Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Six Extreme Greenie Water Conservation Tips For The Dazed and Bemused!

Could you turn off your tap?
by Elizah Leigh
Oh, you may think you're soooo green with your french-fry oil rigged Volvo and your subscription to Mother Earth News, but what if the shiznizzle really hit the fan and you were forced to cut back (or completely outsource) the free flowing H20 that you know (and love) so well?

This is no time to roll your eyes - I know that we're all blessed to live in sophisticated, highly modernized societies - but things...happen.

Say for example that your household was on a well system and - completely out of the blue with no forewarning whatsoever - that well ran dry like it did for me just 5.247 crystal-clear years ago. I kid you not.

As a Colorado mountain resident, I was always well aware of the persistent drought issues gripping my region but I naively presumed that my magical source of well water would continue to runneth over...until the stuff flowing from the tap in my kitchen sink began sporadically coughing, gagging and moaning before finally vaporizing into thin air.
What do you mean there is no water?
I recall eeking out loud, immediately entering a state of panic and running throughout the house, fumbling with every conceivable faucet and shower head in my wake. Good God, there was no relief in sight!! That's when reality hit me like a ton of bricks - there was no way on Earth that I'd be able to do the laundry.

That laughable worst case scenario paled in comparison to what would end up being a six day, uber grungy, water-free reality - one of the darkest periods in my young adult life. So sad but so true - I was ill-equipped to handle the trials and tribulations that accompanied a liquid free existance. I instantly recognized that showering was my most treasured memory, one that I would regard almost as highly as chugging my minimum eight glasses a day.

Of course, one of the positive things to come out of my silly little hardship was an adrenaline-enhanced ability to sniff out all sources of liquid within a 25 mile radius without ever having to leave the house. Perhaps you will be inspired enough by my tap-free plight to incorporate a few of the following do or die lessons into your own water conservation plan.

DRAIN CANNED GOODS Mmmmm, drinky-winky! When you're desperate enough, the salt-laden liquid that massages peas and string beans within their 15 ounce aluminum womb tastes divine and conveniently provides you with about 5 of your 64 ounce daily water requirements! This is also a very good time to go on a soup diet -- the more cans of dump and eat soup that you have on hand, the better.

SUCK ON ICE CUBES Trust me, there's nothing sexy about the adrenaline stench of a future devoid of water. If you're ever in the same situation, you'll be in survival mode and be unbelievably thankful that your significant other didn't thoughtlessly waste them on last month's romantic interlude. (How sad is that?)

HOARD FRESH FRUIT & VEGGIES Crispy, crunchy and blissfully full of water, the top contenders to have on hand are cucumbers, celery, iceberg lettuce, watermelon, and well, pretty much any type of produce is good to lean on in a water-deprived pinch. If you've got 'em, just eat 'em. Better yet, steam the veggies in your microwave and lap up the condensation on the plate!
Could you follow Elizah's tips?
BRUSH TEETH WITH STRAIGHT UP PASTE Who created the rule that you need to run the tap full force (or even just a wee bit) in order to clean your teeth effectively? That's what spit is for. Just apply your toothpaste directly onto your brush, insert it into your mouth and scrub-a-dub away -- your natural salivation will take care of the rest. When you're ready to rinse, just add a swig of mouthwash into the mix and completely torch any remnants of your odoriferous cotton mouth in one fell swoop.

PRE-MOISTENED CLOTHS ARE A GRUNGE MEISTER'S BESTEST FRIEND Harboring flushable wipes within the vicinity of a confirmed greenie's abode is admittedly eco-sacrilegious, but these revoltingly tangible scraps of dead tree can become one's sole reason to continue persevering. They are, in a word, swell. If you are a particularly clever apocalyptic greenie, anticipate eventual disaster by pre-soaking your own ratty organic cotton t-shirt scraps in a mild baking soda/white vinegar/water solution and storing them for future use in screw top large glass jars.

BECOME A CRISIS LUSH For years, I had oddball bottles of candy sweet $4.99 port, funky gin, nosehair-torching tequila and lollipop flavored schnapps cluttering my counter space. Those dinner party donated duds would have wasted away in perpetuity were it not for my burning desire to rehydrate my tongue and major organs. Since my body was already operating at a major H20 deficit, what might have been six long miserable water-free days ended up morphing into a blackout of spectacular proportions. And you know what? I was too inebriated to even realize just how dry I was.

Do you think that you could rise to the challenge of voluntarily swearing off free flowing sources of water for just one day? Would you do it to prove to yourself just how green you really can be? Would you ever seriously consider using any of the strategies above? Can you think of any inventive new water conservation ideas that we'd all oooooh and aaaaah over?

Elizah Leigh writes for Greenwala where this article originally appeared. The article is published here with permission of the author.


submit to reddit

Monday, June 29, 2009

Earth Song

A number one hit in England for the artist when released in November, 1995 Earth Song is back in the public conscience. Never released as a single in America it is now regarded as one of the first and greatest environmental pop songs ever written.


Earth Song
by M. Jackson

What about sunrise?
What about rain?
What about all the things
That you said we were to gain?

What about killing fields?
Is there a time?
What about all the things
That you said was yours and mine?

Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we've shed before?
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores?

What have we done to the world?
Look what we've done
What about all the peace
That you pledge your only son?

What about flowering fields?
Is there a time?
What about all the dreams
That you said was yours and mine?

Did you ever stop to notice
All the children dead from war?
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores?

I used to dream
I used to glance beyond the stars
Now I don't know where we are
Although I know we've drifted far

Hey, what about yesterday?
What about the seas?
The heavens are falling down
I can't even breathe

What about apathy?
I need you
What about nature's worth?
It's our planet's womb

What about animals?
We've turned kingdoms to dust
What about elephants?
Have we lost their trust?

What about crying whales?
We're ravaging the seas
What about forest trails?
Burnt despite our pleas

What about the holy land?
Torn apart by creed
What about the common man?
Can't we set him free?

What about children dying?
Can't you hear them cry?
Where did we go wrong?
Someone tell me why?

