Archive for the 'sustainability' Category

Happy Earth Day! Take a stand with your money

Late last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a news release listing the 50 organizations that use the most electricity from green sources.

On Earth Day 2013, it’s appropriate to know who these companies are, and to ask: Why aren’t any Kentucky-based companies and universities on the list?

According to the EPA, here are the 10 companies that use the most annual kilowatt hours of green energy to power their operations:

1. Intel Corp.
2. Microsoft Corp.
3. Kohl’s Department Stores
4. Whole Foods Market
5. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
6. U.S. Department of Energy
7. Staples
8. Starbucks company-owned stores
9. Lockheed Martin Corp.
10. Apple Inc.

“We applaud the leadership demonstrated by organizations that are helping reduce carbon pollution and spur the growth of clean, American-made energy sources by increasing their use of renewable energy,” EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in the news release. “As President Obama has made clear, clean energy is critical to our health, our economy, our security, and our ability to effectively address climate change.”

FYI: EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.

Granted, the top 10 are all major corporations, or government agencies, with significant resources. Intel uses green power to cover 100 percent of its electricity load, according to the news release.  Apple, which is new to the top 50, now has 85 percent of its electricity used in the U.S. coming from green power.

But universities are scattered throughout the top 50. The University of Pennsylvania ranks 25th, and the University of Oklahoma is 34th.

On the list of top 20 universities, in addition to these two schools, fellow SEC member Tennessee ranks 10th.

To see all of the companies, universities and other rankings, go to EPA.gov/greenpower/toplists.

And then, use your buying power to tell companies, organizations and schools that green power matters to  you.

— Linda J.

 

Welcome aboard, Mr. President

During the first four years of President Barack Obama’s presidency, he said very little about climate change, much to the dismay of most liberals.

While I’ve long known he accepts that climate change is real and based on science, taking this public step matters.

In three paragraphs about halfway through his second inaugural address Monday, he put it out there clearly and decisively.

Here’s the part of his speech Monday that dealt with climate change, thanks to the Washington Post for posting the transcript:

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.

We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet… .”

He has tied the need for addressing climate change to future generations much in the way others have tied their concern for the debt and deficits to future generations.

If one is good for the future, why not the other? Because truly, debts and deficits won’t matter much of we destroy the only planet we have upon which to live.

Welcome aboard, Mr. President.

— Linda J.

 

Now is the time to act in NY and NJ

OK, now that the election is over, can we please have an adult conversation about climate change?

Pretty please?

Climate change is real, it is not a hoax. The world is changing dramatically. Just ask folks in NY and NJ who never expected to have water in their homes, businesses and subways to the extent it happened. The water surged at the level it did because of rising sea levels.

Some are trying to get around the issue of how to deal with it by saying basically let’s not talk about why it happened, let’s just do something. But I don’t think that works.

As I tell my daughter, actions have consequences. They can be good consequences, or bad or somewhere in between. But every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Remember that from Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of motion in middle school science? How can you solve problems if you don’t know why something happened?

To President Barack Obama: congratulations on winning a second term. I was very pleased to hear you mention the climate in your speech (very) early this morning. It’s a start.

Now, it is time for you to take the lead on climate change,  something you failed to discuss during the campaign. I get it; you were being pilloried by the right for everything else, why give the climate deniers and Obama-haters one more sound bite?

But you have an opportunity, here, Mr. President. Hurricane Sandy’s overwhelming destruction should be used as an opening to re-make New York and New Jersey better, stronger and green. Use your powerful voice and speaking ability to rally the nation and use federal money to make it happen. If countries in Europe can put up gates to keep the water out, so can we.

And, please sir, don’t wait years like it’s taken in New Orleans. Grist.org published a story today about a Katrina-ravaged neighborhood that has been re-built into the largest solar project in Louisiana. That’s great, but Katrina hit in 2005.

Let’s not wait seven years to launch a new way forward in New York and New Jersey. Now is the time to act.

 

 

 

What to do with old pantyhose? Recycle them!

OK, ladies, listen up.

For those of you who haven’t found 20 other uses for old pantyhose, here’s an option that you might just like.

If you are like me, you have a drawer full of old hosiery, mismatched knee-hi stockings, and ruined tights that you’ll never wear again and the thought of dumping them into a landfill isn’t appealing.

Here’s how to get that drawer back and do something good for the environment along the way.

