Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's Hip to Be Green

Conspicuous consumption is so, like, 2006. Celebrities and scientists are teaming up in an effort to make green the new black. At Global Cool, you can join their efforts to fight global warming in exchange for a chance to see exclusive videos from indie rockers like the Scissor Sisters. They are also helping to promote green dating sites like green singles.
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White House: (Mis)leaders on Climate Change

According to an article in today's Chicago Tribune, US Congressional Representative Henry Waxman (D, Calif.) accused the Bush Administration of trying to "mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming."
In an article in today's New York Times, scientists testifying at a US Congressional hearing claimed that the results of their research about climate had been distorted or watered down.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lights Out Around the World

The Alliance for the Planet is calling on all citizens to create 5 minutes of electrical rest forthe planet on February 1, the day the new UN report on Climate Change is due to be released, in order to show leaders that global warming is a significant issue.

People all over the world are asked to turn off their lights and electrical appliances on the first of February 2007, between 1.55 pm and 2.00 pm in New York, 18.55 for London, and 19.55 for Paris, Bruxelles, and Italy. 1.55pm in Ottawa, 10.55am on the Pacific Coast of North America.

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Bush Administration on Climate: Dim the Sun

With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, the author of the blog Balkinization comments on a report that the idea of interfering with sunlight should be included in the summary for policymakers in the upcoming report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (No, I am not making this up: Read the Sydney Morning Herald Article "US urges scientists to block out sun" to hear the Bush Administration's take on this.)

Read the full commentary here.

Friends Bob and Brian have also reminded me that the Bush Administration didn't originate this idea: It appeared on The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" as revealed in this excerpt of the episode transcript:

Smithers: Well, Sir, you've certainly vanquished all your enemies: the Elementary School, the local tavern, the old age must be very proud.
Burns: [stuffing money into his wallet] No, not while my greatest nemesis still provides our customers with free light, heat and energy. I call this enemy...the sun. [throws a switch; a control panel appears at his desk] [another button slides the floor off a model of Springfield] Since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun. I will do the next best thing...block it out! [another button raises a shield over the model town]
Smithers: Good God!--
Burns: Imagine it, Smithers: electrical lights and heaters running all day long!
Smithers: But Sir! Every plant and tree will die, owls will deafen us with incessant hooting...the town's sundial will be useless. I don't want any part of this project, it's unconscionably fiendish.
Burns: I will not suffer your insubordination. There has been a shocking decline in the quality and quantity of your toadying, Waylon. And you will fall into line, now!
Smithers: [pained], Monty, I won't. Not until you step back from the brink of insanity.
Burns: I'll do no such thing. You're fired!
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Emergency Climate Summit?

On Tuesday the UN environment agency pressured new Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to call an emergency climate summit. The summit, which would likely take place in September, would include about twenty world leaders and push for a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.

On Friday, the broadest scientific study of the human effect on the climate is set to conclude there is at least a 90 percent chance that human activities, mainly burning fossil fuels, are to blame for most of the warming in the last 50 years.
In a previous report in 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the link was at least 66 percent certain. IPCC experts are meeting in Paris to discuss and approve the draft report.
The report is also set to warn that average global temperatures will rise to 2.0 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 8.1 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, with a ''best estimate'' of a 3.0 C (5.4 F) rise, scientists say.
Another section of the report, due in April, is expected to warn that between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people will face water shortages by the end of the century and hundreds of millions will go hungry, according to Australia's The Age newspaper.
Coastal flooding will hit another 7 million homes.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

"Urgent Call to Action" by Scientists and Evangelicals

Scientists and Evangelicals met last week and issued an "Urgent Call to Action" on the burning of fossil fuels and the related threat of extinction to many species, according to the Arbutus Times.

"Important initiatives were already underway on both sides, and when compared they were found to be broadly overlapping," the call to action says, "We (evangelicals and scientists) clearly share a moral passion and sense of vocation to save the imperiled living world."

