Thursday, October 31, 2013

Surprising news from Brown University

This is story we've reported on many times, and had reps from Brown Divest Coal on our radio show (you can listen to those shows, and many more, at  We felt at that the time that the students had clear momentum and also enjoyed national support (and media attention) from  So, why did Brown vote to maintain their investment portfolio as is?

Our guess, pure speculation, is the Trustees keep focused purely on a financial/ROI model. They refuse to get caught up in anything not related or grounded in investment strategy.  They leave the political and environmental ramifications for others.

Maybe that is the right approach for an investment team.  Regardless, we report this update and will invite reps from Brown Divest back on the radio side.   

We welcome your comments as well:

BROWN gets a failing grade when it comes to this social responsibility cause.

Brown University's Board of Trustees voted against a proposal to remove the University's investments in the 15 largest coal companies in the U.S, despite the recommendation of the school's Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility and Investment Policy. "I'm deeply disappointed in our administration. The board completely ignored the voices of Brown's community, and of the endowment oversight committee. This could have been a moment for Brown to step up as a leader in the fight against climate change. Instead, the Administration chose to continue supporting an industry that profits from wreaking havoc on frontline communities and destroying our chance for a sustainable future," said Brown student Ruby Goldberg '17.
Prior to Friday's meeting, students from the Brown Divest Coal campaign formally requested that five members of the Board with connections to the coal industry recuse themselves from the vote, to be consistent with Brown's conflict of interest policy. None of those members (Brian Moynihan ’81 P’14, Richard Friedman ’79, Steven Cohen P’08 P’16, Theresia Gouw ’90, Todd Fisher ’87 P’17) acknowledged that request. “The voting process at Brown echos the coal industry’s stranglehold on our nation’s governing bodies. Once again, a corrupt process lead to a dangerous outcome. Unless we confront this system, we won’t be able to make meaningful progress to address climate change,” said Ian Giorgianna ’15, a member of Brown Divest Coal.

The coal industry is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and the number one driver of global warming. The industry also has a considerable impact on the health of communities where it is mined and burned, causing over 13,000 deaths each year. The communities faced with these local environmental hazards of the coal industry are disproportionately low income communities of color. The divestment campaign at Brown is one of 400 fossil fuel divestment campaigns across the country, seeking to signal that it is morally unacceptable to profit from climate change. These campaigns follow in the footsteps of the South African apartheid divestment movement, and hope to similarly mobilize the political will to address the industry’s harms.

The Board’s vote came after a year of active campaigning from the Brown Divest Coal student campaign. Since the fall, students have held rallies, phone-banked, hosted teach-ins, met with administrators, and gathered over 3600 petition signatures from students, alumni, faculty and staff in support of divestment. “To me this vote shows that Brown doesn’t take its commitments to social justice and combating climate change seriously. What’s the point of teaching about climate science or environmental racism if we won’t act on that knowledge? Today our administration was too timid to challenge the status quo, but we’re going to keep pushing them to stand for what is right. Until then, our ‘Boldly Brown’ motto sounds laughable,” said Divest Coal member Kari Malkki ’16

- See more at:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For Today's Radio Show

Lots going on today with my co-host, Jim Murphy.  Either live during the show (1-2p, EST, WARL 1320 and then on where you can find all of our radio segments), or taped right after, we will be talking to Miles Grant, from the National Wildlife Federation about this fun story that hits in time for Halloween, 2013.  Enjoy and tune in:

Our good friends at the National Wildlife Federation sent us a fun story for this Halloween season, one that might even help continue to bring young people (and some adults) become a bit more aware of one of our great natural resources, wildlife.

With AMC’s The Walking Dead’s fourth season debuting to a record audience of 14 million viewers, the National Wildlife Federation’s David Mizejewski decided to take a closer look at what would be the zombie’s toughest opponent, but one that’s virtually ignored on the show: America’s wildlife. If the show included Mother Nature in its cast, how do you think she would fare? Well according to Dave, it's no contest.

Most zombies would meet their end not at the hands of Daryl’s crossbow but in the mouths of wildlife, from the biggest bear to the most microscopic bacteria. 

North America's large mammal predators would be more than a match for zombies. We have two bear species, brown (or grizzly) and black bears. Male brown bears can weigh in at 1,000 pounds. They are not afraid of humans. They can deliver a bite of 1200 pounds per square inch and have long, sharp claws designed to rip open logs and flip boulders in search of insects and other small critters to eat. They would easily tear apart rotting zombie flesh.  Black bears are much smaller and typically run from humans, but even a black bear, when approached or cornered, would make short work of a zombie. Both bear species have an incredible sense of smell and both love to eat carrion, so even if zombies didn't approach them, the bears eventually would learn that these walking bags of flesh make good eating.
- See more at:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Green Building is Now the Law in Dallas

Leadership in government--we talk about it all the time here at RN.  If the government properly sets the playing field, using tax credits and other incentives, along with legislation and permitting that stresses building a sustainable future, great things can follow.

