Monday, April 30, 2007

Green Faith

This week's Newsweek has a brief story called "God is Green." Here is an excerpt.

In San Francisco, an outfit called Interfaith Power & Light, started by an Episcopal priest named Sally Bingham, has 4,000 churches, synagogues, mosques and even a group of Jains (people who follow an ancient Indian religion) on its roster. Its state chapters teach congregations how to conserve energy, skills it hopes they'll also apply at home. The Quakers who, not surprisingly, have been at the forefront of the green-church movement, are seeing a surge of interest in the intersection between faith and ecology.
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Connecticut Event-Energy and Environmental Markets

Wed. May 9, 2007: Energy & Environmental Markets - Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and CT's Renewable Portfolio Standards

Please join us for the next program of the Business & Environment Speaker Series, presented by SoundWaters and UBS.
Speakers:David Goldberg, CT Department of Public Utility ControlChris Nelson, CT DEP, Climate Change and Energy GroupEnergy and Environmental planning in CT are becoming increasingly intertwined. Energy decisions made today will have environmental, energy security and reliability impacts for decades. Energy markets are some of the tools currently being used as part of CT's energy policy.Learn how CT's Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and CT's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are utilizing market forces to provide incentives to achieve efficient use and generation of electricity in the state.
Date:Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Reservations by Thursday, May 3
Time:5:30-6:30 pm
Reception 6:30-7:30 pm
Presentation/Question & AnswerLocation: UBS, 677 Washington Blvd. Stamford
No walk-ins will be permitted.Registration for this event is required.

Please email or call 203-406- 3319 by Thursday, May 3, to reserve your place. Attendees must furnish a State-issued Photo ID upon entry to the building. Bags are subject to inspection. No cameras or recording devices will be permitted.

Directions:By Train: Take Metro North to Stamford train station. UBS is located on Washington Blvd. and North State St., about a five minute walk. Follow the station's walkway to North State Street, cross the street and follow the path to the UBS main entrance on Washington Blvd.By Car: I-95 to Exit 7, Stamford. North on Washington Blvd. Entrance to Visitor Lot is located just north of the building.
Learn more...
phone: 203 323 1978
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Climate Change in Your Gut?

Could a "magic bullet" antibiotic be causing "climate changes" in your gut that harm your health? That's possible, according to an article in Wired.
"Probiotics (pills containing bacteria) have resulted in complete elimination of eczema in 80 percent of the people we've treated," says Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., a practicing physician and former member of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Pizzorno says he's used probiotics to treat irritable bowel disease, acne and even premenstrual syndrome. "It's unusual for me to see a patient with a chronic disease that doesn't respond to probiotics."
Clinical trial data on probiotics is incomplete, but there are many indications that hacking the body's bacteria is beneficial.
In sheer numbers, bacterial cells in the body outnumber our own by a factor of 10, with 50 trillion bacteria living in the digestive system alone, where they've remained largely unstudied until the last decade. As scientists learn more about them, they're beginning to chart the complex symbiosis between the tiny bugs and our health.
"The microbes that live in the human body are quite ancient," says NYU Medical Center microbiologist
Dr. Martin Blaser, a pioneer in gut microbe research. "They've been selected (through evolution) because they help us."
And it now appears that our daily antibacterial regimens are disrupting a balance that once protected humans from health problems, especially allergies and malfunctioning immune responses.
"After the Second World War, when our lifestyles changed dramatically, allergies increased. Autoimmune diseases like diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease are increasing," says
Kaarina Kukkonen, a University of Helsinki allergy expert. "The theory behind (what causes) the diseases is the same: Lacking bacterial stimulation in our environments may cause this increase. I think this is the tip of the iceberg."

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

IPCC Report Part 3: It's All About the Benjamins

"The Benjamins" is hip-hop slang for money, honey, and that subject is likely to come up as scientists and diplomats prepare to meet to hammer out the details of Part 3 of the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change Report, which deals with recommendations for combatting the problems stemming from the warming of the earth's environment, according to
Some of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters like the U.S. and Australia and top oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia will try to water down language in a draft report, obtained by The Associated Press earlier this month, that suggests reducing emissions could cost less than 3 percent of annual global economic activity, environmental activists said.
"Cost will be on everybody's mind," said environmental protection group WWF International's Martin Hiller. "Changing the energy system is costly, but we can still afford to do it. The cost for doing nothing is staggering and could be up to 20 times more expensive."
Developing countries are likely to demand that richer countries help them adapt to warming global temperatures, which are expected to cause widespread flooding, droughts and rising sea levels.
"If you take roads or electricity lines or buildings, they will all have to be adapted to climate change," said Hiller.
On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a network of more than 2,000 scientists, will open a five-day meeting in Bangkok to finalize a report on how the world can mitigate rising levels of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases.
The draft report, which will be amended following comments from dozens of governments, says emissions can be cut below current levels if the world shifts away from carbon-heavy fuels like coal, invests in energy efficiency and reforms the agriculture sector.
Two previous IPCC reports this year painted a dire picture of a future in which unabated greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.
Even a 2-degree-Celsius (3.6-degree-Fahrenheit) rise could subject up to 2 billion people to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20 percent to 30 percent of the world's species, the IPCC said.

The third report makes clear the world must quickly embrace a basket of technological options -- already available and being developed -- just to keep the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
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Hydrogen: The Future of Cars?

The New York Times pulled a stunt recently, asking auto manufacturers to show up with hydrogen cars at the site of the Hindenburg disaster on the anniversary of that disaster. It was supposed to show that the Hindenburg did not kill Hydrogen vehicles, but some automakers found the concept of the event tasteless. Three vehicles showed up, and the author talks about three other hydrogen-powered vehicles he has driven in this article. The main question he seeks to answer in this article is the one many consumers care about: how do these things drive?