The two groups officially joined forces six weeks ago and now total 28 members.
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Scientists Finalize Climate Report

Top scientists from around the world are meeting in Paris to put the finishing touches on the latest report on the threat of global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to be released on Friday. The report is expected to give a sober warning of rising temperatures and sea levels worldwide.
Read the full article in the Irish Examiner.
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Climate Change at Word Economic Forum

At this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a conference with more than 2,400 global political, economic and cultural leaders (including religious leaders), including 800 top CEOs, climate change has come up as an integral part of discussions. Developing countries, who stand to suffer the worst effects of climate change, said on Thursday they would not shoulder full responsibility for a problem created mainly by the rich, according to Swissinfo.

Read what religious commentator Jim Wallis has to say about his participation in the Huffington Post.
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Friday, January 26, 2007

US Bosses Not Concerned About Climate Change

Only 1/5 of US CEOs are concerned about Climate Change, according to a recent survey. This puts them increasingly out of step with the rest of the world. According to a story in Management Issues,

The report by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers has found that, led by President George Bush's robust position on the issue, fewer than a fifth – 18 per cent – of North American chief executives are concerned about climate change.
This compared with two out of five in Britain and nearly three out of five in Asia Pacific.
While American CEOs may be happy in their glorious isolation on this issue, they are also increasingly worried that cultural differences are stopping them successfully carrying out mergers and acquisitions.

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Ski Industry Not as Green as You May Think

Though ski resorts have made some strides at becoming more ecology-conscious, out of 300 resorts that belong to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), only 30 belong to a voluntary sustainable slopes program. Read the full story at (You will be required to watch a short ad if you are not a paid subscriber.)
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Underground Energy: The Next Big Thing?

According to a new study commissioned by the U.S. Energy Department, a process called enhanced geothermal systems could affordably harvest heat locked in deep layers of granite that exist almost everywhere on earth. The technique involves drilling several holes — some two to three miles deep — into granite that has been held at temperatures around 400 degrees or more, by insulating layers of rock above.

Read the full story in the New York Times.
Check out the Energy Department Report.
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Is Green Your School Color?

Check out the 2007 College Sustainability Report Card to see if your Alma Mater is listed, and how they are doing on sustainability.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Eco-Aware Clothing

We have become aware of the negative impact on the environment of fast food, but what about "fast clothes?" You know, those cheaply-made, inexpensive fashion fads that fill the racks of stores like Old Navy, only to fill landfills at the end of the season. According to an article in the International Herald-Tribune,
Clothes — and fast clothes in particular — are large and worsening sources of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, both because of how they are produced and how they are cared for, concludes a thought- provoking report from researchers at Cambridge University entitled, "Well Dressed?"

The $1 trillion global textile industry must become eco-conscious, the report concludes. It explores how to develop more "sustainable clothing" — a seeming oxymoron in a world where fashions change every few months.

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Climate Change: Action Required, Miracle Desired

A street poll by Australia's Sunday Age, asking people if they see weather as the new enemy, uncovered high levels of anxiety about climate change among the general population.
Psychologist Suzie Burke is working on a "tip sheet" for people emotionally distressed by climate change and their fears of catastrophe. When completed, the list will be accessible through the Australian Psychological Society website.

She says there is a growing acceptance that "global warming is inevitable". "(It) will be fairly catastrophic, is bringing up strong emotions in people: generally anxiety and helplessness and disillusionment."

Pentecostal Pastor Danny Nalliah, from the Catch the Fire Ministry, says...They're saying to me, 'You guys have to do something'. There is a widespread sense of oppression about what's going to happen in the future if this weather continues," he says. "It is being seen as a sign, that we're an abundant nation that has abandoned God. That's what the God-fearing farmers of Victoria are saying to me: 'Danny, as a nation we have to repent and pray.' "

Pastor Nalliah's ministry has organised a multidenominational prayer meeting on Australia Day. Thousands of Christians are expected to ask the Almighty for miraculous help on a range of matters.