We like this story as an example, and applaud Dallas for their vision and leadership.  We'll talk to them on the radio side as well:

"Dallas has now accepted the first building permit applications under its green building ordinance. Dallas is one of the first major cities in the nation to implement comprehensive mandatory green building standards for both all new residential and commercial construction."

"By Resolution 08-1070 adopted unanimously on April 9, 2008 Phase 1 of the law was effective in 2009 and Phase 2 (originally to be effective October 1, 2011) was fully implemented October 1, 2013.
All new projects must either: meet the minimum requirements of the Dallas Green Construction Code or be LEED certifiable or be Green Built Texas certifiable or be certifiable under an equivalent green building standard. Projects need only be "certifiable" and not LEED certified nor Green Built Texas certified.
Expedited review is available for projects that are at a minimum Dallas Green Construction Code compliant, LEED Silver certifiable or ASHRAE 189.1-2011 certifiable.
Projects must reduce water usage by 20%. LEED projects may achieve 1 point under the Water Use Reduction (20% Reduction) Credit or projects may use 20% less water than the baseline under the Plumbing Code.
Single family residential may also meet the minimum requirements of ICC 700. Lots must be designed so that at least 70% of the built environment is permeable. Projects must utilize drip irrigation for all "bedding areas" of landscaping.
Significantly, as one of the optional compliance paths a project may comply with the Dallas Green Construction Code, which is an enactment of the International Green Construction Code with local amendments. Many have noted Dallas deleted Chapter 6 of the IgCC, the energy conservation provision, and elected instead to keep existing energy code requirements. Also deleted are the chapters for commissioning and causing the code to apply to alterations of existing buildings.
Dallas also accepts approved third party plan review and inspection for its green building program.
The successful implementation of green building standards in Dallas has been widely heralded across the environmental industrial complex, including on the USGBC website. Although there are some minor rumblings that LEED certifiable versus actually submitting a project for LEED certification violates the terms of usage of the USGBC rating system."
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Clean Techies.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Wonderful example of the business side of green

Does it make sense to take an old, capped landfill (an obvious liability), install  a 6 MEG solar array (with potential to add other panels) and bring much needed revenue (now a wonderful asset) to a struggling city while powering over 500 homes with clean energy?  

Despite some setbacks and delays, this project, financed by a private investor, is a model for sitting new energy projects on land that does not interfere with other development and is virturally useless for any other purpose.   

We, as you know, reported on this story many times and, in fact, interviewed the developer (Bill Martin, CME) on a series of shows we shot in East Providence, RI.  We also followed up with his RI rep, Kevin Stacom, on the radio side.

Good to see The Providence Journal catch up with the story as well:

An intriguing project in East Providence highlights the potential for expanding solar power in Rhode Island. Atop the closed Forbes Street landfill, workers are installing 12,848 panels that will capture energy from the sun. As reported by Journal staff writer Alex Kuffner, the East Providence solar field is expected to generate enough power to supply 500 households.
For some time, Rhode Island has relied heavily on natural gas to meet its energy needs. With the nation entering what some have called the natural-gas century, that reliance should continue well into the future. Still, to maintain a degree of energy independence, having a mix of sources is the best strategy over the long run. Renewable sources such as solar and wind power have the added benefit of being friendlier to the environment.
The East Providence project deserves high marks. First, it makes use of an otherwise unusable “brownfield site.” Tainted soil makes the landfill unsafe for farming, commercial activity or residences. Yet, given the scarcity of land in Rhode Island, the state can ill afford to let such large tracts go to waste. The solar farm will make use of 22 acres. In another economizing move, gravel from the demolition of the old Route 195 overpass was used to cap part of the landfill for free.
The solar farm should prove more tolerable to neighbors than many alternatives. Solar fields are virtually silent. And they are low to the ground, circumventing the aesthetic objections often lodged against wind turbines.
Rhode Island has lagged behind other states in developing solar power. The East Providence solar farm will be the state’s largest, with a 3.7-megawatt capacity. But Rhode Island’s overall capacity, which currently includes installations by businesses and private homes, will remain dwarfed by that of Massachusetts. Rhode Island is approaching a capacity of around 19 megawatts, while the Bay State has 74.6. Massachusetts and Connecticut both subsidize solar power.
The Forbes Street project probably would not have happened without legislation passed in 2011. That law set price ceilings for medium- to large-scale renewable energy projects, and required National Grid to contract for a certain amount of power from renewables. The program is due to expire next year, however.
Like wind, solar power is currently more expensive for National Grid than its fossil-fuel cousins. But as more projects are tried and refined, both sources could eventually prove cheaper.
Several projects similar to East Providence’s are currently being considered in Rhode Island. Not all will prove feasible. But modest investments in solar power appear to be a good bet for the state. The General Assembly should consider extending the solar-power program.