In less than a minute, the Hindenburg disaster of 1937 turned hydrogen, which provided the zeppelin’s lift, into a pariah. But 70 years later, a growing number of advocates are promoting hydrogen as a panacea, a promising alternative to petroleum. In the last decade, every large carmaker has jumped on the hydrogen express.
In dozens of laboratories and research centers, scientists and engineers are busy searching for ways to reduce the cost and improve the practicality of hydrogen-powered vehicles. Development has progressed to the point that some of these prototype vehicles are in daily service, commuting around Detroit, delivering packages in Washington, serving urban bus routes.
To look in on the development progress of hydrogen vehicles, The New York Times invited 10 companies actively promoting hydrogen for personal transportation to bring their vehicles to the Naval Air Engineering Station here. With pressure mounting to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, the anniversary of a pivotal event 70 years ago seemed an appropriate time to look for a clearer understanding of what cars may be like in 30 years.
Some carmakers deemed the disaster site an awkward location for this gathering; others were sympathetic but unable to field a vehicle because experimental mules have testing and appearance schedules busier than those of presidential hopefuls. The three hydrogen-powered vehicles that did arrive here (all by trailer, because refueling was not available for the long trips from their bases) were not the latest models from the auto show circuit, but hard-working development vehicles with thousands of testing miles on their odometers.
Weather was also a factor. The day of the gathering was fraught by a severe northeaster. Six inches of rain was followed by flooded roads and snow, as the winds blew and angry skies frowned. But the show went on, thanks in part to the hosts at the base and the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society.
The Hindenburg anniversary is not the only reason hydrogen is in the news. Four years ago, in his State of the Union address, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion hydrogen initiative to foster clean air and lessen dependence on imported oil. The Department of Energy has conducted marriages of sorts, joining automakers with energy companies — General Motors and Shell; Ford and DaimlerChrysler with BP — to encourage research and set standards for refueling hardware.
As hydrogen gains favor, hydrocarbons seem to be taking over the role of villain. Peak oil theorists, especially Matthew Simmons, chairman of the Simmons & Company investment bank and the author of “Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy” contend that increased demand will outpace the ability to increase production. And the Supreme Court’s April 2 ruling that the E.P.A. has authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, as it does tailpipe emissions, was a powerful vote against fossil fuels.
So the three hydrogen-fueled vehicles that gathered at the Hindenburg crash site are harbingers of the future, proof that all of hydrogen’s
potential in transportation did not go up in flames 70 years ago.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

National UCC Event June 21, 2007

Never place a period where God has placed a comma”
-Gracie Allen

Linking Faith, Hope, Love, Justice and Action in our Churches
A Conference on Environmental Spirituality & Activism

Immanuel Congregational Church UCC
10 Woodland St. (Opposite the Mark Twain House)
Hartford, CT 06105
Presented by: The UCC National Environment and Energy Task Force

Thursday June 21, 2007 – 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Prior to General Synod)
Registration from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

Featured speakers and workshop leaders include:

Jerome Ringo is the Chairman of the Board of the National Wildlife Federation, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. He is also the President of the Apollo Alliance of labor unions, environmental organizations and businesses which promotes American industrial jobs and clean energy.

Beverly Wright is a sociologist and the founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) at Dillard University (formerly at Xavier University of Louisiana) in New Orleans. She is a leading scholar, advocate and activist in the environmental justice arena.

Robert D. Bullard is the Ware Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. He is the author of thirteen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation and smart growth.

Charles Lee is author of the UCC 1987 Toxic Waste and Race Report. Charles is currently the Director of the national EPA’s Environmental Justice Office

Registration is $25.00 and includes lunch
For registration form, email

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Earth Encyclopedia

The Earth Portal ( and its centerpiece, the Encyclopedia of Earth ( were just launched at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
The EoE is a means for the global scientific community to come together to produce the first free, expert-driven, massively scaleable information resource on the environment, and to engage civil society in a public dialogue on the role of environmental issues in human affairs. It contains no commercial advertising and will reach a large global audience.

At launch, the EoE has 3,000+ articles from more than 700 authors and content partners that span 50 nations. Initial content partners include the American Institute of Physics, the University of California Museum of Paleontology, the National Humanities Center, the International Arctic Science Committee, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and the United Nations Environment Programme, to name just a few.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Warming Action Divides Public

The majority of Americans believe that global climate change is a problem that demands immediate action, but that is where the consensus breaks down, according to a story in the New York Times.
When it comes to specific steps to foster conservation or produce more energy, the public is deeply torn, the poll found. Respondents said they would support higher gasoline prices to reduce dependence on foreign oil but would oppose higher prices to combat global warming.
By large margins, respondents opposed an increase in pump prices of $2 a gallon, or even $1, to deal with environmental and energy-supply concerns. Three-quarters said they would be willing to pay more for electricity generated by renewable sources like solar or wind energy.
The negative view of new gasoline taxes may reflect the wide expectation that pump prices will continue to increase regardless of government action. More than 80 percent foresee higher prices in coming months, with many citing the Iraq war as a primary cause. Most respondents said they did not expect that any withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would cause prices to fall.
Nearly half of those polled also said they did not believe that their fellow Americans would be willing to change driving habits to save gasoline or reduce the production of heat-trapping gases, which most scientists say contribute to the warming.
Respondents expressed little confidence in President Bush’s handling of environmental or energy issues, and a majority of those polled, including many Republicans, said Democrats were more likely than Republicans to protect the environment and foster energy independence.
One-third approved Mr. Bush’s handling of the environment and 27 percent approved his approach to energy questions. Democrats have criticized Mr. Bush’s policies on energy and the environment almost from the day he took office. Those policies have also cost him some Republican support, the poll showed.
“I think the Republicans have slashed the funds for cleanup of the environment, and if it comes down to whether or not it will cost big business, forget about the cleanup,” said Ron Gellerman, 65, a respondent from Maple Grove, Minn., who said he was a Republican.
“The Democrats are more willing to spend dollars on pure research,” Mr. Gellerman added in a follow-up interview after the poll was completed. “They’re open to alternative sources of energy, like wind. We could save more energy by increasing the efficiency of our electrical system and our automobiles. And the Democrats would be more willing to look at that sort of thing because they’re not so beholden to Big Oil.”
Many governors, members of Congress and presidential hopefuls from both parties have been more outspoken than Mr. Bush on the need to take immediate steps to combat global warming and reduce oil imports.
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Message of Hope

