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82 posts from February 2010

February 26, 2010

Daily Roundup: February 26, 2010

Phish Tales: The Twitter account of the British secretary for energy and climate change was hacked during a recent wave of phishing attacks.  Sophos

Downgraded: The former lead singer of the band Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett, was demoted from his position as Australia's environment minister because of his involvement in a home insulation program that has been linked to four deaths and more than 90 fires. BBC

Comeback Kid: Environmental activist and former White House green czar Van Jones was awarded the NAACP President's Award. Sierra Club and Washington Post

Applause: The AUG/Living Goods App, which helps shoppers access product information, won this year's annual Greener Gadgets design competition. Treehugger and Inhabitat

Sun for Sale: California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that raises the amount of electricity utilities are required to buy from the solar-panel owners. Los Angeles Times and Sunpluggers

--Della Watson

Another Athlete Against Oil Sands

Mike Richter Last week we told you about Canada’s oil sands and the Sierra Club's campaign to save winter. On Wednesday, Minneapolis's Star Tribune published an op-ed by Mike Richter, in which the retired hockey star speaks out against oil-sands mining in Alberta. The pipeline that’s been proposed to bring crude-oil sands into the U.S. would cross Minnesota on its way to Chicago.

In the article, Richter praises Canada for their exceptional hockey skills and legacy of “deep environmental awareness” but also describes the devastating environmental consequences of mining oil sands, including exacerbating climate change.

As a hockey player, Richter has a serious stake in keeping winter around. He had an impressive career as a goalie and was instrumental in helping his team, the New York Rangers, win the 1994 Stanley Cup title. He also played on the U.S. hockey team in several Winter Games.

--Sophie Matson

Enviro-Films to Be Showcased in Nation's Capital

Popcorn and ticket More than 150 documentary, feature, animated, archival, experimental, and children's films will be showcased in Washington, D.C.'s Warner Theatre March 16-18 at the 18th annual Environmental Film Festival. The films being screened meet two criteria: They have a message about environmental accountability and consciousness, and they are filmed according to the guidelines outlined in the Code of Best Practices for Sustainable Filmmaking. Most of the screenings will be free and include a discussion about the film.

-- Nicholas Mukhar

Movie Review Friday: 180° South: Conquerers of the Useless

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 review of 100 or fewer words and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

180° South: Conquerors of the Useless (2010)   

Available on DVD

In 1968, best friends Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, future founders of Patagonia and the North Face, hopped into an old bus and undertook a 5,000-mile trek down the Pan-American Highway, (a mere dirt road at the time), climbing and surfing their way to the continent's tip. Inspired by footage of this free-spirited adventure, Jeff Johnson, a fellow surfer and climber, set out in 2007 to make a similar trip, traveling by boat with a small crew to Santiago, Chile, then over land to Patagonia. Filmmaker Chris Malloy documents the epic, soulful journey.

The film won't disappoint surfing and climbing buffs—it includes plenty of footage of both. But it speaks to a wider audience too, as an introspective travelogue. Part of what Johnson learns is to embrace the voyage's unpredictability and the opportunities inherent in its hardships. When the boat’s mast snaps in half, the group is forced to take a month-long detour to Easter Island. There, they meet Makohe, a Rapa Nui who joins them for the rest of the trip.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: 180° South: Conquerers of the Useless" »

February 25, 2010

Daily Roundup: February 25, 2010

Engulfing Guam: The EPA issued a sharply worded response to the planned U.S. military buildup on Guam, which could boost the island’s population by 79,000, overtaxing water supplies and sewage systems. A proposed aircraft carrier berth would also damage 71 acres of coral reef. Philly.com

Trash or Treasure? A U.N. report says that while a ton of ore needs to be moved to mine one gram of gold, 41 mobile phones contain the same amount of the precious metal. And 40 million tons of electronics end up in the trash annually. Spiegel Online

