Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Eco-Justice on a Break

The Eco-Justice Blogger will be on a break from blogging between Dec. 26, 2007-January 2, 2008. Have a happy, safe and environmentally friendly holiday season!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pope's Plea for the Environment


In a Christmas Mass attended by thousands, the pope made a plea for the environment. (See excerpt of New York Times story below):

On the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ some 2,000 years ago, Benedict referred to one early father of the church, Gregory of Nyssa, a bishop in what is now Turkey. “What would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation?” the pope asked, according to the Vatican’s English translation.
He expanded on the theme briefly by saying that an 11th-century theologian, Anselm of Canterbury, had spoken “in an almost prophetic way” as he “described a vision of what we witness today as a polluted world whose future is at risk.”
In recent months, Benedict has spoken out increasingly about environmental concerns, and the Vatican has even purchased “carbon offsets,” credits on the global market to compensate for carbon dioxide emissions, for the energy consumed in the world’s smallest state, Vatican City.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Save Gas, Save the Planet


Salon has an article with tips for efficient driving. Read an excerpt below:

Adopting a lower cruising speed can also help your car go farther with less gasoline. The efficiency of most cars rapidly declines at speeds over 60. In fact, every 5 miles per hour over 60 you drive is like paying an extra 20 cents a gallon for gas, according to the Department of Energy. So the next time you're tempted to pull ahead of the guy in the Ferrari on the freeway, think of the Saudis and keep out of the fast lane.
Just as hammering the gas is a bad idea, so is slamming on the brakes. Instead, anticipate stoplights and stop signs so that you can back off the accelerator, whenever possible, to slow down, and then gently apply the brakes. "If your vehicle weighs 4,000 pounds, it takes a lot of energy to get that going from a dead stop," explains Fons, who drives a 2000 Honda Insight, and through his driving habits manages to wring as much as 100 mpg out of the car, which is rated at 66 mpg by the Environmental Protection Agency. In stop-and-go traffic, strive to maintain one consistent low speed instead of accelerating and braking, accelerating and braking. To do this, drive in the slow lane, and maintain a long buffer zone in front of you, so you won't have to slam on the brakes to avoid rear-ending the next car.
The more weight your car has to carry the harder it works, even though the overall gas savings are small, about 1 to 2 percent per 100 excess pounds eliminated, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Reed at Edmunds doesn't worry too much about excess weight in the trunk, since he believes this tip was crafted back in the 1970s when New Englanders would keep 150-pound bags of sand in their trunks in hopes of getting better traction in the ice and snow in winter.
Avoiding excessive idling is also a must. Anytime you're idling for more than 15 seconds, such as at a railroad crossing or when waiting curbside to pick up your child from school, turn off your engine, advises Fons, who co-founded the
Milwaukee Hybrid Group, which gives tips on what he calls eco-driving. The bigger your engine, the more fuel you typically waste idling. But whatever car you have, when it's idling it gets -- duh! -- zero miles per gallon. Idling is one of those bad habits that die hard. "Cars used to be hard to start. Oil was cheap, and we didn't care about global warming," says Reed. "These days cars are fuel injected."
Keeping your car tuned up can also bring some gas mileage improvements. Keeping tires properly inflated and frequently changing the air filter are the two biggies. "Gasoline is only one of the fuels the car burns," explains Reed. "The other is oxygen, so feeding it with clean oxygen is very important."
If you really get into saving gas, you can invest in a scan gauge, which costs about $170. It will inform you in real time what miles per gallon your car is getting. (Hybrids already come equipped with them.) Gerdes, who says he once got 127 mpg (over the course of 90 miles) in a 2004 Toyota Prius, believes drivers can realize a 15 percent savings on fuel overnight by buying and heeding a gauge.
It used to be said that driving with the air conditioner on was a big fuel waster. But in all but the oldest jalopies with primitive air conditioners, that turns out to be an old wives' tale. "The air conditioners that we have now are highly efficient," says Reed from Edmunds. "Yes, they do take more power from the engine, but we're talking about 1 or 2 percent." The alternative of driving with the air conditioner off and the windows open doesn't offer a significant gain in gas mileage. On the contrary, when Edmunds conducted road tests to measure whether the altered aerodynamics of driving with the windows open impacted gas mileage, they noticed a decline in fuel economy if all the windows and the sunroof were open.
Driving experts say there's no need to wait for years to benefit from the new fuel-efficiency law. We can see major gas savings now simply by backing off the accelerator and brakes. "Everybody and anybody can do this no matter what they own and drive," says Gerdes. With practice, you, too, can become a hypermiler, and soon be shaming your lead-foot neighbors with your superior miles per gallon.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Texas United Methodists Go Green

Thanks to our Texas IPL affiliate for tipping us off to this story in the Dallas Morning News, which quotes both Sally Bingham of the national office and Bee Moorhead of the Texas IPL (see also below):
In an apparently unprecedented move for a large religious group, United Methodist churches of North Texas have joined forces to buy "green" electricity generated by windmills in the western part of the state.
The contract negotiated by the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church takes effect on New Year's Day and covers 180 churches.
Environmentalists say they're unaware of another conference, diocese, synod or any other body of churches that has used its economic clout to spur nonpolluting electricity production.
"We've got to give credit to the [North Texas] Methodists. They go to the head of the class," said the Rev. Sally Bingham, founder and president of The Regeneration Project in San Francisco, which works to engage religious people and groups in ecology.
The churches' contract with Hudson Energy Services requires a 10 percent purchase of electricity from renewable sources within Texas.
This doesn't mean that when somebody flicks a switch at First United Methodist Church of Dallas, 10 percent of the electricity will come from a wind turbine. But it does mean that Hudson is obligated to buy renewable energy equal to 10 percent of what the 180 churches use.
Ten percent translates to 4.2 million kilowatts a year, or about 280 average-sized homes with electricity generated solely from green sources such as west Texas wind, said Dan Marzuola, Hudson's vice president of sales and marketing.
The Methodists' big group purchase will increase the share of Texas' electric grid that comes from wind power and decrease the share from air-polluting coal-fired plants, said Bee Moorhead, executive director of the Austin-based environmental group Texas Interfaith Power and Light.
She described the United Methodists' contract as potentially "market changing" because it serves as a model to other religious groups and shows the clout any large customer has in demanding green electricity.
Since 2001, most churches in the 20-county North Texas Conference have taken advantage of deregulation by coming together to negotiate for a favorable rate that holds for the length of the contract.
Conference officials began to negotiate a new contract earlier this year. Because the conference had taken a pro-environment stand in 2006, voting to join a stewardship campaign organized by Texas Interfaith Power and Light, officials asked that companies bidding for the new contract include some green power.
Hudson prevailed with a four-year contract, at a rate conference officials would not disclose.
Churches will see about a 15 percent increase in electric bills under the new contract, according to a letter they got from the conference. But that's because market prices have increased since the last contract was signed, said Trenton Cogdill, a consultant with Priority Power Management who helped with negotiations.
Tom Christian, assistant director of property and risk management for the North Texas Conference, agreed that the green power component was not a major price factor.
"We were surprised at the small amount of additional cost that it took to go 10 percent green," he said. "We're excited and pleased and looking to increase [the percentage] even more over the next contract."
Mr. Marzuola said that by buying electricity as an "aggregation group" (the industry term), the churches save between 6 percent and 8 percent over what they would pay individually. The green component costs about 6 percent, leaving what he described as "an effective neutral to 2 percent cost reduction" by buying as a group.
The new contract lets individual churches pay Hudson extra for a higher percentage of green power, and some plan to do so.
Northaven United Methodist Church in North Dallas has many environmentalists among its 580 members and will pay an extra $2,400 a year to go 100 percent green, said Eric Folkerth, pastor.
He called the decision "a no-brainer, given the values of our congregation."
Most denominations aren't as centralized as the United Methodists, and some areas don't have electricity deregulation.
But the North Texas United Methodists still provide an example, Ms. Moorhead said.
"If they hadn't asked for it," she said of the wind-generated electricity guaranteed by the contract, "it wouldn't be produced."
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Thursday, December 20, 2007

