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91 posts from March 2010

March 31, 2010

Daily Roundup: March 31, 2010

Drill, Obama, Drill? Barack Obama has proposed opening the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling, provoking the ire of environmental groups. New York Times

Researchers Redeemed: A British investigation has largely cleared climate scientists accused of misrepresenting data about global warming. Washington Post 

City Cycling: Car-clogged Mexico City is introducing a public bicycle-lending program modeled on successful programs in London, Barcelona, and other cities. Los Angeles Times

Plan of Attack: According to executive director Michael Brune, the Sierra Club plans to fight for a climate bill but will also pursue alternative ways to battle global warming including ramping up its fight against coal-fired plants. Reuters

Methane Matters: The Missouri Senate has approved an initial bill that allows methane gas produced by animal waste to count toward the state’s renewable-energy mandate. Washington Post

--Wendy Becktold

Cut Cost and Paper by Sending the Census On Time

Censusmap Is there a way to cut out paper waste and trim cost from the Census? Responding by the deadline — tomorrow, April 1 — is a good start.

In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau gave Harris Corp. a $595 million contract to develop more than 525,000 handheld computers to collect data from those who did not return their census forms.

In 2008, the bureau trashed the plan, citing constant setbacks and warnings from the Government Accountability Office and Mitre Corp. that the system's kinks would not be worked out by 2010.

Reverting back to paper forms increased the cost of the census by up to $3 billion, bringing the total cost to nearly $15 billion. Some of that money goes to printing and sending those reminder letters you get in your mailbox, not only exacerbating paper use but cost too.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, however, says the reminder forms increase the response rate by 6 to 12 percent. That increase, in turn, saves taxpayers $85 million. Why? Because the Census Bureau can scale back on the 700,000 people hired to go visit each house (consider those emissions) to collect never-received information. So consider it your environmental and economic duty to send your census form back on time.

--Nicholas Mukhar

Book Roundup Wednesday: Creative Nonfiction Nature Books

Books about environmentalismEvery Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending creative nonfiction books about nature.

Bayshore Summer: Finding Eden In a Most Unlikely Place (by Pete Dunne, $24, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 2010): Equal parts memoir, journalism, and nature writing, this pocket-sized read explores the natural splendor of the often maligned New Jersey shore — its birds, produce, fisherman, insects, and overall history and character. While Dunne's digressions are sometimes questionable, they add up to a charming portrait of a unique natural world.

Without A Paddle: Racing Twelve Hundred Miles Around Florida By Sea Kayak (by Warren Richey, $25, St. Martin's Press, June 2010): In this engaging and honest memoir, Richey interweaves the tale of his 1,200-mile kayak race around Florida with ruminations about the forces in his life — especially his fatherhood and his faltering marriage — which drove him to undertake the challenging endeavor. The language is consistently beautiful, whether Richey is writing about the waters around Key Largo or the complications of romantic relationships.

Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks (by Andrea Lankford, $17, Globe Pequot Press, Apr. 2010): This collection of often funny, sometimes frightening anecdotes by a seasoned park ranger shows what it's really like to live and work in one of our majestic national treasures. With a knowledgeable, personable voice, the author chronicles her most interesting and exciting experiences during her 12 years as a park ranger, including chasing down criminals, encountering dangerous wildlife, and dealing with perennial visits from "Code W's" — wimpy hikers who need encouragement.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Creative Nonfiction Nature Books" »

Green Your Spring Holidays: Persian New Year

Picnic Spring is a wonderful time to honor the earth’s fresh bounty, so it’s no surprise that many holidays fall during this season of renewal. This week, we’re giving you tips for celebrating your spring holiday of choice in planet-friendly ways.

Tip #3: Green Your Nowruz

Friday is Sizdah Bedar, the 13th day of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Several U.S. cities will hold festivities over the weekend, and families usually spend this day outdoors, picnicking and playing games. If you can incorporate a hike into that, go for it! Either way, pack organic food into reusable containers, walk (don't drive) to a local park, and enjoy everything spring has to offer.

An important Nowruz tradition involves collecting and displaying specific objects that represent rebirth and good fortune, including sprouted wheatgrass or barley, coins, apples, and vinegar. On Sizdah Bedar, participants toss the greenery in flowing water (or your compost pile) to banish bad luck. Consider keeping and using the other items, though, to reduce waste.

Share your tips: How do you green your spring holiday?