Climate change didn't get much of a mention in the front-page coverage of the prayer meeting. The attention went to Prime Minister John Howard's DVD message of goodwill to Catch the Fire. The prayer meeting will be the starting point of a 40-day nationwide fast. The idea is to get God's attention focused on fixing the climate.
The fast will end in the second week of March, about the time scientists are predicting the drought-causing El Nino system will lose its grip and we'll see some decent rain.

As for Suzie Burke's tip sheet: "The main thing is for people to talk about their anxieties and to find constructive ways to help solve the problem. And there's a lot of advice about how to live in a more environmentally friendly way. The challenge there is for people to accept that it may take a while to see results. So it becomes a matter of faith."

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Climate Change "Smoking Gun"

According to an article in the Souix City Journal,
The first phase of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is being released in Paris next week. This segment, written by more than 600 scientists and reviewed by another 600 experts and edited by bureaucrats from 154 countries, includes "a significantly expanded discussion of observation on the climate," said co-chair Susan Solomon, a senior scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She and other scientists held a telephone briefing on the report Monday.
"The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who reviewed the report.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A First: President Mentions Climate Change in State of The Union Address

He didn't have a lot to say about it, but for the first time, U.S. President Bush used the phrase "global climate change" in a State of the Union Address. Find out what he said about this and other topics, in a searchable index of all of the President's State of the Union Addresses in The New York Times.
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Monday, January 22, 2007

Green Burial on Fresh Air

Today's guest on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross is Journalist Mark Harris, a former environmental columnist with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. His new book is Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial. Audio for today's show is available after 3 pm EST.
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Arctic Mud Reveals Climate Changes

Because Arctic regions show such strong seasonality, according to Jason Briner, assistant professor of geology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo, it is relatively easy to correlate climate changes with very fine layers in the sediments, according to an article in Mongabay.
In some lakes, each layer represents one year, with thicker sediment layers generally signaling warmer summers. Like other paleoclimatologists, he also is finding that the warming trend that began in the 20th century is more pronounced in the Arctic than it is in the rest of the globe.

"The magnitude of warmth over the past 100 years seems pretty exceptional in the context of the past 1,000 years," he said. "Whereas maybe an average of all of the instrument data from the globe shows just a half a degree increase in this century, in the Arctic, temperatures went up by two to three degrees in the same period." The rapidity of the change also is exceptional, he added. "If we look at the temperature graphs that we've generated for the past 1,000 years for this region, the temperatures wiggle back and forth, so there is a little variability in there," he said. "However, in the past 100 years, both the magnitude and the rate of temperature increase exceed all the variations of the past 1,000 years."
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Industry and Evironmentalists Push Bush on Climate

According to a story in the Independent (reprinted in the Hamilton Spectator),
An unprecedented coalition of blue-chip American companies and environmental lobby groups will urge President George W. Bush this week to get serious about global warming, calling for caps on carbon dioxide emissions that would cut greenhouse gases by 10 to 30 per cent over 15 years.
The group, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, will unveil the details of its plan on the eve of President Bush's State of the Union speech tomorrow. The companies involved include some of the old-fashioned pollution-generating industries normally associated with anti-environmental policies and politicians -- chemical giant DuPont, bulldozer company Caterpillar, aluminum producer Alcoa and the U.S. subsidiary of BP.

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Evangelicals, Scientists Unite on Climate Change

Earlier this month, 28 scientific and evangelical leaders publicly released an "Urgent Call to Action." The damage from human-generated carbon emissions, the statement said, requires nothing less than "fundamental changes in values, lifestyles and public policies to address these worsening problems before it is too late."
Read the full editorial in the Houston Chronicle.
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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Meeting Connecticut's Energy Needs

In an editorial in Sunday's Hartford Courant, John C. Hall, Pastor at First Congregational Church (UCC) in Middletown, argues that "What we need in Connecticut is a comprehensive, long-term energy strategy that considers economic, environmental and security concerns simultaneously. "

Read the rest of his editorial here. (The Hartford Courant requires free registration.)

