November 26th, 2014

EPA Expected to Propose New Ozone Standards

Posted by guest

New, proposed ozone standards by the Environmental Protection Agency would be a major victory for public health groups but it could also throw hundreds of counties out of compliance. The Obama administration is expected to propose tougher limits on smog.

According to the L.A. Times, “The current limit for ground-level ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog, is 75 parts per billion. Concluding that the limit is too weak to protect people’s health, Environmental Protection Agency staff and its science advisors had recommended strengthening the federal standard to 60 to 70 parts per billion.”

The EPA is seeking to increase the federal standard to 65-70 parts per billion and also seeking public comment on the new standards. Environmentalists would like to see the stringent standard of 60 parts per billion whereas businesses would like to keep the existing standards of 75 parts per billion.

The EPA believes that it is necessary to toughen limits on ozone pollution now although it may not be popular to do so with the new Republican controlled Congress about to take office. One of the main reasons that the EPA created a new proposal is to protect Americans from a significant health threat.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement announcing the proposal, “We deserve to know the air we breath is safe.” McCarthy also cited the EPA’s legal mandate to “bring ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science,” the ozone’s damaging effects on children and the elderly while explaining what ground-level ozone is (a respiratory irritant that derives from fossil-fuel burning) and its links to asthmatic attacks and other ailments.

Big business like the oil industry and power companies say that the tighter ozone standard would damage the economy and would send manufacturing jobs overseas. Several Republicans are trying to find a way to thwart the new proposal because they believe that the current standard is healthy. The EPA maintains that the proposal is based on science and that they will listen to what scientists have told them about ozone pollutants and how to keep the air the public is breathing safe.

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

November 21st, 2014

Scottish Government Allocates £3.7m to help buy 83 eco-friendly buses

Posted by Lisa Carey

By: B4bees

The Scottish Government has committed to an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by 42 percent by the year 2020. In order to accomplish this goal the government has allocated £3.7m ($5.9m USD) to help buy 83 eco-friendly buses to support public transport. The newest additions will bring the total of low carbon buses in Scotland to 209.

The funds have been awarded to nine bus operators through the Scottish Green Bus Fund. First Glasgow, Wilson’s of Rhu, Secure Airparks, First Scotland East, Lothian Buses, Stagecoach North Scotland and Orkney Islands Council are the bus operators who will be recipients of the funding allocation.

The Scottish Green Bus Fund is run through Transport Scotland the national transport agency for Scotland. The goal of Transport Scotland is “to deliver a safe, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transport system for the benefit of the people of Scotland, playing a key role in helping to achieve the Scottish Government’s Purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish.”

Scotland’s sustainable economic growth is on the rise. The country has engaged in creating a supportive business environment, has begun transitioning to a low carbon economy, and embraced a strategic priorities plan to accelerate and drive sustainable growth.

David Alexander, regional managing director for First UK Bus in Scotland and North England, said of the funding, “The Scottish Green Bus Fund is a fantastic initiative and will support our £7.8m investment in 52 state of the art green vehicles. Bus travel is part of the solution to climate change and congestion. In partnership with manufacturers, we helped bring to market ‘Streetlite micro-hybrid’ vehicles, one of the world’s most fuel efficient buses.”

Alexander is excited that the funding will help bring 43 more fuel efficient buses to Scotland.

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

November 14th, 2014

UK Wind Farms Generated More Power than Nuclear Power Plants

Posted by guest

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 wind farms in the UK generated more power than nuclear power plants. According to the National Grid, the power increase was due to high winds and faults in nuclear plants. The surge came shortly after the wind farms hit a milestone the previous Saturday when the wind farms generated 6,372 MW of energy.

Wind farms are very controversial in the UK. Polls show that the public is in favor of them until they show up. Then they become a polarizing issue between local communities and national governments.

The European Wind Energy Association says that the controversy is because of “an ideological opposition amongst some politicians and governments now in power to interventionist policies in support of renewable energy but it is also of course a result of  a challenging economic climate, in which questions are being asked about the apparent cost to consumers and taxpayers of supporting ‘green’ technologies.  The latter is relevant to most markets across Europe and worldwide.  While concerns are always raised at local level about the visual, noise or environmental impact of projects, in a time of austerity and cuts, developers can find themselves under increasing pressure to demonstrate greater economic benefit to communities who host wind farms and to bring jobs and investment benefits to national economies.”

