Now that awareness of climate change has hit the tipping point and most people understand that it is a huge, permanent threat to the way we will live our lives everyday, the environmental movement faces the new challenge of competing for the general public's interest and keeping them interested and engaged in being good citizens of the planet for the long term.
The landscape is so cluttered with environmental initiatives, eco-friendly products, eco-friendly TV shows, corporate social responsibility announcements from Fortune 500 companies on almost a daily basis, it's enough for the average Joe to feel like enough is being done and tune out. Don't get me wrong, the clutter monster is made up of terrific stuff, but sometimes too much information and too many options can make a person a little exhausted and decide to put off greening their little stake of the world for later because climate change is a huge problem that's going to get down and dirty later on. Why bust bust a move to minimize your impact right now?
Chances are, if you're reading this, something made you realize that climate change was something important that you wanted to do your part to slow it down. Even George W. Bush has finally decided to begin to take the problem seriously....I hope and can only imagine what it was that made that man finally start to get an inkling of common sense.
So, you're sitting in your house reading this and your light is coming from compact fluorescents, you take the bus or ride your bike, and you recycle, you wash your clothes in cold water, and you use Method cleaning products--done, right? Maybe by some standards, but I encourage you to keep on keeping on. If you need some new information to reinvigorate your environmental prowess, check out this list recently compiled by the Center for American Progress of what climate change stands to impact.
Here are a couple of my favorites from the very long list:
Say Goodbye to French Wines. Wacky temperatures and rain cycles brought on by global warming are threatening something very important: Wine. Scientists believe global warming will "shift viticultural regions toward the poles, cooler coastal zones and higher elevations." What that means in regular language: Get ready to say bye-bye to French Bordeaux and hello to British champagne. [LA Times]
Say Goodbye to Light and Dry Wines. Warmer temperatures mean grapes in California and France develop their sugars too quickly, well before their other flavors. As a result, growers are forced to either a) leave the grapes on the vines longer, which dramatically raises the alcoholic content of the fruit or b) pick the grapes too soon and make overly sweet wine that tastes like jam. [Washington Post]
Say Goodbye to Pinot Noir. The reason you adore pinot noir is that it comes from a notoriously temperamental thin-skinned grape that thrives in cool climates. Warmer temperatures are already damaging the pinots from Oregon, "baking away" the grape's berry flavors. [Bloomberg]
Say Goodbye to Baseball. The future of the ash tree -- from which all baseball bats are made -- is in danger of disappearing, thanks to a combination of killer beetles and global warming. [NY Times]
Say Goodbye to Christmas Trees. The Pine Bark Beetle, which feeds on and kills pine trees, used to be held in control by cold winter temperatures. Now the species is thriving and killing off entire forests in British Columbia, unchecked. [Seattle Post Intelligencer]
Say Goodbye to the Beautiful Alaska Vacation. Warmer weather allowed Spruce Bark Beetles to live longer, hardier lives in the forests of Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, where they killed off a section of spruce forest the size of Connecticut . [Alaska Science Forum]
Say Goodbye to Fly Fishing. As water temperatures continue to rise, researchers say rainbow trout, "already at the southern limits" of their temperature ranges in the Appalachian mountains, could disappear there over the next century. [Softpedia]
Say Goodbye to Ski Competitions. Unusually warmer winters caused the International Ski Federation to cancel last year's Alpine skiing World Cup and opening races in Sölden, Austria. Skiers are also hard-pressed now to find places for year-round training. Olympic gold medalist Anja Paerson: "Of course we're all very worried about the future of our sport. Every year we have more trouble finding places to train." [NY Times]
Say Goodbye to Ski Vacations. Slopes on the East Coast last year closed months ahead of time due to warmer weather, some losing as much as a third of their season. [Washington Post]
Say Hello to Really Tacky Fake Ski Vacations. Weiner Air Force and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey are building a year-round ski resort in Texas, with "wet, white Astroturf with bristles" standing in for snow to make up for all the closed resorts around the country. [WSJ]
Say Goodbye to That Snorkeling Vacation. The elkhorn coral which used to line the floor of the Caribbean are nearly gone, "victims of pollution, warmer water and acidification from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide seeping into oceans." [Denver Post]
Say Goodbye to That Tropical Island Vacation. Indonesia's environment minister announced this year that scientific studies estimate about 2,000 of the country's lush tropical islands could disappear by 2030 due to rising sea levels. [ABC News]
Say Goodbye to Cool Cultural Landmarks. The World Monuments Fund recently added "global warming" as a threat in their list of the top 100 threatened cultural landmarks. "On Herschel Island, Canada, melting permafrost threatens ancient Inuit sites and a historic whaling town. In Chinguetti, Mauritania, the desert is encroaching on an ancient mosque. In Antarctica , a hut once used by British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott has survived almost a century of freezing conditions but is now in danger of being engulfed by increasingly heavy snows." [AP]
Say Goodbye to Salmon Dinners. Get ready for a lot more chicken dinners: Wild pacific salmon have already vanished from 40 percent of their traditional habitats in the Northwest and the NRDC warns warmer temperatures are going to erase 41 percent of their habitat by 2090. [ENS]
“Ever dreamt of being in a band? Now’s your chance!” says a Brooklyn-based Band-for-bid that is selling itself (literally) via eBay auction. The selling of unconventional items is not new to the eBay marketplace, but the group behind the “BUY A ROCK BAND! (you be the front-man)” auction is really offering the chance to make a wannabe rocker’s dream come true, if only briefly. In five days and some hours, the highest bidder will be entitled to:
-A photoshoot with the band done by a professional photographer
Mark Hurst, who just plain rules, has brought awesome innovations that make my life so much easier, has a great blog called "This is Broken" where people write in with designs or systems that aren't working. In the spirit of "This is Broken", I read about something that was fixed today. Boston got it together to put recycling bins in the Metro station so all those newspapers can escape the trash cans. Think about it, what are people carrying on the train? Paper coffee cups and newspaper--both of which can be recycled! Until now, I've only ever seen trash cans in mass transit stations, but please correct me if other cities are doing recycling in train stations, too.
