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76 posts from February 2009

February 26, 2009

Green Your Community: Be a Role Model

Keep an upbeat attitude when you encourage others to go green Green neighborhoods aren't just good for the planet. When times are tough, strong communities can ease financial burdens and provide emotional support. This week we're providing tips for getting by with a little help from your friends and neighbors.

Tip #4: Set a Green Example

Your green habits may be routine, but those actions could seem like novel ideas to curious neighbors. Be open to questions about your lifestyle, and be prepared to let people know exactly why you think it's important to recycle, line-dry your clothes, or carry a reusable shopping bag. Newcomers to the green movement may feel discouraged by the big picture (global warming), so let them know that it's OK to start small. Suggest some easy first steps such as switching to CFL light bulbs or opting for organic produce.

Share your tips: What did you do or say that convinced a friend, neighbor, or co-worker to go green?

February 25, 2009

Daily Roundup: February 25, 2009

Seed Scare: Experts celebrate the first anniversary of the "doomsday" seed vault by issuing a warning to the world: Develop drought-tolerant crops before it's too late. Reuters

Kelp Car: Toyota plans to produce a car whose body is made from seaweed-derived bioplastic. Wired

Sounds Phishy: Scientists discover a wildly colored hopping fish and name the new species H. psychedelica. Science Daily

Fewer Tweets: Climate change is affecting the number of eggs that some birds lay per breeding season, say researchers. Science News

No More Monkey Business: In response to a recent chimp attack in suburban Connecticut, the House of Representatives passed the Captive Primate Safety Act, which would ban the interstate sale of primates. Scientific American

--Della Watson

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Forests

Books about environmentalism New for 2009 on the Green Life is a weekly roundup of books addressing a particular aspect of environmentalism. Today we're reviewing books about forests. Check back here every Wednesday to discover new and worthwhile books.

Forests Forever: Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection (by John J. Berger, $27.50, University of Chicago Press, Dec. 2008): A guide to the issues surrounding forest preservation, this book goes into the history of conservation efforts, what's happening to forests now, and what can and should be done in the future to protect these vitally important parts of the planet. Color photos depict forests' majestic beauty, logging's devastating effects, and the wildlife species that depend on forests for survival.

Nature of the Rainforest: Costa Rica and Beyond (by Adrian Forsyth, $30, Cornell University Press, Dec. 2008): An engaging photography book, Nature of the Rainforest pops with color in its depictions of delicate -- but often flamboyant -- rainforest creatures. The accompanying text tells us, in thorough, well-written detail, all the fascinating specs about the animals and plants we see.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Forests" »

A Bright Idea: Make the Switch

Light switch Walking into a room, you probably flip on the light automatically. Even if you're concerned with energy conservation, it's hard to conceptualize how much you're actually using in such a simple task. That's where the SmartSwitch comes in.

Designed by two Stanford students as a replacement for the standard light switch, the SmartSwitch uses tactile feedback to alert the user about the amount of energy already being spent in their home or on their electrical grid. That means that if there are a number of lights on in other rooms, the brake pad in the switch will add more resistance to flipping the lever up, a subtle nudge to stop and think about turning on yet another light.

Continue reading "A Bright Idea: Make the Switch" »

Morgan Freeman Urges Preparedness for Climate-Change Consequences

Morgan Freeman is again speaking out about climate change and the threats from increasingly frequent and violent storms. In a new PSA produced by the Sierra Club and PLAN!TNOW, Freeman discusses how the climate is changing – and about how people are making changes to face the challenges of global warming.
2008 was an incredibly busy year for hurricanes. According to the National Climatic Data Center, it was the first year on record during which a major hurricane happened every month from July through November. With the 2009 storm season around the corner, Freeman reminds us that protecting nature protects people and that we must strengthen and restore our natural defense systems – the wetlands and forests that protect us all from wind and high water. Click on this link to learn more about how you can get prepared. 

