Archive for July, 2009

Remember when bottled water first popped on the scene in the ’90s and most people’s reaction was ‘Why would I pay for water? It’s free.’ Well, it may not be free for too much longer.

According to the climate change report filed by the EPA in June, one of the absolute biggest problems stemming from global warming is water.

4. Climate change will stress water resources: Water is an issue in every region, but the nature of the potential impacts varies. Drought, related to reduced precipitation, increased evaporation, and increased water loss from plants, is an important issue in many regions, especially in the West. Floods and water quality problems are likely to be amplified by climate change in most regions. Declines in mountain snowpack are important in the West and Alaska where snowpack provides vital natural water storage.

Droughts in the South are already a major issue (just ask Terry who lived in Atlanta for a couple of years and wrote about it here) and just about every summer we read about the Midwest floods. So, if this is only the tip of the iceberg, we have a major problem as it evolves.

There’s a scene in the movie “Chinatown” where Noah Cross (played by John Huston) tells Jack Nicholson’s Jake: “Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water.” This, of course, is during a drought as Cross’ character is working on a plan to direct water to LA and make huge amounts of money from it.

Now, we’re forced with the same situation and it will only get worse with global warming. Areas with moderate amounts of rainfall such as the Northeast will be OK, but how many people will live in the South, West or Midwest when these occurences become regular? And more importantly, if they do live there, how can we better get the Midwest’s extra water to the dry South. Sure, we have sewer systems, but most of them were built a long time ago and seem to lack the needed capability for this type of long-distance transfer for water.

What may be one of this century’s biggest challenges for our country is coming up with a solution for this specific problem. Is the result akin to the highways built in the middle of the 20th century? Who knows. But as the country invests in things such as the SmartGrid as part of government spending, they might also want to look into this problem as it will take a lot of planning, money and manpower to get this solution up and running.

Climate change is especially challenging for indigenous tribes, according to the New York Times.  This piece looks at how Russia surprisingly flies under the radar in the climate change discussion.

A bill to end mountaintop coal mining isn’t sitting well with the mining industry, says the Washington Post, which also has this article about government efforts to put a charge into electric car battery production.  On Friday, the Post had this column on energy issues from Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry, challenging arguments made by Sarah Palin in a previous op-ed.

Hydropower is an attractive renewable energy source, but it also has some damming consequences, according to this L.A. Times article.  The Times also reports that climate change is threatening California crops.  Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports that biomass’s green credentials are under scrutiny.

Chevron wants a lawsuit in Ecuador moved to the U.S..  At stake is $27 billion in damages to the Amazon rainforest (Wall Street Journal).

MSNBC has a Q&A on the cash for clunkers program.

25 ways to save the ocean, in pictures (Boston.com).

Britain’s outgoing sustainable development advisor says the UK has given too much preference to economic concerns (BBC).

800 million gallons of gas is used each year to mow lawns. Opting for a reel or electric mower is the way to go.

Here at Lights Out, Green In, we’re all for the simple solutions to saving the environment (think turing a switch off at 11 a.m. :-) ). While adding solar panels to your house helps, people can also play a large role by doing a series of small things – one of those things is recycling.

Recently at my Chestnut Hill Vista, that got a whole lot easier. I bring you the joy of single-stream recycling. Growing up when recycling was first introduced, it was just the dark blue bin for bottles and cans and then a few years later they added a light green bin for newspapers, paper and other assorted items. Two separate bins – and I’m sure every household had some assorting czar. However, there were always borderline questions – and one bin would overflow while the other stayed quasi-empty.

Last month, however, all that indecision changed when mixed recycling came into the picture. Bottles can hang with cardboard and paper can hang with cans. No more segregation, and it makes things a whole lot easier. Here’s a write up on the whole thing, but the absolute kicker is at the end of the story:

A pilot program of the single-stream system in Boston neighborhoods from May 2007 to July 2008 showed a 50 percent increase in recycling, the mayor’s office said.

You make things easier and people will most definitely follow along. Some things to remember as we try to find solutions to stop global warming.

India isn’t too receptive to U.S. pressure on environmental matters, according to this New York Times article.  The U.S. this also tried to put some pressure on China, as desribed by this Times article.  And amid the budget crisis in California, the state’s leadership in solar energy remains a ray of sunshine.

These chemicals are good for the ozone layer, but act like super greenhouse gases, says this Washington Post article.  On the subject of India, the Post says that the country is trying to develop more renewable energy.  It also has this article about the mountains of electronic waste piling up in Africa.

The LA Times says the climate bill is loaded with sweetners.  The Times also reports that the Bush administration’s decision to expand logging in Oregon has been reversed by the Interior Department.  And Wal-Mart announced a plan to put green ratings on its products.