EPA Snubs States

The EPA (which stands, believe it or not, for "Environmental Protection Agency") has informed seventeen states with global warming legislation more stringent than new national energy legislation that their laws are now moot. Learn more in the New York Times (see excerpt below.)
The E.P.A. administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said the proposed California rules were pre-empted by federal authority and made moot by the energy bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson said California had failed to make a compelling case that it needed authority to write its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks to help curb global warming.
The decision immediately provoked a heated debate over its scientific basis and whether political pressure was applied by the automobile industry to help it escape the proposed California regulations. Officials from the states and numerous environmental groups vowed to sue to overturn the edict.
In an evening conference call with reporters, Mr. Johnson defended his agency’s decision.
“The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution, not a confusing patchwork of state rules,” he said. “I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.”
The 17 states — including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — had waited two years for the Bush administration to issue a ruling on an application to set stricter air quality standards than those adopted by the federal government. The decision, technically known as a Clean Air Act waiver, was the first time California was refused permission to impose its own pollution rules; the federal government had previously granted the state more than 50 waivers.
The emissions standards California proposed in 2004 — but never approved by the federal government — would have forced automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016, with the cutbacks to begin in 2009 models.
That would have translated into roughly 43 miles per gallon for cars and some light trucks and about 27 miles per gallon for heavier trucks and sport utility vehicles.
The new federal law will require automakers to meet a 35-mile-per-gallon fleetwide standard for cars and trucks sold in the United States by 2020. It does not address carbon dioxide emissions, but such emissions would be reduced as cars were forced to become more fuel efficient.
California’s proposed rules had sought to address the impact of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from cars and trucks that scientists say contribute to the warming of the planet.
Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger of California said the states would go to federal court to reverse the E.P.A. decision.
“It is disappointing that the federal government is standing in our way and ignoring the will of tens of millions of people across the nation,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “We will continue to fight this battle.”
He added, “California sued to compel the agency to act on our waiver, and now we will sue to overturn today’s decision and allow Californians to protect our environment.”
Twelve other states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — had proposed standards like California’s, and the governors of Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah said they would do the same.
If the waiver had been granted and the 16 other states had adopted the California standard, it would have covered at least half of all vehicles sold in the United States.
Automakers praised the decision. “We commend E.P.A. for protecting a national, 50-state program,” said David McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Enhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all automakers, but a patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs at the state level would only have created confusion, inefficiency and uncertainty for automakers and consumers.”
Industry analysts and environmental groups said the E.P.A. decision had the appearance of a reward to the industry, in return for dropping its opposition to the energy legislation.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stop Junk Mail

Follow this link to a very informative Salon article about how to stop junk mail with links to junk-mail-busting websites, including free ones. Why am I blogging this on an environmental site? According to Salon, junk mail is a significant source of pollution:
In fact, the annual greenhouse-gas emissions from the production of junk mail are equal to those of 3.5 million cars. (That figure doesn't include emissions from transporting and disposing of the stuff.) Beyond that, each year junk mail production in the U.S. consumes more than 96.7 billion gallons of water and more than 100 million trees, ForestEthics estimates. Most of those, says Chester Vance, come from carbon-dioxide-sequestering, biologically diverse old-growth forests, rather than from sustainably managed tree farms. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency, only about a third of all junk mail is recycled. "All that for a response rate of less than 3 percent," Chester Vance notes, referring to the fact that fewer than 3 percent of people -- often even fewer -- respond to the solicitations.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Next Two Years

An eleventh hour deal at the Bali international talks on climate change gives nations two years to negotiate a new climate treaty, according to the article in the New York Times excerpted below.
The world’s faltering effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions got a new lease on life on Saturday, as delegates from 187 countries agreed to negotiate a new accord over the next two years — pushing the crucial debates about United States participation into the administration of a new American president.
Yvo de Boer, left, and Rachmat Witoelar, leaders of the climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, shook hands Saturday.

