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78 posts from January 2010

January 22, 2010

Daily Roundup: January 22, 2010

He's with Coco: Ben Stiller questioned NBC's eco-cred during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. The network spent $50 to build the set for the show's seven-month run. Ecorazzi and Treehugger

The Great Debate: Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Massey Coal CEO Don Blankenship debated at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. A 950-person, invite-only audience watched the heated discussion of mountaintop-removal mining, global warming, and the future of coal. New York Times

It's a Wild Web: Fans of  www.bear.org saw a black bear give birth this morning. The site, which features a live feed from the "Lily the Bear Cam," attracts more than 100,000 views per month. West Central Tribune and Huffington Post

Clouds Roll In: Germany's proposed 15 percent cut in solar subsidies could impact the clean energy industry. Germany is currently the world's biggest solar market. Forbes

The Happening: New research suggests that cooler and wetter summers in the Midwest may be a caused by the region's agriculture and irrigation. Science News

--Della Watson

Give Your Guidebooks Another Go

Guidebooks Wondering what to do with that guidebook after you get home from a trip? Instead of letting it sit on your bookshelf and gather dust, sell it to make a little money for your next adventure. While you won’t earn back the full price you paid when it was new, every used book you sell instead of stacking on a shelf is one less that has to be manufactured (paper mills are notorious for their toxic pollution). Plus, getting rid of books you probably won’t use again is a great way to de-clutter your space.

There are many choices when it comes to selling used books online. Try the ever-popular Amazon.com, where you can sell any type of book for a small fee. If you’d like to sell your guidebooks in a place that’s a little more travel-focused, check out GuideGecko.  The travel book marketplace is a new feature on the site, but already there are a couple thousand titles to choose from so your Lonely Planet will feel right at home.

Cash-in-hand types can take that travel tome to a used book store, such as Half Price Books, which has many locations nationwide. Or, if you’re feeling especially selfless you can donate that guidebook to your local library and possibly inspire a future traveler.

--Sophie Matson

Getting to the Bottom of California's Water Issues

Reservoir Trying to decode California’s multifaceted water system can easily drown you in false information about the state’s most valuable resource. Don’t let leaky facts dry your thirst for learning about how the Golden State supplies 35 to 40 million people with sustainable H2O. Useful tools exist to explain how the West’s water gets from reservoir to faucet.

The Public Policy Institute of California is a valuable, credible resource. Water is one of the PPIC’s 15 areas of focus. Their water page, however, provides accessible information about flood control, fixing the delta, and myths about the state’s water.

Another resource, the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, is one of the best sites for debunking the prevailing myths about California’s waterways. It busts common misconceptions about our water supply, our ecosystem, and water law. While browsing, a sea of information spills out about what’s true and what’s not about California’s water, the hard facts enhanced by virtual tours, maps, and suggestions for further reading.

-- Nicholas Mukhar

Movie Review Friday: Avatar

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.

Avatar (2009)

In theaters now

One of the highest grossing movies of all time, Avatar has wowed moviegoers with its phenomenal 3D and computer special effects. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic veteran, is sent to the planet Pandora (home to the Na’Vi--lithe, blue, cat-like aliens), where he has signed on to inhabit a second body engineered with a mix of human and Na’Vi genes. He is charged with winning the Na’Vi’s trust in order to provide military intelligence for a mega-corporation intent on its destructive mining of  a mineral called unobtainium. 

In his Na’Vi body, Jake discovers a spectacularly lush world (we hear about a planet earth devoid of green). Stranded in the forest for the night, he encounters Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a young, winsome Na’Vi female. She brings him back to her tribe and is appointed to teach him their ways. As Jack gradually masters Na’Vi customs and survival skills, his loyalty shifts and he tunes in to the natural world around him. Eventually he leads the Na’Vi in their fight against the forces that threaten their existence. 

Director James Cameron has created a visually stunning spectacle that is a delight to see. The corporate home base, where the colossal scale of machinery dwarves human beings as if to emphasize their insignificance, contrasts sharply with the enormous plants and trees that provide a home for the Na’Vi.  
The plot is predictable and simplistic. Pandora is a jungle-topia, the Na’Vi the alien version of the noble savage. But the story’s simplicity renders the message no less important. The final battle scene reminds us that if we don’t respect the power of nature, it retaliates with destructive force. Hopefully, movie-goers worldwide will find inspiration in seeing the instinct to nurture and protect nature win out over the forces of greed and exploitation.