Friday, October 25, 2013

R.I. and Mass. See Fewer Unhealthy Air Days

Good news from EcoRINews (and we love bringing you good news so you feel good about your work and commitment to the environment):  It looks as if the air is getting cleaner here in Southern New England.  We do not think this is an aberration.  We've done a lot of shows and stories on the progressive work done here in New England on reducing carbon--shutting down or changing coal-fired power plants to natural gas; investments in mass transient and pushing alternative methods of transportation; steady investments in solar and renewables; great efficiency programs for both houses and commercial buildings; and, realistically, less manufacturing, with plants having relocated to cheaper areas, and a recession that slowed down growth.

Can we continue to "breath easier" as Curt Spalding says in the story?  Yes.  Utility-scale clean energy systems are being installed in many cities and towns, cars are more efficient and emitting less, the states now have a base infrastructure to support electric vehicles, large fleets are reducing idling, using bio-fuels, adding solar systems, etc, and state and federal programs continue to help fund efficiency improvements.  All good news:

 By ecoRI News staff
Matching a long-term trend that air quality is improving, New Englanders experienced a decrease in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year, compared to 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The findings are based on preliminary data collected between April and Sept. 2013. The trend in unhealthful days during the past 30 years is substantially downward. The downward trend is due to reduction in the emissions that form ozone, according to the EPA.
The number of unhealthy ozone days in each New England state this past spring/summer, compared to last year:
Connecticut 17 days (27 in 2012)
Rhode Island 7 days (12)

Massachusetts 6 days (17)
Maine 5 days (4)

New Hampshire 3 days (4)

Vermont no days (0)
Although the number of unhealthy days may vary from year to year because of weather conditions, over the long-term, New England has experienced a decreasing number of unhealthy ozone days. In 1983, New England had 113 unhealthy days.
“We can all feel proud — and breathe easier — thanks to the exceptional progress we have made reducing ozone pollution over the past several decades,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “However, the poor air quality days we experienced this summer remind us that our efforts to protect the public’s health by improving air quality must continue. Everybody can save money and protect the environment by taking commonsense steps to conserve energy. By using energy-efficient lightbulbs, combining errands with our cars, and/or using public transit, we save energy, save money and cut down on air pollution.”
Ground-level ozone is the main ingredient of smog. Ozone levels are unhealthy when average concentrations exceed 0.075 parts per million over an eight-hour period.
Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Cars, trucks and motorcycles give off most of the pollution that makes smog. Fossil-fuel burning at electric power plants, which run at high capacities on hot days, emit substantial amounts of smog-making pollution. Gas stations, print shops, household products such as paints and cleaners, as well as gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, also contribute to smog formation.
Although the 2013 ozone season is ending, pollution from small particles in the air is a year-round concern, according to the EPA.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Our thanks for your comments and more on the glaciers

The last comment posted--and we welcome your feedback--came from Alba Maria as she noted the positive stories of wonderful people getting published here.  Thanks you, Alba, and we agree that is the essence of our service to viewers and listeners, and the sweetest part of our job--profiling positive stories filled with smart, passionate, game-changing people.

Are you one?  Send us your story.

In the meantime we want to post a second update on our trip to the Canadian Rockies and the material we brought back on the dwindling size and stature of glaciers--part of the environmental changes we are witnessing--and their future impact on our world.  We are publishing this directly with footnotes that are important:

1) Canadian Rockies and Coast and Columbia Mountains[edit]

The Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield of the Canadian Rockies has retreated 1,500 m in the last century.

Valdez Glacier has thinned 90 m (300 ft) over the last century, exposing barren ground near the glacial margins.[12]
In the Canadian Rockies, the glaciers are generally larger and more widespread than they are to the south in the United States Rocky Mountains. One of the more accessible glaciers in the Canadian Rockies is the Athabasca Glacier, which is an outlet glacier of the 325 km2 (125 sq mi) Columbia Icefield. The Athabasca Glacier has retreated 1,500 m (4,900 ft) since the late 19th century. The rate of retreat for this glacier has increased since 1980, following a period of slow retreat from 1950 to 1980. The Peyto Glacier in Alberta covers an area of about 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi), and retreated rapidly during the first half of the 20th century, stabilized by 1966, and resumed shrinking in 1976.[45]
The Illecillewaet Glacier in British Columbia's Glacier National Park (Canada), part of the Selkirk Mountains (west of the Rockies) has retreated 2 km (1.2 mi) since first photographed in 1887.
In Garibaldi Provincial Park in Southwestern British Columbia over 505 km2 (195 sq mi), or 26%, of the park, was covered by glacier ice at the beginning of the 18th century. Ice cover decreased to 297 km2 (115 sq mi) by 1987–1988 and to 245 km2 (95 sq mi) by 2005, 50% of the 1850 area. The 50 km2 (19 sq mi) loss in the last 20 years coincides with negative mass balance in the region. During this period all nine glaciers examined have retreated significantly.[46]


