Archive for April, 2010

For Earth Week, Lights Out, Green In trekked to New York to deliver the message of conservation. I spoke at St. John’s University on Wednesday, April 21 (thus no chance to blog) at 5:30 to a pack of students.

The message was conservation and through a series of slides I attempted to convince the students it was the simplest way to halt the effects of global warming. It’s the same message our organization has been preaching during its two-year existence. And with those in the room I believe it stuck.

A full video of the presentation will be available on Facebook later today.

Today was supposed to mark the unveiling of the Senate’s climate bill, but now the deal’s off (NY Times, also see the Boston Globe, LA Times, and Washington Post).

This article looks at what the legislation would have contained (MSNBC).

This MSNBC article says many environmental issues are less visible than 40 years ago, but no less real.

Still no word on the 11 workers missing from the sunken oil rig, which is now leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico (MSNBC).

Ice-covered volcanoes may help answer some climate questions (LA Times).

Six governors have asked the Interior Department to approve the Cape Wind project (Boston Globe, also see this NY Times article).

Massachusetts plans to offer a second round of appliance rebates this summer (Boston Globe).

Lemongrass or eucalyptus oil are natural alternatives to using DEET.

Defense Department concerns could blow away a major wind project planned in Oregon (Washington Post). The Post also has this column that looks at the chances of a climate bill passing this yearA bill may be unveiled next Monday.

The effect on air travel has grabbed the headlines, but the volcanic eruption in Iceland could have climate consequences too (MSNBC). On the other hand, this L.A. Times article suggests the consequences are likely to be minor.

The economy/environment debate resurfaces in a proposed Amazon dam (NY Times).  And the U.S. is trying to broker a deal to cut down on whale hunting (NY Times).

Globally, this was the warmest March on record (MSNBC).

Here’s a review of Baltimore’s first LEED-certified hotel (Washington Post). And two dorms at Ithaca College have won the Energy Star label (NY Times).

WaterSense labels on plumbing equipment identify the most efficient choices.

Three takes on three climate change items in the news …

1. Climate change could raise cost of U.S. allergies

Climate change could push the cost of U.S. allergies and asthma beyond the current $32 billion annual price tag, conservation and health groups reported on Wednesday. A warming planet makes for longer growing seasons that would produce more allergy-provoking pollen in much of the heavily populated eastern two-thirds of the United States.

I’m always intrigued by the discovery of new effects of global warming – things that nobody might’ve thought were in jeopardy are. This study shows how far-reaching global warming really is and it spells out the connection between more ragweed and more carbon dioxide. The $32B estimated price, however, rings a little like those studies that try to measure how much money or productivity is lost by March Madness pools or flu season. Nonetheless, there a few more people who have a personal interest in stopping climate change: allergy sufferers.

2. Climate treaty realities push leaders to trim priority lists

As prospects for a binding global climate treaty this year have evaporated, leaders and environmental advocates have focused their efforts on reaching agreement on a few top priorities, including preserving tropical forests and helping developing countries cope with climate change. … Negotiators have begun to focus on what U.N. Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth calls “the building blocks” of a global climate strategy.

Did you see this week where the U.S. convened a summit of countries to come to an agreement on nuclear power? The U.N. was not involved – the U.S. took the lead and partnered with Russia and China. Our country led and others followed. With the weak climate change treaty negotiated in Copenhagen likely to falter, perhaps it is time for the U.S. to lead on climate change as well. Cut out the U.N. and do it yourself.

3. Some Republicans Open to Climate Change Bill

Today, some Republicans in Congress made it known that they would be open to the possibility of voting for a climate change bill that is set to be introduced next week. … The bill calls for a phased, sector-based approach to tackling various aspects of climate change reform. The plan first calls for capping emissions from utilities starting in 2012. A tax would then be levied against the transportation sector, followed by a possible cap-and-trade arrangement for the manufacturing sector starting in 2016.

It looks like the Senate may have come up with a politically palpable bill – it took them almost 18 months, but I’m sure on Earth Day that Sens. Kerry, Lieberman, Graham will take a bow for putting it all together. Whether it’s actually good for the environment and whether it can actually pass still remains to be seen, but it’s encouraging to see a little bit of progress on the issue.

A U.N. climate conference gets off to a contentious start (MSNBC), while this article suggests prospects for a deal this year are slim (BBC).

Climate change continues to shrink Glacier National Park (LA Times).

The Nature Conservancy has a new atlas of the world’s ecosystems (Washington Post).

Australia will press charges against the ship that ran aground last week (BBC).

A town in New Jersey is divided over a beach restoration project (MSNBC).

North Providence implements mandatory recycling (Providence Journal).

The Boston Globe has some suggestions for environmentally-friendly driving.  This article looks at how some green improvements can help sell a house, but this Washington Post article suggests many are reluctant to take the necessary steps.

Taking your shoes off at the front door cuts the amount of lead dust in your home by 60%.

In November, a CFL makeover was auctioned off at our bowling fundraiser. The auction provided the winner with a chance to replace all their incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs – price of parts and labor included.

The price went for fairly low – somewhere about $40 to my sister and her fiance – to redo a house with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. I took a look at the house and figured out what types of bulbs were needed. A trip to Home Depot ring up a $114 tab, which was lowered to $64 after a discount.

The incandescent bulbs were replaced and in time the bill was lowered. From January to February, the bill dropped nearly $50 (of course, Christmas lights were also a factor). The bill has stayed low – it’s about 25% cheaper than it had been. And of course, the environment benefits just as much as the owners of the house. It’s within your power to help yourself, it’s within your power to help the environment and it’s within your power to power down.

The Copenhagen Accord may not be completed until the end of next year, and its goals may not be sufficient (MSNBC).  On the flip side, this L.A. Times article suggests that not all was lost with the summit. Meanwhile, Mexico City, site of a UN conference later this year, has made noticeable progress in cleaning its air (Washington Post).

A Chinese ship ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, raising fears of a big oil spill (MSNBC).

A panel investigating Climategate says the scientists should’ve been more transparent, but did not manipulate their data (BBC, which also has this op-ed on the findings). On a different note, there’s a substantial gap in the climate change views of climatologists and meteorologists (NY Times).

NASA hopes to boost its climate research budget (Washington Post).

The New York Times has this article about efforts to put wind farms off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  And it has this review of a book that criticizes “green capitalism.”