Many officials and environmental campaigners said American negotiators had remained obstructionist until the final hour of the two-week convention and had changed their stance only after public rebukes that included boos and hisses from other delegates.
The resulting “
Bali Action Plan” contains no binding commitments, which European countries had sought and the United States fended off. The plan concludes that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” and provides a timetable for two years of talks to shape the first formal addendum to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty since the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago.
“The next presidential election takes place at the halfway point in these treaty talks,” David D. Doniger, who directs climate policy for the
Natural Resources Defense Council and served in the Clinton administration, said on his Web log on Saturday. “So the U.S. will field a new team in the second half. And there are good odds that the next president will get serious on global warming.”
But the White House, while calling the negotiating plan “quite positive” in a printed statement, said the problem lay elsewhere. It described “serious concerns” about the limited steps taken by emerging economic powers.
Without citing China and India by name, it clearly singled them out, saying: “The negotiations must proceed on the view that the problem of climate change cannot be adequately addressed through commitments for emissions cuts by developed countries alone. Major developing economies must likewise act.”
In the talks, China and other emerging powers did inch forward, agreeing for the first time to seek ways to make “measurable, reportable and verifiable” emissions cuts. But those countries showed no signs of agreeing to any mandatory restrictions any time soon, saying their priority remained growing out of poverty.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bali Climate Talks Still Tense

Things are still tense between the US and EU in Bali, according to this article in Bloomberg (excerpt below.)
The European Union and developing nations have pushed for the agenda to state that industrialized nations should reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 25 to 40 percent by 2020. That would give future negotiations a clear goal, they said.
The U.S. argues that talks should first focus on ways to reduce emissions blamed for climate change, and then discuss specific targets. Delegates meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali are trying to bridge the gap between the EU and U.S., the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide gas, and salvage the UN talks on their final day.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who earlier this week was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness of climate change, urged delegates yesterday to move ahead on the new treaty without the U.S., with the understanding that President Bush will be leaving office in almost a year. Gore shared the prize with a UN panel of scientists that reported global warming is very likely caused by humans.
``The United States is the world's most powerful economy, the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses and therefore it has to be part of the solution,'' said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which organizes the talks.
Delegates from more than 150 countries are in the final hours of talks to hammer out a two-year negotiating agenda leading to the signing of a new global treaty to fight global warming to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
The conference has made progress in some areas. Delegates agreed on how to manage a pool of money that draws its income from United Nations emissions markets, and will pay grants to developing nations to help them adapt to the effects of global warming such as flooding and drought.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Gore Urges US to Cooperate in Bali

According to an article in the New York Times, Al Gore is adding his voice to those urging to US to stop stalling on climate change action. (See and excerpt of the article below):
By THOMAS FULLER and ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: December 14, 2007
NUSA DUA, Indonesia — Amid growing frustration with the United States over deadlocked negotiations at a
United Nations conference on global warming, the European Union threatened Thursday to boycott separate talks proposed by the Bush administration in Hawaii next month.
Humberto Rosa, the chief delegate from Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said the discussions next month would be meaningless if there were no deal at the conference here this week on the resort island of Bali.
Germany’s environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, told reporters, “No result in Bali means no Major Economies Meeting.” He was referring to the formal name of the proposed American-sponsored talks.
The goal of the Bali meeting, which is being attended by delegates from 190 countries and which is scheduled to end Friday, is to reach agreement on a plan for a future deal to reduce greenhouse gases.
The escalating bitterness between the European Union and the United States came as former Vice President
Al Gore told delegates in a speech that “My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali.”
Mr. Gore arrived at the conference from Norway, where he, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, received the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to alert the world to the danger of global warming. He urged delegates to agree to an open-ended deal that could be enhanced after the Bush administration leaves office and the United States policy changes.
“Over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now,” Mr. Gore said to loud applause. “You must anticipate that.”
There appears to be broad consensus among the delegates that a new agreement on climate change should be ready by 2009, in time to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the current agreement that limits emissions by all wealthy countries except the United States, which signed the Kyoto agreement but has refused to adopt it. Gaping differences remain between countries over how to share the burden of switching from types of energy that contribute to global warming.
The United States and the European Union remain at odds on many major points, including whether an agreement signed here should include numerical targets, a move that the United States and a few other countries, including Russia, oppose.
The emerging economic powers, most notably China and India, also refuse to accept limits on their emissions, despite projections that they will soon become the dominant sources of the gases.
“I’m very concerned about the pace of things,” Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is playing host to the meeting, said Thursday.
The United Nations released fresh data on Thursday confirming what it called the planet’s continued and alarming warming.
The 10 years ending in 2007 were the warmest on record, said Michel Jarraud, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, citing data taken since the late 1800s from a global network of weather stations, ships and buoys.
“It’s very likely the warmest period for at least the last 1,000 or 1,300 years,” he told reporters.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Climate Scientists Frustrated

Think climate change is going to be tough for other, poorer nations but a breeze for the United States? Think again, according to this article in Salon (see intro below.)
How dire is the climate situation? Consider what Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the United Nations' prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said last month: "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment." Pachauri has the distinction, or misfortune, of being both an engineer and an economist, two professions not known for overheated rhetoric.
In fact, far from being an alarmist, Pachauri was specifically chosen as IPCC chair in 2002 after the Bush administration waged a successful campaign to have him replace the outspoken Dr. Robert Watson, who was opposed by fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil. So why is a normally low-key scientist getting more desperate in his efforts to spur the
planet to action?
Part of the answer is the most recent
IPCC assessment report. For the first time in six years, more than 2,000 of the world's top scientists reviewed and synthesized all of the scientific knowledge about global warming. The Fourth Assessment Report makes clear that the accelerating emissions of human-generated heat-trapping gases has brought the planet close to crossing a threshold that will lead to irreversible catastrophe. Yet like Cassandra's warning about the Trojan horse, the IPCC report has fallen on deaf ears, especially those of conservative politicians, even as its findings are the most grave to date.
Part of this is due to the IPCC's own media naiveté. It doesn't put a lot of thought into publicizing its reports; heck, it released this final synthesis on Nov. 17 -- a Saturday! -- in Valencia, Spain. Not exactly the best way to get attention from the most intransigent and important audience: Americans. How little attention? According to
Technorati.com, as of Dec. 11, the synthesis report had some 265 blog reactions, where the Aug. 24 YouTube video of Miss Teen South Carolina struggling to explain why a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map had more than 5,300 blog reactions. Hmmm. Perhaps these two things are related. But I digress.
With such poor notice for a seminal document, more than 200 scientists last week took the remarkable step of issuing a plea at the United Nations climate change conference in
Bali. Global greenhouse gas emissions, they declared, "must peak and decline in the next 10 to 15 years, so there is no time to lose." The Associated Press headline on the statement was "Scientists Beg for Climate Action." What will we drive climate scientists to next? A hunger strike?
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Climate Talks Stall

The New York Times reports on the stalemate in this article (excerpt below):

By THOMAS FULLER
Published: December 12, 2007
This article was reported by Thomas Fuller, Peter Gelling and Andrew C. Revkin, and was written by Mr. Fuller.

