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82 posts from April 2011

April 22, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 22, 2011

 Above and Beyond Oil: Greenpeace activists briefly occupied an oil rig off the coast of Istanbul today, in a thwarted attempt to prevent deepwater drilling in the Arctic. AP

Tonight's Lights: The Lyrids meteor shower will light up the sky late tonight, with up to 20 meteors per minute at its peak. Huffington Post

Water Captors: New York City is distributing 1,000 free rain barrels to residents in an effort to lessen the burden on the city's water and sewer systems. New York Times

Busted: Chesapeake Energy halted one of its Pennsylvania fracking operations, one of the largest in the nation, due to a blowout earlier this week. Mother Nature Network

Not-So-Green Apple: Greenpeace named Apple the least eco-friendly tech company for its reliance on coal power. Guardian

--Rosie Spinks

Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt Take Top Honors at Auto Show

Winner Green vehicles won big at this year's New York International Auto Show. The Leaf, Nissan's all-electric car, beat out the Audi A8 and the BMW 5 Series to win the coveted 2011 World Car of the Year title. Picked by a panel of 66 automotive journalists, the Leaf is the first electric car to win the title.

Chevrolet's Volt also took home a trophy. The extended-range hybrid was named the 2011 World Green Car of the Year. The Volt, which wasn't eligible for the World Car award this year, outscored the Leaf and the BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics Edition.

Will these laurels convince more drivers to buy green cars? Perhaps: The Leaf and the Volt, according to Autoblog, are steadily increasing their North American sales.

--Della Watson

Voted Onto the Island: Richard Branson's Monkey Business

Ringtailed lemur Celebrities, like everybody else, are often full of crazy ideas. Unlike the rest of us, though, many of them have the means to live out their fantasies of recording an (awful) album, publicly hatching from a giant egg, or populating some exotic destination with their favorite species. Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group tycoon, has a long history of supporting environmental causes, but his latest eco-venture is raising some eyebrows.

He bought the Caribbean island of Moskito with plans to construct a luxury eco-resort, but recently announced that he'll also establish a preserve for lemurs, small primates native to Madagascar, where political unrest and development have destroyed much of their forest habitat. Though the project, spearheaded by Virgin Unite, is certainly well-intentioned, there’s concern about how these introduced predators may affect Moskito’s native biodiversity. The island is home to several unusual species, including geckos, iguanas, and birds found in few other places, many of which could make an easy meal for a hungry lemur.

Branson will start introducing several species of lemurs from zoos in North America and Europe this spring, and it’ll quickly become clear if his billions might be better spent somewhere else.

Weigh in: Is this just another eccentric billionaire’s pet project, or do celebrity campaigns have a place in environmentalism?

--Zoë J. Sheldon

Movie Review Friday: Human Planet

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film or television event with an environmental theme. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Human Planet (2011)

Airs on the Discovery Channel Sundays at 8 p.m. through Apr. 24; available on DVD Apr. 26

It’s a slick idea: Turn the classic nature-doc formula on ourselves. The result isn’t, as one might expect, just another smarmy reality show. In the BBC’s capable hands, humans get the same treatment Planet Earth gave natural phenomena and Life gave animals. The finished product, an eight-part series, is as much art as it is documentary.

Tracking “the most remarkable species of all,” as the trailer calls us, into insane situations, we see humans fishing on the treacherous cusp of Victoria Falls, scaring a full pride of lions off its meaty prey, and enduring a 60-mile trek through icy Himalayan passes just to get to school. We see, basically, men and women conquering seemingly unconquerable elements — and sometimes each other — as they vie for dominance and survival.

The storytelling is expertly done, with well-informed pacing, unobtrusive narration (courtesy John Hurt), and adept use of music and slow motion. Human Planet owes much to its crisp, color-drenched cinematography; “wow” moments happen every few minutes. Behind-the-scenes clips show how frustrating, and how gratifying, it must be to work on these globetrotting BBC productions.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: Human Planet" »

April 21, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 21, 2011

Celebrate Tomorrow: The Earth Day Network and Facebook are collecting pledges for their Billion Acts of Green campaign, which will be presented at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012.  The Independent

Redemption? BP is providing $1 billion for projects aimed to restore natural resources damaged by last year’s oil spill. Reuters

Get Onboard: Obama addressed climate skeptics in Congress and promoted clean energy at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. Huffington Post