--Wendy Becktold

January 21, 2010

Daily Roundup: January 21, 2010

Murkowski vs. EPA: Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski told the Senate that she would use an obscure and rarely used measure to wrestle away the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Murkowski claims the EPA is trying to impose back-door climate regulations. Guardian

Climate Deal Melting Away: Yvo de Boer, secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said yesterday that the tentative and nonbinding climate change bill agreed upon by world leaders in Copenhagen may come undone. A January 31 deadline was set for countries to submit plans for reducing emissions. So far, less than two-dozen countries have sent letters saying they agree to the accord. New York Times

Asian Impact: A new study in today's issue of Nature says ozone blowing in from Asia is raising background levels of a major smog ingredient over California, Oregon, Washington, and other western states. The levels are small, but have been rising since 1995. Msnbc

Samsung Expansion: Samsung and the Ontario government have finalized a $6.6 billion investment deal that will allow the company to build 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power in the Canadian province. They will also prop up factories to build the equipment. New York Times

Hurricanes Rising: A study published in this week's issue of Science correlates the rise in the number of hurricanes in the western Atlantic to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The study projects a 30 percent rise in the amount of hurricane damage by the end of the century. New York Times

--Nicholas Mukhar

Ten-Year-Old Eco-Friendly Fashion Maven

Ceciliacassini It's hard to believe that a fifth-grader would already have a closet full of clothes ripe for refurbishing, but fashion designer Cecilia Cassini has eco-fashion sense beyond her years. She first started sewing at the age of six, perfecting her skills on old clothing scraps, and many of her "Kiddie Couture" creations still use recycled fabrics from used, damaged, or stained garments. Toted as the "youngest fashion designer in the country", she's already had her first L.A. trunk show and her pieces are gaining popularity among the celebrity set, proof that you're never too young to start following your (green) dreams.

--Jessi Phillips

Colbert on Coal

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Coal Comfort - Margaret Palmer
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

Funnyman Stephen Colbert recently tackled the issue of mountaintop-removal mining on the Colbert Report, describing the process with deadpan sarcasm: "You start with some boring, tree-covered mountain and you turn it into an exciting, lifeless moon base." 

To illustrate our obsession with coal, the comedian quipped, "if a diamond is a girl's best friend, then coal is her hotter, younger sister." During the sketch, Colbert poked fun at his show's own consumption with a shot of an "intern" shoveling coal into a giant stove.

Continue reading "Colbert on Coal" »

Green Your Appliances: Dishwasher Water

IStock_000003925763XSmall Unless you're switching to a more energy-efficient model, it's usually better to repair a broken appliance than to replace it. But there's a lot you can do to prevent breakdowns in the first place. This week we’re offering tips about how to extend your appliances' life.

Tip #3: Use Hot Water in Your Dishwasher

An efficient dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand but to keep it functioning well, you'll need to use hot water. Though that sounds counterintuitive in terms of energy efficiency, it makes sense when you understand that the water heated to at least 125 degrees prevents detergent residue -- a major cause of breakdowns. Also, opt for powdered detergents (you can make one yourself) instead of gels to prevent chlorine bleach from contaminating your dishwasher and the environment.

Share your tips: What do you do to keep your appliances in working order?

January 20, 2010

Daily Roundup: January 20, 2010

New Leader: The Sierra Club named Michael Brune its new executive director. Brune, 38, will occupy the seat formerly held by David Brower, and, most recently, Carl Pope. He’ll leave his position as head of the Rainforest Action Network to take the job. Washington Post and Sierra Club
Written in Ice: The U.N. climate panel apologized today for stating in 2007 that all Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035, calling the basis for that prediction "poorly substantiated." USA Today and CNN

Grand Deficit State: Arizona will close most of its state parks to ease the state’s multibillion-dollar shortfall. Several other states may do the same. Los Angeles Times

Muck Stays Stuck: Though it’s been 21 years since the Exxon Valdez spill, thousands of gallons of oil are still in Prince William Sound. A new study explains why: Because the beaches in this region of Alaska have two layers, and water moves 1,000 times slower in the lower layer. Discover

Still Shaky: A magnitude 5.9 aftershock hit Haiti this morning with an epicenter about 35 miles west of Port-au-Prince. The U.N. reports that there’s little new damage. Miami Herald

--Avital Binshtock

The Sierra Club Announces Its New Executive Director: Michael Brune

Michael Brune Today the Sierra Club announced that environmental activist Michael Brune will be the organization’s new executive director. Brune served as the Rainforest Action Network's executive director for the past seven years, and is the author of Coming Clean – Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal. He has also been an important organizer for Greenpeace and ForestEthics.

The 38-year-old New Jersey native has spent much of his career fighting illegal logging and working to prevent global warming. He campaigned to get companies, including Lowe’s, Kinko’s, Citi, and Bank of America, to change their business practices toward sustainability. His work that led to Home Depot’s abandoning the sale and purchase of wood products from old-growth forests was dubbed the top environmental story by Time in 1999. Last year, Brune was part of a demonstration to shut down Capital Power Plant, a protest that the Wall Street Journal called “the biggest act of civil disobedience against global warming in American history.”

Continue reading "The Sierra Club Announces Its New Executive Director: Michael Brune" »

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