What about babies?
What about the days?
What about all their joy?

What about the man?
What about the crying man?
What about Abraham?
What about death again?

What about us?
Do we give a damn?



submit to reddit

Green building programs help create wildlife friendly landscapes

Create a wildlife-friendly landscape.

by Betsy S. Franz
During the construction slowdown, many builders have taken the initiative to learn the principles of Green Building. New home buyers ready to venture back into the housing market now have the opportunity to choose a home that is better for the environment, better for their health and, because of energy and water savings, better for their wallet.

What many people don’t realize is that green building programs encompass many changes that are also friendlier to the home-site and, therefore, to the surrounding eco-system and to local wildlife.

Most green building programs operate on point systems. To some extent, builders and homeowners can work together to choose which items they would like to incorporate into their home to earn points towards certification.

Many options available
Many of the options involve changes to a landscape that result in a very wildlife friendly habitat. In fact, some programs specifically give points for creating or preserving wildlife habitat.

Other programs give points for items such as Waterwise landscaping, native plant choices, Integrated Pest Management and limited turf areas – all factors that help contribute to a landscape that is beneficial to local wildlife. How much wildlife benefit a program provides varies greatly from program to program.

Although development has long been seen as a leading cause of wildlife habitat destruction, green building programs have the opportunity to help turn that around.

But an important thing for all current property owners to remember is that they, too, have the ability to create a wildlife-friendly landscape by making simple changes to their landscape.

For more information about how green building programs provide a benefit to local wildlife, contact Betsy Franz.

For information about how to create your own wildlife friendly landscape, visit the Take Care of Your Share website.

Betsy S. Franz is The Nature Lady where this article originally appeared. The article is published here with permission of the author.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Enviro News & Links You May Have Missed This Week

What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

You probably won't find these headlines on the front page of your local papers but they are steps in the right direction.

We also mix it up a bit by adding NGO and environmental resource websites that are worth checking out.

Toronto's new green roof law a first for North America
$500,000+ for your "Green" Neighborhood
Database of State Indoor Air Quality Laws
Washing machine that uses one cup of water
Sears Tower Gets $350 Million Greening
Continental Airlines Announces Results of Biofuel Demonstration Flight
5 US towns seeking energy independence with renewable resources
Below The Surface - A Coast to Coast Exploration of America’s Waterways!
Vienna energy conference calls for shift towards low-carbon green industries
Solar Power Systems That Serve Entire Neighborhoods
Denmark to power electric cars by wind in vehicle-to-grid experiment

Next week Green Works Links will take a look at the first LEED museum in America.

Glass Half-Full - ACES Passes House Test

ACES passes through House of Representatives 219-212.

Hailed as a historic vote that will establish the US as a player in upcoming international climate talks the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) narrowly passed through the House of Representatives last night by a vote of 219-212.

The vote followed party lines with only eight republicans voting in favor and 44 democrats voting against. Curiously enough, the bill would not have passed without the support of the eight republicans.

So what does it mean?
Also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, the first major environmental bill of the Obama administration will introduce as its centerpiece a soft cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions. The voluntary cap and trade program will supercede those programs that have been developed by individual states from 2012-2017.

The contentious cap and trade program is the first of its kind since a similar system was enacted in 1990 in an effort to reduce sulfur emissions that cause acid rain.

Proponents of the bill say that carbon emissions will drop 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels and a staggering 83 percent by 2050. The UN has called for an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

ACES also calls for an increase in renewable energy production that is equivalent to 20 percent of the total energy needs of the United States. One third of this target is expected to come through energy efficiency measures.

Initial reaction to ACES is mixed
Reaction to the passage of ACES has been mixed. Greenpeace says that the plan as it is is too weak. They have called the act, "inadequate." Green For All is pleased that two equity provisions - including one that invests $860 million for the Green Jobs Act - was included.

Industry groups were also split. Ford being one of the notable corporations that was on side. It is reported that in the weeks leading up to the vote that Big Oil/Big Coal outspent environmental groups 16:1.

Both sides of the ACES debate jammed the phone and fax lines yesterday to gather support from congress causing the switchboard to temporarily crash when the outcome of the vote was still in doubt.

A lot of the criticism of ACES stems from the more than 300 pages of amendments to the 1200 page bill. The issue of agricultural greenhouse gas emission and its place in ACES did not sway many of the 44 Democrats who called for the concessions in the first place.

Going forward
"Now is the time for us to lead," said president Obama on Thursday. "We cannot be afraid of the future. We cannot be prisoners to the past."

It is the failed policies of the past that the international community sees when looking for leadership from the United States in the next round of climate change talks scheduled for Copenhagen later this year.

Initial reaction to the passage of ACES is one of modest optimism. Will that optimism continue as ACES tries to make its way through the Senate before year's end or are more concessions to follow before Copenhagen?

The numbers are not there right now for the bill to pass through the Senate. Too many Democrats from agricultural/resource-based states voted against the bill in Congress to think that they will stand as one and vote en masse to get the requisite 60 votes for passage of ACES in the Senate.

Senate Democrats have yet to reveal their environmental plans and many observers foresee more concessions as the bill moves to the Senate. While the passage of ACES is historic today from the viewpoint of the Senate, the glass looks half-empty.

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Orange A Day Keeps The Eco-Car (Peeling) Away!

Stauro orange powered car.

by Bob Kurz

What do you think about the new Stauro 3-wheeled concept car pictured above?

Taylor Welden, a Texas-based industrial designer and engineer Harry Schoell are among the seven person team who are currently tweaking the features of this urban and eco-friendly mode of transportation in the hopes that it will soon be produced - with all materials sourced - within 500 miles of its ultimate headquarters.

Here are the stats:
100% recycled aluminum exoskeleton
3form body panels made out of 40 percent recycled co-polyester material
Orange-oil powered steam engine producing up to 700HP
Comfortably seats two passengers

Pressing orange skins in order to make an eco-friendly fuel alternative is a particularly intriguing idea that has been studied at great length. Japanese scientists have established that orange oil - which has a flash point of 56 degrees Celsius - can effectively run a CER engine (with minor challenges under winter conditions).