Zooming In: Crittercam, a camera system developed by a National Geographic filmmaker, allows scientists to study more than 50 species by attaching the camera to animals’ bodies. The Ardmoreite

Happy Ending: Harry the Hawk, who was found injured outside the Pasadena Senior Center two months ago, was released back into the wild today. Los Angeles Times

--Shirley Mak

A Guinness Attempt for Cloth-Diaper Parents

Babies If you catch a whiff of something foul on April 23, it's because hundreds of soiled diapers are simultaneously being changed. Yep, you read that right. Supporters of the cloth-diaper movement are hoping to set a Guinness world record for the most cloth diapers changed at one time. And with 400 events scheduled in 24 countries, infants all over the world will have the chance to make their poop count.

Sure, many will be celebrating Earth Day at family-friendly outdoor events this weekend. But is that trail clean-up project going to place Junior in the Guinness Book of World Records? Probably not. So if you're a green parent who's stoked about reducing landfill waste by using cloth diapers, join the Great Cloth Diaper Change 2011 and make history.

--Della Watson

The Green Life: Still Just for Hippies?

Hippie It’s easy — and popular — to say you live the green life. But is greenness really mainstream? A new study suggests that many Americans resist adopting a green lifestyle even if they’re theoretically in favor of it.

The reason? Eco-friendly products, despite their apparent popularity, are still perceived as being too “crunchy granola hippie” by 66% of Americans, according to research done by marketing firm OgilvyEarth.

Dudes in particular are finding the green life hard to swallow: 4 of 5 men described going green as "more feminine than masculine." Apparently, reusable shopping bags feel a little too much like a man purse.

The result, said study author Freya Williams, is that the cultural sea change toward green living might be more talk than walk. "The intentions are very strong, but the actions don’t seem to be following through. This is what we call the 'green gap,'" she said. That gap comprises the big chunk of the population (that 66%) whose views on green living fall somewhere between the "Super Green" and the "Green Rejecters."

Continue reading "The Green Life: Still Just for Hippies?" »

Green Your Theme-Park Day: Use an App

Amusement Park phone app
Summer's coming up, so this week’s tips are about  how to green your theme-park day. You can have your fun and still be nice to the planet!

Tip #4: Use a theme-park app.

Save time and paper by downloading a theme-park app. Many work with your phone’s GPS function to show your location, what’s nearby, and wait times at lines. No need to carry around crumpled-up paper maps that get tossed into the trash at the end of the day. Disney’s Mobile Magic app, for one, is a great way to find character appearances, attractions, rides, and restaurants.

Tell us: What are your favorite apps?

April 20, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 20, 2011

Unhappy Anniversary: It's been a year since BP started spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the muck is still there, the U.S. is vowing to restore the area, and a greener dispersant is in the works. Politico, AFP, and Greenwire

Fishpocalypse? For the second time in two months, California is seeing a massive fish die-off. Six tons of dead sardines ended up in Ventura Harbor for reasons not entirely clear. Meanwhile, a new report says that many Mediterranean fish species are at risk for extinction. Los Angeles Times and Green (NYT)

Particulars of the Matter: The EPA's regulations on soot aren't tough enough, says the EPA. Greenwire

'Soft-Hearted: Microsoft's corporate headquarters will only purchase 100% recycled paper from now on. TriplePundit

New Energy for New England: The Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts got final approval from the Department of the Interior. TreeHugger

--Avital Binshtock

The 4 Best Things to Have Come Out of BP's Oil Spill

Pelicans oil boom Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. While it's certainly been a trying (and at times absurd) year, we're encouraged by some of the more positive trends the spill has brought around. In particular, we're grateful for:

1. A greater appreciation for the value and fragility of natural ecosystems: The spill devastated wildlife populations and cost thousands of Gulf residents their livelihoods. Such catastrophes bring home the link between environmental health and economic well-being, and we hope that the lesson will resonate in other oil-rich places. 

2. Humor in the face of adversity: No matter how dire the circumstances, laughing helps us cope. Parodies of BP execs as kittens, bumbling corporate drones with terrible hairpieces, and hapless children served as catharsis as the bad news poured out from the Gulf.

3. A reminder that we’re all involved: Nobody likes to take the blame, and certainly people (ahem, Tony Hayward) are more responsible than others, but our country’s ever-growing appetite for oil implicates all of our lifestyle choices in this disaster. 

Continue reading "The 4 Best Things to Have Come Out of BP's Oil Spill" »

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