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91 posts from March 2011

March 31, 2011

Daily Roundup: March 31, 2011

Wisdom in Action: China plans to cut its 2020 target for nuclear-power capacity and build more solar farms. Bloomberg

Closer Look: Google Earth images show that deforestation in Malaysian forests is more widespread than is being claimed. ENN

National Welcome: The British celebrated today as South Downs, England’s fourth-largest national park, opened. Guardian

No Deal: Vallejo, California’s Mare Island was denied national-park status due to high costs associated with its restoration and maintenance. San Francisco Chronicle

Buying In: Christie’s second annual Green Auction: Bid to Save the Earth raised $1.4 million for environmental causes. Reuters

--Shirley Mak

Can PB&J Save the World?

PB&J If your climate-change solution isn't delicious, consider that this Saturday is Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Day. And while no one really knows how the silly sandwich got its own day, the PB&J Campaign adopted the occasion to highlight a tasty way to cut back the carbon.

Bernard Brown, who founded the PB&J Campaign in 2007, said, "PB&J is a great mascot. 'Tofu Campaign' wouldn't have quite the same ring. It's just one example of how we can all make a difference at lunch." The campaign's message is as clear as a clean jar of jelly: Plant-based meals are better for the planet.

Take a look at the numbers. Bypassing a ham, tuna, or cheese sandwich in favor of a plant-based lunch saves about 2.5 pounds of carbon emissions, or about 40% of the air pollution you'd save driving for a day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan. It also saves about 133 gallons of water.

Continue reading "Can PB&J Save the World?" »

Target Making Eco-Efforts for Earth Month

Target reusable bag Like many corporations, Target says that it has committed to being green, showcasing such eco-friendly lines as Seventh Generation and Room Essentials. The retailer also offers a 5-cent discount to customers who bring reusable bags.

To celebrate Earth Month, Target is giving shoppers a chance to win a $50,000 eco-home makeover by LEED-accredited designer Sabrina Soto. The company will also be giving away 1 million reusable bags (made of recyclable Tyvek) at stores on Apr. 16.

Those who log onto Target's website get the chance to win green-themed prizes, including eco-vacations. The site's also highlighting sustainable products, green decorating tips, and discounts available from Apr. 17-23.

--Shirley Mak / photo courtesy of Target

Green Your Humor: Is Global Warming a Hoax?

April joker Let's be honest: We all know that enviro-head who can be a real Debbie Downer. Sure, climate change, oil spills, and nuclear disasters are serious business. But people may tune us out if we never take a moment to laugh at ourselves. This week's tips should help.

Tip #4: Play an Eco-Themed Prank

We hope this week's humor tips have prepared you for April Fool's Day, that precious 24-hour period when pranksters get a free pass to create a bit of mayhem. Consider making the most of tomorrow's mischievous holiday by using humor to spotlight a real environmental issue. Last year, a Sierra Club video announced "The Scrubber," a fake iPhone app that poked fun at the coal industry's penchant for misleading language. To get your juices flowing, peruse National Geographic's gallery of historic science-related hoaxes.

Tell us: What's the best April Fool's Day prank you've seen or heard of?

March 30, 2011

Daily Roundup: March 30, 2011

It's a Breeze: Earth is getting windier and no one knows why. But we do know that it'll keep mountains down. National Geographic and ScienceDaily

Soaring Back to Safety: The West Virginia northern flying squirrel is back on the endangered list after a short, mistaken stint off of it. Charleston Gazette

Energetic Endorsement: In a speech today, Obama affirmed his support of nuclear power, and also emphasized the need to reduce oil imports. AP

Package Deal: A new study indicates that cutting packaged foods out of a diet could reduce BPA levels in the blood by 60%. San Francisco Chronicle

Privileged Access: Only Native Americans can own eagle feathers in the U.S., and only for religious purposes, confirmed a federal court today (and there'll soon be a new one to pluck from). Greenwire (and Nest Cams)

--Avital Binshtock

New Reality Show "Coal" Premieres Tonight

A world scrambling for energy hasn't yet turned its back on coal, despite its dangers. But when we weigh its pros and cons, we often leave out the miners themselves, men whose families have been going underground for generations. A new show, premiering tonight on Spike, aims to remind us of those men.

Coal, on at 10 p.m. ET, is a documentary-style reality series in the vein of History's Ice Road Truckers and Discovery's Deadliest Catch. That is, it captures narrow escapes from collapses, elation at the end of a profitable day, and everything in between. The miners themselves, almost unrecognizable under a layer of black grime, seem to step out of a bygone time. Their thick Appalachian accents often necessitate subtitles, and it's immediately evident that for these men, coal's the only game in town: "It's 'bout all I know. Minin' co'," says one in a trailer for the show.

Continue reading "New Reality Show "Coal" Premieres Tonight" »

Book Review Wednesday: Stories from the Gulf

6a00d83451b96069e20147e3665777970b-200wi Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books about the Gulf Coast.

Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout (By Bob Cavnar, $15, Chelsea Green, 2011): This author’s insider status sets his book apart — Cavnar is a 30-year veteran of the oil and gas industry and was even the victim of a gas-well fire back in 1981. He explains how exactly the regulatory systems and inner structures of oil companies like BP allowed the 2010 spill to occur. In addition, he delves into how the Obama administration could have improved its response. While serving as an indictment of the workings of the oil industry, the book also provides ways to avoid repeat performances, including lobbying reform, tougher regulations, and technology improvements.

Losing Ground: Identity and Loss in Coastal Louisiana (By David M. Burley, $40, University Press of Mississippi, 2010): This book explores the fragility of the Gulf Coast ecosystem through the voices of those who know it best: residents of coastal Louisiana. Exploring their strong sense of place, Burley revisited the region many times while writing to capture changing perceptions in the wake of disasters. With a land-rate loss of roughly 24 square miles per year, the Gulf Coast is changing fast; nowhere is that more evident than in the voices of Burley’s book.

Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America (By William R. Freudenburg and Robert Gramling, $19, MIT Press, 2010): For a comprehensive and systematic walk-through of how the BP spill played out before, during, and after the Macondo blowout, this book's a good pick. Exploring the technical side of things without sacrificing readability, the authors explain the disaster in its social, political, and scientific contexts. In addition to pinpointing those who are at fault, the book takes a wider stance, advocating the need to turn our backs on an oil-based economy in favor of new energy sources.

Shadows on the Gulf: A Journey Through Our Last Great Wetland (By Rowan Jacobsen, $25, Bloomsbury USA, 2011): This book takes a different approach when it comes to the disaster in the Gulf — as bad as the events of April 20, 2010 were, Jacobsen believes the real ecological damage had already been done before the spill. Jacobsen highlights problems such as non-point-source pollution, over-shrimping, and extensive coastal engineering as the culprits of the region's degradation. The author’s passion for the ecosystem is clear; like many others, he's intent on preserving the oyster reefs, fish nurseries, and critical habitat for waterfowl and migratory bird species. However, he believes that once we finally clean up the oil slick, we’ll be starting at square one.

A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout (By Carl Safina, $25, Crown Publishing, 2011): In another comprehensive account of the spill, this work seeks out the voices of those whose livelihoods depend on the Gulf: fishermen, oystermen, and oilmen. Taking a month-by-month approach, Safina punctuates his account with astonishing facts to convey the disaster's sheer magnitude. A seasoned environmental writer, Safina’s mixture of factual reporting and prose makes his account of the spill a gripping read.

--Rosie Spinks

Martha Stewart Goes Vegan


If vegan diets are only for a radical minority of eco-conscious foodies, then the queen of traditional American domesticity just took a giant leap to the left.

Today's Martha Stewart Show was dedicated to veganism, featuring appearances by Biz Stone, the famously vegan co-founder of Twitter, and Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary. If you missed the show this morning, don't fret: Encore showings air at 2 p.m. today and 1 p.m. tomorrow (EST).

Stewart's show has featured vegan cooking in the past; in the above clip, she makes a batch of dairy-free cupcakes. But today's episode pulls the diet even more into the mainstream. As Baur recently told us, it's a way of eating that's really picked up in recent years.

--Tim McDonnell

Green Your Humor: Mascots Gone Wild

Climate change mascots Let's be honest: We all know that enviro-head who can be a real Debbie Downer. Sure, climate change, oil spills, and nuclear disasters are serious business. But people may tune us out if we never take a moment to laugh at ourselves. This week's tips should help.

Tip #3: Explore the Art of the Unexpected

Quick, what's the environmental movement's go-to symbol for climate change? That's right: A polar bear stranded on a iceberg. We've got nothing against depressing wildlife photos per se, but after years spent feeling sorry for that poor, lonely critter, it's refreshing to see the ubiquitous image served up with a side of comedy. Two of our favorite pieces of climate art, "Air Bear" and "Homeless Polar Bear," offer witty variations on the familiar theme. To up your polar-bear knowledge, take our quiz.

Tell us: What are your favorite ways to turn sad information upside down?

March 29, 2011

Daily Roundup: March 29, 2011

Watery Mess: Workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant readied emergency storage facilities to contain radioactive water leaking from the plant’s most damaged reactors. New York Times

Killing the Story: Gulf Coast residents are reporting many dead and dying sea turtles washing ashore this spring, and a huge number of dolphins suffering similar fates. Federal officials issued a gag order to all wildlife biologists involved in the investigation. Huffington Post 

ADDitives: Dietary changes can liberate kids from Ritalin: A new study conclusively links food additives to childhood ADHD. Grist and NPR

Grand Plans: The E.U. is considering banning gasoline-powered cars in major cities by 2050, as part of a larger plan to cut emissions by 80% in the same timeframe. Inhabitat

Ultimate Irony: Oil and gas companies hired consultants to advise them about how to cope with climate change, as their infrastructure becomes affected by rising sea levels. Good

--Zoë J. Sheldon

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