NUSA DUA, Indonesia — As a United Nations conference on global warming here entered its final stretch, the United States and the European Union remained deadlocked on Tuesday on whether countries should commit now to specific emissions reductions in an agreement that may not be finalized for two more years.
Over the weekend, officials from the United Nations, backed by the European Union and many developing countries, offered a draft plan for talks over the next two years, including a statement that dangerous warming can be avoided only if industrialized countries cut emissions by 2020 to levels 25 to 40 percent below those of 1990.
But on Tuesday the United States held firmly opposed to such language.
This year’s studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that centuries of warming, rising seas and species extinctions would probably result unless there were sharp curbs in climate-warming emissions within a few decades.
“Logic requires that we listen to the science,” said Stavros Dimas, the European Union’s environment commissioner. “I would expect others to follow that logic.”
The Bush administration opposes including hard targets at this stage in the talks. Other countries, including Japan and Canada, are beginning to side with the United States on the need for any new climate agreements to include meaningful steps by fast-growing countries like China and India. And calls for concrete limits have consistently been refused by those nations.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org

Yellow River Drying Up

NPR aired a story on China's Yellow River about it's environmental problems. "For three years in the 1990s, the Yellow River — which 140 million people depend on for water — actually dried up before it reached the sea, due to overuse. And pollution on the river has reached horrific levels."
Listen to and read the story here.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Monday, December 10, 2007

Al Gore Accepts Nobel Prize

Al Gore caps off an amazing year by accepting a Nobel Peace Prize (shared with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), according to an AP article (see excerpt below):
Saying it's "time to make peace with the planet," Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday with a call for humanity to rise up against a looming climate crisis and stop waging war on the environment.
The United States and China — the world's leading emitters of greenhouse gases — will stand accountable before history if they don't take the lead in that global challenge, the former vice president said.
"Without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the Earth itself," Gore said in his acceptance speech. "Now, we and the Earth's climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: 'Mutually assured destruction.' It is time to make peace with the planet."
Gore was awarded the prize for sounding the alarm over global warming and spreading awareness on how to counteract it. His co-winner, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was represented by the panel's leader, Rajendra Pachauri.
They received their Nobel gold medals and diplomas at a gala ceremony at Oslo's city hall, while the Nobel prizes for medicine, chemistry, physics, literature and economics were presented in a separate ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.
Gore urged government officials at a U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, to prepare the ground for quick negotiations on an emissions-limitation treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
Gore and Pachauri will leave for the U.N. meeting Wednesday. "I will urge the delegates in Bali to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty," Gore said.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.

Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Enviro-Doc at RAW

Coming to the Real Art Ways Movie Theater in Hartford:
PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA
Directed by Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer
Narrated by John Waters
The film plays through December 13th at REAL ART WAYS
56 Arbor St Hartford, CT 06106 *

"Weird and wonderful." - The New Times

"A heartbreaking, sidesplitting parade of humanity." - Village Voice

"One-of-a-kind documentary... A startlingly funny portrait of Gothic Americana." - Christian Science Monitor

"Historically thorough and thoroughly hysterical." - L.A. Weekly

"Droll, deadpan... A fascinating, nutty story, a kind of Chinatown gonewrong (or gone more wrong.) - Chicago Tribune

"An interesting, disturbing, and humorous look at environmental disaster." - The Berkeley Daily Planet

"A hilarious and kindly ode to a fallen paradise." - SF Weekly

"Four stars! Offering you a vacation like you've never had before... in this charming, yet sad documentary." - Film Threat

Fabulously offbeat and refreshingly upbeat, this lovable film gets friendly with the natives of the Salton Sea, an inland ocean of massive fish kills, rotting resorts, and 120 degree nights located just minutes from urban Southern California. This award-winning filmfrom directors Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer details the rise andfall of the Salton Sea, from its heyday as the "California Riviera" where boaters and Beach Boys mingled in paradise to its present stateas a decaying, forgotten ecological disaster. From wonderland to wasteland, PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA captures a place far more interesting than the shopping malls and parking lots of suburban America, a wacky world where a beer-swilling Hungarian Revolutionary, a geriatric nudist, and a religious zealot building a monument to God all find solace and community. Crisply and hilariously narrated by oddball auteur John Waters, and featuring music by desert lounge rockers Friends of Dean Martinez,PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA melds high camp with stark realism, offering both a sobering message about the consequences of tampering with nature and a heart-warming tale of individualism.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Does Fresh+Local=Green?

That's the question explored in the New York Times article excerpted below, and the short answer is, it's more complicated than that. A lot more complicated.
The local food, or locavore, movement has so much momentum that some of the food glitterati have declared that such food is better than organic.
But now comes a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis, who have started asking provocative questions about the carbon footprint of food. Those questions threaten to undermine some of the feel-good locavore story line, not to mention my weekend forays for produce. (A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact of human activities on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced.)
While the research is not yet complete, Tom Tomich, director of the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, said the fact that something is local doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better, environmentally speaking.
The distance that food travels from farm to plate is certainly important, he says, but so is how food is packaged, how it is grown, how it is processed and how it is transported to market.
Consider strawberries. If mass producers of strawberries ship their product to Chicago by truck, the fuel cost of transporting each carton of strawberries is relatively small, since it is tucked into the back along with thousands of others.
But if a farmer sells his strawberries at local farmers’ markets in California, he ferries a much smaller amount by pickup truck to each individual market. Which one is better for the environment?
Mr. Tomich said a strawberry distributor did the math on the back of an envelope and concluded that the Chicago-bound berries used less energy for transport. Maybe. Regardless, the story raises valid questions.
An
Iowa State University study in 2003 found that most produce travels about 1,500 miles before it arrives in Iowa homes. But as the strawberry story suggests, some of it creates higher amounts of greenhouse gases than others. Transporting food by container ship or rail is relatively energy efficient. Shipping it by air or a 25-year-old pickup is not.
It gets stickier. If a low-carbon diet is your goal, Mr. Tomich suggests, it may be more effective to change your diet than to focus on eating local. After all, a plant-based diet tends to have a much smaller carbon footprint than a diet that includes meat. That is because a pound of steak requires many more pounds of grain as feed — and all the carbon emissions associated with that, from fertilizers that are derived from fossil fuels to the fuel for the combines used for the harvest, he said.
And if you insist on eating meat, as I do, then perhaps it’s better for the environment to eat poultry rather than red meat and grass-fed rather than grain-fed. Mr. Tomich’s team is trying to sort that out.
Here are a couple of other puzzlers: Are canned tomatoes a better environmental choice in the winter than fresh tomatoes from abroad? If a product that contains heavy packaging reduces the amount of food waste, is that a better choice than one that is lightly packed and spoils quicker?
Gail Feenstra, a food system analyst at the Davis campus, says her group hopes the research will help consumers decide if buying local is better than buying
organic food that has traveled hundreds of miles. “Maybe you can buy organic within a certain geographic range, and outside of that the trade-offs won’t work anymore,” Ms. Feenstra said.
At some point, the ethical maze can make you dizzy. But there was one line of inquiry from the California researchers that hit particularly close to home: the carbon impact of shoppers themselves.
Some people walk or take the subway to buy their groceries and then compost what they don’t use. But, let’s face it, most of us drive and toss the leftovers into the garbage disposal or the garbage can. In doing so, we may be contributing nearly a quarter of the greenhouse gases associated with our food, research has shown.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.

Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Green Holidays

The Western holiday season is mostly about excess, so the best way to go green is to scale back on wasteful use of natural resources. Slate.com has some tips and suggestions for gifts. (Like signing friends and family up for deliveries of fresh food through Community Supported Agriculture.) Also, for bright, beautiful LED holiday lighting that uses over 90% less electricity, go to http://www.shopipl.org/.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Kyoto in Bali

The Kyoto Protocol climate agreement is up for discussion at the UN International Climate Summit currently being held in Bali, according to this article from the Christian Science Monitor (see excerpt below):
Efforts to start two years of talks aimed at crafting a new global pact on climate change enter their most intense phase this week. Ministers from more than 180 countries arrive Wednesday to give final shape to a framework for the talks, which could begin as early as next June.
But even as they look to the future, ministers also will be dealing with the present – giving a final burnish to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol before turning it loose next year. The protocol's first – and perhaps only – enforcement period begins Jan. 1 and runs through 2012.
UN officials here say they are cautiously optimistic that industrial countries as a group will meet – and perhaps beat – the pact's goal for trimming greenhouse-gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide.
But critics of the 10-year-old agreement have already written it off as a failure, even before it takes full force. To some, Kyoto's projected results are based on accounting tricks and fundamental economic changes that predate the agreement. At issue is how the structure of the original accord will shape future agreements.
Critics and proponents agree that from the climate's perspective, Kyoto's impact will get lost in the weeds. Under the agreement, industrial-country participants must reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions by an average of more than 5 percent relative to 1990 levels. But that will have a negligible effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
Moreover, compared with 1990 levels, carbon-dioxide emissions from industrial countries are at an all-time high, observes Yvo de Boer, who heads the secretariat overseeing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – the 1992 treaty that gave rise to the Kyoto Protocol. Rising emissions "would give you the impression that things are going completely in the wrong direction," he acknowledges.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sally Bingham of Interfaith Power and Light on CNN

CNN filmed a segment about our own Sally Bingham of national Interfaith Power and Light. It is showing periodically over the next few days and you can also see it on the CNN website. The segment is called Preaching Green.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Global Warming Bill Heads to Full Senate

A US Senate committee approved a version of a bill designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions and sent it to the full Senate, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News (see excerpt below.)
In a landmark effort to tackle global warming, a Senate committee Wednesday approved a sweeping program to slash greenhouse gas emissions through the first half of this century and mandate a low-carbon future for the U.S. economy.
"This is the most far-reaching global warming bill in the world," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment Committee, who was jubilant and tearful after the 11-8 vote that sends the bill to the Senate floor next year.
The measure still faces significant obstacles in the Senate and the House, and the Bush administration disagrees with some of the bill's mandates. But the bill's backers say political and moral momentum are on their side.
"This is historic, and it sends a message to the Senate, White House and the world that the United States is ready to get into this fight and lead," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., one of the co-sponsors of the 300-page measure.
The 10 Democrats and independents on the committee were joined by one Republican, John Warner of Virginia - the other co-sponsor - who predicted the bill would force members of Congress and presidential candidates "to do their homework and take a stand."
The measure would establish a cap-and-trade program, administered by two new federal boards, and set emissions limits that get tougher every year after 2012.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Will You Be in Bali with Al?

Al Gore is speaking at the UN Climate Conference in Bali in nine days and he plans to take a petition on stage with him to demonstrate the support for meaningful action on climate change. If you would like to sign the petition, go to http://www.climateprotect.org/standwithal

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Staying Together for the Sake of the Planet

Divorce isn't good for the environment, according to an article in the Seattle Times (excerpted below.)
Divorce can be bad for the environment. Each time a family dissolves, the result is two new households.
"A married household actually uses resources more efficiently than a divorced household," said Jianguo Liu, a sustainability expert with Michigan State University.
He and fellow researcher Eunice Yu concluded that in 2005, in the United States alone, divorced households could have saved 38 million rooms, 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water if their "resource-use efficiency" had been comparable to that of married households.
Liu's analysis of the environmental impact of divorce appears in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Besides the United States, Liu looked at 11 other countries, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico and South Africa between 1998 and 2002.
In the 11, if divorced households had combined to have the same average household size as married households, there could have been a million fewer households using energy and water in these countries.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Talking About Climate

Today's dot earth blog in the New York Times features a thoughtful examination about how to get across the news about climate change to the public so that they don't become paralyzed with fear or resignation. Here is an excerpt:
In Science Times this week, I have a story examining the limits of language. Can scientists or anyone else find new words sufficiently potent to inspire action on long-term challenges, like shifting from unfettered use of coal and oil to limit the odds of climate surprises?
I only scratched the surface there and now add a few sobering perspectives here. But I can’t leave it at that. I’ve also challenged people involved in climate science, campaigns or policy to come up with strategies that might help bring not only clarity, but actual real-world change (whichever change they seek). I’ll be posting some of their responses starting Tuesday. I’m asking you to weigh in, as well.
First, more of the bad news. One of the additional hurdles to getting people focused on climate and energy is the distinctly human habit of giving outsize consideration to the here and now, even when looming, well-understood hazards pose serious threats.