A start-up in Houston wants to help companies go green (Houston Chronicle).  The UN seeks to cut emissions from shipping (BBC).

Cleaning your dryer’s lint trap will cut drying time and you can add the lint to compost.

Before last night, it had been 43 years since St. Louis hosted an All-Star Game and while all the grainy clips from that game seemed to harken back to a time when steroids, free agency and pitch counts were hardly in the dugout vocabulary, one aspect of that game is certainly a precursor to the future. In 1966, the game time temperature was a boiling 105 degrees.

Last night’s Midsummer Classic sported a game time temperature of 79, but the climate change report issued last month by the EPA previews a sporting world four score years away when that type of temperature will feel like a walk in the park compared to nightly scorchers. The report predicts insufferable heat across America.

In the Southeast: “By the end of the century, projections indicate that North Florida will have more than 165 days per year (more than a baseball season) over 90 degrees – up from 60 during the 1960s and 1970s.”

In the Northeast: “Cities that currently experience just a few days above 100°F each summer would average 20 such days per summer. Cities like Hartford and Philadelphia would average nearly 30 days over 100°F per summer.”

That means there’ll be a lot more sporting events like that ’66 All-Star Game.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre, an NL coach in this game, was with the Atlanta Braves and remembers catching seven or eight innings. And feeling miserable.

“It was really awful,” Torre said. “I got up to hit one time, swung and missed and kind of lost my breath. That’s how hot it was.” …

Fox baseball broadcaster Tim McCarver, then the Cardinals’ catcher, scored the winning run after subbing for Torre.

“When he came out, I said, ‘How’re you doing, pro?’ He said, ‘Only 12 salt tablets.’ Back in those days, we thought salt tablets did everything. But I’d never heard of someone taking more than four.”

Or think about that 1984 NBA Finals Game 5 in Boston where the temperature indoors hit 97. Remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sucking on the oxygen mask?

Climate change has started to affect a lot more important things other than sports, but chances are it could forever alter how the Boys of Summer play the game. Will domes become popular again? There’s an upside to AC and FieldTurf in the eyes of those who would be playing in 100+ degree temperatures many nights a year. How many guys are going to be on oxygen in between innings every night?

These are all questions that don’t need to be answered if we start conserving energy with simple solutions such as pledging to turn off lights or other conservation methods in order help halt global warming. The All-Star slogan applies to fighting climate change: “This Time It Counts.”

The New York Times reports that some environmentalists are dismayed with the climate change bill.  It also has this story about how buses can help cut pollution in the developing world.

Wind energy projects are encountering headwinds, says the Washington Post.  The  Post also has this story about the G8 agreement to curb emissions.  The UN Secretary General says that the G8 summit didn’t go far enough on climate change (BBC).

The Senate will soon take up the climate change bill.  This San Francisco Chronicle editorial urges the upper chamber to avoid watering down the bill even further.  The Houston Chronicle says that passage will be an uphill fight.

Rising sea levels could mean trouble for the Florida Keys (US News).  The Boston Globe highlights three households who excel at water conservation.

This was a couple weeks ago, but the U.S. has agreed to forgive $30 million owed by Indonesia in exchange for a conservation initiative (Wall Street Journal).

One school bus takes 36 cars off the road. It’s a safer and cleaner ride for kids.

Lights Out, Green In has 3 early July events – one in its rear-view mirror, a huge one Saturday and another one next Tuesday. Here’s a mini-recap/preview on the three events.

1. July 5th – Energy Independence Day on Aquidneck Island: Sunny days are always great for getting people to take the pledge to use natural sunlight and Sunday was no different. But the star of the show was the wind turbine that is the pride of the island at Portsmouth High School. LOGI’s exhibit was right next to the wind turbine table – and as quickly as the turbines were spinning, the wheels were spinning in the minds of the public with questions on the turbine, which can be answered here. It was pretty cool to see how much the wind turbine was accepted by the public (a topic I wrote about a couple months ago) and gives me hope that the masses are indeed moving to accept an unconventional solution to climate change. Overall, it was a great event put on by David Stookey and his Cool Aquidneck Island crew.

2. Saturday, July 11 – LOGI Fundraiser at DownCity in Providence: THE VENUE HAS CHANGED, but everything else stays the same. Lights Out, Green In’s second RI fundraiser is looking to raise money to donate CFLs to low-income residents and promote the message of conservation. JOIN US FROM NOON to 3. We’ll have finger foods and entry through the door gets you into a raffle with concert, comedy and theater tickets as well as a slew of gift cards. It’s all for just $10 at the door. And we’ll have a chance to enter more raffles.

3. Tuesday, July 14 – CT Sun’s Green Day: LOGI will have a table at the WNBA’s Green Day with the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena. Our exhibit, which will be on the concourse before and during the game, will allow fans to learn more about simple ways to conserve energy.