1. What’s Going On

    Posted on June 30, 2009 by Allie

    Inhabitat says chicken feathers may be the fuel of choice in the future.

    The Daily Green takes a look at the top nine natural deodorants.

    The Good Human sums up the climate bill.

    Scientific American discusses the link between geothermal drilling and earthquakes.

    Earth First has seven ideas for eco-friendly business cards.

    Go Green Travel Green asks if green flights are possible.

    Enviroblog talks about growing veggies in urban soil.

    Don’t forget to vote for the eco-charity of your choice!

  2. What Is Cap and Trade?

    Posted on June 29, 2009 by Courtney

    You’ve probably read in the news that the House has narrowly approved President Obama’s climate change bill. It’s often my knee-jerk reaction to support any measure to reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, but as responsible news gatherers, it’s our duty to examine all sides of an issue before forming an opinion.

    Those who voted against the climate change bill (44 Democrats and all but eight Republicans) did so because they oppose the “cap and trade” program this bill encompasses. So what is cap and trade? It’s a process that aims to reduce greenhouse gases in a cost-effective manner. Each large-scale emitter of greenhouse gases will have to abide by a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases it can emit, and each company must have an emissions permit for every ton of carbon dioxide it releases into the atmosphere. Over time, the limits will become stricter until the ultimate pollution reduction goal is met. It will inevitably be easier and cheaper for some companies to reduce their emissions than others; in order to help the companies that will struggle more, these more efficient companies can sell their extra permits to the other companies that need them. This is where the “trade” comes in. In theory, this will reward the companies that are already energy-efficient while easing the transition for the companies that are not, while guaranteeing reductions across the board.

    Sounds great, right? In some cases, it is. The Clean Air Act of 1990 is a prime example of a successful cap-and-trade program. Its goal was to reduce the sulfur emissions that cause acid rain, and it met that goal at a much lower cost than industry or government predicted. But there are some who say Obama’s bill doesn’t do enough to curb global warming. The bill originally aspired to cut greenhouse emissions by 20 percent in the next decade; in order to make it more moderate, that number was cut to 17 percent. There is also the inevitable question of how much difference these reductions would make on a global scale; it’s a bit disheartening to realize that a 17 percent reduction in American emissions is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of greenhouse gases constantly pumped into the air by, say, China.

    We also must consider the effects of this bill on household energy costs. A congressional study found that the bill would raise energy costs by less than $200 per year for the average household, but in the cases of low-income families, this is a significant amount of money. However, the president is calling this a “jobs bill,” just as he did with the economic stimulus. In his weekly radio address, Obama says this is not a case of having to choose between economic growth and investing in clean energy. If passed, he claims, this bill can have positive implications for both.

    Nothing is final yet; the bill must still pass the Senate before any actions can be enacted upon the American people. What do you think of Obama’s climate change bill? Is it a positive step toward curbing global warming, or will it just increase our energy bills without making any real environmental difference?

  3. A/V Fridays – The Environmental Guy

    Posted on June 26, 2009 by Allie

    From In Living Color.

  4. The Carnivore’s Dilemma

    Posted on June 25, 2009 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Chris. Chris is a lecturer at a university in Australia and blogs at A Free Man.

    I am a committed carnivore, some might say a fanatical one, so this is going to be a difficult post for me to write. I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately and I’m slowly coming around to the conclusion that we’re doing not only ourselves a lot of harm with our gluttonous Western diets, but the planet as well.

    I’m behind the curve on this one, as there has been a fair bit in the mainstream press and the chatterbox commentators about cow farts and global warming. As is typically the case with the TV ‘news’ personalities, a lot of this talk is the oversimplification peddled by ill informed idiots misunderstanding complex science. Let’s start fresh and leave this particular story aside. In fact, let’s leave climate change in general aside. I’m a geneticist, not a climatologist, and I don’t know enough about the topic to get into it in any real critical analysis.

    But I think that we can probably all agree on some simple things. We can probably all agree that we need to be careful in terms of water use – particularly if you live in Australia, for example, or the Western United States. I think we can all probably agree that energy conservation is a good idea, that pesticide and fertilizer use should be minimized as should the amount of waste we generate as a species.

