Archive for December, 2010

Not a lot going on this week, but here are a few links to close out 2010.  Happy New Year to everyone out there.

Massachusetts sets aggressive new emissions limits (Boston Globe).

With the economy showing signs of life, SUV sales are climbing again (Washington Post).

Texas and the EPA continue duking it out (Houston Chronicle).

Need a 2011 resolution? Try the pledge
As you’re scrambling to find a resolution you can keep this year, consider Lights Out, Green In’s 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. pledge. It will save you money rather than cost you something, like with a gym membership, and it will also help save the planet. Using natural sunlight and ambient light from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day will cut nearly 3% off your electricity bill and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If everyone did it, the action would be enough to halt the threat of global warming. This decade is the tipping point in the fight to stop global warming because if we wait any longer to cut emissions, we will have caused irreparable harm to the planet. So start the new year off right by taking the pledge and then follow-up on it every day when it’s sunny enough to do so.

Top 10 environmental stories in 2010
Despite a lack of progress on fighting climate change, environmental news still managed to dominate the headlines in 2010. The majority of the top 10 stories, however, were bad news for those interested in our planet’s future. From Climategate to the BP oil spill to chaos at the UN, see where it all ranks as Lights Out, Green In’s blog counts down the top 10 environmental stories of the year.

Give to LOGI – get a tax break
It’s easier than ever to give to Lights Out, Green In, which now accepts PayPal directly from its Web site! With your tax-deductible donation, the all-volunteer nonprofit can spread its reach as it explores new – but costly – ways to promote energy conservation and the 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. pledge to turn off lights. As always, your donation will also help LOGI to donate more energy-saving light bulbs to low-income residents. Your money truly will make a difference in the fight against global warming – and none of it will go to waste, so please make a donation. Checks payable to Lights Out, Green In can be sent to PO Box 41334, Providence, RI 02904 or you can donate in seconds via PayPal.

Winter farmers market
Lights Out, Green In will once again be making monthly appearances at the Wintertime Farmers Market in Pawtucket, RI. The market runs Wednesdays (4-7 p.m.) and Saturdays (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.) all winter long at 1005 Main St. With a festive atmosphere and plenty of locally-grown products, there are many reasons to visit, but make sure you check for Lights Out, Green In’s booth at the entrance when you do.

Despite a lack of progress on fighting climate change, environmental news still managed to dominate the headlines in 2010. The majority of the top 10 stories, however, were bad news for those interested in our planet’s future. A tip of the cap to our main blogger Terry Adams, whose twice weekly set of links made it an ease to come up with the top 10 in 2010:

10. Lead found in many reusable shopping bags: In late November, just as retail business picked up, some shoppers were left holding no bags at all. Federal officials discovered a small amount of lead in some brands of cloth reusable bags. The fears didn’t spread too far as many bags didn’t contain lead and those that did were deemed likely unharmful even if they made direct contact with food.

9. California’s global warming law upheld: The Golden State has set a gold-standard for environmental regulation. Its ground-breaking laws, which became a template for other states, were put to a test in elections and in the court system. The court upheld that the state could regulate emissions and the voters also stood by the law, by a 61-39 margin.

8. Climate chaos reigns at the United Nations: On the heels of hosting the disappointing December 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, the U.N. saw its top climate official resign under fire. Also some of its scientists admitted they had made mistakes in calculating when some glaciers would melt. To top it all off, the U.N. hosted its annual climate conference in December and made little progress in a new global accord on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

7. Localizing the global warming fight: States and towns took efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into their own hands this year as they saw failures on a national and global level. California mulled banning plastic bags, but eventually many cities took up the cause and places such as San Jose led the way. Massachusetts offered a cash for energy-saving appliances drive that mirrored the cash for clunkers push. Concord toyed with the idea of banning bottled water, but eventually tabled the movement.

6. EPA moves forward: Despite many legal challenges to its power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA stood tall in 2010. It unveiled plans to regulate smog, water quality and overall emissions. Add to that even tougher tailpipe emissions and you have a hefty agency. By year’s end, President Obama was signaling a desire to expand his executive power under which the EPA falls. It’s a move that could signal even more progress in 2011 for the EPA.

5. Electric cars take to the road: Nissan unveiled the Leaf and Chevy unveiled the Volt, two of the first mainstream electric cars to hit the road. The Nissan is all electric, while the Volt has the capability to also run on gas. While the large price tags scared some, there are major tax breaks available to buyers and the cars are expected to drop in price and jump in popularity, causing many to start building electric-car charging stations.

