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87 posts from June 2011

June 23, 2011

Happening Now: Deepak Chopra Discusses Conservation

The planet’s savannahs and grasslands are home to many rare and endangered animals. And though they may seem common, the expansive, arresting habitats are in danger of being destroyed by climate change and human impact. The threats to grasslands and savannahs have been largely glossed over by the media and even environmentalists, since the "common" landscape is often taken for granted.

But today, June 23, at 7 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. PT (in just a few minutes!), renowned spiritual author Deepak Chopra is hosting a round-table discussion for solutions to these threats. He'll speak with Allan Savory of the Savory Institute, Elizabeth Thompson of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, and Daniel Pinchbeck of the Reality Sandwich blog. Tune into the program on Livestream, or just watch it below. 

--Mimi Dwyer


Beyond Coal Activists Do the Pants-Off Dance Off

Do you love dancing, wear underwear, and hate coal? This video's for you.

The clip features a dance off in which scantily clad young people dance to transform a lump coal into more innocuous incarnations, like a penguin, bunny, or a flower. If you're wondering how a couple of kids shaking it in their skiivies could have any effect whatsoever on the seriously dangerous coal industry, relax. There's method to the madness.

Pact, the company behind this bout of dance fever, donates 10% of its sales to responsible causes, and its blue-and-black organic underwear supports the Sierra Student Coalition's Campuses Beyond Coal initiative. When they're not running around in their delicates, SSC activists plan and execute strategic campaigns that achieve impressive real-world results: They've already convinced 16 universities to stop burning coal on campus. When it comes to fighting coal, they're covered.

--Della Watson

How to Oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline

Protest megaphone This week, prominent environmentalists including Bill McKibben and Wendell Berry issued an open letter opposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline proposal. Their group, Tar Sands Action, is calling on Americans to protest the pipeline by marching on the White House throughout August, during the weeks leading up to the approval deadline.

The pipeline, which would deliver oil from Canada to Texas, cuts straight through the Ogalalla Aquifer, one of North America's central water sources. And despite using state-of-the-art technology, pipelines like the Keystone XL have a history of leaking several times per year. The Sierra Club has covered the proposal's potentially disastrous repercussions before, but Obama, Clinton, and other members of the executive branch have been reluctant to prohibit it because of industry pressure and high oil prices.

Continue reading "How to Oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline" »

Green Your Picnic: Engage with Nature

Picnic Summer's here! To celebrate the long, hot days, rally your friends and pack a picnic. This week's tips will help you keep it green.

Tip # 4: Learn something new.

Picnics are all about getting your family outdoors. Why not inspire kids' post-meal scampering with a nature scavenger hunt? Challenge them to find five exciting plants or animals, then use a field guide to identify all the critters they discover. If you're enjoying a food coma and just want to gaze at the sky, open up a cloud-spotting book and learn about our atmosphere.

Tell us: How do you engage with nature during picnics?

June 22, 2011

Daily Roundup: June 22, 2011

Gore vs. Obama: Al Gore wrote a 7,000-word article for Rolling Stone that criticizes Barack Obama for not taking climate issues on more aggressively. Huffington Post

Coal-ed Babies: New research definitively links mountaintop-removal mining to higher rates of birth defects. USA Today

State of Water: A House committee approved a bill that would give states, rather than the EPA, the power to regulate water. Greenwire

Poles in the Mud: The E.U. wants to cut its carbon emissions 25% by 2020. Poland disagrees, so the whole decision process will be held up for at least six months. Yahoo! News

On the Edge: U2's guitarist wants to build five mansions on environmentally sensitive land in Malibu, California. A local commission denied the proposal, but the matter may well head to court. Los Angeles Times

--Avital Binshtock

In a Biofueled Bus Called "Self Express," Six Young People Set Out

Biodiesel If you’re in college, chances are you’re worried about what to do after graduation. It’s a tough job market and a tough real world.

