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82 posts from July 2009

July 29, 2009

Green Your Art: Make a Statement

Environmental issues in art Artists, those consummate preservers of beauty, seem to have a keen sensitivity about sustaining the planet. If you’re an art collector, aficionado, or appreciator, this week’s tips should help you shift your collection (or simply the way you see art) into a more earth-minded endeavor.

Tip #3: Support Artists Who Depict Environmental Issues

We’ve discussed media and method, but what about content? Plenty of artists are taking up climate change and planetary preservation as their subject matter. Take Riitta Ikonen: She sews costumes, like snowflakes and car seats, that make a statement about the state of our environment. Designers are now making striking, silly, sustainable bikes that double as art pieces. And a husband and wife are aiming to paint in every U.S. National Park. Care about endangered species? Check out these guys. Whomever you patronize, hang your eco-art high, and explain to admirers the conservation cause behind the conversation piece.

July 28, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 28, 2009

Crushed Out: Brazilian soy crushers extended a boycott on soybeans cultivated in recently deforested regions of the Amazon. Reuters

Go Green: The EPA's Green Power Partnership recognized 20 companies for generating and consuming on-site green power. EPA and The Green Blog

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered? The United States and China signed a memorandum on climate change that could lay the groundwork for future cooperation on environmental issues. China Daily and Washington Post

On Shaky Ground: According to a recent report, 23 percent of panda habitat was destroyed during the Sichuan earthquake. Associated Press and CNN

Dead in the Water: The footprint of the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone is smaller than predicted, but the volume of low-oxygen water was higher than normal in some areas, said scientists. New York Times

--Della Watson

Fun for Lovers of Tap Water, Haters of Plastic, and Recreational Liars

Tappening A lot of people realize bottled water is a bad idea. But few hate the product with any amount of passion that could hold a flame to the active loathing of Tappening.com. The site has long presented the case for “drinking locally” in two simple pages of facts, one praising tap water's merits and the other denouncing the evils of bottled water. But they’ve now taken a step in another direction by propagating some less-than-fact-based new slogans:

1. Bottled Water Makes Acid Rain Fall on Playgrounds
2. Bottled Water is the Primary Cause of Restless Leg Syndrome
3. Bottled Water Causes Blindness in Puppies
4. Bottled Water: 98% Melted Ice Caps. 2% Polar Bear Tears

All of these slogans are, of course, lies. And that’s the point. “We’re not just admitting it up front, we’re bragging about it. We want people to know we’re blatantly lying in our new campaign…and, most importantly, that everyone should pay close attention to what’s factual in marketing and what’s not so much,” said Tappening co-founder Eric Yaverbaum in a press release.  He and partner Mark DiMassimo rationalize that bottled water companies lie in their advertising, so it’s only fair that anti-bottled-water campaigns get to lie, too.

And as long as they’re evening out the playing field, the pair figured they’d give everyone else an opportunity to get in on the fun.  Which is why they created startalie.com, where you can author your very own untruth and effectively spread it through email, Facebook, Twitter, and Digg.

--Sarah F. Kessler

Big Blimpin'


Next month the world’s first solar-powered blimp will take flight over the English Channel. The "Sol'R" project is the brainchild of some 30 French university-level engineering and business students. The blimp, called Nephelios, represents more than a year of work and collaboration between ESSEC Business School, the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers and the Ecole Polytechnique Féminine.

Unveiled in June at the Paris Air Show, the flight next month comes 100 years after the first flight across the English Channel made by Louis Blériot. The avant-garde Nephelios measures 72 feet in length, 18 feet in diameter and can go up to 25 miles per hour. The students behind the blimp hope that this eco-friendly aircraft will be used for scientific missions and surveillance, and after future improvements and modifications, for freight transport, aerial observation, tourism, and telecommunications.

--Julia Gelbaum

Green Your Art: Eco-Friendly Materials

Organic wood frame colored with eco-friendly dye Artists, those consummate preservers of beauty, seem to have a keen sensitivity about sustaining the planet. If you’re an art collector, aficionado, or appreciator, this week’s tips should help you shift your collection (or simply the way you see art) into a more earth-minded endeavor.

Tip #2: Buy Art Made of Green Materials

Yesterday we advised you to choose art made of recycled or reused materials. Today we’re acknowledging that a piece made with never-before-used media might appeal more to some collectors. If that’s the case for you, you can still green your art purchases by opting for works made of planet-preserving materials. Artist Aaron Chang uses earth-friendly dyes and organic wood frames. Art.com sells posters printed in planet-preserving ways, including on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, using soy-based ink. To learn more about artists who have gone green, connect with the L.A.-based Arts:Earth Partnership.