PR Web has an announcment of a new book about faith, hope, and science as it pertains to climate change.
Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos: An Ecological Christianity (Copperhouse 2007) Bruce Sanguin shows us the way to find a spiritual solution by integrating ecology into our concept of God.
Sanguin draws on upon the work of mathematical physicist and cosmologist Brian Swimme and cultural historian Thomas Berry. Sanguin takes the next step of integrating evolution and the new physics with faith. The latest scientific understandings of the nature of the universe are woven together with biblical narratives, the teachings of Jesus, and a long suppressed Wisdom tradition grounded in the feminine divine.
The end result is a truly evolutionary
Christian theology – a feat few theologians have even attempted. This new Christian way provides a vision to lead us out of the global climate crisis.
Bruce Sanguin is an evocative, Earth-conscious minister at Canadian Memorial Church and Centre for Peace in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has been a United Church minister for 18 years; before that he was a practicing therapist. Bruce has a passion for reconciling
science and religion. He is the author of Summoning the Whirlwind: Unconventional Sermons for a Relevant Christian Faith.

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Pope: Climate Change Harms Vulnerable

Here is the article, as it appeared in Monsters and Critics:
In a world whose resources should be universal, climate change tends to damage the weakest the most, Pope Benedict XVI told experts taking part in an international conference on the environment taking place at the Vatican on Thursday and Friday.
In a message to participants, the pontiff also said it was his hope that the conference would help promote lifestyles and modes of production that respect 'creation' and 'sustainable development,' in line with the teachings of the Church.
Some 80 experts from 20 countries were taking part in a conference on 'climate change and development' organized by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tap Into Climate Change

The members of Spinal Tap, the world's favorite fake heavy metal band, have discovered climate change, according to an article in
(Full disclosure: This Blogger owns a copy of "This is Spinal Tap" and knows all the lyrics to "Big Bottoms." I'm not proud of this; it's just a fact.)

The mock heavy metal group immortalized in the 1984 mockumentary, "This is Spinal Tap," will reunite for a performance at Wembley Stadium in London as part of the Live Earth concerts scheduled worldwide for July 7.
The original members of Spinal Tap will be there: guitarist Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest), singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer). Rob Reiner, who both directed "This is Spinal Tap" and played the fake documentarian Marty DeBergi in the film, will also be in attendance.
A new 15-minute film directed by Reiner on the band's reunion will also play at the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Wednesday. The slate for the opening gala, to be hosted by Al Gore, was previously announced, excepting the Reiner short.
The festival is to open with a showing of several global warming-themed short films produced by the SOS (Save Our Selves) campaign. SOS is also putting on the Live Earth concerts, to be held across seven continents.
Reiner spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday to explain the reunion of Spinal Tap - a band always known more as a parody of rock `n roll excess than environmental awareness.
"They're not that environmentally conscious, but they've heard of global warming," said Reiner, whose other films include "When Harry Met Sally" and "Stand By Me." "Nigel thought it was just because he was wearing too much clothing - that if he just took his jacket off it would be cooler."
Spinal Tap has reunited several times since the film, but hasn't for a number of years. For the band - whose last album was 1992's "Break like the Wind" - the occasion warranted a new single: "Warmer Than Hell."
Reiner provided a sneak peak at the lyrics: "The devil went to Devon, it felt like the fourth degree/ He said, `Is it hot in here, or is it only me?'"
The director said the new short film explains what the band has been doing with their lives lately. Nigel has been raising miniature horses to race, but can't find jockeys small enough to ride them; David is now a hip-hop producer who also runs a colonic clinic; and Derek is in rehab for addiction to the Internet.

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Think Globally, Eat Locally

Eating organic is soooo 90s. Locavores--those who eat food grown locally (within a 100-mile to 250-mile radius, depending on who is setting the standards) are the standard bearers for the newest green trend, according to an article in the New York Times.
Many drawn to the movement say they have been eating that way for years and had never thought about the implications beyond the flavor. “Initially it was the taste thing for me,” said Robin McDermott, who lives in Waitsfield, Vt., where locavores call themselves localvores. “But now when I think about what it takes to get lettuce across the country so I can eat it in the middle of winter, between the fuel costs and the contribution all the transportation is making to global warming and climate change, I just can’t do it. It’s not sustainable and I don’t want to contribute to it.”
Those who think this is another harebrained scheme of the food fringe may be surprised to learn that locavores are poised to move into the mainstream. Barbara Kingsolver, the best-selling novelist, has written one of three books out this spring about eating locally.
“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (HarperCollins) recounts her family’s adventures during the year they spent eating food raised in their corner of southwest Virginia. Her book and others are successors to several earlier books including “Coming Home to Eat” by Gary Paul Nabhan and “Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection” by Jessica Prentice, who coined the word locavore and founded the Web site
Ms. Prentice’s group claims to have started the grass-roots locavore challenges that sprang up in California in 2005. Participants exchange recipes and advice.
Some locavores follow the 100 Mile Diet, created by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, authors of the just-released “Plenty” (Harmony). They spent a year in British Columbia eating only food grown within a 100-mile radius.
It wasn’t easy. Faced with potatoes, once again, for lunch, Ms. Smith recounts her feeling that “I’d kill for a sandwich.” When Mr. MacKinnon said he would make her one, she couldn’t imagine what he had in mind because they had no local flour for bread. But soon enough he produced greenhouse-grown red peppers and fried mushrooms with goat cheese between two golden brown slices of something. Something turned out to be turnips.
The authors held so strictly to their plan that when they eventually found locally grown wheat they took it even though it was filled with mouse droppings. Mr. MacKinnon painstakingly separated the droppings from the wheat with the edge of a credit card.
The plan outlined in Ms. Kingsolver’s book is much less strict than the one in “Plenty.” The author said that in her attitude toward food she is something between a Puritan (“I’m going to be holy right now”) and a toddler (“I want absolutely everything every minute and the idea of not having fresh peaches in January is sort of horrifying”).
Each member of her family was allowed one luxury item that came from far away. Her husband chose coffee, her children hot chocolate and dried fruit. Spices were Ms. Kingsolver’s indulgence.
“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” gives no sense of privation or even boredom. Ms. Kingsolver spent a fair amount of time putting foods by when they were in season so that the larder was stocked.
But most readers would have trouble following her program, which included raising much of what the family ate on their farm, including chickens and turkeys.
“We undertook this project because it brings together so many compelling issues of the moment: carbon footprint, global warming, the local economy, the nutritional crisis and community,” said Ms. Kingsolver. “Community is very important to me and every book I’ve ever written is on this subject: what is the debt of the individual to the community?”
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Red, White, and Green