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Churches urged to discuss race and the environment

Churches across the country are being encouraged to discuss the links between race and environment. A recently published resource from the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), "Environmental Racism: An Ecumenical Study Guide," is available to congregations for use in their church education programs.

"It is important to recognize that seven out of ten African Americans still breathe air that does not meet federal air quality standards and that a disproportionate number of communities of color have toxic waste sites in their backyards," says Cassandra Carmichael, director of the NCC's Eco-Justice Programs.

The "Environmental Racism: An Ecumenical Study Guide" can be downloaded by signing into the NCC Eco-Justice network at:
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Thursday, January 18, 2007

U.S. Congress Likely to Act On Climate

Four climate change bills have been introduced in Congress. One of these bills, or a combined bill, is likely to pass, according to industry experts and environmentalists. The legislation may include greenhouse gas emission caps on smokestack industries, according to today's New York Times.
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Connecticut Environmentalist Removes Dams

Laura Wildman comes from a long line of engineers so it is no surprise that she became one as well. What is surprising is that while her engineer-grandfather built dams, she dismantles them. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, dam removal is going on throughout New England, and it is a big part of river-restoration efforts in the 21st century.
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Doomsday 5 Minutes Away?

The Doomsday Clock has been reset from 7 minutes to midnight to 5 minutes to midnight. Since 1947 the clock has appeared on the cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The clock has been reset 18 times since then. This most recent reset is due to an increase in nations acquiring nuclear technology and the rising risk of catastophic climate change.

Sir Martin Rees, the president of the Royal Society and a professor of cosmology and astrophysics, added: "Nuclear weapons still pose the most catastrophic and immediate threat to humanity, but climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences also have the potential to end civilisation as we know it."

N.B.: The Blogger is an R.E.M. fan but does not know all of the lyrics to their doomsday song, "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New England's Largest Solar Facility Unveiled

The Staples distribution facility in Killingly, Connecticut will unveil its new 433-kilowatt solar voltaic power system today. The system, which covers 74,000 square feet of roof space, was installed by Baltimore-headquartered SunEdison through a $1.7 million grant by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund , at no cost to Staples. The Clean Energy Fund, part of the quasi-state agency Connecticut Innovations Inc., reported that the system could produce enough energy to power 36 homes per year.
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Melting Ice on Greenland

Today's New York Times reports that the ice on Greenland is melting a a rate as high as 80 cubic miles a year, revealing islands that were previously connected to the mainland by ice. If Greenland melts completely it could raise the world's oceans by 23 feet.
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Monday, January 15, 2007

Gift Bags are Out, Green Chic is In

Seems the expensive gift bags filled with things like diamond rings and Rolex watches that award show presenters were given in the past few years are passe, now that the IRS has ruled that they are taxable income. This year's Golden Globes participants will instead be invited to feast on organic food at an empty apartment building soon to be turned into eco-friendly apartments. Trees will be planted in each attendee's honor. The event is designed to help raise awareness about environmental issues, according to
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Eco-tainment: Living With Ed

A reality show on the US network HGTV features the daily adventures of life with actor Ed Begley, Jr., Hollywood's leading environmentalist. Check out viewing times and Ed's green living tips.

N.B. This blogger has seen This is Spinal Tap, which features Ed Begley, Jr. as its ill-fated drummer, dozens of times.
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Anglican Diocese in British Columbia: Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

According to an article in today's Vancouver Sun,

A major Anglican diocese has challenged the B.C. government to show leadership on climate change by setting binding provincial targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saying care of the planet "has become one of the most pressing ethical, moral and spiritual issues of our time."
The province should also develop programs to achieve the greenhouse-gas reductions and report its progress to the legislature annually, said the letter from Rev. Michael Ingham, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, which includes the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley.
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US Businesses, States May Force Climate Policy

Al Gore says that the many US businesses and states that have embraced the aims of the Kyoto Protocol may force President Bush to reverse his unwillingness to require cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Gore is currently in Japan promoting his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
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Bush Administration Denies Climate Reversal

Yesterday's British Observer claimed that the Bush Administration planned a 180 on Climate Change in the State of the Union Address, but according to ABC News, the White House has issued a flat denial of this report.
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Will Bush Do a 180 on Climate Change?

Senior government officials in Britain have leaked the news that President Bush plans to reverse his previous position on global climate change. The Blair administration hopes this will lead to a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, according to the Mail and Guardian.
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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Great video on Home Conservation

ABC's Good Morning America has started a new feature called "It's Cool to Be Green." The first installment includes a tour of an energy-efficient home that provides lots of good ideas for saving energy and includes costs and the amount of money saved. See it here.

Visit us at to learn about our conservation program "This Old House of Worship."

Scientist Studies Link Between Warming and Snow

A professor from University of California from Merced is leading a project to study the link between global warming and snow in Sierra Nevada. The study will attempt to determine where water from melting snow winds up and over what period of time. Also, it will provide snowmelt data at higher elevations than previous studies.
Read all about it in the Bradenton Herald.
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Exxon, Evironmental Groups Meet

Representatives from environmental groups met with Exxon last month, a sign that they might be moving toward acceptance of mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon is also meeting with other companies to discuss their options. According to Reuters,

The Exxon meetings with other companies are expected to generate a report this fall, furnishing information on policy options to legislators on how to reduce emissions.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Evanston, Illinois Boasts First Certified Green Synagogue

The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation’s new building in Evanston is expected to be the first certified "green" synagogue in America, according to the Chicago Jewish Community website, in an article about the increasing interest among the Jewish community in combatting climate change.

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Going Green Can Be Profitable

That's the wisdom climate expert Amory Lovins imparted to Vermont state lawmakers.

"It's cheaper to save energy than to buy energy," Lovins said, in a talk outlining the business opportunities created by climate change.

Read the rest of the article in the Rutland Herald.
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NASA Scientist Warns: Act on Climate Change or Face Disaster

In Sci-Tech Today, Scientist James Hansen warns that unless serious international action to reverse climate change begins within the next ten years, by the end of this century we will face mass extinction of species and a far less habitable planet.

"Humans now control global climate, for better or worse," Hansen said.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lieberman, McCain and Obama Offer Climate Bill

Two potential US presidential candidates and one former candidate have joined forces to put foward a bill to reduce greenhouse emissions in the US by 1/3 over the next 4 decades. The plan would return emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

A compromise bill is being proposed by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from New Mexico. Under his bill, the increase in greenhouse gases would slow through 2030, and then perhaps decrease. Read the rest of the story in The Washington Post.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dell: Plant a Tree, Dude

Dell Computers, the company who brought us the "Dell Dude," is pitching a new idea: asking consumers to donate $2 for every notebook computer purchase and $6 for every desktop PC. The money would be given to the Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund, two nonprofit groups that promote ways to reduce or offset carbon emissions, to buy and plant trees. Dell also challenged other PC vendors to provide free recycling of used computer equipment.

Dell currently offers free recycling of its computers.
Read more in the New York Times.

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Chevy Pitchman Changes His Tune

According to NPR, Detroit rocker Bob Seger, whose anthem "Like A Rock" served as the theme for Chevy Pickup TV ads for many years, has changed his tune. On his new album "Face the Promise" he sings of his concern for climate change in the song "Between":

World keeps getting hotter
Ice falls in the sea
We buy a bigger engine and say it isn't me.

N.B. This blogger is a lifelong Bob Seger fan who knows all the lyrics to "Night Moves."
Check out more Bob Seger tattoos and tour info at the fan site.

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EU's Radical New Climate Change Policy

The European Commission has announced new targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as part of its new proposed energy policy. It proposes dropping emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by the year 2020. If the European Union adopts this new Climate-Change fighting energy policy it would be the most ambitious ever.

Read the rest of the story at Reuters.

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Adam and Eve, Environmentalists

Adam and Eve were the original Tree Huggers according to John Hart, Professor of Christian Ethics at Boston University.

"There's a particular phrase in there which has not quite been accurately translated from the Hebrew for a number of years," Hart said. "But it says that the first humans are put in the garden, which represents Earth, to conserve and to serve it. If we think along those lines, to serve and conserve, I think we would have a sense of heightened responsibility towards the creation of which we are a part."

Hart made his remarks at a forum on Religion and the Environment held at a Roman Catholic Church in Eden Prarie, Minnesota and attended by approximately 1000 people from 90 area Roman Catholic Churches. The event included a number of speakers who outlined the problem of global warming.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

China Plans for Climate Change

According to China Views, China is in the final stages of developing a plan to deal with changing climate. The plan is said to include reducing fuel consumption, cleaning up the environment, and attempt to hold back warming trends.

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The Future is Weeds

Plants with a shorter growth cycle (such as weeds) are more equipped to deal with a rapidly changing climate than plants with a longer growth cycle (such as redwood trees), according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Irvine.

Read more about it at Discovery Channel News.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Marge and Lisa Simpson learn about Climate Change

Check out this clip from Crooks and Liars.

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Sisters Are Doin' It For The Earth

This article in Health News Digest is a rundown of the many women, past and present, who have been movers and shakers in the environmental movement, and includes Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, Mary Evelyn Tucker (co-director of the Forum on Religion & Ecology) and Laurie David, wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David and the driving force behind the Inconvenient Truth film.

N.B. This blog is written by a woman, and the Executive Director of the organization sponsoring the blog is a woman, too.

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Making Money from Climate Change

Investment banks, with the assistance of environmental groups and academics, are looking into ways to re-direct investments to projects that are less affected by or that help curb climate change, according to Reuters UK.

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CO2 Emissions: 1st World vs. 3rd World

A new Climate Calendar published by the World Development Movement shows that by the end of the day on January 8, 2007, the average person in Britain will have already produced the same amount that the average person in the world's poorest countries will produce all year. While first world nations like Britain and the United States produce the vast majority of greenhouse gases that cause global climate change, those in the poorest nations suffer the most from the effects, such as drought, flooding, disease and starvation.

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Following the money to save on electricity

A pilot energy conservation project in Chicago informs power customers when demand peaks, allowing them to adjust their usage to save money.

According to an article in The New York Times,

If just a fraction of all Americans had this information and could adjust their power use accordingly, the savings would be huge. Consumers would save nearly $23 billion a year if they shifted just 7 percent of their usage during peak periods to less costly times, research at Carnegie Mellon University indicates. That is the equivalent of the entire nation getting a free month of power every year.
Meters that can read prices every hour or less are widely used in factories, but are found in only a tiny number of homes, where most meters are read monthly.
The handful of people who do use hourly meters not only cut their own bills, but also help everyone else by reducing the need for expensive generating stations that run just a few days, or hours, each year. Over the long run, such savings could mean less pollution, because the dirtiest plants could be used less or not at all.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

It's Alive! The Electric Car is Alive!

US automaker GM has unveiled an electric concept car called the Volt that will use little or no gasoline. Its design is said to be superior to the EV1, GM's previous electric car that it tested from 1996-2003.

"We have a thoroughly studied concept, but further battery development will define the critical path to start of production," said Jon Lauckner, a GM vice president for product development.
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Greenouse gases led to severe and erratic weather in ancient past

Changing levels of greenhouse gases caused "severe and erratic" swings in ancient temperature, according to an article in the LA Times.
The global transition from ice age to greenhouse 300 million years ago was marked by repeated dips and rises in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and wild swings in temperature, with drastic effects on forests and vegetation, the researchers reported in the journal Science. "It was a real yo-yo," said UC Davis geochemist Isabel Montanez, who led researchers from five universities and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. "Should we expect similar but faster climate behavior in the future? One has to question whether that is where we are headed."The provocative insight into planetary climate change counters the traditional view that global warming could be gradual and its regional effects easily anticipated.