Metro Boston, the free Boston newspaper was responsible for this innovation that will bring 200 recycling bins to various stations within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter system. Now, if they would only hold a workshops in the station on how to do the executive-on-the-subway-one-handed-fold-your-newspaper-into-quadrants-so-you-can-read-it-during-rush-hour-in in-the-six-inches-of-sqaure-space-I-have, I'd be stoked.
Today, all around the world, people are reclaiming urban parking spots and making them into mini car-length parks. Here's a map of the park(ing) spots in San Francisco. Go park yourself somewhere, but if you need more information, go here.
Get out your Sharpie and mark it on your calendar. On October 20th from 8pm-9pm, San Francisco will celebrate "Lights Out San Francisco. " Residents will be encouraged to turn off all unnecessary lights and electrical appliances (remember your old foe Lopomo?) for that hour (and hopefully longer) to show support for efficient use of energy.
I participated in a Lights Out night in New York about five years ago, and it was awesome. My neighborhood, Fort Greene, had lots of buy in, and it was fun to see candlelight flickering from apartment windows and people chatting outside on their stoops. The blackout was even better
If you don't live in San Francisco, start a "Lights Out Night" in your town. October 20th seems like a good time--ripe for reading ghost stories by the light of a jack-o-lantern or channeling the ghost of Nikola Tesla.
There is some justice in the world after all. Today the courts ruled against big auto and will allow individual states to make their own judgments about greenhouse gas emissions levels. Grist puts it so well, so here is their commentary:
States should be allowed to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, and Big Auto should just deal, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday. Right now, the only real way to curb those emissions is to improve gas mileage; when Vermont decided to adopt California's strict emissions standards, automakers sued, claiming that the state was illegally regulating fuel economy -- and that making cleaner cars was unachievable and unsafe, to boot. U.S. District Judge William Sessions didn't see it that way: "The court does not find convincing the claims that consumers will be deprived of their choice of vehicles, or that manufacturers will be forced to restrict or abandon their product lines," he wrote. "History suggests that the ingenuity of the industry, once put in gear, responds admirably to most technological challenges." The ruling, while significant, doesn't mean the fight is over: Automakers have a similar suit awaiting verdict in California, and the U.S. EPA also has yet to rule on whether California can implement its stricter standards.
Company executives believe that corporate responsibility programs can positively impact their business and help achieve strategic goals, according to a survey of more than 500 business executives conducted by Grant Thornton LLP.While conventional wisdom might suggest that these initiatives will drain the corporate coffers, only a quarter of survey respondents agreed that profits needed to be sacrificed, while three quarters believed corporate responsibility could enhance profitability. As a result, 77 percent said they expected corporate responsibility initiatives to have a major impact on their business strategies over the next several years.
Seventy-seven percent of companies anticipate more spending on environmental programs, 50 percent expect greater allocation to social responsibility programs and 45 percent say economic/governance initiatives will see more funding. Respondents felt that tax incentives, customer support, and innovative technologies were most likely to prompt companies to invest more heavily in environmental initiatives.
Yahoo! is looking for the next green icon (design that is, not the next Nico)--if you're a graphic designer with some good ideas, check out the details here. The winning design gets $20,000 dollars donated to the non-profit of their
When we last looked at pee powered batteries, they were still experimental; now they are on the shelves in AA and AAA sizes in Japan. It can be recharged with a variety of liquids including urine and other precious bodily fluids, is supposed to last 10 years, and pumps out 500 milliamp-hours (mAh), which is equivalent to zinc-carbon batteries but a third of what an alkaline does.
Commenter Nick had a good idea in the last post: Imagine a Tesla filled with these. "Pile the family in, hook everyone up, and go. Oh, and cancel the old mantra of every parent, "Go before you go." Now, you'll load the kids up with as much kool aid as possible so that you'll be able to go." ::Splurch
This segment is totally awesome. I think it does a really great job of explaining all the indirect emissions that result from our use of electricity. It comes from the Sustainability Victoria, an awesome agency located in Melbourne, Australia. I visited them last year when I was in Australia. They have a beautiful informational space and bookstore in their lobby which has lots of cool kiosks with helpful information. Check them out