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77 posts from July 2010

July 23, 2010

Movie Review Friday: The End of the Line

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.

The End of the Line (2009)

Available on DVD

Oceans make up 70 percent of our planet. They seem so big, so inexhaustible, that it’s difficult to imagine that we could ever come close to destroying them. However, according to The End of the Line, we are on the brink of obliterating sea life as we know it.

The 85-minute documentary includes interviews with scientists, professors, journalists, fishermen, and other experts (though surprisingly few women) to convey the message that our approach to commercial fishing must change – or the oceans will soon be devoid of fish.

The film uses examples, such as the events leading up to the 1992 moratorium on cod fishing in Canada, to examine how the fishing industry supports the livelihoods of many. The fimmakers also explore the harm that fishing technologies do to ocean ecosystems. Fish is a critical food category for 1.2 billion people; when it's gone (the film claims a collapse could happen within 40 years), those who rely on seafood for sustenance will have nowhere to turn – and everyone else will suffer from much worse water and air quality.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: The End of the Line" »

July 22, 2010

Daily Roundup: July 22, 2010

Sticky Situation: An oil slick caused by a pipeline explosion in northeast China is getting worse due to high winds that are spreading the sludge across the water. BBC

Forward-Thinking Ford: For the first time in the U.S., a hybrid car, the Ford Lincoln, will be sold at the same price as the gas-powered version. The Gleaner

Wireless Woes: Studies show that cordless phones emit as much non-ionizing radiation as cell phones, so it’s best to stick with regular landlines for long conversations. Haaretz

Holy Water? An environmental organization urged a halt of baptisms in the Jordan River due to unsafe levels of pollution in the water. Discovery

Two-Timing: Out of the lobbyists who represent oil and gas companies, three out of four used to work for the federal government. Washington Post

--Kristin Baldwin

Worth Watching: "The Story of Cosmetics"

We highly recommend this seven-minute video from the smart people at The Story of Stuff Project. It provides a concise, clear view of what should be fixed about the wasteful, toxic cosmetics industry and gives good advice about what we as consumers can do to help address the problems.

If the clip leaves you sufficiently concerned or angry, you can contact your elected representatives to tell them that you support the passage of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, which was introduced in Congress this week.

--Avital Binshtock

Daily Grommet Peddles Eco-Treasures With Great Stories

Filming Jules Pieri, looking to bridge her passion for product design with the power of social media, went searching for a way to showcase ordinary people creating extraordinary things – and the Daily Grommet was born. The site highlights one "grommet" – a new, unique product – each day, weeding through submissions from dozens of designers, inventors, and creators to find fresh offerings from small businesses with a great story to tell. After choosing an item, Pieri and her co-workers evaluate each product and post video reviews online.

“There is a very strong interest in our green and eco-living products,” she said. “I think it’s because Daily Grommet consumers understand our goal is not for you to buy more, it’s for us to find better made products with inspirational stories that preserve craft and community.”

“We want to take these grommets from relative obscurity to heroic," she added, "and find unconventional products that are labored with love, made for consumers who want to support something they truly care about.” Pieri calls this “citizen commerce," conveying the idea that people can shape the marketplace by choosing to buy products they feel connected to.

Think you’ve got a grommet-worthy product? Submit your idea here.

--Allison McCann / photo courtesy Daily Grommet

Green Your Movie-Watching: Set Up a DVD Swap

Green DVD During those two-hour summer blockbusters, it’s easy to suspend your eco-habits along with disbelief. This week's tips offer ways to get a greener grip on movie-watching.

Tip #4: Exchange DVDs

With countless DVDs already bought and sold, skip the purchase of those plastic-encased copies and instead borrow flicks from friends. Most of those petroleum-based film packages, laced with various metals, are a challenge to recycle. If you're looking to get organized about counteracting disc-related wastefulness, consider starting a DVD swap in your neighborhood. Libraries, Netflix, and Redbox also offer thousands of reused movies.

Tell us: What's your favorite DVD-swap option?