Traditional fuel blended with 10 percent orange oil was found to be an acceptable blending ratio that created a surprising benefit - gasoline emissions were reduced by half! Other positives include comparable fuel consumption and engine performance compared to conventional gasoline.

Orange oil has been channeled into other applications, such as with Yokohama's highly recyclable, high performance orange oil-impregnated race car tires which reduce petroleum inputs by 10 percent.

While both advances are impressive, the Stauro team's proposal leads one to believe that they are squeezing every last drop out of the orange for some astringent eco-giddy-up!

Bob Kurz writes for Greenwala where this article originally appeared. The article is published here with permission of the author.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Green Prosperity: Creating Pathways out of Poverty

Reducing poverty by investing in green energy.

Can a clean energy economy benefit low income people?

A new study prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) University of Massachusetts, Amherst states that an investment of $150 billion per year in the green economy will create 1.7 million net new jobs.

This investment in green jobs is seven times more than the number of employment opportunities that would be created if the spending was earmarked for the fossil fuel sector.

Of special note to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Green For All, who commissioned the study entitled, Green Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States is that clean energy investment job opportunities reach across all education and skill levels and help create pathways out of poverty. Approximately 870,000 of the newly available jobs would be accessible to workers with high school degrees or less and result in a one percent drop in the unemployment rate.

Opportunities For All
In building a green energy program the living standards of 78 million Americans would be improved. The three-pronged approach to this program should focus on: expanding employment opportunities; building retrofits; and public transportation.

The study uses wind energy as an example of new employment opportunities that cross all skill levels. "wind farms create jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers, among many others. Some of these workers will have received some college education, while other occupations will require less formal education. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting requires roofers, insulators and architects — again, jobs that entail different levels of formal educational requirements. Expanding mass transit systems employs civil engineers, electricians, dispatchers and bus drivers."

Training and Infrastructure
Jobs created by clean-energy investments should also offer training programs to assist in career advancement. Newly employed low-income workers will see new opportunities to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and raise earnings by about 2 percent. Energy efficiency retrofits for living accommodations and infrastructure improvements in public transportation would also represent a 10 percent reduction in total expenditures for these families.

The study also debunks the misconception that green policies are detrimental to the poor. The authors write, "We show that, to the contrary, with effective policies in place, investing in clean energy can provide significant new opportunities at all levels of the U.S. economy, and especially for families who are poor or near-poor."

By focusing on: increased energy efficiency; lowering the cost of renewable energy and; limiting fossil fuel pollution the study believes that within a generation the United States can transform from a fossil-fuel driven economy into a clean-energy economy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cycling Towards Virtual Bike Lanes


Originally created for a design competition a virtual bicycle lane is one step closer to reality. Due to an overwhelming response by the media and the bike riding community the creators of the LightLane have built a working prototype.

The concept is still too early in the development process to assign a consumer price. What is known is that dedicated bike lanes - never a favorite line item during municipal budget talks - are between $5000 and $50 000 per mile and the LightLane may help bridge the financial gap in some locales until bike lines are created.

Using Diode-pumped solid-state lasers that mark the roadway around the cyclist in highly visible green lines the gizmo's rechargeable battery is compatible with most cell phone chargers.

Designed to make cyclists more visible at night, research has shown that the LightLane works best when lighting conditions are at their worst.
submit to reddit

In New York The Answer is Blowing in the Wind



Converting rooftop water towers that dot the Manhattan skyline into wind energy sources is still a few years away. But wind energy is already sailing into the New York marketplace and in places that you least expect it.

City institutions including Brooklyn Brewery and Whole Foods are taking the lead in green energy procurement. Both purchase wind power from the local arm of global wind energy giant Iberdrola. By signing up with Community Energy they and others are on the leading edge of energy self sufficiency in America.

Chelsea Piers, the largest sports and entertainment complex in the country uses 100-percent wind power.The environmental offsets of using wind energy are the equivalent of reducing 13,600 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

"We were surprised to learn that the incremental cost of purchasing 100 percent green power was actually quite small," said Chelsea Piers Chairman Roland W. Betts. "We also made a considerable investment converting to high-efficiency light fixtures and new control systems but we believe it will pay for itself in a few years."

Brooklyn Brewery obtains 100 percent of its energy from wind. The brewery pays Con Ed Solutions for the 285,000 kilowatt-hours it uses off the grid annually to be replaced with energy from Community Energy wind farms located in New York.

Each year, Brooklyn Brewery's commitment to clean energy saves the atmosphere from 335,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 1,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 500 pounds of nitrogen oxide that would otherwise be emitted.

Whole Foods Market uses renewable energy credits from wind farms to offset 100 percent of the electricity used in all of its stores and other facilities in the United States and Canada. The company began doing so in January of 2006.

While we are waiting for that breath of fresh air that is the next generation of wind generation the answer is already blowing in the wind.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Last Minute Gift Ideas for the EcoDad

The smile upon my face.
Happy Father's Day!

Today's list is in recognition of the man who taught us to ride our first eco vehicle - the bicycle. The following gift ideas may not be readily available in your neck of the woods when you go and visit dad today but at least you can tell him about them. It is the thought that counts after all.

Is your dad still young at heart? have you cringed when he wails away on his air guitar? If you answer yes to either of these questions you may want to pick up a pair of vegan hi-tops designed by Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt.

If motorycles or racing is in your father's blood the first ever AMA eGrandPrix is scheduled for Mid-Ohio on the weekend of July 24-26.

Mayber all that is a little too much for you or your dad. While we would like to recommend a few e-books they don't say "I love you" as much as a real book. Eco-Libris not only offers up some great titles for Dad they take the guilt out of your book buying purchase by planting a tree for every book read.

Father's day also kicks off summer and if your father enjoys fishing or Phish he may not be near a source of power. These gadgets and gizmos are great for charging your cell-phone or keeping you dry.

If none of those ideas grab your attention how about these?