We're talking wine, of course. The New York Times has a feature about increasing interest in green wines.
Green has not yet replaced red or white or even pink as the most important color in deciding which wines to buy, but people have started to think about it. Words like organic, biodynamic, natural and sustainable are increasingly resonating with consumers, not just because they are concerned about health and the environment, but because they are beginning to associate them with great wine, the way organic has become a synonym for high-quality produce.

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A Green Prince (and he's not a frog)

The New York Times has a story about an unlikely hero of some green-leaning Americans--Prince Charles of England.
Prince Charles, whose hobbies have included both polo and the peculiarly English rural craft called hedge laying, cherishes tradition. In his world, it seems, not much good can come of change. He has waged war against modernity, both in faceless urban architecture and in the erosion of the rural British way of life.
At home, the royal perspective has been criticized as conservative, stodgy and elitist. But to some of the generals of the American food revolution, the prince qualifies as downright progressive.
Alice Waters, who drove the organic movement in the United States, is smitten. “He is, in private, really one of the most forward-thinking, radical humanitarians I have ever talked to,” she said.
The left-leaning food elite of the United States has prince fever, and it has nothing to do with an underlying fascination with the monarchy, Diana and Helen Mirren notwithstanding. To Ms. Waters and her troops, no one else of the prince’s stature has spoken out on the issues they hold dear: responsible stewardship of the land, preservation of rural life and the need for good food grown without chemicals or worker exploitation.
“Can you think of any American political figure who has spoken eloquently or bravely about these issues?” asked Eric Schlosser, the author of “Fast Food Nation,” who has become a friend of the prince.
Ms. Waters agreed. “
Al Gore doesn’t even talk about food,” she said.
(That’s not to say Mr. Gore doesn’t have prince fever, too. He has visited Highgrove to discuss the environment with the prince, and the two happily trade shout-outs to each other in speeches.)
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REGGI: Who Pays?

On Thursday, the state of Connecticut will release its plan to implement REGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Environmentalists and Power companies are at odds about who will pay for it. Listen to the story on local public radio station WNPR.

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Gas With a Side of Carbon Credits

The New York Times reports that Russian energy company Gazprom plans to bundle carbon credits with gas and sell them.
Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, has made handsome profits selling natural gas to Europe.

Now the company is positioning itself to make even more money, this time from the effluents from all that gas it sells to Europe. Gazprom announced Tuesday that it is selling carbon dioxide emissions credits that companies in the
European Union need in order to burn Gazprom’s fuel.

The company is already testing the market for an innovative combination sale of fuel-and-emissions credits in countries that have undertaken to limit the release of gases that scientists say are warming the earth.

In 2005, the European Union, the major market for Gazprom, introduced a cap-and-trade scheme that allows polluters to buy credits that allow them to pollute and nonpolluters to sell pollution credits that they won’t use. That system is now being closely watched as Congress considers a similar mechanism in the United States.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bee Afraid, Bee Very Afraid

According to the New York Times, the mystery of the disappearing honey bees is becoming a cause for greater and greater alarm in the scientific community. Here is an excerpt from today's article:
More than a quarter of the country’s 2.4 million bee colonies have been lost — tens of billions of bees, according to an estimate from the Apiary Inspectors of America, a national group that tracks beekeeping. So far, no one can say what is causing the bees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives.

The volume of theories “is totally mind-boggling,” said Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist at
Pennsylvania State University. With Jeffrey S. Pettis, an entomologist from the United States Department of Agriculture, Dr. Cox-Foster is leading a team of researchers who are trying to find answers to explain “colony collapse disorder,” the name given for the disappearing bee syndrome.

“Clearly there is an urgency to solve this,” Dr. Cox-Foster said. “We are trying to move as quickly as we can.”

Dr. Cox-Foster and fellow scientists who are here at a two-day meeting to discuss early findings and future plans with government officials have been focusing on the most likely suspects: a virus, a fungus or a pesticide.
About 60 researchers from North America sifted the possibilities at the meeting today. Some expressed concern about the speed at which adult bees are disappearing from their hives; some colonies have collapsed in as little as two days. Others noted that countries in Europe, as well as Guatemala and parts of Brazil, are also struggling for answers.

“There are losses around the world that may or not be linked,” Dr. Pettis said.