July 21, 2010

Daily Roundup: July 21, 2010

In Denial: ExxonMobil gave climate-denier groups $1.5 million despite prior assurances from the oil giant that it would no longer fund such interests. DeSmogBlog

Consequential Lies: Massey workers pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying data to make it appear as though they had conducted safety measures at a West Virginia coal mine when in fact they hadn’t. The failure to inspect led to two miners’ deaths. Charleston Gazette

Wind-Powered Engine: Google spent nearly $40 million to buy wind energy to power its data centers for the next 20 years. Yahoo! News

Avian Tragedy: More than 550 penguins have washed up dead on Brazil’s shores over the past 10 days. Experts think the cause of death is starvation. CNN

SoCal Success: San Diego, which last year set the goal of reducing its water consumption by 8%, has surpassed that benchmark by achieving an 11% reduction in water use. Treehugger

--Avital Binshtock

Miss America Wants You to Go Outside

Beauty queens can love nature too Think outdoor adventures are reserved for burly John Muir types? Think again. Beauty queens can love nature too, and Caressa Cameron, this year's Miss America, hopes to convince young people to trade high heels for hiking boots. In a new video, Cameron speaks on behalf of DiscoverTheForest.org and reminisces about her childhood experiences camping and making mud pies.

Unfortunately, U.S. children now spend 50 percent less time outdoors than they did 20 years ago, so Cameron and the Forest Service are on a mission to get more kids outside with the campaign and interactive website.

It's a great time to take Miss America's advice: July is Park and Recreation month, which means that many parks are ramping up activities or waiving fees. Now that's a beautiful thing.

--Della Watson

Book Review Wednesday: Beyond Fossil Fuels

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books about moving beyond our fossil-fuel dependence.

The Powers That Be: Global Energy for the Twenty-First Century and Beyond (by Scott L. Montgomery, $25, University of Chicago Press, July 2010): Though often densely factual, Montgomery’s thorough depiction of our global energy crisis and the ways by which we can correct it – solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power, to name a few – is a must-read for anyone unsure or uniformed about the severity of our fossil-fuel dependence. Realistic yet soundly optimistic, this book leaves readers with a well-rounded knowledge of how the intersection of technology, government policy, and personal behavior impact our energy future.

Energy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Guide to Conventional and Alternative Sources, 2nd Edition (by Roy L. Nersesian, $93, M.E. Sharpe, 2010): The updated edition of this systematic overview of conventional and alternative energy sources presents the latest information about biofuels and an expanded section about sustainability. With his balanced perspective on the history and future of global energy, Nersesian illuminates the dilemmas facing the energy industry and examines the role each energy source will play in overcoming these issues.

Continue reading "Book Review Wednesday: Beyond Fossil Fuels " »

Green Your Movie-Watching: At-Home Theater Efficiency

Green TV During those two-hour summer blockbusters, it’s easy to suspend your eco-habits along with disbelief. This week's tips offer ways to get a greener grip on movie-watching.

Tip #3: Choose Low-Energy Electronics

If you prefer to keep the gas-guzzler parked and enjoy movies at home, consider investing in energy-efficient entertainment electronics. According to GE's interactive online tool, a standard flat-screen TV and DVD player uses 230 watts to operate and consumes 27 gallons of gas per year. Many manufacturers now make LED-lit TVs, and electronics stores are packed with Energy Star DVD and Blu-ray players.

Tell us: What low-energy electronics do you recommend?

July 20, 2010

Daily Roundup: July 20, 2010

Taking Charge: Obama issued an order to create a National Ocean Council charged with protecting America’s oceans, coasts, and lakes. ENN

Oily Dealings: The Deepwater Horizon kept on drilling even after BP knew that the rig was leaking, and that one of its critical safety devices was well overdue for inspection, say new reports. And now BP is paying scientists $250 per hour to prevent them from sharing their oil-spill-related data. New York Times, Greenwire, and Treehugger

Single-Celled Solution: Chinese authorities are using tons of oil-eating bacteria to help clean a recent oil spill in the Yellow Sea. Sydney Morning Herald

Rare Treasure: Poachers killed the last remaining female white rhino in South Africa’s Krugersdorp nature reserve; they shot her from a helicopter. Treehugger

Pain Trumps Death: The U.N. is advising African farmers to use chili-pepper spray on animals, such as elephants and baboons, that come onto their properties, touting it as a good alternative to killing wildlife. Scientific American

--Avital Binshtock

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