Bylot Ice Cap on Bylot Island, one of the Canadian Arctic islands, August 14, 1975 (USGS)
The Canadian Arctic islands contain the largest area and volume of land ice on Earth outside of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets[83] and is home to a number of substantial ice caps, including Penny and Barnes ice caps on Baffin Island, Bylot Ice Cap on Bylot Island, and Devon Ice Cap on Devon Island. Glaciers in the Canadian Arctic were near equilibrium between 1960 and 2000, losing 23 Gt of ice per year between 1995 to 2000.[84] Since this time, Canadian Arctic glaciers have experienced a sharp increase in mass loss in response to warmer summer temperature, losing 92 Gt per year between 2007 and 2009 .[85]

Other studies show that between 1960 and 1999, the Devon Ice Cap lost 67 km3 (16 cu mi) of ice, mainly through thinning. All major outlet glaciers along the eastern Devon Ice Cap margin have retreated from 1 km (0.62 mi) to 3 km (1.9 mi) since 1960.[86] On the Hazen Plateau of Ellesmere Island, the Simmon Ice Cap has lost 47% of its area since 1959.[87] If the current climatic conditions continue, the remaining glacial ice on the Hazen Plateau will be gone around 2050. On August 13, 2005, the Ayles Ice Shelf broke free from the north coast of Ellesmere Island. The 66 km2 (25 sq mi) ice shelf drifted into the Arctic Ocean.[88] This followed the splitting of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf in 2002. The Ward Hunt has lost 90% of its area in the last century.[89]

Retreat of glaciers since 1850
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Retreat of Whitechuck Glacier, Washington

Glacier in Glacier Peak Wilderness, 1973
Glacier in 1973
Same place in 2006. The glacier has retreated 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi).
Same place in 2006. The glacier has retreated 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi).
File:Goodbye, Glaciers.ogv 

In all, about 25 percent of the ice that melted between 2003 and 2010 occurred in the Americas (excluding Greenland).
The retreat of glaciers since 1850 affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and in the longer term, the level of the oceans. Studied by glaciologists, the temporal coincidence of glacier retreat with the measured increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases is often cited as an evidentiary underpinning of global warming. Mid-latitude mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, Alps, Rocky Mountains, Cascade Range, and the southern Andes, as well as isolated tropical summits such as Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, are showing some of the largest proportionate glacial losses.[1] In general glaciers are continuing to melt and retreat.[2]
The Little Ice Age was a period from about 1550 to 1850 when the world experienced relatively cooler temperatures compared to the present. Subsequently, until about 1940, glaciers around the world retreated as the climate warmed substantially. Glacial retreat slowed and even reversed temporarily, in many cases, between 1950 and 1980 as a slight global cooling occurred. Since 1980, a significant global warming has led to glacier retreat becoming increasingly rapid and ubiquitous, so much so that some glaciers have disappeared altogether, and the existence of a great number of the remaining glaciers of the world is threatened. In locations such as the Andes of South America and Himalayas in Asia, the demise of glaciers in these regions will have potential impact on water supplies. The retreat of mountain glaciers, notably in western North America, Asia, the Alps, Indonesia and Africa, and tropical and subtropical regions of South America, has been used to provide qualitative evidence for the rise in global temperatures since the late 19th century.[3] The recent substantial retreat and an acceleration of the rate of retreat since 1995 of a number of key outlet glaciers of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, may foreshadow a rise in sea level, having a potentially dramatic effect on coastal regions worldwide.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good Blog from the Better World Club

We would agree with their assessment that global warming has, indeed, inspired some true creativity.  See what you think:

Global warming inspires art, insight, and innovation.

Do You Buy It?

