1. Is “Green Living” getting in the way of the “Green Movement”?

    Posted on September 15, 2011 by Jody

    image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/talkradionews/6093961593/

     

    As I hope many of you already know, protests of the Keystone XL Pipeline took place a couple weeks ago in front of the white house.  These protests went on for 2 weeks and over 1,200 people were arrested; including Bill McKibben and James Hansen.  It is quite possibly the largest act of civil disobedience our country has seen in decades.

    I wish I had been there.

    Not only do I live in the DC area (I’m about an hour away), but I’ve also held a life-long goal of being arrested for a cause I believe in- and this definitely qualified.  Yet for two weeks, I heard the news, I thought it would be a good idea to join in, yet I did nothing.   Why?  Easy- life got in the way.

    Everything from missing work would be too complicated, to weekends filling up with schedules and errands, it was always easier to do nothing than it was to commit to something.   Besides, my house already uses 100% wind power, we drive very little, eat (mostly) vegetarian, grow some of our own food, reduce, reuse, recycle, etc, etc.  And what good would come of being arrested, anyway? Read more…

  2. California Close to Banning Shark Fins

    Posted on September 14, 2011 by Courtney

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaumebonet/5126082489/

    Remember a few weeks ago, during Shark Week, when I posted about shark finning? In case you don’t remember, or are too lazy to click the link, shark finning is the practice of catching sharks, only to cut off their fins and then throw them back into the water to bleed to death. Many Asian fisherman do this because shark’s fin soup is a delicacy — people pay upwards of $100 a bowl for it — which makes it a very lucrative practice, particularly in China.

    Well, there’s good news on that front. California’s state Senate has passed a bill that would ban the trade, sale, and possession of shark fins in the state. It only awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature before becoming a law. Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington already have similar bans.  Read more…

  3. Can We Produce Fuel in Our Own Back Yards?

    Posted on September 7, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jamison.

    Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidg/2168751427/lightbox/

    Let me tell you a very odd story from our friends in China. China was having a problem in their poor farmland areas. They were losing massive amounts of forests and decided they had to take some sort of corrective action. So they decided to reintroduce biodigester technology – the process of converting organic waste into renewable sources of energy — to the countryside. They built a design that cost about $450 and started installing them for farmers. A third of that cost was covered with government subsidies.

    The farmers were expected to provide the labor (digging the hole for the system) for the project, but basically it’s a large underground tank, a bit larger than the average American septic tank. As waste from humans and livestock flows into the tank, it breaks down and produces methane, as all organic waste does, and these biodigesters make it possible to produce more than enough biogas to run their households without need of additional fuels.

    The effects have been staggering — most farmers who have the systems have managed to move their incomes from below the poverty line to incomes two or three times above it. Women have been freed up from the painful task of hunting for firewood. The forests around the farming villages have started to replenish themselves. The farmers have the byproduct of the biogas, which is a very effective fertilizer that can then be used to help improve their plant growth to increase their yields.  Read more…

  4. Green Construction: From Basement to Ceiling

    Posted on September 6, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Amanda Kidd.

    Do you want to make an efficient use of water, energy and other valuable resources? Do you want to protect your health and thereby improve productivity? Can you control pollution and environmental degradation to some extent? If the answer to these questions is yes, then why not think about going green? Invest in a green building and help yourself naturally. A green building, also referred to as a sustainable building or a green construction, is an environmentally friendly structure that is designed, built, maintained, operated, renovated, and demolished or reused in a resource-efficient way for the entire life cycle of the building.  Read more…

  5. Snail Darters Can’t Transfer to the Phoenix Office, Either

    Posted on August 11, 2011 by Mickey

    I’m going to have to do some tiptoeing in this post, but let’s get one thing straight right from the get-go: In no way am I rooting for the ruin of the human race. As a matter of fact and despite scattered claims to the contrary I am a human, so any argument I might make against my own kind would be obviously disingenuous. I even like some people, and I wouldn’t want anything bad to befall any of them. Or myself.

    So I don’t hate people, got it?

    But here’s the thing: I don’t think you can trump an argument simply by claiming the welfare of X number of people is at stake. Read more…

  6. Urban Heat Islands: What Are They, and What Can You Do About Them?

    Posted on August 8, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jamison.

    If you live in the concrete and asphalt jungles of the United States, you’ve probably gotten used to the concept of heat islands without even realizing it. Cities are warmer than the surrounding countryside. When you live in the city, you probably don’t even realize that just a few miles away, the temperature is probably 5 degrees or so cooler. Cities absorb more of the heat of the sun than the surrounding areas and, as a result, retain that heat for longer. Of course this starts a nasty loop of a warmer city requiring more air conditioning, which is more inefficient because the city itself is just so hot. The question becomes: How do we get ourselves out of the mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into?  Read more…

  7. Edison’s Light Bulb: Like Lawn Darts, Only Rounder

    Posted on July 14, 2011 by Mickey

    This past Tuesday, you may have heard that the US House of Representatives voted to uphold new standards for light bulb efficiency, set to be enacted next year. If by chance you didn’t, it’s probably because you’re too busy running around town stockpiling every last incandescent bulb you can find before the government sticks it’s nose in your business once again to tell you what you can and can’t buy. You’ll probably store them next to the lawn darts on a shelf above your extra barrels of DDT. Read more…

  8. Maunder Minimum: Salvation for Earth or the Death Knell to Environmentalism?

    Posted on July 11, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jamison.

    Image credit: http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3157251517

    I know, but I can’t resist the urge to use incendiary language when it comes to topics like this one. If you read the title and are bewildered by the fact that you have no idea what on Earth a Maunder Minimum is, don’t worry. I went to school to be a literal rocket scientist, so I have a focus a little further afar than things just happening on Earth. I promise to explain myself to the best of my ability in simple language.

    You may have noticed this bright glowing orb that we circle around on a yearly basis. The Sun is the G-Class star that provides us the glorious warmth and protection that made the little mud ball we live upon so wonderful. What you probably don’t know is the Sun goes through cycles of activity, which last about 11 years or so. Basically it becomes more active in the form a sunspots, which reach a maximum (called the Solar Maximum) and they decrease to none for a short time, which we refer to as the Solar Minimum. For literally centuries, since the invention of the telescope, humanity has been keeping track of the number and size of the sunspots on the surface of the Sun (and people think we waste time on our hobbies these days!)

    So now you’re probably asking yourself: Well, you’ve bored me with a bunch of celestial mechanics information that might help me on Jeopardy someday, but what on Earth does this have to do with the death nail of environmentalism? Well that’s where the Maunder Minimum comes in.  Read more…

  9. The Upside of High Gas Prices

    Posted on June 29, 2011 by Courtney

    Look: No one likes paying a small fortune every time they need to fill up their vehicle. When I see prices approaching $4 per gallon, I’m right there with you, grumbling about the evil oil companies gouging us out of our hard-earned money.

    But once I’ve complained enough, I like to remind myself that there’s a silver lining to that cloud. When gas prices rise, the environment — in some ways — wins.  Read more…

  10. Green Manufacturing: It’s In Our Hands

    Posted on June 13, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jamison.

    On the surface, when you hear me say “green manufacturing,” your first instinct is probably to dismiss this article as not applying to you. Inside your head you’re probably thinking, “I’m not Ford or GM, Jamison, I’m just a normal person happily buying my stuff from the store like everyone else.” But in reality, you’ve already started down the path to green manufacturing, and you don’t even realize it yet.  Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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