March 30, 2010

Daily Roundup: March 30, 2010

Aim High: A recent test flight powered by camelina oil helped the U.S. Air Force move one step closer to its goal of certifying all of its aircraft to fly on alternative fuels by 2012. Scientific American

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: Using scientific research, New York artist Brandon Ballengee spreads eco-awareness by creating images of legless and multi-limbed amphibians. Ecologist

Coal Cloud Computing: Greenpeace says that Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Google are contributing to global warming because their data centers are largely powered by coal. Computerworld and Huffington Post

Water World: Developers responded to criticism of the Gibe III hydroelectric dam project in Ethiopia. Environmental and human rights groups have attacked the project, which will be Africa's second-largest hydroelectric dam when completed. Reuters and New York Times

Start Saving: Nissan announced that its electric car, the Leaf, will retail for $32,780. Federal tax credits (and state tax credits for California buyers) will reduce the price by thousands of dollars. CNN Money 

--Della Watson

Earth Day Hotel Happenings

Green hotels  A new report says that responsible tourism has weathered the global recession better than the tourism industry as a whole. Perhaps that’s one reason many hotels are eagerly embracing Earth Day. (Though we’d like to think that a growing commitment to sustainable practices plays a role.) Here are just some of the spots where vacationers can combine Earth Day activities with their travels next month:

At Fairmont restaurants, chefs will serve their favorite sustainable-seafood entrees. When the bill comes, diners can donate $1 to the National Geographic Society to support marine conservation and restoration.

The Resort at the Mountain on Oregon’s Mount Hood is enlisting volunteers to take part in a creek-restoration project on April 17. Afterward, they can take advantage of discounts on eco-minded spa services.

The Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is offering the “Go Green, Save Your Green” package, which includes a 15 percent room discount, free overnight parking for hybrids, and 20 percent off organic spa products.

Continue reading "Earth Day Hotel Happenings" »

Green Your Spring Holidays: Easter

Easter eggs Spring is a wonderful time to honor the earth’s fresh bounty, so it’s no surprise that many holidays fall during this season of renewal. This week, we’re giving you tips for celebrating your spring holiday of choice in planet-friendly ways.

Tip #2: Green Your Easter

Christian families everywhere will celebrate Easter on Sunday. This year, though, dial down the consumption. Instead of buying a flimsy plastic basket that will be tossed Sunday evening, check your local craft or thrift store for a durable Easter basket that the kids can use year after year. Don't fill it with fake plastic grass, either. It's easy to substitute DIY paper grass instead. 

If you're hunting for organic, cage-free hard-boiled eggs, roll down the supermarket aisle past the egg-dying kits and food coloring (both are full of chemicals - bad for you and the environment) to the produce department, where you'll find the ingredients for natural, homemade egg dyes

As for candy, skip the over-packaged, artificially colored confections in favor of earth-friendlier treats. Many natural food stores carry organic, fair-trade Easter candy.

Share your tips: How do you green your spring holiday?

March 29, 2010

Daily Roundup: March 29, 2010

Good Grunge: Pearl Jam donated $210,000 to the Cascade Land Conservancy to plant roughly 33 acres of trees to offset emissions from the band's 2009 tour. Seattle Post Intelligencer

Plastic Impact: The EPA announced that it will investigate the environmental impacts of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical widely used in plastic. Meanwhile, the FDA is studying BPA's health impacts. NPR

Fishy Business: More than 2,000 Japanese suffering from Minamata disease, a neurological disorder linked to mercury pollution, agreed to a settlement deal in their lawsuit against the Japanese government and chemical company Chisso Corp. Associated Press

Save the Parks: Arizona citizens are raising money to keep their state parks open after severe budget cuts. A 76-year-old Texan donated $8000 to protect Arizona's Lost Dutchman State Park. A total of $25,000 is needed to save the park. Los Angeles Times

Another One Bites the Dust: Due to economic conditions, green-oriented social networking site Gaia.com will be shutting down. Ecorazzi

--Della Watson

Were You In the Dark for Earth Hour?

For one hour on Saturday, New York City's Empire State Building went nearly black, the Eiffel Tower did not light up the Paris sky, and the clock hands of Big Ben were almost invisible in the London darkness. According to the World Wildlife Fund, hundreds of millions of people turned off their lights at 8:30 p.m. GMT in honor of the fourth annual Earth Hour, the event's largest turnout yet.

One-hundred twenty-six countries and 4,000 towns participated in Earth Hour 2010, an event meant to raise awareness of global warming and climate change, turning off the lights in skyscrapers and famous landmarks. Media outlets all over the world covered local participation in the event, which was mentioned on Google 74.6 million times in 24 hours.

--Jessi Phillips

Green Fashion Monday: This Tee Has a Way With Words

Chewylou green shirt On Fashion Monday, we highlight a hip, green fashion item. Got a stylish eco-friendly product to recommend? Tell us about it and look for it in an upcoming blog post.

The founder of Chewylou Designs, a yoga instructor, first created "blessing acronyms" as mantras for her students and later extended the wordplay to T-shirt design. Printed by Michael's Garden, a nonprofit that provides training and education for adults with special needs, Chewylou's "green" T-shirt is a blessing acronym for "garden, recycle, educate, eco-friendly, and nurture." The only buzz-kill? The shirt is made from supersoft cotton, but not the organic kind. $36.

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