The wind farms generating more power than nuclear plants is only temporary, according to the BBC. Windy conditions boosted the output from turbines when eight out of fifteen of the UK’s nuclear reactors were offline. The reactors were down for various reasons including planned outages, an aging reactor, and for maintenance.

Jennifer Webber, a spokeswoman for RenewableUK, the trade body, told BBC, “Wind power is often used as a convenient whipping boy by political opponents and vested interests. All the while, it’s been quietly powering millions of homes across the UK and providing a robust response to its vocal detractors.”

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

 

November 7th, 2014

Going green and earning green: TerraCycle in schools

Posted by Lisa Carey

TerraCycle is a new way to recycle waste that has previously been considered non-recyclable or hard to recycle.  Schools go through waste through out the entire school day. Paper, binders, food, and other products are thrown away on a regular basis. Many of the items sent to a landfill can be recycled or upcycled into a new product that can be recycled again after its use has worn out.

Waste is shipped to TerraCycle through a waste collection program called a Brigade. There 40 different Brigade programs including a program for collecting baby food pouches, one for diaper packages and one for recycling cheese packaging. Schools that participate in one of the programs could choose to become part of the drink pouch brigade, the binder brigade or the writing instruments brigade.

The goal of TerraCycle is to recycle and upcycle every waste product that is sent in.  Instead of waste going to a landfill it could become a recycled bench or an upcycled backpack. Participants collect the waste, send it to a TerraCycle facility with a shipping label printed from a TerraCycle account, and then the account gets credited with TerraCycle points once the waste has been processed in the facility. TerraCycle points can be redeemed in the form of cash to the charity or school of your choice. The points can also be redeemed in the form of a charity gift including ones that donate meals, plant trees, or provide drinking water.

TerraCycle has a resources section for schools that wish to participate in the waste collection programs. It gives parents, teachers and students everything they would need to begin collecting waste to recycle items. It also includes a list of contests and contest suggestions to get students excited about recycling, upcycling and creating a healthier environment.

 

November 2nd, 2014

Toxic Purity Analyzer to Help Consumers Detect GMOs

Posted by guest

Technology is about to help the conscientious food consumer find out whether the food they are about to buy is filled with toxins often found in genetically modified foods (GMOs). According to RealFarmacy, the “University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app that uses a phone’s built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules.”

The cradle consists of a series of optical components that use filters and lenses, like that of a smaller laboratory device, to send information to a photonic crystal. The photonic crystal is unique since it much like a mirror only allows one wavelength of light to be reflected while the rest of the spectrum passes through. When a biological agent attaches to the photonic crystal the wavelength will shift from a long wavelength to a short wavelength. This is the nitty gritty of how the device can manage to detect GMOs in food products.

The app that is designed to go with the cradle walks users through the process in a step by step manner in just a few minutes.  When toxic substances are detected the protective glove (part of the device) uses sensors that change colors. There is no change in color if no toxic substances are detected. The team that created the toxic purity analyzer are working on the manufacturing process for iPhones and are working on a way to make the device compatible with Android phones. The team is also working on biosensing tests that can be used in the field to detect pathogens in food and water and toxins in harvested fields such as corn and soybean crops.

GMO detection is not currently consumer friendly. There are many lab kits on the market that can be purchased. Those kits are mostly in scientific language, take many days to weeks to process and analyze, and are not affordable. The toxic purity analyzer, if affordable, will be much easier for consumers to use and provide faster results.

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

October 30th, 2014

Boorito Fundraiser for Chipotle Supports Sustainable Food

Posted by Lisa Carey

Chipotle has brought back a special fundraising evening for the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. The “Boorito” fundraiser will raise money to support sustainable, healthful and an equitable food future through the efforts of the foundation. This Halloween customers in costume can go into any Chipotle restaurant after  5 p.m. and order burrito, bowl, salad, or an order of tacos for just $3.

Proceeds up to 1,000,000 will go directly to the foundation.  The focus of the foundation is to create a sustainable and healthful food supply while raising awareness about revitalizing family farms, humane and responsible husbandry, and food, cooking and nutritional education.