Do you remember those beautiful hot summers when a tall glass of iced tea could get you through a hot day? Well, apparently, you’d have to be under 28 to remember “below average” temperatures.  For the rest of us, can help you remember with some art generated from global temperature data. Yes, our good old definition of “HOT” is being redefined on a daily basis, and those now-deemed-“below average” days may not be coming back for a while.  The extra downside of this upshot in hotter temperatures (face melting withstanding) is a greater use of energy, which, as you know, means an increase in the production of GHG’s from the power plants (around 80% coal) fueling our efforts to cool off in our homes, factories, stores, offices, and cars (yes, your EV often runs off coal), running even in park for just a few moments more of blissful, cool air. 
Fun Fact: For residential homes, a 1.6 degree Fahrenheit increase in average temperature currently results in decreased residential space heating needs by 6 to 10 percent and increases space cooling needs 5 to 20 percent. About 58 percent of residential energy use is for heating and cooling. (You can read another study on Seasonal energy use based on roofs it if you like)

There is, however, an upswing to our current climate problems.  Good news can be found in free market innovation.  Manufacturers of medical saline bags have begun considering getting into the sports drink market.  Talks between medical manufacturers, the hydration technology company Gatorade, and Unilever’s pretty-well-independent Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream are devising potential tasty and electrolyte engineered coolant products for intravenous consumption. 

Consumers are practically demanding this innovation.  Market speculators have noted our continued investment in single serving bottles of cooling liquid products – occasionally seeing bottles attached to small, easily broken plastic fans at sporting events or festivals – so the leap to both inject and projection of corporately owned coolant (formerly known as water) for personal temperature regulation was only a matter of time.  What does this mean?  Many of our daily habits are making our environmental problems worse.

On a more positive note, there is continued (and non-fictional) growing interest in eco/natural designs to cool buildings and mitigate the urban heat island effect of concrete cityscapes, simple designs like green (living) roofsgeothermal heating/cooling systems, and alternative energy sources (ahem, solarwindhydrowavealgae).  Organizations like Green Roofs for Healthy Citiescontinue working to increase the awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs and green walls, and other forms of living architecture through education, advocacy, and professional development.
While modern insulation designs and cheap fossil fuel prices keep energy costs down in temperate seasons, Green (Living) and white roofs have proven to decrease the annual cost of heating and cooling a building while also lengthening the lifespan of a rooftop (a much greater saving).  More than direct economics gains, living roofs have also proven advantageous though:  water runoff control (sewer flood reduction), water quality improvements , direct air quality improvements, urban biodiversity, noise reduction, and building amenity value, (and added human happiness – proven).  And when it comes to heat island mitigation, green roofs maintain surface temperatures as low, or lower than, white roofs.

Living roofs are not a new idea, but they are a relatively new return to our architectural consideration.  Imagine what your downtown area would look like with living roofs (Granted, desert plains will not be so green, but imagine…). Maybe your city and property owners are already doing a great job.  If you like what you see, thank someone.  If not, consider talking to your neighborhood property owners, neighborhood/city planning commissions, mayors and aldermen (and women) about living roofs and what can be done to liven up your rooftops. Have a perfect roof pitch? Consider greening up your own roof as an example. 
Green.  It looks good on you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This starts to change the economics of green

This is a fascinating case.  How ironic that EPA gets sued for failing to enforce their own standards for clean air.  Interesting, too, as you read this story the international aspects of the acidification of our Pacific waters.

We will find out more about the group bringing the suit--The Center for Biological Diversity--and get them on the radio side as well.  On the surface they remind us of the Conservation Law Foundation who we have profiled as well.

We'll follow the story and report back on the outcome.

Thanks to Grist Mill for a good story:

Oregon coastline

Carbon emissions are turning seawater acidic, and environmentalists say that’s a violation of the Clean Water Act.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the EPA, challenging the agency’s assertion that the increasingly acidic ocean off Oregon and Washington meets federal water-quality standards.
Perhaps a quarter of the carbon dioxide that we pump into the air mixes into the sea, where it reacts with water to produce bicarbonate. The byproducts of these reactions are loose hydrogen atoms, which lower the marine pH. The concentration of hydrogen ions in surface ocean waters has risen 26 percent since the Industrial Revolution, reducing pH levels by 0.1 unit.
Rising ocean acidity has hit the Pacific Northwest hard, and local shellfish hatcheries have been in crisis since 2005. That’s because the deep near-coastal waters experience extensive upwelling — in which waters rise and sink, carrying minerals and nutrients up and down like elevators. Strong upwelling zones off Chile and southern Africa are also being severely affected by acidification.
The Center is arguing in federal court that the acidic waters of Oregon and Washington should be defined by the EPA as impaired. If that were to happen, new pollution control measures may be required to repair the water quality, potentially prompting greater government urgency in clamping down on greenhouse gas emissions.
This is not the first time that the Center has taken such action. From EarthFix:
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a similar lawsuit in 2009. Back then, the EPA agreed with the center and determined that it should address acidification under the Clean Water Act.
But the environmental group says the EPA has not taken the necessary actions since then.
“We need fast action to save marine diversity, because when the harm of ocean acidification deepens we’ll realize how much we all depend on the ocean,” Miyoko Sakashita, the Center’s oceans director, said in a statement. “The Pacific Northwest is among the places getting hit hardest at the outset of this crisis. Although some state officials in Washington are taking it seriously, we need the EPA and the Clean Water Act to truly begin addressing it on a broader scale.”
John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

Glaciers: What happens when we let them melt?