The investigation is now entering a critical phase. The researchers have collected samples in several states and have begun doing bee autopsies and genetic analysis.

So far, known enemies of the bee world, like the varroa mite, on their own at least, do not appear to be responsible for the unusually high losses.
Genetic testing at
Columbia University has revealed the presence of multiple micro-organisms in bees from hives or colonies that are in decline, suggesting that something is weakening their immune system. The researchers have found some fungi in the affected bees that are found in humans whose immune systems have been suppressed by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or cancer.

“That is extremely unusual,” Dr. Cox-Foster said.

Meanwhile, samples were sent to an Agriculture Department laboratory in North Carolina this month to screen for 117 chemicals. Particular suspicion falls on a pesticide that France banned out of concern that it may have been decimating bee colonies. Concern has also mounted among public officials.

“There are so many of our crops that require pollinators,” said Representative Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat whose district includes that state’s central agricultural valley, and who presided last month at a Congressional hearing on the bee issue. “We need an urgent call to arms to try to ascertain what is really going on here with the bees, and bring as much science as we possibly can to bear on the problem.”
So far, colony collapse disorder has been found in 27 states, according to Bee Alert Technology Inc., a company monitoring the problem. A recent survey of 13 states by the Apiary Inspectors of America showed that 26 percent of beekeepers had lost half of their bee colonies between September and March.

Honeybees are arguably the insects that are most important to the human food chain. They are the principal pollinators of hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers and nuts. The number of bee colonies has been declining since the 1940s, even as the crops that rely on them, such as California almonds, have grown. In October, at about the time that beekeepers were experiencing huge bee losses, a study by the
National Academy of Sciences questioned whether American agriculture was relying too heavily on one type of pollinator, the honeybee.

Bee colonies have been under stress in recent years as more beekeepers have resorted to crisscrossing the country with 18-wheel trucks full of bees in search of pollination work. These bees may suffer from a
diet that includes artificial supplements, concoctions akin to energy drinks and power bars. In several states, suburban sprawl has limited the bees’ natural forage areas.

So far, the researchers have discounted the possibility that poor diet alone could be responsible for the widespread losses. They have also set aside for now the possibility that the cause could be bees feeding from a commonly used genetically modified crop, Bt corn, because the symptoms typically associated with toxins, such as blood poisoning, are not showing up in the affected bees. But researchers emphasized today that feeding supplements produced from genetically modified crops, such as high-fructose corn syrup, need to be studied.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Biking for the Climate

David Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee will begin a U.S. bicycle tour to raise awareness about Climate Change on April 21, 2007. They will be giving presentations along the way to discuss global warming and the many solutions that are available now. They will make a stop in Hartford on April 25th.

David Kroodsma just finished bicycling from California to the tip of South America to raise awareness about global warming. This trip highlighted the international effects of global warming, and David appeared in the media and talked at schools throughout 16 countries.

Bill Bradlee works in the nonprofit community teaching people how to have a voice in making environmental policy. Bill's passion is helping people understand environmental issues and then make changes that will create a healthy environment for current and future generations.

David and Bill will be coming through Hartford April 25th. They will be speaking at Alchemy Juice Bar from 4:00-7:00 pm with a special presentation on global warming challenges and solutions at 5:00. Local biking organizer, Tony Cherolis will also be there with an update on opportunities and barriers to cycling in CT. Anyone interested is invited to attend.

Alchemy Juice Bar is a restaurant serving organic, vegetarian, raw, vegan, and macro meal options. The food is wonderful so please consider joining us for dinner.

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Maybe She's Not His Type?

In case you have ever wondered, Karl Rove is not strong enough to be Sheryl Crow's man.

Enviromental activists Laurie David (wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David) and Sheryl Crow (gorgeous Rock Star) attempted to talk to Karl Rove about Climate Change at the White House Correspondents Dinner. All sides agree that the discussion turned heated very quickly. Apparently things really got nasty when Sheryl Crow laid her pretty little hand on Rove to try and prevent him from walking away and Rove snarled, "Don't touch me!" Here is an excerpt of the account the two women posted about the unpleasant encounter in the Huffington Post:

In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unfazed, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."

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Will NYC become The Big Green Apple?

In a quarter-century plan to create what he called “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed a sweeping and politically contentious vision yesterday of 127 projects, regulations and innovations for New York and
The plan is intended to foster steady population growth, with the city expected to gain about 1 million residents by 2030, and to put in place a host of environmentally sensitive measures that would reduce the greenhouse gases it generates.
Mr. Bloomberg also set the parameters for what could be a large piece of his legacy as mayor. In an address outlining the plan yesterday at the
American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, Mr. Bloomberg likened it to the first blueprints for Central Park more than 100 years ago and the construction of Rockefeller Center in the Great Depression.
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Protect Water for Earth Day

Church World Service is focusing attention this Earth Day on the importance of water in the discussion around climate change.
Rajyashri Waghray, education and advocacy director for the global humanitarian agency, emphasizes that attention must be paid to the needs of people, particularly the "vulnerable and marginalized"--who will be hit hardest by looming water shortages.
Says Waghray, "One of the root causes of hunger and poverty is the lack of access to safe, affordable water and sanitation. CWS works to confront these root causes."
Church World Service is offering education, worship, and public policy resources to help people better understand this vital issue issue; is working with partners to increase access to safe water for drinking, sanitation, and household use; and is providing public policy advocacy opportunities to help you get involved.

CWS has a variety of resources available on the topic of water. Check it out here.

From a Distance

In honor of Earth Day, some newspapers are printing what astronauts have to say about our home planet.

For Earth Day, the Associated Press asked space travelers to recall what it's like to see Earth from above:

"You can see what a small little atmosphere is protecting us. You realize there's not much protecting this planet, particularly when you see the view from the side."— SUNITA WILLIAMS, who has been living on the international space station since Dec. 11, 2006.