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Climate change destroyed Mayan Civilization and Tang Dynasty

That's the conclusion of recent research--that China's Tang Dynasty and the Mayan civilization. According to an article in The Australian,

There has never been a satisfactory explanation for the fall of the Tang emperors, whose era is viewed as a high point of Chinese civilisation, while the disappearance of the Maya world perplexes scholars.
Now a team of scientists has found evidence a shift in monsoons led to drought and famine in the final century of Tang power. The weather pattern may also have spelt doom for the Maya in faraway Mexico at about the same time, they say.
Both ruling hierarchies at the start of the 10th century were victims of poor rainfall and starvation among their peoples when the harvests failed.

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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Climate Change will kill 90,000/yr. by 2071

That's the dire prediction of a report for the European Commission. According to an article in the Financial Times,

The Commission will endorse the report next week and use it to back its case for action to limit the rise in the world’s average temperature to 2 degrees centigrade above 1990 levels. Ironically, those countries most committed to combating climate change, such as the UK and Sweden, would gain, with warmer temperatures bringing bigger crop yields and fewer deaths from cold.

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Friday, January 5, 2007

US National Climate Change Demonstration Apr. 14 2007

Hundreds of nationwide rallies will be held on April 14, 2007 to encourage the US Congress to commit to cutting Carbon emissions 80% by 2050. This event is being spearheaded by Bill McKibben, a well-know environmental and Christian writer. His 1988 book The Death of Nature is a seminal work about climate change. Learn all about the event and sign up your organization at

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Religious groups in Sri Lanka fight coal power plant

Religious groups in Sri Lanka have joined forces to fight construction of a new coal-fired power plant there, according to AsiaNews. The interreligous coalition organized a 2,000-strong peaceful march on December 29 to protest the plant, which they believe will cause serious environmental harm.

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At Swiss Re, It Pays to be Green

The Reinsurance firm Swiss Re has announced that it will offset employee expenses toward reducing their carbon footprint between now and 2011, according to They will reimburse half of these expenses up to $5K Swiss francs (USD 3300, according to an inter-company email message sent 1/4/07.) Qualifying expenses could include use of public transportation, purchase of a hybrid vehicle and installation of solar panels and heat pumps.

In 2003, Swiss Re announced a goal to make its operations carbon neutral by 2013, according to Insurance News Net. Now it is extending its commitment to reducing carbon emissions by supporting changes among its employees. (N.B.: My husband is an employee of Swiss Re.)

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Climate Changes Everything

The UK environment secretary says that Brits will have to make changes in every aspect of their lives in order to combat climate change, according to a recent article in the British website Politics.

"Every part of the way we work, go to school, the way we live is going to have to change," he told children's newspaper First News. "Not change for the worse, but change so that we live in a way that respects the environment rather than abuses it."

Scientists: Exxon Mobil Spread Climate Change Disinformation

The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a report saying Exxon Mobil spent millions to spread disinformation about climate change, according to this article in the International Tribune. They used many of the tactics, and even some of the same organizations and individuals as Big Tobacco used in waging their 40-year disinformation campaign about the dangers of smoking.

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Ethanol Production Next Year Could Lead to Food Shortages

Ethanol production could use up to half of the corn produced in the US next year, leading to food shortages, according to this article in the New York Times.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Saving Polar Bears

A segment on NPR's Talk of the Nation delves into the question of saving Polar Bears, the first major species threatened by climate change.

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Solar Power gets Hot

Spurred by financial incentives, California residents are adding solar panels to their properities, according to this article in the New York Times.

Companies like NextEnergy provide homeowners with a complete package that includes system design, permit applications, rebate processing, installation, maintenance and warranty. “It was a seamless, painless process,” said Mr. Yuen, whose system cost $16,000 after the California rebate and the federal tax credit, which together saved him $10,000. It was “comparable to having a sprinkler system put in,” he said.