We will start to blog some updates from material we gather on our recent trip to Calgary and the Canadian Rockies.  What an incredible feeling to stand on mountain tops and glaciers.  

We start (and thanks to Ann Marie, one of the great spiritualist and researchers in the world) with quantifying the impact of declining glaciers.  What is really intriguing are the steps that have been taken world wide to try and slow their retreat.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Let us know what you think:

"The continued retreat of glaciers will have a number of different quantitative impacts. In areas that are heavily dependent on water runoff from glaciers that melt during the warmer summer months, a continuation of the current retreat will eventually deplete the glacial ice and substantially reduce or eliminate runoff. A reduction in runoff will affect the ability to irrigate crops and will reduce summer stream flows necessary to keep dams and reservoirs replenished. This situation is particularly acute for irrigation in South America, where numerous artificial lakes are filled almost exclusively by glacial melt.[108] Central Asian countries have also been historically dependent on the seasonal glacier melt water for irrigation and drinking supplies. In Norway, the Alps, and the Pacific Northwest of North America, glacier runoff is important for hydropower.

Some of this retreat has resulted in efforts to slow down the loss of glaciers in the Alps. To retard melting of the glaciers used by certain Austrian ski resorts, portions of the Stubai and Pitztal Glaciers were partially covered with plastic.[109] In Switzerland plastic sheeting is also used to reduce the melt of glacial ice used as ski slopes.[110] While covering glaciers with plastic sheeting may prove advantageous to ski resorts on a small scale, this practice is not expected to be economically practical on a much larger scale.

Many species of freshwater and saltwater plants and animals are dependent on glacier-fed waters to ensure the cold water habitat to which they have adapted. Some species of freshwater fish need cold water to survive and to reproduce, and this is especially true with salmon and cutthroat trout. Reduced glacial runoff can lead to insufficient stream flow to allow these species to thrive.

 Alterations to the ocean currents, due to increased freshwater inputs from glacier melt, and the potential alterations to thermohaline circulation of the World Ocean, may impact existing fisheries upon which humans depend as well.[111]

The potential for major sea level rise depends mostly on a significant melting of the polar ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica, as this is where the vast majority of glacial ice is located. If all the ice on the polar ice caps were to melt away, the oceans of the world would rise an estimated 70 m (230 ft). Although previously it was thought that the polar ice caps were not contributing heavily to sea level rise (IPCC 2007), recent studies have confirmed that both Antarctica and Greenland are contributing 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in) a year each to global sea level rise.[112][113][114] The fact that the IPCC estimates did not include rapid ice sheet decay into their sea level predictions makes it difficult to ascertain a plausible estimate for sea level rise but recent studies find that the minimum sea level rise will be around 0.8 metres (2.6 ft) by 2100.[115]"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Another example of building a sustainable future


Tackling energy poverty in the developing world

We love this story and organization.  Energy will help drive, across the world, a balanced economy.  Take a close look (LINK: at their data on how energy impacts mortality rates, adult literacy and on life itself.  Wonderful data.

We'll look to bring them on to a future radio show.  In the meantime let us know what you think and if you agree on making these types of global investments and changes:

In many communities across Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, access to energy is extremely limited and the affordability of energy is highly prohibitive. This has a very real impact on the quality and length of life of the affected people.
Founded in 2009, and supported by Enbridge and its 10,000 employees, the energy4everyone Foundation works with the North American energy industry and third party project delivery partners to improve access to affordable, sustainable and reliable energy for those who need it most.
To date over 52,000 people in 5 countries on 3 continents have been helped through this initiative. See our Projects section for more details.

Toyota Corolla Nominated for Green Car of the Year Named one of Green Car Journal’s ‘Top 5 Green Cars for 2014

Here's a good example of the business side of green--Toyota's investment in making the Corolla extremely efficient, using many eco-systems in the car, and the results is fantastic sales and awards.  Good news:

"TORRANCE, Calif., Oct. 18, 2013 /3BL Media/ – The 2014 Toyota Corolla has been elevated to “green heights.”  The Green Car Journal has named the eleventh-generation sedan a finalist for the 2014 Green Car of the Year award and one of its top 5 Green Cars for 2014. The Corolla also earned the magazine’s ‘Green Car Product of Excellence’ distinction.