This is how
Tom Lowe, a research associate at the Center for Risk and Community Safety in Melbourne, Australia, put it in a recent e-mail:
“In the absence of physical evidence that something bad is going to happen, people tend to ‘wait and see.’ Evidence for this can be seen in behavior surrounding natural hazards such as wildfires and volcanoes. In many cases people can receive a warning that something bad is headed their way. They may even be well-educated about the processes and dangers of the approaching hazard. However, without a physical manifestation of the hazard, or evidence seen with their own eyes, people may not necessarily do what you want them to do to mitigate the risk.
“A common reaction to this stand-off is for risk communicators to shout louder, to try and shake some sense into people. This is what I see happening with the climate change message. The public are on the receiving end of an increasingly distraught alarm call. The methods used to grab attention are so striking that people are reaching a state of denial. This is partly because the problem is perceived as being so big that people feel unable to do anything about it, partly because the changes associated with impact reduction are unacceptable and/or unviable to many people and partly because this ‘overselling’ of climate change attracts strong criticism from a vocal and disproportionately publicized few.
“Meanwhile, the public holds the story of climate change in its mind in much the same way as folklore, fairy tales or historical events are retained in the memory. When asked about climate change (research has found), people describe an apocalypse, devastating scenes of flood, disease and drought in a far and distant land. Are they concerned? Hell yes! Is there anything they can do about it? Definitely. Are the going to do something about it? Maybe.
“It is this dislocation that concerns me; as long as the language of chaos continues, it seems the public are faced with a threat which looms so large that it is beyond our focus.”
Another troublesome trait is the tendency to normalize a bad situation.
Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University, tutored me through a series of recent e-mails on a body of research showing how bad conditions become unremarkable over time, making it harder to seek change.
The best-known response of society to environmental signals is denial, but a more important one in the long run, perhaps, is accommodation, Dr. Brulle said:
“Basically, I read it that we become used to the environment we live in. Since most of the population has very limited or no access to a relatively unpolluted environment, they take it as normal that you can’t eat the fish in the river, that the air is always dirty, etc.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Monday, December 3, 2007

UN Climate Talks Underway


According to this article from the Voice of America (see excerpt), there is a lot for the reps of 180 nations to talk about:

Representatives of more than 180 nations gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali today to kick off a United Nations-sponsored conference on global climate change. The U.N. hopes the meeting will conclude with a road map toward a new agreement on reducing the types of air pollution many scientists believe are driving changes in the earth's climate. From Bali, Trish Anderton reports.
The Bali meeting aims to get countries to commit to working out a new agreement on emissions cuts to extend or replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Conference president Rachmat Witoelar of Indonesia told reporters that a detailed proposal is not necessary at this stage, but participation by all nations is vital.
"We will be happy if this Bali road map is general so we will not push for a very detailed in this short time," he said. "The introduction, the process is important."
As the conference opened, Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, signed the Kyoto Protocol, limiting his country's greenhouse gas emissions. That act earned a standing ovation in Bali, and focused attention on the failure of the United States to sign the protocol - the only developed nation not to have done so.
A woman walks past a huge paper thermometer ontop a globe, made by Greenpeace at the venue of the UN Climate Change Conference 2007, 03 Dec 2007Alden Meyer of the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists accused the Bush administration of obstructing progress on climate change.
"While the current U.S. delegation will not join in serious negotiations over mandatory limits on global warming pollution, they won't be around when the final deal is made in 2009. A new team will be on the field with a very different game plan," he said. "The other nations must not allow the U.S. to derail, delay or water down the Bali mandate."
Senior U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson denied his country was blocking progress, saying the U.S. had merely chosen a different course.
"It's up to each country to do the analysis and analyze for themselves if the target is do-able. Obviously the U.S. came to a different conclusion," he said. "We respect the decisions other countries have made and of course ask them to respect the decision that we've made."
President Bush says that the Kyoto Protocol threatened U.S. economic growth, and believes that any future climate-change agreement will be ineffective unless it includes rapidly developing nations such as China and India, which are among the world's largest producers of greenhouse gases.
Other subjects on the agenda in Bali include saving the world's remaining forests, and sharing technologies to help developing nations grow in less-polluting ways.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
Find discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Friday, November 30, 2007

Maine IPL offers Gift of Green Power for Holidays


Go Green, Give Green, Give Wind Watts!

Offering a New Kind of Tag...Made in Maine!
This year, Maine Interfaith Power & Light is proud to offer a new kind of clean power "tag"...Maine Wind Watts!

During the holidays we use more electricity to light our homes and travel more miles to visit relatives and loved ones.
Compared to other times of the year, we burn more fossil fuels and release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, creating a larger "carbon footprint" which adds to global warming.
To offset this impact, Maine Interfaith Power and Light offers Maine Wind Watts renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset greenhouse gas emissions with clean, renewable wind power!

Maine Wind Watts
may be purchased as...
a holiday gift
a stocking stuffer
a travel or electricity offset

To learn more about Wind Watts or to purchase please click here...


Maine Interfaith Power and Light Offers
3 Holiday Gift Selections...

Holiday Stocking StufferOffset holiday power
use and car travel
$20

Holiday Gift Package Offset holiday power
use and car travel
$40

Holiday Gift Basket
Offset holiday power
use and car travel
$55


Maine Interfaith Power and Light Offers
3 Holiday Gift Selections...

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm
Enjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

National Green Energy Surcharge?

An article on the CNN Money Website discusses a proposal by Duke Energy CEO James Rogers to take clean energy surcharges on utility bills national. Here is an excerpt:
"Trying to fund R&D through a cap and trade mechanism is a mistake," said James Rogers, chief executive of Charlotte, N.C-based Duke Energy (Charts, Fortune 500).
Cap-and-trade proposals in Congress - meant to counter global warming - would auction off permits to companies that emit the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and use the money to fund alternative energy.
Under such system, the government would gradually reduce the number of permits available each year. Companies would then either buy those permits or pay to install cleaner equipment.
Rogers, speaking at a lecture sponsored by the energy information company Platts, said he supported a cap-and-trade plan in which the government gives away permits instead of selling them. He said that was fairer to utility customers in states that rely heavily on carbon dioxide-heavy coal to generate electricity.
Instead, he would fund clean technology research through a surcharge on electricity bills nationwide. Rogers didn't propose a specific charge but said it was essential that all Americans pay for a wide range of clean energy technologies - not just cleaner coal but nuclear, natural gas, wind and solar.
Experts project that domestic electricity demand will surge 40 percent over the next two decades. Rogers said the nation needs to mount a massive response - akin to the Apollo space program or the Manhattan nuclear weapons project.
"We need new technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 or 80 percent," he said. "It's the only way to build a bridge to that world."