GreenPacks,The Examiner and The Daily Green all offer some interesting, eco-friendly suggestions that allow you to show dad that he is appreciated.

I love you Dad. Happy Father's Day!

The man who taught me how to read, write, add and subtract.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Design Organic Logo for European Union

The greening of the EU.

Make a green statement while earning some green by designing the new organic logo for the European Union (EU). The design contest has been extended to July 6 and is open to any and all citizens from the 27 member EU.

The new logo, which replaces the logo to the left, will help define organic produce from EU member states and be announced in June of next year. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top three picks with the winning submission netting 6000 euros for its designer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Survey Says...Green Jobs on Rise

Carbon Salary Survey crunches the numbers.
So you want to save the planet and make some money doing so. The recently released Carbon Salary Survey is a good resource to see what green professionals are saying about the work they do and the duties they perform.

The survey, conducted in English, was distributed online and via email to the professional networks of the three research partners: Acona; Acre Resources and; Thomson Reuters. World-wide, nearly 1,200 participants replied to the survey through April of this year.

"This is the first time in history that this number of climate change professionals has been surveyed in relation to the carbon job market," says co-author Andy Cartland, Managing Director, Acre Resources. "The ultimate example of the emerging pale green job market is the demand we’re seeing for top level professionals, such as CEOs, who understand the commercial opportunities that are emerging both through legislation and stakeholder risk. It is interesting that 20 percent of the survey respondents consider themselves to be in ‘management’ roles – proof that the mainstream economy is greening."

Co-author Paul Burke, Senior Partner, Acona adds that,"many of those working in the sector may be able to find equally well – if not better – remunerated jobs elsewhere. That they continue to work in the sector suggests a considerable degree of personal commitment to and interest in the subject matter."

Show me the Money
As Burke states, remuneration is good. The survey found that the average salary of green professionals was $76 000. Three percent stated that they earned more than $200 000. Longevity in the field of climate change also directly impacts salary levels. Respondents with more than 10 years experience command salaries twice that of those with less than two years experience. Over half earned between $40 000 to $100 000. For those starting out, hook up with a company. Consultants earn approximately $10 000 less than in-house company employees.

Environmental professionals earn more.
Unfortunately there is no pay equity in the environmental sector and women earn approximately 75 percent of a male counterpart's wages. The gender gap is closed somewhat in professions with a historically high female workforce such as in public relation, marketing, and media services.

Conversely, the pay gap was larger in engineering, construction,consultancy and advisory sectors.

On the bright side, according to anecdotal evidence, the gap is narrowing. "At my first conference, there were only a handful of women in attendance," says Lucy Mortimer, Global Manager Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation Business, TFS Green. "The market has changed considerably since then – half my team is female, and most broking firms and banks in carbon have women working for or leading the teams. At a recent “Women in Carbon” event, there were over 150 women in attendance, with an invitee list far higher."

Maybe it is just a case that the green market is a new market but eight in ten respondents stated that they work in teams of ten or less. Twenty percent of these team players indicate that they are working at their first full-time job. Upwards of 60 percent state that they had never worked in climate change before their current employment situation.

Sectors to Watch
With many companies and organizations coming to grips on how best to deal with environmental concerns it is not surprising to learn that the highest proportion of survey participants - 34 percent - worked as consultants. Renewable energies and technologies along with the financial and legal services account for a combined 26 percent of respondents. In Africa, charities and work in the public sector ranked second.

"The climate change industry in Africa has become increasingly diverse in the past two years and the maturity of the market is starting to show," says Rob Ashdown, Climate Change Principal Consultant Merchantec Capital, Johannesburg. "I would therefore anticipate that in future surveys we will see a higher representation from the African continent in these sectors."

While energy efficiency and clean development mechanism and joint implementation project development scored highly in all geographic regions, solar and wind energy schemes were more likely to occur in North America and the UK.

A Highly Educated Workforce
In general, respondents to the survey were highly educated individuals. All but four percent had a university degree with one quarter earning their bachelor's in a climate change field of study. More than two-thirds of respondents had a second degree but curiously less than ten percent had professional climate change qualifications.

"It has been estimated that a further 5000 engineers will be needed to upgrade the national grid in the UK alone, thus enabling renewable generators, such as wind farms, to connect," says Sharon Kelly, HR Director Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe Ltd."Engineers are going to be absolutely fundamental to new technology such as CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage), which is part of the EU's 2020 climate change package, and I anticipate attractive remuneration packages to those involved in the successful commercial deployment of CCS."
Green people are happy people.
Green People are Happy People
A mind-boggling three-quarters report satisfaction with their job. This level of personal fulfillment is even higher in the utilities and industrial segments of the market. These levels of satisfaction are a good omen for those hoping to enter the market and also allow companies to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their workforce is a happy workforce.

Green professionals are also an optimistic lot - how could they be anything but - as more than two-thirds believe that job security is the same now or better than it was one year ago.

The Green Crystal Ball
"The Carbon Salary Survey underlines that there is a transition underway across a range of professions and livelihoods as part of an employment revolution – one that will undoubtedly accelerate if governments at the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, in just over 180 days time, seal the deal on a scientifically defensible, economically sound and equitable agreement," states Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme. "This will bring certainty to and an expansion of the carbon markets, and
catalyze further investment in the $155 billion renewables markets. Indeed UNEP, the International Labour Organization, trade unions and employers groups estimate that employment may rise to 2.1 million in wind, 6.3 million in solar photovoltaics and 12 million in biomass-related industries by 2030."

There is a lot of green to be made by being green. The carbon emissions market - worth $126 billion in 2008 - has grown exponentially since 2006 and analysts forecast a market value that exceeds $1 trillion by 2020.

The Breathing Earth

See the effects of climate change in real time.

Ever wanted to see your impact on the planet? How about the impact your country has on the planet? The Breathing Earth is a real-time map of our little blue planet and the effects we have on it.