July 27, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 27, 2009

Running on Sunshine: Joule Biotechnologies has developed a new “SolarFuel” that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into ethanol. Though they’re keeping the identity of the “proprietary product-specific organisms” that will create the fuel a secret, the company claims that the new system uses just an acre of land to produce 20,000 gallons of fuel per year. Treehugger and Grist

Cooperation with China: In the first meeting of the Strategic Economic Dialogue between the U.S. and China, Obama expressed hopes that the two countries "can cooperate to advance our mutual interest in a clean, secure, and prosperous energy future.”  Los Angeles Times and Grist

Sealed Deal:  The E.U. officially banned the export, import, and transportation of all products made from seal within its 27 member countries.  Seal-lovers rejoiced; Canada pouted. Treehugger

Chilly Genes: You You, a giant panda in China, gave birth to the first cub conceived through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.  Zoos all over the world will now be able to trade frozen panda sperm, which could widen the gene pool and prevent inbreeding. BBC

A Sustainable Green: Justin Timberlake opened an eco-friendly golf course in Memphis.  Only 85 of the 200 acres are mowed, the majority of plants are native, and weeds are pulled by hand to limit the use of pesticides.  Ecorazzi

--Sarah F. Kessler

Rare Art for Rare Animals

The endangered Vancouver Island Marmot Even for those of us who are working to protect the planet every day, the word "endangered" can seem like a vague term. Jenny Kendler and Molly Schafer, the artists behind the Endangered Species Print Project, bring critically endangered animals into focus with a series of wildlife prints available in quantities that correspond to the known population of each species. Want one of these prints? You'd better act now, because some populations (and thus the corresponding prints) are mind-bogglingly small. For example, only 140 Vancouver Island marmots (pictured above) remain, while the number of Panamanian golden frogs known to exist has dwindled to about 40. The artists are in close contact with the scientists on the front lines to ensure the print runs match the latest population estimates. Kendler and Schafer recently made two additional Seychelles sheath-tailed bat prints after researchers noted the population increased from 35 to 37. The artists have cleverly succeeded in activating consumers' "limited quantities--buy now" instinct, though it's followed by an eerie feeling that each print represents a member of a species that's teetering on the brink of oblivion. In this case, however, each purchase has the potential to ensure that "quantities" will last (or increase). That's because the net proceeds from each print go directly to an organization that specializes in the conservation of that particular species such as the Marmot Recovery Foundation, Project Golden Frog, or Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles.

--Della Watson

Green Your Art: Buy Recycled

Birth of Venus made of junk mail Artists, those consummate preservers of beauty, seem to have a keen sensitivity about sustaining the planet. If you’re an art collector, aficionado, or appreciator, this week’s tips should help you shift your collection (or simply the way you see art) into a more earth-minded endeavor.

Tip #1: Choose Works Made of Reused Materials

Plenty of artists are repurposing the items discarded around them into attractive – and valuable – works. Sandy Schimmel Gold, for example, created a 36-by-60-inch Birth of Venus entirely from junk mail (above). Tuesday Winslow makes papier-mâché mirror frames made of old phone directories and magazines. Home-furnishings retailer Maison 24 sells a wall hanging by artist Aaron Foster: a peace sign made of used license plates. Buy items like these, and you’ll not only be giving old stuff new life, but you’ll also be supporting artists who recycle while adding new treasures to your home. For inspiration, and if you live in the Northeast, visit Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum to see its “Trash Menagerie” exhibit.

Tip #2: Buy Art Made of Green Materials

Tip #3: Support Artists Who Depict Environmental Issues

Tip #4: Make it Yourself

July 24, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 24, 2009

Natural High: Zero-emission plane flights may be in our near future, say a team of University of North Dakota scientists. The key is a new biofuel, made of canola and soybean oils, that has successfully powered a rocket over the Mojave Desert. ENN

Cloudy Weather: Clouds may play a bigger role in the global-warming cycle than we thought, says a new report. It appears that climate change is causing clouds to dissipate, removing a protective layer that helps cool the planet. Science and Apocadocs

Energyse Me:
More than 100 educational groups and environmental nonprofits have signed a letter asking the Senate to reconsider support for Obama’s RE-ENERGYSE program, which would devote millions to preparing youth for careers in America’s clean-energy future. Dot Earth (NYT)

Great Wall of Bacteria: Desertification is a major problem facing North Africa. Magnus Larsson, a “dune architect,” suggests combining bacteria with sand to create a concrete-like wall that would block the desert's spread. BBC News

Green Highways: Several states are looking at ways to turn their highway systems into clean-energy machines. Possibilities include lining roads with solar arrays and using speed bumps to generate energy. Treehugger and Green Inc. (NYT)

--Jamie Hansen

Turning Clunkers Green

Trade in a gas guzzler for a fuel saver Tired of pumping gas into an inefficient car? Next week you can trade in that clunker or join a biofuel conversation on Twitter.

Out with the Old: Starting on July 27, the $1 billion Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, a.k.a. Cash for Clunkers, will give consumers a discount on the purchase of a green car if they trade in a gas guzzler. The Sierra Club's Cash for Clunkers site lists fuel economy allstars and provides a nifty cash for clunkers calculator to help you estimate the environmental and economic impact of your vehicle.

Look Who's Tweeting:  On July 29, the Renewable Fuels Association is launching a new Twitter series called #FuelChat. The one-hour chat about biofuels will begin at 8:00 pm Eastern time. If you're new to the Twitterverse, Mashable's Twitter Guide will help you get started. Once you're tweeting, don't forget to follow @Sierra_Magazine.

--Della Watson

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