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106 posts from October 2009

October 30, 2009

Daily Roundup: October 30, 2009

Lost Song: Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell died after a coyote mauling. Two coyotes attacked the 19-year-old while she was hiking alone in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Wend and Christian Science Monitor

Toon Time: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society captain Paul Watson said in a statement that "being lampooned on South Park is hardly something to complain about," because the recent cartoon episode raised awareness about "the dolphin and whale slaughter" he hopes to stop. Ecorazzi

Party Poopers: Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee announced they will boycott a markup of the climate bill. Politico and New York Times

Too Hot to Handle: Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the California Fish and Game Commission for failing to protect the heat-sensitive American pika. New York Times

Big Mess: A ship carrying raw phosphates, fuel, and diesel sank in a whale reproduction and migratory zone off the coast of Madagascar. The toxic spill resulted in whale deaths, a fishing ban, and respiratory and skin problems for people living in the area. Treehugger

--Della Watson

Becoming a Bike Commuter

Bike_work Fall is an excellent time in many areas to bike to work. It’s not too hot, not too cold -- just right for biking. But how do you actually go about doing it? You could just head out the door and make your way to work like any other day, but we think you’ll have a better time if you do a little planning.

Bike are not cars. Don’t assume that the route you use in your car is the best one for biking. Many cities have bike maps published by either the local city government or a bicycle advocacy group. Pick up a map at your local shop or find it online (Google “Atlanta Bike Route Map” and you get the A-Train.) Now, create a route using the most direct streets with bike lanes and bike paths, if they exist. If you live in a city with a lot of hills, take them into consideration. Going a little out of your way might be worth it to keep away from monster climbs. There are great bike route maps for San Francisco and other cities that allow you to enter the maximum incline you want to climb.

Your first day is your second day. Now that you have a route figured out, try it out on a weekend instead of on Monday morning. That way you can time it so you show up to work relaxed and on time Monday morning. Just remember that there will be more traffic on a weekday, though bike riders rarely get stuck in traffic (another big perk!).

Continue reading "Becoming a Bike Commuter " »

Utne Features Sierra's “Team of Rivals”

YK_02 If you flip through the Nov/Dec issue of Utne Reader, you'll find Sierra magazine’s “Team of Rivals” cover story (of our July/Aug issue) by Judith Lewis written about on Utne's page 54 (and also online).

Sierra’s article is about L.A. teens who participated in WildLink, a program that helps underprivileged urban kids experience the outdoors. Students from rival high schools Crenshaw and Dorsey explored Yosemite National Park and befriended each other.

The Utne article also mentions Sierra's accompanying profile about African American park ranger Shelton Johnson, who connects with Yosemite’s visitors dressed up as a buffalo soldier from the 1800s.

For more information about programs that bring urban kids to the outdoors, check out the Sierra Club’s Building Bridges program.

--Julie Littman / photo by Michael Winokur

Movie Review Friday: Searching for Michael Peterson

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.

Searching for Michael Peterson (2009)
Available on DVD

This surfing documentary plunges below the surface to find out what happened to 1970s legend Michael Peterson, whose incredible talent and supreme confidence in the water was rivaled only by his extreme shyness on dry land. Director Jolyon Hoff takes us back almost four decades, when Australia was in the midst of turmoil much like that in the United States. What with Vietnam War protests, drugs, and a back-to-the-land movement, surfing was an outsider sport that drew those searching for a simper life.

Things didn’t turn out the way the everyone had hoped, though. Despite the spirit of the time, consumerism continued and surfing turned mainstream. Michael Peterson, it turns out, was schizophrenic, and his condition might well serve as a metaphor for the era.

This film will be of most interest to those passionate about surfing and its history. But it'll also draw in viewers who are interested in counterculture, the ocean, and mental illness. The environmental themes are subtle, but it's hard to resist the call of the crashing ocean.

--Kyle Boelte

October 29, 2009

Daily Roundup: October 29, 2009

Autumn Bounty: Michelle Obama and local fifth graders harvested sweet potatoes, carrots, fennel, and red leaf lettuce from the White House garden. Associated Press

Put Up a Parking Lot: The EPA has replaced a 43,000-square-foot section of parking lot at its Edison, New Jersey, facility with three types of permeable pavement and several rain gardens to test pollution-mitigation methods for stormwater runoff. Science Daily

Hands Off: Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal said that his state will not mandate building efficiency or energy standards for appliances, calling the former a local issue and the latter a federal concern. Green Inc.

Go With the Flow: Argentina's environmental secretary and two local politicians face fines if they don't comply with a judge's orders to clean up a polluted river within 30 days. Associated Press

Sushi No-No: A ban on the trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna has been recommended by scientists from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Greenpeace and AFP

--Della Watson

Turn Up Your Fan This Winter

CeilingFan In honor of tomorrow’s National Weatherization Day, here’s a great tip for saving energy: turn down the heater while cranking up the ceiling fan.

It may seem counterintuitive, but Hunter Fan’s Look Up campaign says turning your ceiling fan clockwise while your heater runs helps distribute the heat that gets trapped near the ceiling. That way, your room gets heated more sufficiently and you won’t need to run your heater on full blast.

If you don’t own a fan, you can save energy by wearing warmer clothes and snuggling under blankets while at home.

Look Up explains that about 58.3 million homes are heated with natural gas. If half of those reduced their energy by just 10 percent, it would be the carbon-savings equivalent of removing more than 16,000 cars from the road for a year.

Want to learn more ways to save energy?  Read about retrofitting your home.

--Julie Littman

International Day of Climate Action: It's Still Going

The International Day of Climate Action has come and gone, but the momentum for a strong international climate-change treaty is still building. Last Saturday, many of us spent the day showing our support for such action at one of the more than 5,200 events held around the world.

Curious about what went down? Watch the short video above for an inspiring look. It's heartening to know that people all over the world want action on climate change, in spite of a recent poll suggesting that Americans are less concerned with it now than they have been in recent years.

Continue reading "International Day of Climate Action: It's Still Going" »

Indonesia's Destructive Habit

Deforestation has made Indonesia the third largest greenhouse gas emitter There's been so much economic, political, and environmental talk concerning the "super" three – the U.S., China, and India – that it seems normal to think of them as the world’s leading greenhouse-gas emitters. But while these two growing Asian powers have grabbed our attention, one of its neighbors has quietly been stealing the environmental-destruction limelight.

Deforestation over the last 50 years has ravaged Indonesia, a country known for its vast tropical forests spread over its 17,000 islands. According to The Independent, logging and burning has made it the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China.

Continue reading "Indonesia's Destructive Habit" »

Green Your Halloween: Decorations

Green Halloween decorations With all the ghouls and goblins that come out for Halloween, the scariest thing by far is still the looming threat of an unsustainable world. This week’s tips are about how to slay your eco-demons on All Hallows’ Eve.

Tip #4: Rethink Your Décor
Everyone loves decorations, so we don’t always realize how they can cause waste. To get spooky but stay green, reuse last year’s cobwebs, spiders, and lanterns (or if you have to shop, buy only what you can reuse over many years to come). Unplug lights as soon as you’re done with them, and opt for LEDs. Otherwise, you might end up haunted by some truly energy-sucking vampires.

Tell us: How are you decorating for Halloween?

October 28, 2009

Daily Roundup: October 28, 2009

Green(er) Giant: China is making progress in reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions by encouraging energy efficiency and increasing its reliance on solar and wind energy. World Resources Institute
Dirty Dorm: The University of Kentucky approved a proposal for a new dorm dubbed the “Wildcat Coal Lodge,” after a gift from a coal-industry group. Think Progress

Outta Gas: Responding to public outcry, the Chesapeake Energy Corporation says it won't drill for natural gas in an upstate New York watershed that provides drinking water for 9 million people. New York Times

Intelligent Allocation: The Obama administration announced $3.4 billion in grants to finance smart-grid projects in 45 states. Wall Street Journal

Tell it to Siegfried: Scientists estimate that tigers could be extinct within 20 years if better conservation efforts aren't emplaced. Treehugger

--Année Tousseau

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