By hovering your mouse over a country you can track births, deaths, CO2 emissions and more! The data for the map comes from respected sources and there are also links to help you learn more on climate change.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shake Rattle and Roll with Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy.
Capturing motion and converting it into usable energy, otherwise known as kinetic energy is making the news. A supermarket in England has launched a program in one of its stores that uses kinetic energy to power its checkout lines. The kinetic energy is harvested from the vehicles entering and exiting the store's parking lot.

The framework to capture kinetic energy is comprised of a series of magnets and coils that produce energy based on vibrations or kinetics - movement.
The science of kinetic energy.
But is kinetic energy a viable energy alternative? There are some factions of the environmental mindset that argue against the aforementioned UK model as fossil fuels are being burned to create the energy. Others argue that the fuel would be spent otherwise and harnessing the kinetic energy produced from the traffic is converting a resource which would be otherwise wasted - an energy recovery system.

Making the news at this time last year was another kinetic energy story that followed the same principles as those applied in the UK. The Dragon Power Station was an experiment set up at the Port of Oakland to harness the kinetic energy of the more than 2500 semi trucks and trailers that rolled in and out of the facility on a daylong basis. Estimated to produce upwards of 7000 kWh of electricity the Dragon would contribute five percent of the port facility's total energy demand.

Cleaner applications of kinetic energy are being used and developed on a smaller scale including the nPower PEG. This little gizmo uses your kinetic energy to recharge your iPod, cell phone or digital camera.
The PEG is compatible with over 90 percent of handheld electronic devices.

The makers of the personal, portable generating station - Tremont Electric of Ohio - claim that the units, which can be carried in your backpack or worn on your waist or arm charge at the same rate as a wall charger."If our entire target market used the PEG to recharge their cell phones for an hour each day, instead of plugging into a wall outlet, they would reduce the amount of electricity needed from the grid by 25.4 million kilowatts," says inventor and Tremont founder Aaron LeMieux. "That’s enough energy to power 21,000 households for an entire year!"

Even smaller applications of kinetic energy are being developed. On the health care front a micro kinetic energy battery is being fine-tuned for potential use in pacemakers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cyclists Bare Arms and More for World Naked Bike Ride

Cyclists from around the world bare all to promote bicycle safety.


A catchy title if a little misleading.

While naked bike rides were held in many cities around the world this past weekend, naked bike day occurs in a different season altogether for activists in the southern hemisphere. Those in Australia should mark March 13th down on their calendar.

Organizers for World Naked Bike Ride believe that "We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil and other forms of non-renewable energy."

More than 1000 showed up for the carnival like atmosphere in London on the 13th - body art is encouraged. In NYC less than 50 made the trek from Union Square on 14th St thru Times Square before retiring and redressing in Central Park. Despite the name, most New Yorkers wore shorts. The threat of arrest had one cyclist cover up quickly.

No such problems in Chicago as the city and the police make sure that the ride goes off safely. Though in the early years of the Chicago ride, arrests for indecency were made. Overseas, upwards of 1000 people participated in Thessalonski, Greece.

Back home, organizers in San Francisco prefer to think of the event as Critical Mass with a really lenient dress code. Critical Mass is a monthly event historically held on the last Friday of each month.

Founded in San Francisco in 1992, Critical Mass is held in over 300 cities worldwide. Like its newer cousin, World Naked Bike Ride, Critical Mass brings attention to bicycle safety and the inherent dangers of cities to the well being of cyclists. Critical Mass uses traffic disruption as its main tool as cyclists gather together and ride slowly through high traffic areas.

Spain hosted the first World Naked Bike Ride in 2001. A similar event transpired in British Columbia. In 2004, both camps, operating without the knowledge that the other existed joined forces to become the entity that it is today. The general population may question the shock value of partial nudity but it is hard to dispute the results. The rides do raise awareness about bicycle safety and sharing the road.

Bladers are welcome too!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Piracy is it Good for the Environment?

Image without attribution because that is what piracy is all about, not giving credit where it is due.

This picture does make you think.

On first blush you are likely to agree with the sentiment. You may have minor concerns with regards to semantics. The use of your computer to download anything from the Internet is definitely not a "no pollution" scenario.

The bigger picture speaks to laid-off workers from piracy. But is this the model? Is this the Linux way? Should everything be open source and in the public domain?

Art makes you question what you see, so it is obvious that this must be art. If it is environmentally responsible to promote piracy then surely the artist of this particular piece won't mind that we are sharing it freely without attribution.

Spread the word.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stop the Greensanity!

With apologies to Edvard Munch.
On a day that sees the end of analog TV in America, Green TV is seeking comment on which state is the greenest state in the nation. The online network will have its findings published in USA Today on June 25. But what makes the greenest state? And is there any methodology or agreement? Are these earnest efforts or more cases of greenwashing?

Forbes magazine compiled its own list in 2007 and chose Vermont, but would you surprised to learn that New Jersey made the top 10? Vermont also topped the charts in 2009 in a different survey by Eco Insights a move that had neighboring Maine green with envy.

In ranking the country's 50 greenest cities Popular Science had Portland, Oregon at the top of its list last year. Sustain Lane seconded PopSci's choice of Portland.

One New Yorker threw his support for his city as the nation's greenest while Time reported that The Brookings Institution chose Honolulu. Time also has list of the greenest websites and the greenest company and more! Time makes my list for Most Green Lists!

Efficient Energy says the greenest city is Chicago. Now I don't know where to move. As Kermit said, "It ain't easy being green."

From the greenest police state, a not so tongue in cheek look at efforts in Pennsylvania to the greenest colleges everybody has a best green something.

Do these lists make a difference? Are they a form for discourse that encourages other states and cities to encourage and implement environmental action? Or are they merely a cheap vehicle (EV of course) to drive up ratings and web traffic?

There's the top 10 green utilities and across the pond the Sunday Times has an exhaustive look at UK companies.

What is green and what is greenwashing? Where does the greensanity end? Coming full circle to TV do we really need the 10 funniest green moments on recent TV? Does that mean we can expect a list of TV moments from a time not so recent?


submit to reddit

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Abandoned Rail Line Repurposed as Unique High Line Park in NYC

Artist rendering of NYC's High Line Park.