--Owen Bailey

Green Your Community: (Almost) Free Rides

Bike parked against a wall in Beijing Green neighborhoods aren't just good for the planet. When times are tough, strong communities can ease financial burdens and provide emotional support. This week we're providing tips for getting by with a little help from your friends and neighbors.

Tip #3: Get Deals on Bicycles

If your town doesn't have a bike-sharing program, keep your wheels in motion at the local bike cooperative. Many of these community organizations sell used or rebuilt bikes at a reduced price. Some co-ops have work-to-own programs while others offer free use of parts or tools in exchange for volunteer hours. Community Cycles has a nationwide directory of bike programs. Check out the new issue of Sierra magazine for more information about creating bike-friendly communities.

Share your tips: What resources can cyclists find in your neighborhood?

February 24, 2009

Daily Roundup: February 24, 2009

Downer: A NASA satellite intended to measure the Earth's carbon dioxide levels in greater detail than ever before has crashed into in the ocean near Antarctica. NPR

Glass Half Full: China is pledging to reduce its water use by 60 percent by 2020. To do so, it’ll have to quickly upgrade its irrigation infrastructure. Nature News

Adios, Glaciers: Global warming has caused Spain’s Pyrenees to lose nearly 90 percent of their glacier ice over the past century. As the glacier-fed rivers in that region dry up, drought looms. The Guardian

More Than We Thought: A technical glitch caused an underestimation of the amount of Arctic sea ice by 193,000 square miles (the size of California), though it’s still true that there’s significantly less Arctic ice than there used to be. Bloomberg

Nothing’s Priceless: Environmentalists propose that the government implement economic incentives to save threatened and endangered species. Wired Science

--Avital Binshtock

Our Green Hero Featured in Today's San Francisco Chronicle

Mr. Green The San Francisco Chronicle has given the Sierra Club's own hero his due: a feature-length article. The author, Fiona Ng, wrote: 

"In the tradition of Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, Berkeley's own Bob Schildgen has an alter ego he regularly assumes to make the world a safer place. His moniker is Mr. Green, brainchild of Schildgen and his colleagues at Sierra magazine -- the million-plus circulation monthly magazine published by the Sierra Club -- who was created in 2003 to answer readers' questions about sustainable living in a Q&A feature dubbed Hey Mr. Green."

You can read Mr. Green's blog here (you can submit your green-living questions for him there too). His book, Hey Mr. Green: Sierra Magazine's Answer Guy Tackles Your Toughest Green Living Questions, is available here.

--Avital Binshtock

Green Your Community: Share Food

Potluck dinner Green neighborhoods aren't just good for the planet: When times are tough, strong communities can ease financial burdens and provide emotional support. This week we're providing tips for getting by with a little help from your friends and neighbors.

Tip #2: Meet and Eat

Sharing a meal is a great way to connect with neighbors and friends (keep costs low by hosting potluck dinners). Network with like-minded folks by joining a community garden or a community-supported agriculture (CSA) co-op. Cut back on carbon by joining with other CSA members in your area: Set up one central delivery point, then walk to that person's house to pick up your fresh, local produce.

Share your tips: What are your suggestions for creating community?

February 23, 2009

Daily Roundup: February 23, 2009

Mercury Rising: Led by the U.N. in Nairobi, Kenya, more than 140 countries, including the U.S., agreed to forge a treaty toward reducing worldwide mercury emissions. TreeHugger

But Not For Long: The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to consider overturning a Bush-era rule that went easy on mercury emissions from power plants. Scientific American

Heat’s Back On: Wildfires returned to Australia just two weeks after firefighters quieted blazes that killed 200. National Geographic

Underlying Threat: As Arctic permafrost thaws, it’ll release huge amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Los Angeles Times

MTVegan: MTV is running slightly shocking nationwide ads for five weeks that demonize factory farms; the ads end by encouraging viewers to go to TryVeg.com. Ecorazzi

--Avital Binshtock

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