“Our customers have helped raise $3 million for the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation through Boorito over the last three years, simply by coming to our restaurants in costume,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle. “We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food, and the Cultivate Foundation is an ally in that effort, providing money to organizations that are committed to creating a sustainable, healthful and equitable food future. We are thrilled to have the support of our customers to help us on our journey to cultivate a better world.”

Chipotle is also hosting a costume contest for their giving customers. Contestants can upload a photo of themselves in costume at Chipotle to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ChipotleBooritoContest.  There will be three grand prize-winners who will win $2,500 in the categories of best group costume, scariest costume, and most creative costume. Five runners-up will also be selected to receive free Chipotle catering for 20 people.

Partners of the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation include FamilyFarmed.org, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Veggie U, and the Land Institute.

October 6th, 2014

PUMP: We have choices at the pump!

Posted by Lisa Carey

gas pump

American’s love to have choices. The options are unlimited in almost every sector of American life. American’s have choices on fast food restaurants, groceries, and choices on the type of soil that they buy. Pump is a documentary that looks at the lack of choices Americans have when it comes to buying fuel.

Disclosure: I was provided with the opportunity to screen this movie in order to provide this content. All opinions and observations expressed are 100% my own. 

the movie pump documentary

Joshua Tickell, director of the 2008 film documentary Fuel, worked with his wife Rebecca Harrell Tickell to make the film Pump. Expert testimony with a mix of historical evidence provide an insightful and lucid look at the United States dependence on oil. The film walks viewers through a historical shift in the way oil consumption began and how it has impacted climate change. But it only touches on climate change once in the documentary. Instead of being a one-sided documentary it seeks to find solutions to the demand for oil by showcasing alternative solutions.

Writer Johnny O’Hara looks at sustainability, geopolitical security and general pragmatism in the film. All of which is narrated and delivered by Jason Bateman in friendly, easy-to-understand manner. The thesis of the film is that if Americans had more choice at the pump then they would easily be converted to using cleaner, safer, and more practical fuels like ethanol and methanol.

Pump bunks the false claims put forth by politicians and media that ethanol is going to burn up the fuel supply by showing evidence to the contrary. It shows evidence of media tampering by big oil companies in order to convince the masses that alternative fuels will lead to the collapse of the food supply and the economy.

The makers of the documentary use Brazil as an example of giving people the choice at the pump and showcasing how they country has discovered greater energy independence that the United States. The filmmakers’ argue that choice at the pump will lead to greater energy independence at the pump. The film also shows the beginning stages of that choice already showing up across the country at gas stations that are offering biofuels and compressed natural gas along with regular gas. The consensus is that alternatives are cheaper, cleaner, and run better than the dirty fuel Americans have been duped into believing is their only choice at the pump.

September 4th, 2014

National Geographic Kids Magazine 2014 International Photography Contest

Posted by Lisa Carey

 

National Geographic Kids Magazine has launched the 2014 International Photography Contest for Kids. The U.S. grand-prize winner will receive a National Geographic Costa Rica Family Adventure. The contest is open to children ages 6 to 14 and can be entered by U.S. contestants from now until October 15, 2014. Photos may be black-and-white or color and can be shot with either a digital camera or with conventional film. Photos can be submitted online at http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest/ or they can be submitted through regular mail.

The 2014 International Photography Contest for Kids is conducted in partnership with the U.S. edition of National Geographic Kids magazine and 11 local-language editions in Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, the Netherlands, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Each country will select winners in four categories: Amazing Animals, Dare to Explore, Weird But True, and Wild Vacation.

The first place winners in the U.S. categories will compete for the U.S. grand prize, the National Geographic Costa Rica Family Adventure for two. The trip is a 7-day adventure designed for families to discover the beauty and wildlife of Costa Rica. The winner of the U.S. grand prize will be able to explore the beauties of San Jose, learn how coffee is made in Monteverde, and see wild cats up close at the Las Pumas Rescue Center in Guanacaste. The first-place winners will also compete against the first-place winning entries from international editions.

The U.S. contest will select four first-place and four second-place winners. They will all receive digital cameras, memory cards, and a selection of National Geographic Kids books. Winning entries will be submitted in December 2014 to National Geographic’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Photos will be judged on creativity and photographic quality. The judges will be a panel of National Geographic photography experts. The grand-prize winner of the worldwide contest will receive a trip for two to Washington, D.C. Winning photos will be featured in the May 2015 issue of the U.S. edition of National Geographic Kids magazine.