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm
Enjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

The Greening of Sin

Greenwashing involves making misleading claims about the eco-friendliness of a product or service. Learn how to spot and avoid being conned by greenwashing through a paper titled "The Six Sins of Greenwashing" published on the website of environmental marketing firm Terrachoice.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm

Enjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cleaning Canton

The Tri-Town News has published an article about the work of the Canton (Connecticut) Energy Task Force. Check out this excerpt:
The Energy Task Force has also researched the status of two local dams, one in Canton and one in Burlington. The Energy Task Force is attempting to assist in the regulatory hurdles of revamping the dams and powerhouses to capture the energy of the Farmington River. Delany said years ago, Canton had an option to buy the energy rights to those two dams, energy sites that could potentially supply enough electricity for 1,500 houses. Delany said simple acts of energy conservation can make a difference, too. "Six compact fluorescents can reduce your consumption," said Delany. "Check out the local light bulb store in Collinsville, they have 200 different types of light bulbs." Delany said the Energy Task Force wants the town to install a special recycling bin at the transfer station for the new energy efficient light bulbs since the new bulbs contain mercury. As the town and individual residents switch over to clean renewable energy, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund will purchase solar panels for municipal buildings. Delany said any new roofs on Canton buildings should be installed with solar panels to both capture the energy of the sun and to absorb heat, in return, requiring less energy to cool the building. "The electricity from solar panels is a third part source and will not cost the town anything," said Delany. "It will reduce the burden on the grid."With a $5,000 grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, the Energy Task Force is actively promoting clean renewable energy awareness and education through grants to local citizens, businesses, civic organizations, and non-profits. Residents interested in joining the committee should call Delany at 693-2561.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm
Enjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

A message from the National Council of Churches (USA)

New Education Resource to Heal Earth, Body, and Spirit!
The choices we make for our families and the way we care for God’s Earth are intricately related to human health and the health of all creation. Today, pollutants and toxic chemicals contaminate our water, our land, our personal care products, and our children’s toys. These contaminants are linked to health conditions ranging from asthma to cancer. Children, women, communities of color, and low-income communities are particularly vulnerable.
Download a copy of the new environmental health resource from the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program, Mindful Living: Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics, to learn how to maintain the sanctity of our bodily temples and ensure that health of God’s good Earth. This resource is full of youth and adult study ideas, sermon starters, worship materials, and more! Learn more about the NCC environmental health initiative or download a copy of Mindful Living at www.nccecojustice.org/mindful_living.html.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm
Enjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Here Comes the Solution?

The sun is the only viable solution to the world's energy crisis, according to a prominent scientist, but if the world doesn't wake up, realize this, and start investing in solar energy soon, it will be to late, according to this article on ABC News (see excerpt below):
There is a potential solution, and possibly only one, to the global energy crisis. It will require a huge investment, several scientific breakthroughs and a little luck. But unless we give it the very highest priority, it will soon be too late.

That's the message that a highly respected professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology has been delivering for several years now, but it's not clear whether anyone is listening. Nate Lewis isn't your typical prophet of doom. He has won a list of awards as long as the beard he wore years ago as a young scientist when I first met him. And to hear him tell it, the solution to the energy crisis is as clear as the nose on your face, or at least the shadow it casts.
Lewis quips that he belongs to the "Willie Sutton school of energy management." When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton responded "because that's where the money is."
"I believe in that too," Lewis told an energy symposium at Caltech earlier this year.
In his case, however, Lewis is banking on the sun.
"More solar energy hits the earth in one hour than all the energy the world consumes in a year," he told the symposium. So if you want to solve the energy crisis, he argued, go to the bank where the energy is kept — the sun.
None of the other sources of energy, including fossil fuels that threaten our planet, or nuclear energy that has never lived up to its potential, can do the job, Lewis maintains. He isn't arguing in favor of those huge water bladders we are supposed to have atop our houses to capture heat from the sun. Lewis sees an entirely different solution. He sees cheap ways to convert solar energy directly into electricity, which can be used to convert water into fuel, like hydrogen, that can be turned back into electricity on demand.
What we need, he argues, is something as basic as paint that is engineered to capture electrons from the sun and make the electrons march into our utility lines. Go to your local home center, buy a bucket of paint and brush it on your roof to power all those gadgets and heat your domicile and create the fuel to run your scooter. Sounds pretty far out, but Lewis is dead serious.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm
Enjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Religious Leaders on Environment

Statement of Senior Religious Leaders on Global Climate Change and Poverty
Download PDF: http://nrpe.org/pressmaterials/lettertomemofcongress.doc
Dear Member of Congress:
As senior leaders of major communities of faith – across an extraordinarily broad spectrum of denominations – we are writing to convey our common conviction that the needs of people in poverty must be a central priority as you and your colleagues develop legislation to address the critical challenge of global climate change.
On this issue, our various religious organizations, which serve millions of Americans from every income level, race, age group, cultural tradition, and community, are guided by scripture. Because God declares creation to be "very good" (Gen. 1:31), we work "to till and to tend the garden” (Gen. 2:15). Because "the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Ps. 24 :1), we seek to assure that its gifts are used for the well-being of all. Because we will be judged by how we care for "the least of these" (Mt. 25:35), we consider first and foremost the impact of our actions on the most vulnerable. And in God’s covenant “which I make between me and you and every living creature for perpetual generations,” (Gen. 9:9-10) we are bound to act today to assure the well-being of life now and in the future.
These and other scriptural mandates do not necessarily prescribe specific policies. At a hearing on June 7, 2007, of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, this biblical foundation led representatives of our diverse communities to agree on a core set of moral principles that should shape our nation’s response to climate change.Their testimony (enclosed) held four conclusions in common:
1) There is sufficient scientific consensus about the dangers of global climate change and the moral principle of prudence requires us to act now to protect the common good.2) There is persuasive evidence that the consequences of climate change will fall disproportionately on the world’s most vulnerable people and inaction will only worsen their suffering.
3) Policies aimed at addressing global climate change should seek to enhance rather than diminish the economic situation of people in poverty.
4) Policies should seek to help vulnerable populations here and abroad adapt to adverse climate impacts and actively participate in efforts to address climate change.
We ask that representatives from our communities have the opportunity to meet with you to offer our perspectives before legislation is considered, debated and decided. We welcome the important efforts you are undertaking to seek to respond to the call for us to be good stewards. We recognize what a daunting task Congress faces in crafting adequate responses to this complicated challenge. At the same time, we recognize that because of the magnitude of the climate issue, which will literally and likely affect all of humankind, our policy choices must be informed by and be consistent with the moral principles that bind us together.
A fundamental moral principle for our faith communities is to protect the voiceless and the vulnerable. As such, it is imperative that any legislation passed by Congress must have a goal of shielding those who contribute the least to global warming from suffering the worst of its consequences, and that those with the fewest resources should have their economic circumstances enhanced rather than diminished by implementation of the responses to it.
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Dr. Leith Anderson President, National Association of Evangelicals

The Reverend Michael E. Livingston President, National Council of Churches

Most Reverend William Skylstad

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie President, Union for Reform Judaism

The Very Reverend Leonid Kishkovsky Director of External Affairs, Orthodox Church in America.