But you can get proactive with your journey to adulthood. Some kids in Oregon, for example, are channeling their wayward freedom into driving a biodiesel-fueled bus across America to promote sustainable ideas. The Self Express, as they’ve dubbed it, left McMinville, Oregon, two days ago. It’s heading to Salt Lake City for jailed environmental activist Tim DeChristopher’s sentencing. After that, it embarks on a cross-country tour, hitting up eco-events from California to Connecticut that promote carbon-neutral, community-oriented living. They'll record their journey via blog and video, uploading as they go.

The group bought the bus in Portland in May. Since then, they’ve gutted its engine and interior, replaced its floor with bamboo, and painted it inside and out. For now, the bus’s exterior is plain-looking, a blank slate, and its interior a simple landscape scene. People across the country will help paint the Self Express along its journey, until it's a massive mural inside and out.

Continue reading "In a Biofueled Bus Called "Self Express," Six Young People Set Out" »

Book Review Wednesday: To the Extreme

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending tales of adventure at the edge of survival.

When the Killing’s Done (By T.C. Boyle, $27, Penguin Group, 2011): Boyle’s distaste for the empty noise of modernity colors the fictional story of Alma Takesue, a National Park Service biologist in Santa Barbara. The conflict between her and Dave LaJoy, the activist who would prevent her from exterminating the rats of the Channel islands takes readers offshore to the islands' lawless terrain. Like the “thin bellying sheet” of first water that enters a sinking boat, the story's momentum plies back and forth between survival and elimination, consistently human, consistently animal, poetically and energetically written.

Year of the Pig (by Mark Hainds, $17, University of Alabama, 2011): Feral pigs threaten vast portions of U.S. ecosystems, so Hainds, a forester, did good by spending 2007 hog-hunting in 11 states. Hainds’ anecdotes, titled by a tree of each different ecosystem, wield dry humor and the admirable values of a farmer’s son to critique the current state of hunting. His sympathetic intelligence suffuses this seriously funny nonfiction.

Continue reading "Book Review Wednesday: To the Extreme" »

This Saturday: Hands Across the Sand

IStock_hands000006546852XSmallThis Saturday, June 25, champions of clean, sustainable energy will join hands on beaches worldwide in a show of solidarity against offshore drilling. The event, organized by Hands Across the Sand, is intended to send a clear message to politicians and oil barons: Switching to clean energy today means living on a healthier planet tomorrow.

The organization's symbolic approach to environmentalism has been generating buzz and stimulating discussion since the first Hands Across the Sand event was held in protest of the Florida legislature's initial moves to lift a ban on offshore drilling in February 2010. A few months and a massive oil spill later, the group has coordinated the largest protest of offshore drilling (and formed some of the most impressive human chains) to date, with 42 nations participating.

Continue reading "This Saturday: Hands Across the Sand" »

Green Your Picnic: Leave No Trace

Picnic blanket Summer's here! To celebrate the long, hot days, rally your friends and pack a picnic. This week's tips will help you keep it green.

Tip # 3: Keep it clean.

What with chip bags, soda cans, and paper napkins, picnics can create a huge mess. We challenge you to leave zero waste. It's easy: Bring refillable water bottles, cloth napkins, reusable or biodegradable cutlery and plates, and food in Tupperware containers as opposed to plastic bags. After the party, check around your picnic area and pick up scraps, then bring them home to your compost pile.

Tell us: What do you do to minimize waste?

June 21, 2011

Daily Roundup: June 21, 2011

Watery Graves: The oceans are in far worse shape than we ever imagined, scientists say. New York Times

And That's Not All: Rates of sea-level rise are the highest of the last 2,100 years, says another study. TreeHugger

Vroom: In some commuter-heavy parts of London, cyclists now outnumber motorists. Grist

Plastic, Eh? The Canadian government unveiled its latest printing of cash — made out of plastic rather than paper. NPR

You're Kidding: The natural-gas industry released a children's coloring book to mitigate fears about fracking. Mother Jones

--Mimi Dwyer

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