Young adventurers who love exploring the world through the photo lens should submit their photos to one of the four categories by October 15. National Geographic Kids seeks to inspire and encourage young adventurers to explore the world through magazines, books, games, toys and more. National Geographic Kids and Little Kids magazine are available on newsstands or by subscription.

August 10th, 2014

Celebrate World Lion Day with the Big Cats Initiative

Posted by Lisa Carey

Lion images are everywhere. Statues of the big cats are poised on the steps of the New York Public Library. The “King of the Jungle” has graced the stages of Broadway musicals and captured the hearts of millions on the big screen in movies like “The Lion King,” “To Walk with Lions,” and “The Last Lions.”  Lions are a part of human culture, but soon that is all they will be unless something is done to save the big cats.

The lion population has declined nearly 95% in the past 50 years or so. Lions have been the victims of human conflict, habitat loss and degradation.  National Geographic teamed up with Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert to launch the Big Cats Initiative (BCI) as a response to the critical situation facing lions and other big cats in the wild.  The Big Cat Initiative is a comprehensive program that supports on-the-ground conservation and education projects. It works in conjunction with Cause an Uproar, a global public awareness campaign.

There are several ways to support the Big Cat Initiative. August 10 is World Lion Day. You can spread the message that lions and other big cats are in need of your help through blogs, Facebook, and other social media sites.

You can help build boma fences, fortified enclosures that protect livestock from lions, by visiting buildaboma.org and making a donation or by starting a campaign. Boma fences are important for protecting livestock and the retaliatory killings that take place when livestock are killed because they are unprotected.

National Geographic suggests donating to the Big Cat Initiative through text message. Text “LIONS” to 50555 to donate $10 to on-the-ground conservation through the Big Cat Initiative. Message and data rates apply. Terms and conditions: mgv.cc/t.

Check out Cause an Uproar to raise awareness and help the dire situation facing big cats. Big Cat Initiative seeks to save lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and other big cats in the wild. Lion populations are declining, cheetahs are disappearing from their range, and there are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild. What will you do to help the Big Cats?

July 30th, 2014

Ford Steals Best Global Green Brand Label from Toyota

Posted by Lisa Carey

ford green

I recently had the opportunity to head to Ford Country in Dearborn, MI to find out a great deal about the important changes that has made it possible for Ford Motor Company to earn the No. 1 spot on Interbrand’s 50 Best Global Green Brands list stealing the title from last year’s winner –Toyota. Ford also beat out other heavy-weights including Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.  Toyota had been the leading champ as a global green brand since the report originally launched in 2011. As Ford moves into the No. 1 spot, Toyota has been pushed down to #2. Fellow automakers Honda and Nissan claim the #3 and #4 spots, respectively.

(See our article on the Ford Trend Conference)

Interbrand’s 2014 Best Global Green Brands report examines the gap between brands’ environmental protection and consumers’ perceptions of that performance. Ford’s perception has gone down but the company’s performance has gone up. Interbrand gave Ford a Gap Score of +3.2 earning it the top spot on the list.

Ford earned the No. 1 spot for its forward-thinking approach to environmentally responsible and sustainable manufacturing. The company has engaged in new environmental action committees, improved employee engagement around sustainability, enhanced green building policies, increased waste recycling and made use of renewable/recyclable materials in 41 different fabrics across its different vehicle lines.

“We are honored to be named No. 1 in the 2014 Best Global Green Brands,” said Robert Brown, vice president, Sustainability, Environment & Safety Engineering. “At Ford we are working to develop the highest-quality products in the market for our customers while manufacturing them in the most environmentally responsible manner and replicating this globally. This award tells us that our stakeholders agree.”

Ford has been active in improving sustainability in its business strategy. In 2012, Ford improved global energy efficiency by 6.4% against a 2011 year baseline, reduced CO2 emissions in its facilities and reduced facilities-related CO2 emissions per vehicle by 37%. The major car manufacturer introduced a plan to reduce waste sent to landfill on a per-vehicle basis, reduced energy and water use in its U.S. plants and introduced hybrid and all-electric vehicles to the market proving that the company is dedicated to sustainability.

 

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