Plastic Patches: A 20-year study concluded that the Atlantic Ocean contains a large area in which plastic debris accumulates, similar to the well-documented garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. BBC

Polluting the Po: An oil spill in a tributary threatens to contaminate Italy’s Po River, which runs through an important, wildlife-rich agricultural region. Yahoo! News

Wal-Mart Waking Up: Wal-Mart is pushing its suppliers to reduce 20 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions by the end of 2015 -- that's 1.5 times Wal-Mart’s estimated carbon-footprint growth as it expands over the next five years. MSNBC

--Wendy Becktold

British Airways Pursues Biofuel

By 2014, British Airways could be powering its fleet with biofuel, reducing its carbon emissions by 145,000 tons per year. The airline recently announced a partnership with Washington, D.C-based Solena Group to build Europe's first low-carbon jet fuel plant in the U.K., which could result in a 50 percent reduction in BA's emissions by 2050.

This got us wondering: How are other airlines faring in their efforts to clean up an industry notorious for its high levels of pollution?

Tell us: Would you pay more to fly on a greener airline?

--Jessi Phillips

The Cincinnati Zoo Goes Green

Zoo The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is America's first zoo to earn LEED certification. Its Vine Street Village, which opened last May, is the latest portion of the park to receive such recognition. The zoo received its first LEED certification in 2006 with the forest-themed Harold C. Schott Education Center. The certification goal is part of a broader plan to trim the zoo's carbon emissions and lessen its environmental impact. 

--Nicholas Mukhar

Green Your ZZZs: Eco-Friendly Night Lights

Choose a greener night light You may spend a third of your life sleeping, so you might as well snooze in a bedroom that's healthy and eco-friendly. This week, we'll give you tips for a greener night's sleep.

Tip #4: Opt for Greener Night Lights

While it's better to keep lights turned off at night, illumination can be helpful if you're a scared child or a clumsy adult navigating dark hallways. Eco-friendly options for night lights include battery-free, hand-pump flashlights, motion-sensing LED lights, or a solar-powered LED "Solar Jar." If you're crafty, you can make your own sun jar

Share your tips: Do you use a green night light? 

February 24, 2010

Daily Roundup: February 24, 2010

Regulation Legislation: The EPA is prepared to fight legislation aimed at stripping the agency's ability to regulate carbon emissions. BusinessGreen

Hot Water: Temperature trackers say the ocean plays a dominant role in global warming, as it stores as much heat in its first ten feet of depth as does the entire atmosphere. ScienceDaily

Doctored Data: A former employee is accusing agricultural giant Monsanto of submitting fake scientific data to India's government in an attempt to sidestep regulatory requirements. Celsias

"Science is Settled": EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Senate Republicans today that the science behind climate change is settled, and that human activity is to blame. Society of Environmental Journalists

Killer Whale: A trainer was killed at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, today when she slipped into a pool and was attacked by an orca. The same orca is linked to two other deaths in 1991 and 1999. MSNBC

--Nicholas Mukhar

Bloom Box Buzz

Bloom Boxes Silicon Valley start-up Bloom Energy made history today when they announced their Bloom Energy Server, nicknamed “the Bloom Box,” a very efficient mini fuel cell.   

The Bloom Box (pictured above at the eBay headquarters) converts air and fuel from nearly any source fossil or renewable to energy through an electrochemical process that is cleaner and much more efficient than combustion. The materials needed to make the box are cheap and abundant (unlike those used for hydrogen fuel cells). In an area roughly the size of a parking space, one box can generate enough energy for 100 homes, or a medium-sized office building.

At this morning's release event, the company’s CEO (a former NASA engineer) said that, if used in conjunction with renewable fuels, Bloom Boxes are entirely carbon-neutral and will revolutionize the energy industry. The event generated quite a buzz: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Powell, and the heads of Google and Wal-Mart all attended.

--Sophie Matson/image courtesy Bloom Energy

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