Finalists were selected for “their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance.”  One selection factor is the model’s availability to the mass market, giving it the potential to make a real environmental impact.

”The Corolla has been the world’s most popular name plate with over 40 million sold since 1966.  The Corolla’s environmental sensitivity has evolved with the market.  The new 11th generation of Corolla, and the new LE Eco model in particular, offer increased levels of capability and fuel economy,” said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The Green Car of the Year will be announced during media days at the L.A. Auto Show, Nov. 20-21, 2013. "

Friday, October 18, 2013

How can you help the environment

We are always looking for innovative ways to engage everyone in the green movement.  Sometimes very small steps have huge repercussions...and significant positive benefits.

This strikes us as one such program.  We hope you down load it.  For more information, log onto our main

When Joe Miller found out that students on university campuses were printing Jeff Flath4 billion sheets of paper per year, he knew something had to be done. Armed with the understanding that students would continue to use paper for academic purposes, he set out with the mission “what we can’t reduce, we must offset.” His company, Print a Forest, aims to plant 75 trees for every tree used for the printing of paper. It’s a free software application that relies on a sponsorship revenue stream to donate to nonprofit reforestation efforts in endangered forests.  Print 100 Pages.  Plant a Tree.  In this way we could turn 4 billion pages, into 40 million trees.

  • PROFILE: Joe Miller
  • Company : Print A Forest
  • Company description: Eco-Smart Software Solution
  • Website:

Print a Forest is free computer software that transforms our users printer into a tree planting machine. Print 100 Pages. Plant a Tree.  All it takes is downloading the easy-to-use software (watch video for step by step instructions) and allowing a brand to sponsor the pages you print with a small message across the footer of the page, sort of like a small banner ad you see on the web.  Little messages, plant big trees.  Our reforestation partners plant a tree for every 100 pages our users print.

As a virtual printer, the user opts in by selecting Print a Forest as their printer when printing from any application.  This causes the Print a Forest software to pop up.   Ask what printer the document should be sent to, show a print preview of the document with inserted “branded footnote”, and inform the user of how many trees they have planted.   We plant climate change fighting trees in National Forest’s with The Arbor Day Foundation, and hunger fighting, fruit bearing trees in Detroit community gardens with the Greening of Detroit.

 Joe what are you working on now?

Print a Forest is free computer software that allows users to plant a tree for every hundred pages they print.  Print 100 pages.  Plant a tree.  Use Print a Forest’s software and be open to a small message from a brand across the bottom margin of the pages you print. Participation transform the users printer into a tree planting machine.

Users print from their own computer, to their own printer, but through our software.  Branded footnotes from advertising sponsors fund one of our non-profit reforestation partners planting 75 new trees for every tree worth of paper our users print.  With Print a Forest anyone can have their printer turn into tree planting machines and literally print a forest.  The free software is available for download at

 Where did the idea for Print A Forest cone from?

As a university student I was frustrated with the amount of paper that I needed to print, around ten pages of notes for every class.  I tried not to print off my class notes to the point where my grades suffered.  It’s impractical to type notes as a fiance major.

I began to realize the magnitude of the issue with the 45,000 students at my University printing 9 million pages a year on campus printers, and no doubt millions more pages being printed off campus.  Extrapolating on the known figure of 9 million, we can reasonably assume nationwide students print 4 billion pieces of paper just on campus.  The clearing of 530,000 trees to supply students with printing paper needs was unacceptable.  Students, environmentally conscious or not will continue to print hard copies of notes for their convenience.  This is a given.  But what we can’t reduce, we must offset.  So I created software that allows you to print, when you have no other choice, but do it in a environmentally friendly way.

 What does your typical day look like?

I like to keep things fresh.  Consistently my day involves some sort of exercise.  Either biking, running, kayaking or yoga.  Also, I try and cook a meal once a day.

 How do you bring your ideas to life?

Action.  Figure out the little things you can do, and keep taking steps forward.  If you can’t build a prototype.  Take a survey or create a 1.0 pilot, so that when you get to the next level you have something real to show.   Talk to as many people as you can.

 3 trends that excite you?

Urban agriculture, farmers markets, community gardens.  During WWII Americans produced 40% of produce in Victory Gardens.  With community gardens we could declare a war on food insecurity.  That’s why Print a Forest is setting up a partnership with Greening of Detroit to make part of our reforestation initiative planting hunger fighting, fruit bearing trees in Detroit community gardens.

  What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Honestly, I have been fortunate enough never to have a bad job.  My hardest job was in high school working for a carpenter during the summer building houses.  10 hour days moving lumber and it was exhausting,  but I just thought about it as training for the football.  Spending a summer carrying 2 by 4s up flights of stairs was all worth it in the 4th quarter when the season started..