No Nonsense wants your old hosiery, any brand, size, type, condition you have.

They’ll ship it to a recycling company which will turn it into all sorts of things from park benches and playground equipment to carpet and toys, according to the company’s Web site.

Download a mailing label, ship them off, and be done with them.

Guess what I’m doing tonight?

— Linda J.

 

Leave the believing for faith and religion, not science

Do you “believe” in the science that led to the cure for polio?

How about modern medical treatments of everything from acne to zoster (shingles)?

Do you “believe” in the science behind the technology that created the World Wide Web , and the computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, or whatever you are using to read this?

Do you “believe” in the science that led us to drive cars vs. horse carriages, to cross the country or the world in an airplane, or the science behind the development of heating and air conditioning?

If you “believe” in these things, how can you not “believe” in climate change?

And why would you need to “believe” in technology or medical breakthroughs or humans traveling to the moon?

Belief is for things that facts, study and science can’t explain: say, religions.

Belief as explained by Webster’s New World College Dictionary: “1 the state of believing; conviction or acceptance that certain things are true or real 2 faith, esp religious faith 3 trust or confidence 4 anything believed or accepted as true; esp. , a creed, doctrine or tenet 5 an opinion; expectation; judgment.”

Science, by Webster’s (online): “1 the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding 2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study <the science of theology> b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge <have it down to a science>3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science 4: a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws <cooking is both a science and an art>”

Need more?

Climate Change 101

Nearly 100 peer-reviewed papers

NASA’s Climate Change: Evidence

State of the Climate Report 2011

Note the peer-reviewed links. That’s important, they are annotated and documented, i.e., not made up.

I would be happy to read any current (within the last three years) peer-reviewed study or studies documenting how climate change is not happening to support the climate-change deniers’ “belief”. Any takers?

— Linda J.

Monday green links: 7 billion and counting

Have you heard the news? Planet Earth is home to 7 billion people as of today, according to estimates from the United Nations.

Grist.org will host a chat at 1 p.m. today about the Earth’s expanding population and what it means. Join them here: Grist.org chat.

More links:
Countries grow populations and face new problems

Study links fungus to bat-killing disease.

In fight over gas drilling, civility is fading

Windmillers’ tradition hangs on in Texas panhandle

— Linda J.

 

Worth reading: ‘7 billion: What to expect when you are expanding’

As the world’s population expands — a United Nations report says we will reach 7 billion people on Monday — Grist.org has been exploring issues of population growth and the environment with a series titled, 7 billion: What to Expect When You are Expanding.

I recommend some not-so-light reading for the weekend.

They are tackling some heavy topics, from Three’s a crowd: Is it unethical to have more than two children  and We can feed 10 billion of us, study finds — but it won’t  be easy to An indigenous take on family planning and population and much more.

So in between the parties this weekend and the kids’ trick-or-treating, check it out. It’s food for thought, and discussion.

— Linda J.

Group rates KY 37th in annual energy efficiency report

The non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released its annual report on states’ energy efficiencies.

While some states, including Nebraska, Alabama and Tennessee have made significant gains, “from transportation to industry to buildings, helping Americans save money and creating new business and employment opportunities across the U.S.”,  KY remains in the lower half, at 37th.

Here’s a link to the ACEEE’s map, showing how states rank, and also a link to Grist.org, which compared that map to the 2008 presidential election map.

Interesting comparison.

— Linda J.

How green are you?

Now that we’ve re-launched the Easy Being Green blog, it’s time to start talking about how green we are, our kids are going to be as they grow up and what that will mean for Kentucky.

If you are just getting started and need some ideas, check out these going green tips.

Start with the first 10 or so, then when you get comfortable, try some more!
Do or have tried all 30 tips?

Well, what more should people know that isn’t in this list?

Tell me and I’ll add them in.

— Linda J.

 

Water and energy audits

Bluegrass PRIDE is offering water usage kits and I’m going to pick one up this week.

We save as much water as we can already:

  • We don’t water the lawn — just the garden that feeds us all year and the trees (which shade the house and would be very expensive to replace).
  • We run full loads of laundry (cold water only).
  • My husband frequently refuses to use the dishwasher and does the dishes by hand. If we are using the dishwasher, which is not energy-efficient, you can bet it’s full before we do.

That all being said, I bet this water-usage kit will help us find more ways to save water and, therefore, money.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

— Linda J.

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