Mr. Yuen, 47, was the first on his block to install a solar system: “In my circle I’m the eco-nut,” he said. But, he said, less than a year later they are quite common in his neighborhood. “A lot of people are really paying attention and beginning to think about the whole environmental cycle,” he added.

A related article about an increase in solar usage in the Northeast includes links to companies who do installation and information about state-based incentives and tax breaks in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. Incentives can cover 40-70% of installation costs. According to the article, consumers in the Northeast can expect to receive about 90% as much power from solar panels as people in California.

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2007 Will Likely be Warmest Year Ever

Global Warming and El Nino make it likely that 2007 will be the warmest year ever, surpassing the previous record set in 1998. The ten warmest years ever have been within the past twelve years, according to this article from the Reuters news service.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Rabbi Urges People of Faith to Unite around Climate Issues

Here is an excerpt from an essay by Rabbi Warren G. Stone published on

In a world where matters of faith seem so often and so tragically to divide us, there is no issue that aligns us more deeply than our shared dependence upon and sacred responsibility to this tiny planet, enfolded within its fragile atmosphere, spinning in the vastness of time and space. I experienced this shared conviction most profoundly, when in 1997, I served as the Jewish NGO representative at the United Nations climate talks in Kyoto, Japan. I met with Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders from around the world. We spoke at Kyoto’s largest Buddhist Temple, and all concurred that our human actions, our sins, have damaged the environment. Each speaking from the voice of his or her own authentic spiritual tradition, we affirmed our religious responsibility to act. Amidst Buddhist chanting, I blew the shofar, a ram’s horn, the blast of sound that has been Judaism’s ancient call to action since the days we wandered, searching for our way, in the desert.
I carried this profound experience back to my own country and my own community. Here, too, I found that faith traditions can readily unite on issues of climate change.

Climate Change: Winners and Losers?

A project to outline the "benefits" and challenges of climate change will be launched at the Oxford Farming Conference in the UK, according to the BBC news.

Meanwhile, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology is claiming that it is the country suffering the most from climate change, according to ABC News Online, while a government report in China says that the nation will likely suffer a drop in agricultural output due to climate change.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Thar's Oil in Them Thar Birds!

The next big source for bio-fuels may be animal fats, especially chicken fat, according to this AP story published in today's New York Times online. Turns out chicken fat is cheaper than soybean oil, a common source of fat for biodiesel.

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Got Dandelions?

Suzanne O'Connell has them, even though it is winter in Connecticut, where she lives. In this editorial from the Hartford Courant, biologist Suzanne O'Connell speaks about how global warming threatens various species. As a solution to climate change, she suggests driving 40-55 MPH (the most fuel-efficient range for cars) and signing up for clean energy.

To sign up for clean energy to be delivered to your home by your current electricity provider in the United States, go to and click on your state.

Suzanne O'Connell teaches at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
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How Many Light Bulbs Does it Take to Save the Planet?

The inaugural story in a New York Times series called "The Energy Challenge" deals with Walmart's quest to put compact fluorescent bulbs in 100 million US households, and to deal with the environmental and economic impact of doing so. Currently only 6 percent of US households use the energy-efficient bulbs.

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Monday, January 1, 2007

Middle-of-the-Road Opinions Emerge on Climate

A number of scientists who espouse a middle ground on climate change have emerged, challenging both extremes of the climate change debate. Climate change presents a very real risk,” said Carl Wunsch, a climate and oceans expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It seems worth a very large premium to insure ourselves against the most catastrophic scenarios. Denying the risk seems utterly stupid. Claiming we can calculate the probabilities with any degree of skill seems equally stupid.”

According to an article in today's New York Times, "Many in this camp seek a policy of reducing vulnerability to all climate extremes while building public support for a sustained shift to nonpolluting energy sources. "
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