  If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would have spent more time in school learning about technology, maybe some programming.  It may be a lost cause trying to learn how to write code.  Language, has never been my thing.  But I wish I had a  base of knowledge because there was a step learning curve when building the Print a Forest software.  Of course I couldn’t have known that.  I wanted to go into green building.

 What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?

Work out of a co-working space.  Over the summer I worked out of Green Spaces, a coworking space for green and social conscious startups, small businesses and freelance entrepreneurs.  As close to a utopian community, and space as you could possibly work out of.  It’s really does take a community to foster growth, and at Green Spaces you instantly join a group of bright minds working to make the world a better place.  If you are ever moving to a new city explore the coworking spaces....
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What does a city sustainability director look and sound like?

One of our goals is to talk to as many municipal and corporate sustainability directors as possible.  It is insightful to compare their agenda's, their different focus and how they implement policies towards positive change.

This week on our main site, we release a recorded  version of a live show we ran recently with the sustainability director from Providence, RI, Sheila Dormody.  My co-host that week was Seth Handy, one of the great environmental lawyers in RI and a true energy, efficiency expert.

Enjoy the show and join each Weds live on WARL 1320 for our radio show:


Providence, Rhode Island has made itself a better city because it respects its environment.  

As recent as December of 2011, Mayor Angel Tavares selected Sheila Dormody to serve as the City's first Director of Sustainability. Sheila comes to the City by way of the environmental advocacy group Clean Water Action, where she served most recently as New England co-director. The Sustainability Director's responsibilities include identifying opportunities to reduce the City's energy costs, working with community groups to establish the City's first comprehensive sustainability action plan, transitioning the City to the new Recycle Together program, and other projects.

We had the pleasure of having Sheila visit us to talk about this unique new position and why it's so important.  

Sheila emphasized that one of the important roles of this new office is to balance the needs of this generation without sacrificing the needs of future generations. This comes after the city of Providence just came back from bankruptcy. Sustainability has now become a big part of the solution, both economically and environmentally. The city's strategies in accomplishing its sustainable goals are in six key areas. They are energy, transportation, waste, water, food and land use. The Mayor released these goals at this past year's Earth Day. Shelia had mentioned that part of the city's growing success is not to only learn from its economical strengths, but to also look into strengthening its weaknesses. 

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Good news in North Dakota and for the economy in general

We've been talking about the climb in the green economy, with new jobs coming on line at a steady pace, and here's a good example of the benefits of some of our major investments in clean energy and sustainability:

Wind turbine blade manufacturer hiring at whirlwind rate

The economies of Grand Forks, N.D., and Little Rock, Ark. are being swept up in a green bonanza.
LM Wind Power, a global manufacturer of blades for wind turbines, says it doubled its U.S. workforce to 700 in August — up from 350 in April. And it says the boom will continue: It expects to employ some 1,200 people in the U.S. next year — most of them based at its factories in North Dakota and Arkansas.
In a press release, the company credited the extension late last year of the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit with the growth of its workforce:
“We are pleased to see that the market is improving again following a period of low activity due to uncertainty around the PTC,” said LM Wind Power’s Head of US Operations, Bill Burga Jr. “With the political framework in place, our customers are winning more business again and we are ready to serve their demand for highly efficient quality blades for the US market, adding hundreds of extra jobs. Now it is crucial that the politicians remain committed to securing a stable economic framework to enable continued industry growth and increased US employment.”
By some estimates, the wind energy sector now employs about 80,000 Americans. And the decision by LM Wind Power to boost its American operations (it has factories in 14 locations all over the world) follows an encouraging trend that we told you about in August — as wind energy expands in the U.S., more of the production associated with that expansion is occurring right here in America.
But the company’s announcement also coincides with renewed uncertainty over whether the tax credit will be renewed next year. House Republicans are calling for an end to wind power subsidies, arguing that it’s time for the industry to stand on its own feet. From a story last week in The Hill:
“We keep hearing that ‘we’re almost there’ or ‘just a little bit longer.’ But the facts state that wind power has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years, and there’s this point of saying, when does wind take off on its own?” said Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on Energy Policy.
An analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that a one-year extension of the tax credit would cost about $6.1 billion over 10 years. A five-year extension would cost about $18.5 billion.
Democrats on the panel said that, that number paled in comparison to the billions in tax breaks and subsidies granted to the oil and gas industry each year.
“Big oil still gets subsidies even though just the biggest five oil companies … made a combined $118 billion in profits in 2012,” Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said. “Oil and gas have received over $4.8 billion each year in government subsidies over 90 years.”
If the U.S. Treasury is going to subsidize any form of energy production, which would you rather it be — renewable and clean, or fossilized and world-endangering?
John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: