new and existing tree-planting programs.

Since this nation was founded, members of Congress have nitpicked and argued. Isn't it refreshing that today they bicker over who gets to plant more trees?

--Jordana Fyne

Creative Water Rationing

Drought Faced with the worst drought they'd ever seen, the Northern California coastal town of Bolinas quickly realized that praying for rain wasn't going to cut it. Their only water source was bone-dry and the next big rains were 300 days away.

The city took the number of gallons in reserves, divided it by the number of homes in the community, and strictly allotted each family 150 gallons per day -- the same amount of water used in one trip through the car wash.

The biggest change most families made was to actually step outside and check their water meter each day, something that doesn't even occur to most people. "It's embarrassing," said resident Bob Demmerle during an NPR interview. "Mostly our family was letting water run down the drain."

Continue reading "Creative Water Rationing" »

Green Your Drinks: Beer

Draught beer is greener Raise your glasses: We'd like to propose a toast (or three) to the green life. This week we'll give you green tips about ecofriendly drinks.

 Tip #1: Tap That Keg

The next time you're craving a brew, ask what's on tap. Beer from a keg has a lighter impact than beer in bottles or cans. When choosing a brand, look for local and organic varieties. Sierra Nevada and New Belgium breweries have good reputations for sustainable practices. Check out Sierra magazine's beer taste test to read about our top picks for tasty, ecofriendly ales.

Share your tips: What's your favorite green beer?

Tip #2: Follow the "Green Line"
Tip #3: Mix Organic

May 22, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 22, 2009

Tough Times for Taz: Tasmanian devils were added to Australia's endangered species list. A contagious cancer has caused the marsupial's population to decline by 70 percent since 1996. CNN and AFP

BPA Bottles: A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health found a 69 percent increase in bisphenol A in the urine of subjects who drank from hard plastic drinking bottles for one week. Boston Globe

Feedback Is Back: EPA administrator Lisa Jackson announced that she would reestablish internal scientific review for air-pollution standards. Philadelphia Inquirer

Can Stand the Heat: Stanford researchers found corals that adapt to warmer waters by hosting a more heat-tolerant type of algae. New Scientist

Guns In: President Obama signed into law the credit card reform bill, which includes a provision that will allow people to carry loaded weapons in national parks. The law will take effect in February 2010. Associated Press and The Oval

--Della Watson

Oh, The Planet You'll Save

Greengraduate  “We are the only species on the planet without full employment,” said Paul Hawken while delivering a commencement address to the University of Portland this May.

A bit dismal for group of people entering a dwindling job market, you say? Not so much. From this harsh reality, Hawken crafted a sense of great hope and possibility: “There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive,” he said, “You are brilliant, and the earth is hiring."

During his brief, impassioned speech, the environmentalist and entrepreneur urged graduates – and all of us – to join “the largest movement the world has ever seen” by working through numerous possible avenues – engineering, farming, social justice, government, and others – to “reconstitute the world.”

Heed the statistics about the environmental crisis, he said, but be fueled to act, rather than defeated, by their often staggering implications: “Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.”

Words to help save the planet by. To read the full speech, click here.

--Jamie Hansen

Movie Review Friday: Children of Men

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Children of Men (2006)
Available on DVD

Children of Men is a high-tension 2006 science fiction film set in dystopian 2027, an eco-apocalyptic time of worldwide violence and hopelessness triggered by the fact that the entire human race has been infertile for nearly 20 years.

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, the movie centers on Theo Faron (Clive Owen), an apathetic British bureaucrat who gets drawn into a rebellion that could help save the species. Theo and resistance leader/former wife Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore) attempt to shuttle a secretly pregnant women to a group of scientists fighting to save humanity from extinction. The suspense builds as they move through the pollution-ravaged English countryside, evading a police state that holds the country together by demonizing (and brutally subjugating) refugees pouring into the country from every part of the world.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: Children of Men" »

May 21, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 21, 2009

Electric Evening: GM product manager Bob Lutz paid a visit to the Late Show in an effort to change host David Letterman's mind about the Chevy Volt. EcoGeek

Own Earth: Conservationists oppose a bill pending approval in Brazil's Congress that would affect 247 million acres of Amazon rainforest by granting land titles to settlers and companies. Reuters

The New View: Google is embracing pedal power with its new Street View Trike. The tricycle will spend the summer in Italy and the UK filming street-level images for Google Maps. Treehugger

Paper Trail: A lack of green printing policies costs the federal government $440 million each year, according to a recent report. GreenBiz

Fail Surf: Heal the Bay's "Beach Bummer" list gave 23 California beaches a failing grade. Los Angeles Times

--Della Watson

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