    All on board? OK.

    Read more…

  5. What’s Going On

    Posted on June 23, 2009 by Allie

    Tiny Choices debates the eco-ethics of peeing outside.

    Effect Measure talks about Zicam, anosmia, and the scary truth about Homeopathic drugs and FDA regulations.

    Inhabitat found beautiful jewelry made from recycled plastic.

    Scientific American discusses cutting cow flatulence with garlic.

    Earth First says we may be out of fish by 2050.

    The Daily Green talks about the EPA investigation of flea and tick preventatives.

    The Good Human discusses community solar power.

  6. Ethanol Biorefineries Pollute, Too

    Posted on June 22, 2009 by Courtney

    Ethanol is one of the most viable alternative fuel sources on the table today, and some people are drawn to it because it would mean much less drilling for oil. That’s a good thing, but as with many environmental matters, it’s always a trade-off.  Many people are opposed to the establishment of ethanol biorefineries in their towns because of the air pollution they would create. According to Citizens for Clean Power, ethanol plants can release anywhere from 120 to 1,000 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every year. This could create some large-scale health problems.

    While some environmentalists support ethanol as a fuel source, there are other things to consider other than air pollution. It’s better than relying on oil for our fuel, but in the United States we’d likely use corn as its base, which could be a problem because corn is one of our major food staples. We should also consider the environmental degradation associated with large-scale farming methods.

    In short, ethanol may be a short-term solution for our fuel issues, but we’re going to have to keep researching if we’re going to find something that will fulfill our needs and not contribute to air pollution and/or a global food shortage. What do you think of ethanol?

  7. A/V Fridays – Restoring a Rainforest

    Posted on June 19, 2009 by Courtney

  8. The Importance of Keeping It Wild

    Posted on June 18, 2009 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Mickey. Mickey is a park ranger at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and as an avid mountaineer, he is well acquainted with wild places.

    We focus a lot around here on the things that each of us can do to be better citizens of the planet, to live in a way that doesn’t exhaust the earth, air and water on which we depend, and maybe to reverse some of the damage that we’ve already caused. I guess we do this because it’s what we can do and it’s our responsibility.

    But what is it we’re trying to save? Our own welfare, for sure, but believe it or not that isn’t reason enough for some of us; after all, our planet will likely limp along just fine at least until after I expire. So what, through our explicit actions, can we save right now that isn’t expressed in pollutant parts-per-million, tenths-of-a-degree temperature increases, or rates of glacial melt?

    Wilderness. The earth as we once knew it. The earth as we still know it, if only in our imaginations.

    Read more…

  9. Is ‘Shading’ the Earth a Possible Climate Change Solution?

    Posted on June 17, 2009 by Courtney

    We all know that climate change is one of the most serious environmental issues we face today. The question is what we should do about it, and there are several options on the table. One of them is the admittedly radical idea of “shading” the earth, which is a process by which scientists would engineer our climate by scattering dust particles into the stratosphere.

    This idea would theoretically cool the earth by replicating the result of a volcanic eruption. All the dust particles gathered in the stratosphere would reflect sunlight back into space, therefore dropping the planet’s temperature.

    Read more…

  10. The Delicious Benefits of Eating Locally

    Posted on June 16, 2009 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, the lovely Dianne of Dianne’s Dishes. Dianne is an expert not only on cooking delicious meals, but doing so in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. 

    Roasted Asparagus with Garlic Scapes

    No matter where you look these days you can find someone talking about eating locally. Some eat local all year round, and I think that’s easier to do when you live in areas of California and Florida that have local produce year round, and others just focus on eating local as much as possible. I fall in the latter category and focus on eating local whenever the opportunity is available.

    There are several ways to eat local and it’s especially easy during the summer months! You can eat as local as you can possibly get and grow your own, you can visit a local farmer’s market or you can join a CSA. You can also do a little research and find out what is actually produced in your area and try to buy exclusively from them whenever possible. You can find a local dairy farm or a local mill, etc. You’d be amazed what might be around that you don’t know about before! But what are the real benefits?

    Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


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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