The last standing elevated railway line on Manhattan's Lower West Side is being transformed into an ecological wonder. Rising thirty feet above the historic Meat Packing District New York's 1.45 mile long High Line Park opened to much acclaim this week after a 10 year odyssey from pipe-dream, through New York City's noted bureaucracy, to reality.

The unique park is a testament that old industrial relics need not be destroyed - they can be repurposed. Built in the 1930s to remove heavy freight trains from the streets of Manhattan the High Line had been wasting away and overgrown with weeds since the last freight rolled down the rails in 1980.

Or Was it?

All Aboard the High Line
The Friends of the High Line didn't see weeds growing in unused rail tracks - they saw an urban garden. Formed in 1999 to save the rail line and repurpose it as a public park the Friends of the High Line raised $44 million of the $150+ million of the project. The total cost of the High Line project includes the purchase of the lands by the city, the removal of lead paint from the structure and work on Phase II of the park which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2010.

Once utilitarian in purpose, the High Line is now an environmental showpiece that is home to more than 200 species of plants, shrubs and trees. The species and spacing of the flora evoke the overgrown wildlife that first inspired the Friends of the High Line to fight for its protection. The concrete walkway that meanders through the park is meant to recall the railway ties originally there. Benches rise out of the grounds and the original art deco railings have been restored to include LED lighting that illuminate the pathways at night providing for a safe and secure evening stroll.
More than 200 species were planted in the 1.45 mile long park.
Park Spurs Growth
The original High Line, was 13 miles long when it opened in 1934. It connected directly to factories and warehouses along the way and in its time was considered somewhat of an oddity as it soared through city blocks as opposed to the norm of rising over city streets. Many of these factories and warehouses are now home to studios and converted to condos. News of the High Line Park spurred redevelopment of the decaying lands with more than 30 projects announced since work on the park began.

"We've thought for a long time that there's a great added value for having parks that goes well beyond what the investment is," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe at the opening. "This is the proof right here."

The future of the park is secure through the second phase of expansion to 30th Street as it is in the hands of the NYC Parks Department. It is the section between 30th and 34th Street that is cause for immediate concern as those lands are in the hands of a private developer.
The park has spurred growth in the community.
The Path Ahead
Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, cautioned the City Council Zoning Committee earlier this spring that zoning for the remaining High Line land does not mention anything about preserving the High Line. Hammond feels that it is incumbent upon the city to, "initiate the process to acquire the remaining portion of the High Line from CSX as the first step toward preservation of the structure.”

A meeting on the future of these contentious lands is being held this evening in Manhattan.

Regardless of the outcome of tonight's meeting the High Line Park is a testament to New York's industrial heritage ceding the future for the environmental benefit of its citizens. The High Line Park is the result of a tenacious citizenry who can articulate a vision to elected officials and repurpose that which was once abandoned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Researchers: Damaged Ecosystems Can Recover

Restoration is an important tool to protect habitats.
All hope is not lost. Try as mankind has to destroy our planet researchers at Yale University posit that, "most ecosystems globally can, given human will, recover from very major perturbations on timescales of decades to half-centuries."

Holly Jones a graduate student, and ecology professor Oswald Schmitz of Yales's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies are the authors of the Rapid Recovery of Damaged Ecosystems. Their findings indicate that only 15 percent of all damaged ecosystems are beyond recovery and that it is not too late to enact changes that can aid in the recovery of the majority of damaged ecosystems.

“The damages to these ecosystems are pretty serious,” said Schmitz. “But the message is that if societies choose to become sustainable, ecosystems will recover. It isn’t hopeless.”

On average forest ecosystems were found to recover in 42 years, ocean bottoms recovered in less than 10 years. Ecosystems affected by: invasive species; mining; oil spills or trawling recovered in as little as five years.

The study also concludes that most ecosystems take longer to recover from man-made occurrences than from natural phenomena such as hurricanes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Picture This - Recycling Energy Savings



This award winning image is making the rounds again on the Internet. While a picture is indeed worth 1000 words, it is worth putting the picture into the proper context.

In 2007, Eskom, South Africa's state-run electrical power generator was trying to encourage its clients - corporate and residential - to conserve energy. Eskom's conservation efforts hit their mark when advertising agency Ogilvy South Africa was commissioned to bring home the point of energy conservation.

This ad was the result.

Energy conservation soared in South Africa shortly thereafter as the general population embraced the ad as Eskom practicing what they were preaching. Ogilvy's work was recognized by its peers and it picked up the prestigious Grand Prix Loerie in 2007, for Outdoor & Ambient - Outdoor Media.

Two years later and the picture is being "recycled" - mostly without any attribution to Eskom or Ogilvy - to a new audience.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Surfers Unite for World Ocean Day

Fun and frolic in the Pacific.
Today is World Ocean Day and big wave surfers have called for the creation of marine protected areas. Seventy-One Percent of Earth, a short film by Ari Marcopoulos pushes home this point with comments by Grant Twiggy Baker, Frank Solomon and other big wave surfers. You don't have to surf to appreciate the sea and all of us should have a vested interest in the care and preservation of our oceans.

Idaho Hospital Implements Sustainable Foods Program

St. Luke’s has recently implemented their first of two seasonal menus.
KETCHUM, ID – At many institutions, reconstituted potatoes, canned soup, and instant tapioca pudding are daily staples, but not at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. St. Luke’s Wood River is the first hospital in Idaho, and one of the few nationwide, to implement a sustainable foods program. Sustainable foods are produced by people and with practices that value and care for the earth, workers, food and human health.

Called St. Luke’s Green Cuisine, the hospital recently launched a sustainable foods program that incorporates fresh local ingredients into the cafeteria offerings and patient meals. Through this program, the hospital hopes to change the way people think of hospital food.

First Do No Harm
“We are proud to take this step for our patients, our staff and our community,” reports Bruce Jensen, CEO of St. Luke’s Wood River. Through the Green Cuisine program, the hospital has pledged to provide highly satisfying food that sustains the health of us, our community and the Earth. “Pledging to support procurement of local, nutritious, sustainable produced food demonstrates our commitment to “first, do no harm” as a whole hospital approach to preventive medicine.”