"I left Earth three times. I found no place else to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth."— WALLY SCHIRRA, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo in the 1960s

"You come back impressed, once you've been up there, with how thin our little atmosphere is that supports all life here on Earth. So if we foul it up, there's no coming back from something like that."— JOHN GLENN, first American in orbit (1962)

"It's something that many people take for granted when they're born and they grow up within the environment. But they don't realize what they have. And I didn't till I left it."— JIM LOVELL, Apollo 8 and 13

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Clean Power in China

China has a reputation as the world's fastest growing polluter, but that's not the whole story, according to an article in the New York Times.

Physicist Shi Zhengrong spent the 1990s in an Australian lab studying solar power, a field he picked by chance. He expected to devote his life to science.
Still, Shi saw signs of a blossoming industry as Germany, Japan and other countries invested in cleaner power. Excited by a trip home that showed him China's rapid development, he startled friends by abruptly moving his wife and two Australian-born sons to his homeland in 2001 to launch a solar equipment company.
Four years later, Shi's confidence paid off when his Suntech Power Holdings Ltd. went public on the
New York Stock Exchange and investors snapped up shares, turning him into a billionaire. Last year, Shi ranked No. 7 on the Forbes magazine list of China's richest tycoons, with a $1.4 billion fortune.
Today, he has traded his research smock for blue business suits, a CEO's 63rd-floor corner office and a role advising the Chinese government on renewable energy policy.
''We believed the share price would go up, but not so quickly,'' said Shi, a 43-year-old with a boyish face, chuckling at what he says was a rise marked by lucky breaks and timing. ''I never thought I would be a rich guy.''
Shi is the leader of an emerging group of Chinese entrepreneurs who are striking it rich by meeting fast-growing demand in China and abroad for cleaner power.
They are getting a boost from China's efforts to curb environmental damage after two decades of breakneck growth that have left it with some of the world's most badly polluted air and water. Chinese leaders also are promoting renewable energy in hopes of reducing mounting dependence on imported oil, which they see as a strategic weakness.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Rebuilding Together April 28

Here's a way to get hands-on and help people in need and the environment.

Rebuilding Together Hartford is sponsoring its annual National Rebuilding Day on Saturday, April 28th. You are invited to join us as we make a difference in the lives of 24 low-income Hartford homeowners. Our goal when we were planning these projects is to address home repair, accessibility modification and energy efficiency issues. We can’t accomplish that goal without the support of hundreds of volunteers like you. Would you consider sharing your time and talent?

To pre-register as a volunteer please go to our web site at and provide us with your contact info and e-mail. We will not be accepting any walk-ins unless with a sponsor so please take the time to pre-register. Volunteer check-in is at 7:30AM on the grounds of St. Francis Hospital, 1000 Asylum Avenue, Hartford. Look for the big white tent. Plenty of parking and bring your favorite work around the home tools.

If you have any questions please call me at 860-757-9428 or e-mail me at

Thanks in advance for your continued support.

Greg Secord, Executive Director
Rebuilding Together Hartford, Inc.
PO Box 230295
Hartford, CT 06123-0295
860-722-6083 Fax

Be part of "Rebuild 1000" as Rebuilding Together helps rebuild the Gulf coast

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Green=Red, White and Blue?

The New York Times Magazine has a long article about how we must re-make our country into a green one for the sake of Democracy.

In the world of ideas, to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. One thing that always struck me about the term “green” was the degree to which, for so many years, it was defined by its opponents — by the people who wanted to disparage it. And they defined it as “liberal,” “tree-hugging,” “sissy,” “girlie-man,” “unpatriotic,” “vaguely French.”
Well, I want to rename “green.” I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

We Stepped it Up!

I joined a demonstration in Simsbury, Connecticut (I'm the face pictured above the "it" of "Step it Up"), while our Director, Andrea Cohen-Kiener, Stepped it Up with Board members and lots of others in Hartford. Check out more events here.
Various Connecticut demonstrations were covered in a Hartford Courant article.

"In another time everybody marched on Washington. This is a national march happening in a thousand places all over the country. That's pretty amazing," said the Rev. Tom Carr of First Baptist Church in West Hartford.
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Time to Step it Up!

It's not too late to be part of this historic demonstration in favor of cutting greenhouse gas emissions! To join a demonstration go to the Step It Up Website. If you have completed or plan to complete an action today, post a picture and report at their reporting page. Also, be sure to check out Step It Up's Next Steps campaign--this event is intended to be the beginning of a vital movement.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Newt and John Duke it Out about Warming

John Kerry and Newt Gingrich debated climate change solutions in Washington. Both agree it is a problem requiring immediate action--the debate was about how to tackle the issue, according to the Voice of America News.

Kerry insists that government take a leading role in setting new environmental standards, including limits on carbon dioxide emissions for private industry.
Gingrich prefers a voluntary approach including economic incentives, like tax credits, that would encourage change on the part of businesses and consumers.
"The morning you provide the incentives, there will be 50,000 entrepreneurs figuring out how to get the money," he said. "The morning you try to do it by regulation, there will be 50,000 entrepreneurs hiring a lawyer to fight you. It is a fundamentally different model."
Senator Kerry takes issue with what he called a strict market approach to solving the problem. Kerry says that, historically, environmental action has come about through government involvement. He cites the environmental movement that developed in the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"That is when we passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act and that is when Richard Nixon signed the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] into existence because people rose up and said we want something different, not because the marketplace was doing it voluntarily," he said.
Kerry and Gingrich agree on the importance of encouraging industrial giants like China and India to take part in climate change efforts.