How Green Was My Alley?

Pretty green, if you live in Chicago near one of its new "green" alleys, according to a New York Times article on the greening of Chicago (excerpted below):
In a green alley, water is allowed to penetrate the soil through the pavement itself, which consists of the relatively new but little-used technology of permeable concrete or porous asphalt. Then the water, filtered through stone beds under the permeable surface layer, recharges the underground water table instead of ending up as polluted runoff in rivers and streams.
Some of that water may even end up back in Lake Michigan, from which Chicago takes a billion gallons a year.
“The question is, if you’ve got to resurface an alley anyway, can you make it do more for you?” said Janet Attarian, the project’s director.
The new pavements are also designed to reflect heat from the sun instead of absorbing it, helping the city stay cool on hot days. They also stay warmer on cold days. The green alleys are given new kinds of lighting that conserve energy and reduce glare, city officials said, and are made with recycled materials.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htmEnjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tribe Gets Voice

According to an AP article,

The Environmental Protection Agency has given St. Regis Mohawks a voice in enforcing federal air quality rules on the tribe's reservation in northern New York, following a five-year review.
The tribe's recognition under the federal Clean Air Act means New York state is now obligated to consider tribal comments on any project that might affect reservation residents.
Officials had done so earlier as a courtesy, said Ken Jock, St. Regis Mohawks' environmental division director.
Jock said the pollution from industrial neighbors drifts onto vegetation consumed by livestock on the St. Regis Indian Reservation along the Canadian border, causing health problems for both animals and humans.
''This may make someone a little bit less inclined to want to put polluting businesses in the area,'' said Gavin Lau, an environmental scientist with EPA's air program branch.
The Mohegan tribe in Connecticut has also applied for recognition under the Clean Air Act, as has an Arizona-based tribe, said EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htmEnjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/

Monday, November 19, 2007

Going Green, Eh?

According to an article in the Toronto Star excerpted below,
A recently established religious initiative, "Greening Sacred Spaces," is helping faith communities across Canada answer both questions affirmatively.
A scion of the Faith and Common Good project (www.faith-commongood), started by United Church ministers Ted Reeve and Bill Phipps, Greening Sacred Spaces views climate change as a deeply spiritual issue, and strives to assist faith groups to move toward eco-friendly places of worship.
According to the group's website, "Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the well-being of our planet today, and as such represents a challenge to all people of faith."
The group cites predictions by the UN panel on climate change that by 2100, Earth's average temperature will have increased by 1.5 to 6 degrees Celsius, with that rate doubling in the Arctic.
It argues that "faith traditions are a key source of wisdom in the great spiritual quest of our time: Healing our beloved Earth. We believe that we are called to re-envision the way that we live."
With support from the Ontario Conservation Bureau and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, as well as the "sweat equity" of volunteers within the faith communities themselves, the project has developed a how-to resource kit, complete with workshops, posters, and music to help faith groups engage in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing sustainable living.
According to greening spaces co-ordinator Rory O'Brien, more than 100 faith groups, including Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Baha'i communities, have become involved in everything from retrofitting energy efficient light bulbs to entire environmental audits and eco-friendly architectural renovations, using the most advanced environmental technologies.
In addition to the actual greening of places of worship, the group hopes that faith communities will become leaders in advancing a more ecologically sensitive way of life, and will team up with activists to engage in local environmental initiatives.
O'Brien also notes that they hope to make the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System) standard a key component of any future design and architectural planning among faith groups in Canada. A showcase for this group is Toronto's St. Gabriel's' Catholic Church, the first Gold certified LEED church in North America.
Included in St. Gabriel's state-of-the-art green design features are a solar glass wall on the south face utilizing the energy of the sun. This creates a visual bridge connecting worshippers inside with a naturalized garden outside.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cornwall Energy Fair Nov. 17

Cornwall is the site of an AWESOME Energy Fair on November 17 from 10 am to 4 pm. The location is the Consolidated School, Rt. 128 and Cream Hill Road. Events/exhibits include:

Vendors inc. lighting, energy companies, local food

Auto show inc. electric, vegetable oil, hybrid and diesel

Kids program 10:30-noon (caluculate your ecological footprint)

Panel Discussion about Global and Connecticut Warming
-Roger Smith, Clean Water Action speaking to State Initiatives and home monitoring
_Rebecca Meye Rep. NE Utilities speaking to Green and Sustainable Building
-Jon Harkness, EBM Services

House Tour 1-4 pm featuring solar and geotherman

Film Festival 1-4

An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore Interview with Charlie Rose
Too Hot Not to Handle
Warming of Connecticut

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Rhode Island Episcopalians Go Green

In an action unprecedented in its Rhode Island history, the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island voted during its recent 217th Annual Convention held October 26-27, ‘that congregations be encouraged to engage in the process of “greening” their churches utilizing the support of faith based organizations’.

The four-point resolution, entitled “Energy conservation and sustainable development”, also calls on “all parishes, missions, and institutions of the Diocese” to have energy audits conducted; encourages Episcopalians to “add their voices of faith” to efforts regarding climate change; and mandates the establishment of a Diocesan task force to study issues of climate change and “function as a resource for education, advocacy, and action”.

The resolution was developed and submitted by Arthur “Zeke” Olsen, Delegate from St. Augustine’s. Kingston. “This resolution was a direct result of our congregation’s membership in Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light”, explained Olsen. “In joining RI-IPL last July we pledged to increase our congregation’s commitment to fight global warming. Moving the Diocese in this direction is only one action of many that we’re taking in conjunction with RI-IPL.”

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htmEnjoy discounts on energy saving products at http://www.shopipl.org/