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91 posts from April 2010

April 30, 2010

Daily Roundup: April 30, 2010

Dark Day for Wildlife: The BP oil spill has hit shore and quintupled its output to release more than 210,000 gallons per day, endangering hundreds of Gulf Coast species. At this rate, the spill may become bigger than the one caused by the Exxon Valdez. Huffington Post

Silver Lining: The White House suspended all new offshore drilling projects while experts investigate the disaster. Sierra Club

In Related News:
The Obama administration approved America’s first offshore wind farm. Some nonprofits threatened to sue, however, claiming the project will harm marine life and trade. Ecorazzi and National Geographic

Atmospheric Matters: The three major North American nations submitted a proposal to better protect the ozone layer using the Montreal Protocol to restrict hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent group of greenhouse gases. Department of State

Full Disclosure: The EPA introduced a searchable database to allow public access to toxicity testing results on hundreds of chemicals. EPA

--Avital Binshtock

Prom-Dress Largesse

Prom dressThat old prom dress you have hanging in the back of your closet is great for nostalgia, but do you really need to keep it forever? Consider donating your gently used formal wear to an organization like the Princess Project or Becca's Closet that will recycle it by putting it in the hands of a young woman who can't afford her dream gown. Dozens of programs across the country specialize in providing free dresses to high school girls to wear to their proms, formals, and graduation events. 

Your embarrassing prom photos, though, are yours to keep for life.

--Jessi Phillips

One, Two, Trees!

Trees Today is National Arbor Day, and we know that all eyes are on the Gulf (and rightfully so), but let's think for a moment about trees. Did you know that all together, they store about 289 gigatons of carbon? That’s more than the entire atmosphere does. Yet over the last decade, the world has lost an area of forest the size of Costa Rica. In cities, more trees are removed than planted. So we salute folks like the six horticulturists who drive a tree ambulance (complete with warning lights, sirens, water tank, and manure) around Delhi to rescue ailing trees. 

Not up to forming your own tree brigade? Click through the jump to read about tree – uh, we mean three – organizations that help you help trees:

Continue reading "One, Two, Trees!" »

Movie Review Friday: Oceans

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

Oceans (2010)

In theaters now


Disneynature's Oceans takes viewers on a visual voyage through rarely seen underwater worlds in which dragons really exist and even 007 would be hard-pressed to survive unscathed (although the film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan).

The footage, taken all over the world, including on the shores of the Galapagos, South Africa, and deep in Alaskan waters, is laced with just the right music to make the film more of a theatrical mystery than a documentary. Scenes of ravenous seagulls and dolphins converging on calm waters to prey on sardines and newborn turtles are harmonized in a predatory song and dance that comes across as awkwardly peaceful.

But despite all the eye-pleasing, perfectly choreographed scenes – they include a Spanish dancer fish flitting through the depths, a colorful clownfish dodging predators by submerging itself in an anemone's poisonous tentacles, and a shark splashing through its feast of hapless sea lion – Oceans actually misses an opportunity to deeply educate about any single animal. There's no truly intimate encounter of any creature; you merely swim by many interesting ocean denizens along your tour of submerged jungles.

The film is aimed at a young audience, so perhaps that's why it touches very little on the pollution that threatens the animals' homes. The only mention of human impact comes at the end, almost as an afterthought, when satellite images reveal polluted streams, portraying them as our planet's veins that feed the oceans. Some poignant shots do reveal the other dangers we cause: a shopping cart rusting at ocean's bottom, and blackened poison forcing fish to migrate to new homes. But because the film takes a softer tone throughout, the scenes of human-caused harm act more as a depressing end to a lighthearted, engaging depiction of ocean life.

--Nicholas Mukhar

April 29, 2010

Daily Roundup: April 29, 2010

Might Makes Right: A group of 33 retired U.S. military officials drafted a letter stating that climate change is a grave threat to national security and urging Congress to take bold action on energy legislation. TreeHugger

Diminishing Diversity: A report published in the journal Science says that governments have failed to stem the tide of biodiversity loss. Since 1970, human activities have reduced animal populations by 30 percent. Envionment News Service

All Hands on Deck: The Obama administration is taking a larger role in the cleanup of the Gulf of Meixco's spreading oil spill, which could reach shore as early as this evening. New York Times

Black Hot: Scientists have determined that a feedback loop is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe. As ice melts, the dark water below heats up the way a black shirt would. Sydney Morning Herald

I Will if You Will: Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid promised to put climate legislation ahead of an immigration bill in an effort to bring Senator Lindsay Graham back to the negotiating table. MSNBC

--Wendy Becktold

Protecting Wild Horses on Derby Day

Horses running in Montana To fully experience the Kentucky Derby this weekend, make sure you're wearing a big hat, drinking a mint julep, and sending a text message. OK, so the last suggestion isn't part of the typical Derby routine. But the folks at the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and Waterfall Mobile hope that the famous horse race will inspire activists to take a stand against wild mustang roundups. While free-roaming herds are protected by federal law, a management strategy of corralling the horses in government holding facilities persists. According to the preservation campaign's website, there are now more mustangs in these holding pens than in the wild. By texting MUSTANG to 44144 you can join an effort to convince Congress to suspend the Bureau of Land Management's roundups of wild mustangs.

--Della Watson

Recommended reading: To learn more about the historic fight to protect wild horses, check out our review of Wild Horse Annie and the Last of the Mustangs: The Life of Velma Johnston.

Fun New Cycling Gadgets

Sprocket Pocket The folks at Maya, a Pittsburgh tech company, had a creative idea: They made a video showing you how to make an iPad pocket for your cycling jacket. You definitely need some prior sewing knowledge to make the nifty pouch, but when it's done, the "Sprocket Pocket" (with the help of an app, of course), allows you to signal without ever taking your hands off the handlebars. Ride carefully, though, because you don't want to take a spill and smash your expensive iPad.

In other non-essential but kind of fun technology news, now you can equip your bike with a 3DBottle, a reusable water bottle with a special image engraved on the side. Hold your bottle up to a webcam and the camera recognizes the image and plays a video. What's the point? There really isn't one, and we have the feeling the novelty will quickly wear off and you'll be left with a regular old reusable water bottle.

All this cycling-related technology is a good sign, though, because it means people are increasingly using bicycles as transportation.

-- Sophie Matson / photo courtesy Maya Design

Green Your Parenting: Birthday Bash

Birthday cupcake Being a parent makes the initiative to live sustainably feel that much more important. But it can be a difficult balancing act. To make things a little simpler, this week we're providing easy green parenting tips so you can reduce your kids' impact on the planet they stand to inherit.

Tip #4: Throw Your Child a Low-Waste Party

Kids' birthday parties are fun, but you're left with garbage bags full of crumpled wrapping paper and limp balloons. Combat consumerism by planning a low-waste party. Start by sending recycled paper invitations or evites. Since it's not a party without presents, suggest that your child's friends bring small, inexpensive, or even gently used gifts (wrapped in fabric or a reusable bag). Try a potluck instead of ordering pizza, and if serving cake and ice cream on ceramic dishes to bunch of six-year-olds seems like a recipe for disaster, use biodegradable plates and cutlery.

Tell us: How do you plan an eco-friendly birthday party?

April 28, 2010

Daily Roundup: April 28, 2010

Ring of Fire: Cleanup crews are burning the oil that spilled as a result of the recent drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Wall Street Journal

Every Breath You Take: According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, Los Angeles has the country's worst ozone pollution. Associated Press

Royal Treatment: NBC confirmed that their annual "Green is Universal" week in November will feature a film about the environmental work of Prince Charles. Ecorazzi

Apples to Oranges: After eradicating invasive rats, a Scottish island now faces a swell in the invasive rabbit population. Treehugger

Winded: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the first U.S, offshore wind farm. A group of 130 turbines will be built off the coast of Massachusetts. Reuters

--Della Watson

Swapping for a Good Cause

Donation for charityWe've often touted the benefits of swap parties as a way to clean out your closet and give your wardrobe a free update, but what if these parties also raised money for a good cause?

A new nonprofit, Swap For Good, co-founded by Sierra Club staffer Orli Cotel, aims to tap the growing clothing-swap movement as a way to raise money for domestic-violence shelters. The founders came up with the idea after learning that women's shelters have suffered a drastic loss of funding in most states due to recessionary budget cuts.

It works like this: You organize a swap, post it on the site, and ask your attendees to make a monetary donation in exchange for all the "new" duds they're scoring. Find a needy shelter in your area and send it a check in the amount of the funds raised during the swap. Remember that you can also exchange more than just clothes – gently used tools, books, toys, and cookware are all fair game.

--Jessi Phillips

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