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Yale Interfaith Event April 21

On Saturday, April 21st, please join the students of the Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for 'Interfaith Solidarity on Global Climate Change', an interfaith climate change awareness gathering on the Yale Divinity School Quad (409 Prospect St, New Haven). We invite all interested individuals and religious communities to gather in an expression of shared concern about global climate change, and to show our support of one another aswe work together to address this and other environmental issues. Come willing to learn and share - leave feeling empowered! Individuals and delegations from religious communities are encouraged to bring a banner or other symbols of their community so we may recognize the diversity ofthe faith-based environmental movement. Families (including leashed pets) are welcome! Before the event officially kicks off at 12, attend a FREE one hour sustainable energy workshop with Carol Wilson, energy consultant and instructor of theInterreligious Eco-Justice Network's 'This Old House of Worship' program. The workshop will be from 11 AM until 12 noon on the Quad. At 12 Noon, we will officially start the event by gathering for a prayer andtime of reflection on global climate change. Immediately following the prayer,we invite all to join us for an informal information exchange among faith-based leaders - clergy and lay, environmental activists and organizations from theYale and Greater New Haven communities, and university students. At 1 PM we'll host a general Q and A session - all questions welcome. Plus, we'll have activities for kids, and LIVE MUSIC by the Yale Klezmer Band! Enjoy a FREE lunch catered by Claire's CornerCopia, a New Haven restaurant featuring delicious and original dishes made with locally grown and organicproduce.Please don't miss this opportunity to join us on Saturday, April 21st for a time of prayer, partnership building, and celebration for the Earth!If you have any questions, and to RSVP (appreciated but not required), pleasecontact Rachel ( SPREAD THE WORD!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Climate for National Security

Senators Dick Durbin (Democrat) and Chuck Hagel (Republican) have introduced a bill in the US Senate that would require federal intelligence agencies to collaborate on a National Intelligence Estimate to evaluate the security challenges presented by climate change, according to an article in Salon.

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Is 2007 the Climate Change Tipping Point?

Is interest in saving the world from human-caused climate-change disasters taking permanent hold in people's consciousness, or will the current uptick in climate awareness turn out to be just a fad? Newsweek explores that frightening but very relevant question this week.
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Monday, April 9, 2007

Faithful Seek to Rescue the Environment

An article in the Contra Costa Times covers the current state of Christian faith-based initiatives to combat the effects of climate change.

The global environmental crisis has filled spiritual leaders with a bitter awe this Easter, a time for repentance and rebirth, to consider the broken body and the transcendent miracle.
As the sun rose on Good Friday, a stark study spelling out the disastrous repercussions of global warning hit the news wires.
"Certainly, we have a lot to repent for in our treatment of the Earth over the centuries," said the Rev. Larry Hunter of St. Stephen's Episopal Church in Orinda.
"Lent is a time of introspection," said the Rev. Greg Ledbetter of Shell Ridge Community Church, a Baptist congregation in Walnut Creek. "It asks us to make a rigorous assessment. Easter brings the huge implication to be aware of the big picture."
The Rev. Sally Bingham of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco made that rigorous assessment, and she gave up heating her house for Lent.
"It was a symbol of not polluting the air for people who live around the dirty, filthy power plants," said Bingham, who founded California Interfaith Power and Light. The ecumenical organization promotes sustainable energy practices and sounds the alarm on global warming.
"The celebration of Easter and the Resurrection ... is a very appropriate time to relook at our relationship with the sacred, which includes creation," she said.
This is also a time to measure how much "the religious center of gravity has shifted," wrote Jim Rice, editor of Sojourners Magazine.

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Climate Change Discussion

The World Affairs Council is sponsoring a discussion on Climate Change on Tuesday, April 1o at the Mark Twain House Visitors Center in Hartford, Center 351 Farmington Avenue, 6:30 - 10:00 p.m. Scroll down for RSVP info.

The program will be moderated by Congressman John Larson. Featured Speakers are:

Dr. Anji Seth, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Connecticut. Dr. Seth will give a global perspective on climate change science.

Roger Smith, Campaign Director, Clean Water Action Coordinator, Connecticut Climate Coalition, Mr. Smith will discuss what is being done at the local grass roots level.
Lynn Stoddard, Environmental Analyst, CT Department of Environmental Protection. Ms. Stoddard will discuss CT state climate change policy.

Kenneth Reifsnider, Director, Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center, Pratt & Whitney Chair Professor of Design and Reliability, University of Connecticut. Mr. Reifsnider will speak about new technologies in relation to climate change.
Suggested Donation - $10*
All proceeds go the World Affairs Council. For more information or to reserve a seat contact860-241-6118 or

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Friday, April 6, 2007

Climate Change II: The Return of the Scary IPCC REPORT

The IPCC released part 2 of its four-part report on climate change. This part talks about climate changes that are happening now and the projections for future climates if warming trends continue.
Perhaps the most dramatic prediction for the US is the establishment of a permanent drought in the Southwest, according to Reuters.
The U.S. Southwest, home to some of the fastest growing cities in the country, could be on a path toward permanent drought caused by greenhouse warming, a new study said.

Dry conditions rivaling the Western droughts of the 1950s and the Dust Bowl that desiccated and then blew away the soil of the Great Plains states in the 1930s could hit the region and northern Mexico as early as 2030, according to the study, published in the journal Science on Thursday.
"The 30s and 50s droughts lasted at most eight or nine years. We're talking about something here that is a drier overall climate," Richard Seager, the study's lead author, and a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, said in an interview.
"Once it's established, you're not going to be expecting precipitation to be turning back to levels we are familiar with in the later part of the 20th century."

A sudden sweeping shift to clean technologies such as wind and solar power or rapid success in burying CO2 emissions from coal plants in places like the United States, China and India could mean C02 emissions fall sooner and ease drought threats.

But that is unlikely given the infancy of such technologies. Washington predicts fossil fuels will remain the main source of energy until at least the mid-century.