4. Climategate cleared: While the controversy itself of scientists e-mailing about using a “trick” on statistics caused a hubbub in 2009, the clearing of the professors caused hardly a ripple in 2010. That was unfortunate since not only were they found to have done nothing wrong, their research and findings were declared accurate. It was much ado about nothing.

3: Hot times: An extremely hot summer led to many heat waves and caused mass casualties in Russia. The heat led the government to acknowledge that climate change is manmade and must be halted. Once the record book closes on the year, the past 12 months will be considered one of the 3 hottest calendar years in recorded history.

2. Climate bill death: The House passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009 and waited all of 2010 for the Senate to pass its version. Just as Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham were putting the finishing touches on it, the bill came apart for political reasons in an election year. It was never revived and since cap-and-trade was unlikely to be included in the Senate bill, that bit of regulation can be considered dead.

1. BP oil spill: The biggest oil spill in recent history happened off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in April. The explosion that caused it killed nearly a dozen workers and left oil gushing into the waters for months. The effect on wildlife, the seafood industry, tourism and nature was enormous. The effect on BP’s business was evident as the CEO was villainized. Probes showed federal regulators lax on the job and President Obama struggled to take command of the crisis, weakening his presidency before the midterm elections. The deepwater offshore drilling industry, which had just been opened months earlier by Obama, came to a halt for most of the year before reopening with tougher regulations. But it’s the effect on the environment, the oceans and nature that will standout the most as daily images of oil rushing into the water and covering miles of ocean are forever burned in the public’s mind.

Stand up and do something about climate change in 2011 – start by pledging to use only natural sunlight and ambient light to brighten your room in areas where possible. Take the pledge today!

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas and stayed safe with all the snow. Here are some links as we start the final week of 2010.

The New York Times has an in-depth look at the Deepwater Horizon’s final hours. It also describes the scientist who first measured the growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The EPA announces a schedule for regulating power plant and oil refinery emissions (LA Times, also see Washington Post). Meanwhile, the agency is also moving to take over some permitting in Texas (NY Times).

After focusing on Washington for the last several years, environmental groups are shifting to more local efforts (Washington Post).

A solar plane flies nonstop for 2 weeks (BBC).

A team in Russia tries to save tigers (BBC).

A Bush-era policy limiting the designation of wilderness lands is reversed (MSNBC). Meanwhile, wilderness land is a bone of contention for border security advocates (LA Times).

A large deer population causes problems in Rhode Island (Providence Journal).

Reindeer numbers have dropped by 60 percent in 30-years due to climate change and habitat disturbance.

Hope everyone out there has a safe and enjoyable Christmas.  The links will return on Monday.

The debate has been there at least since the ’60s when in “Charlie Brown’s Christmas,” Lucy implores Chuck to “get one of those great, big aluminum Christmas trees.” Are those fake trees – which have gone from aluminum to very real looking – good for the environment?

Well, people figured since they reused the tree for a couple of years that it was better than chopping down a tree every year. Except, of course, it takes a lot of energy and greenhouse gas emissions to create and ship a tree to a store. And the tree is not exactly made of reusable parts. And so the debate raged on.

But this year, there’s a definitive answer. A study (which Terry linked to Monday) shows that unless you’re going to reuse your fake Christmas tree for 20 years, the greenhouse gas emissions that go into making it are for more than those wasted by chopping down a tree, which of course take in a lot of carbon.

There’s also a secondary reason that real trees are OK to get. These trees are being grown specifically for Christmas and if you didn’t buy them, the lots would grow something else. You’re not exactly chopping down a tree from the Amazon. So, take in that real tree smell and enjoy your balsam fir with the knowledge you’re doing what’s best for the environment.

The White House finally issues guidelines for government scientific research (NY Times).

A study of tap water in 35 U.S. cities finds that many of them have a carcinogen (Washington Post).

Want to have a green Christmas?  A real tree is actually a better option than an artificial one (NY Times).

Thomas Friedman has this column about green efforts in the military (NY Times).

A proposed shoreline house in Jamestown causes controversy (Providence Journal). So does the proposed LNG site in Fall River (Boston Globe).

San Jose is the latest city to ban plastic bags (MSNBC).

If you must use new wrapping paper, skip metallic-coated paper which is hard to recycle.

The Obama administration sues BP (LA Times) while a report says the sand berms meant to stop the oil were ineffective (NY Times).. This week the administration also issued proposed guidelines for solar development on public lands out West (Washington Post).

Cap-and-trade comes to California (LA Times). And speaking of emissions, a new study finds that emissions curbs could help save polar bears (Washington Post).