To help establish this groundbreaking program, St. Luke’s hired John Turenne, President of Sustainable Food Systems, thanks to funding provided by the hospital’s Innovation Fund, a fund developed through philanthropic support to help implement new ideas. Turenne was the former head chef at Yale University, who, in collaboration with chef and sustainable agriculture advocate Alice Waters, transformed Yale’s dining program to sustainable foods.

To introduce the hospital’s new sustainable foods program, Turenne will offer a cooking demonstration, “Grilling pizzas a unique and delicious way to eat healthy” 1 p.m. Sunday, June 14 at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge during the Sun Valley Food and Wine Festival. Turenne’s demonstration is the second in the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation Health and Well being Speaker Series focused on optimal health through nutrition.

Menu Includes Locally Grown Foods
“When a soda a day raises diabetes risk by 80 percent, a high fat meal decreases coronary blood flow, and the average U.S. meal travels 1,500 miles to arrive on our lunch tray, is it such a radical idea to change our hospital food service back to a whole foods and sustainable full cycle system?” asks Dr. Tom Archie of St. Luke’s Family Medicine, “St. Luke’s Wood River has taken the initiative to make a bold and sensible change. I have never been so proud to be part of a hospital’s medical staff.”

Since the program’s launch in May, St. Luke’s Wood River has worked with local businesses such as Hailey Coffee Company, Bigwood Bread, Cloverleaf Dairy and Idaho’s Bounty to integrate local items into its offerings. While still in its infancy, the cafeteria at St. Luke’s has recently implemented their first of two seasonal menus, using fresh, whole fruits and vegetables for recipes based on simplicity, nutritional value, and taste. Inpatient menus will be also be in
sync with the new, healthy menu.

Food Waste Reduced
The hospital has dramatically reduced the use of disposable plates, bowls and plastic ware in the facility. They have worked with College of Southern Idaho to procure a culinary arts training session for their staff, and have sought a minimally processed, healthier food supply with fresh ingredients, void of partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats).

As St. Luke’s Wood River states on their literature, “Do what you can, one food at a time, one meal at a time, one day at a time.” With this new program, the hospital is doing their part.
submit to reddit

Two Green Thumbs Up for Food Inc.


This is the movie that Monsanto doesn't want you to see. They even went through the trouble to set up a web page disputing most of the points raised in the film. But before you click that link up above it should be pointed out that the link was inoperable this morning.

Could Monsanto have come to its senses?

Food Inc. is a documentary from director Robert Kenner that paints an unflattering picture about the American food industry and how it is controlled by corporate interests.

How hard-hitting is the film? Variety states that "Food Inc. does for the supermarket what Jaws did to the beach."

The film opens June 12 in select theatres in New York, LA and San Francisco. It expands to more cities nationwide on June 19.

If you can link to that Monsanto page you may want to then click on La Vida Locavore who took the trouble of countering each of Monsanto's objections to Food Inc.





submit to reddit

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lights! Camera! Environmental Action!!

Filming begins in July for At What Price?
"I don't believe in purchasing offsets because I think that is bull!"," says Enci as she prepares to produce her first environmentally responsible film. "Everybody who has money can pretend to be green by paying other people off and that, to me, is bribery. It doesn't do the community or the planet any good."

Despite the title of her short film, At What Price? Enci's story is not about environmental recklessness it is the tale of child abandonment set in her native Hungary circa 1978. Inspired by an event in her childhood that forever changed her life Enci, an actress, decided to write and direct the film herself.

"The idea to do At What Price? sustainably or at least try to make it with as little environmental impact as possible was a natural choice. Then the brainstorming started," says Enci who with her husband, producer Stephen Box, started listing all the benefits that the community and the production crew would get from a sustainable film project. "When I'm on set as an actor, I'm always aware of the waste and the 'bad' elements that a production brings, including making enemies with neighbors and communities. I do believe in partnering with the community and with the neighborhood."

Giving Back to the Community
The local community - in this case East Hollywood - was important to Enci's internal green dialogue. Catering for the film production will be serviced by local restaurants and produce vendors. The crew will be asked to bring in their own coffee mugs while washable utensils and plates will be provided with meals. The location of the shoot in East Hollywood is readily accessible by public transit and the crew is encouraged to avail themselves of L.A.'s public transit system to help minimize parking issues with local citizens and thereby shrink the production's environmental footprint further. Enci is also partnering with a local organization to plant trees in the neighborhood as a testament to her willingness to ensure a green film with a lasting benefit to the community.
 First time director Enci intent to make film green.
Enci's pre-production checklist includes facilitating most decisions online where possible. Casting calls were via electronic submissions and all paperwork relating to the film is done online as At What Price? is a SAG production. This simple procedure mitigates paper waste. Production meetings are held in locations that are convenient to and accessible by all modes of public transport. "Up to this point," says Enci "the 'green' journey has been somewhat conceptual with a bit of drama thrown in as we grapple with shade-grown versus free-trade coffee choices for our production meetings."

With shooting of At What Price? set to commence in July, Enci has looked into sustainable lighting, set design and film options. If necessary, her outfit, Rebel Without a Car Productions, has even looked into the availability of a solar-powered generator.

The Green Machine
"My husband and I are getting a team together that is quite a mix," she says with regards to the crew that will see her film dream come to life. "Some are already 'green', carfree, vegetarian, and some are not even close to being green. We don't just want to preach to the choir, we want to inspire those who are not thinking about their carbon footprint or the future of the planet.

"All these people are very excited about helping and being part of this production. I also hope to inspire the 'non-green' people in our production to be more sustainable, to drive less, to bring their own mugs and to order their drinks in glass or china when they sit down in a coffee shop. I would also like to encourage them to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables or grow some produce themselves."