"A sudden reduction in emissions would prevent the very worst from happening. But some part of this is already inevitable with the CO2 we've already put into the atmosphere," said Seager.
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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Next Installment of Climate Report Due

According to CNN, scientists and policymakers are engaged in last-minute debate about the wording of the next installment (part 2) of the four-part Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change report that will be released over the course of this year.
The entire final draft report, obtained last week by The Associated Press, has 20 chapters, supplements, two summaries and totals 1,572 pages. This week's wrangling is just over the 21-page summary for policymakers. (Full story)
It is the second of four reports from the IPCC this year; the first report in February laid out the scientific case for how global warming is happening. (
Full story)
This second report is the "so what" report, explaining what the effects of global warming will be.

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Chlorine-Free Swimming Pools

Natural pools are increasing in popularity in Europe and have even found a few fans in the US, according to a New York Times article. They control bacteria and algae through the use of "organic cleanser" vegetation, skimmers and pumps. The pools look like ponds except they are invitingly clear.
The pools, which cost about the same as or slightly more than conventional ones, depending on landscaping, appeal to gardeners because of the great variety of plant life that can be grown in them, as well as to green advocates and others who don’t want to swim in chlorinated water.
“Many, many people don’t like chlorine,” said Bryan Morse, who runs a landscaping company in Vista, Calif., called Expanding Horizons that builds water features and branched into natural pools five years ago. Taking advantage of the Southern California climate, Mr. Morse created a sort of jungle lagoon in his own backyard, building a natural swimming pool with a thatch-roof palapa and a regeneration zone filled with tropical foliage like Madagascar palm and varieties of canna lilies.
Total Habitat Natural Pools

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Let Them Drink (bottled) Water

The water industry sees climate change and drought as just another golden business opportunity, according to this article in the Financial Times.
China, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, where water shortages have become acute, are placing billions of dollars of contracts out to tender to improve water supplies for their growing populations. The trend is expected to grow, as 40 per cent of the world’s population will suffer water shortages by 2050, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Global warming is expected to exacerbate the problem.

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Bush, States Split on Emissions

According to a story in the New York Times, President Bush is satisfied with the progress his administration has made on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while several states have opted to enact their own, stricter standards.
A day after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases, President Bush said he thought that the measures he had taken so far were sufficient.

But the court’s ruling was being welcomed by Congress and the states, which are already using the decision to speed their own efforts to regulate the gases that contribute to global climate change. As a result, Congress and state legislatures are almost certain to be the arenas for far-reaching and bruising lobbying battles.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Art for the Climate

A new art exhibit in Argentina is designed to raise awareness about the issue of climate change, according to a story in Reuters.

As icebergs melt and sea levels rise at the north and south poles due to global warming, dozens of artists are installing and performing works in this small Argentine city on the island of Tierra del Fuego to highlight the damage being done.
"Sunflower: Sentinel for Climate Change" is just one of the pieces on display here this month at the so-called End of the World Biennial. But with its solar-paneled petals, thermometers and cameras, it is probably the most functional.
"I think all of us should do something" about global warming, said Argentine artist Joaquin Fargas. "The idea of Sunflower is that it becomes an icon, an emblem of the need for all of us to be witnesses to what is happening."

The story includes photos of some of the pieces.
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Eco-Awareness at Passover

According to an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Jewish Community Federation of Rochester is promoting eco-awareness for Passover.

During B.J. Yudelson's family Passover celebration tonight, someone at the table will ask why the Jewish people dip green herbs in salt water.Yudelson, in conjunction with an initiative of the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester, plans to expand on this question, one of the traditional four considered at Passover. As the family talks about how salt water represents the tears of the Jewish slaves, Yudelson will ask her five grandchildren, "Is our Earth crying?"
This Passover, which begins today and will continue through April 10, the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester is asking its members to consider the Jewish mission of "tikkun olam," which means "repair of the world."
The federation sent out a pamphlet printed on recycled paper to almost 6,000 people, offering suggestions for four other questions to be asked at this year's Seder: How can we make this Passover different from all others? Why is the environment a Jewish concern? If the Earth, ha'aretz, could speak at this year's Seder, what would it say? Can our family really make a difference?

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Climate Change: Case Studies

The New York Times continues reporting on how poor nations are paying the price for the greenhouse gases produced by wealthy nations (chiefly the US and Western Europe.
“We have an obligation to help countries prepare for the climate changes that we are largely responsible for,” said Peter H. Gleick, the founder of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Berkeley, Calif. His institute has been tracking trends like the burst of new desalination plants in wealthy places running short of water.
“If you drive your car into your neighbor’s living room, don’t you owe your neighbor something?” Dr. Gleick said. “On this planet, we’re driving the climate car into our neighbors’ living room, and they don’t have insurance and we do.”
Around the world, there are abundant examples of how wealth is already enabling some countries to gird against climatic and coastal risks, while poverty, geography and history place some of the world’s most crowded, vulnerable regions directly in harm’s way.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

The Rich Pollute, The Poor Pay

Wealthy nations contribute about 2/3 of the greenhouse gases that are leading to climate change, while poorer nations will suffer the brunt of the consequences, according to a New York Times article.
The world’s richest countries, which have contributed by far the most to the atmospheric changes linked to global warming, are already spending billions of dollars to limit their own risks from its worst consequences, like drought and rising seas.

But despite longstanding treaty commitments to help poor countries deal with warming, these industrial powers are spending just tens of millions of dollars on ways to limit climate and coastal hazards in the world’s most vulnerable regions — most of them close to the equator and overwhelmingly poor.

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Supreme Retort

This item, reprinted in its entirety, appeared in Salon:

Finally, a Supreme Court victory for Al Gore
In a blow to the Bush administration, the Supreme Court has just ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must
revisit its decision that it lacks the power to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said that the EPA has offered a "laundry list" of excuses but "no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change."
-- Tim Grieve

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