"Living sustainably has been always close to my heart," states Enci as she explains that her environmental concerns predate this film project. "I came to the U.S. almost 13 years ago and I love it here in America but I always found it shocking how much is wasted. Food, disposables, idling cars, a/c running with doors and windows open, etcetera. Through all my years of living here I have tried to recycle - even when it was difficult because recycling bins were not always readily available. I've always used canvas bags when I shop and I started riding a bike when my husband, not only encouraged me, but also rode along with me everywhere, until I felt comfortable enough to ride on my own," she says before adding proudly, "Now we're both car-free!"

Returning to the subject at hand, while groups and organizations exist to promote environmental films very little has been done to date with regards to producing these films in an environmentally friendly manner. Sustainable, energy-efficient filmmaking is such a novel approach that a code of standards for the film industry was only released this year.

Best Practices is New Territory for Hollywood
The Code of Best Practices in Sustainable Filmmaking also has a list of web resources to help filmmakers adapt best practices in a sustainable fashion. This resource runs the gamut from carbon calculators to companies and organizations that provide gold standard carbon offsets. Opposed to offsets as the folly of the rich Enci's production will employ someone to calculate the film's carbon footprint. "I take note of every meeting and every footprint that we leave behind."
Code of Best Practices in Sustainable Filmmaking has formed this year.
"A lot of people tell me how difficult it is going to be," Enci states with regards to her dual challenges of being not only a first-time director which is a challenge unto itself but to also make that production a sustainable film as well. "To tell you the truth, I think it is a bad excuse to be negligent and say, 'Well, it's my first time, I don't have time to waste on such silly things as 'waste management.'"

Will and Determination
Enci is adamant that she will prove her detractors wrong. "I think it's going to be easier for me than anybody else because I don't have a set way of doing things. I would like to believe that because I'm starting it out right I will have it better and easier."

"I do hope that this endeavor - however successful I will be with it - will set some of the ground rules for future productions. I can't stand plastic cups and bags and forks and styrofoam plates and such," she says alluding to the rampant environmental waste produced on other film sets. "It will really ruin my focus if I'm not free of that on the set. If this film brings publicity to sustainable filmmaking then all the better because people will take notice and hopefully be inspired to be more sustainable in their own lives."

The production of At What Price? is also being followed by a documentary film crew. The subject of that film is Enci's own foray in producing her own sustainable film. Enci muses that, "We’ll get two films out of one shoot. Now that is sustainable!"
The crew is encouraged to bring their own coffee mugs on set.

Robot farmhands prepare to invade the countryside

Nothing runs like a...robot?
From ploughs to seed drills to tractors, evolving technology has brought about radical changes to agriculture over the years. Now the sector is poised for another shift as robotic farmhands gear up to make agriculture greener and more efficient.

Three things now make mobile agricultural robots a real possibility in the near future, says Tony Stentz, an engineer at Carnegie Mellon University's robotics institute.

Firstly, mobile robots have now proved able to cope with complex outdoor environments; secondly, the price of production has fallen; and, finally, society should now see robot laborers as a benefit not a curse.
Read more from the source...

Daryl Hannah - Eco Nerd

Daryl Hannah is passionate about the environment.
Daryl Hannah divides her time between California and Colorado, and in both places she lives "off the grid", with her own sources of water and power. Her homes are powered by solar panels, her toilets are compost, her cars run on leftover grease from fast-food restaurants. One of them a Chevrolet El Camino pick-up painted a Batman-esque matt black has become something of a signature. She grows her own food and brings what she can't eat to a farmers' market; she keeps bees and makes honey, she knits, she sells teepees on her website. She gets excited about battery storage and new designs for low-profile wind turbines ("I'm a little bit of a nerd," she admits). She wears recycled necklaces made of boiled-down shotgun casings. She has more than 20 animals - horses, alpacas, chickens, dogs, cows - all of which are rescues.

Read more from the source...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

News Links You May Have Missed This Week

Statue of Henry David Thoreau in Walden Pond.

You probably won't find these headlines on the front page of your local papers but they are steps in the right direction. As for our absence yesterday, it was World Environment Day so we did our part by shutting down for the day.

Tidal Power Keeps on Truckin
Nature Walks Make You Smarter
Wind-Powered Drive-in Movie Theater
Hemp homes to be built in government drive
Target calls it a wrap on plastic
Green Pest Control: Not an Oxymoron
Cash for Clunkers: A Fair Trade for the Environment

Next week Green Works Links will take a look at a long overdue project in New York City.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

China to Expand Hemp Fiber Acreage in Yunnan

Industrial hemp is produced in many countries around the world.
Xishuangbanna of Yunnan province in China is set to expand its hemp growing area from 30 000mu to 100 000mu by the end of this year. Industrial hemp is environmentally friendly as it requires little to no pesticides or herbicides. Producing 250 percent more fibre than cotton, hemp farming can also control topsoil erosion.

Green energy overtakes fossil fuel investment, says UN

Wind, where the US is now global leader, attracted the highest new worldwide investment, $51.8bn, followed by solar at $33.5bn.
Green energy overtook fossil fuels in attracting investment for power generation for the first time last year, according to figures released today by the United Nations.

Wind, solar and other clean technologies attracted $140bn (£85bn) compared with $110bn for gas and coal for electrical power generation, with more than a third of the green cash destined for Britain and the rest of Europe.

The biggest growth for renewable investment came from China, India and other developing countries, which are fast catching up on the West in switching out of fossil fuels to improve energy security and tackle climate change.

Read more from the source...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grey Water Recycling Project Launched in Middle East


Grey water recycling has become a hot topic around the world, with water-strapped countries like Australia and others installing such systems. In Israel, the Health Ministry has generally prohibited grey water recycling because of the unacceptably high bacteria count in the water. Grey water is the leftover water from showers, sinks and washing machines, as opposed to black water - the water from toilets. With the proper treatment to reduce bacteria, it can be reused in toilets or to water gardens. A pilot project in Jerusalem, initiated by the environmental organization Shomera for a Better Environment, would only focus on reusing shower water. If the pilot is successful, the government would consider permitting systems in the public sector and in businesses to recycle shower water for flushing toilets or watering gardens.

Read more from source...