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79 posts from May 2009

May 29, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 29, 2009

Goats at Work: In lieu of lawn mowers, the Maryland State Highway Administration will enlist the help of 40 goats to keep grass clipped near a road bypass that encroaches on endangered turtle habitat. AFP

Parks in Peril: California could lose funding for 220 state parks if recently proposed budget cuts are passed. Treehugger

Under the Sea: An estimated 13 percent of the earth's undiscovered oil may be located north of the Arctic Circle, most likely in the Chukchi Sea near northern Alaska, said U.S. Geological Survey researchers in a recent report. Los Angeles Times

Green Rules: China's Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Commerce have drafted a set of environmental guidelines for Chinese companies working on overseas projects. Wall Street Journal

Sicko: According to new research, environmental pollution may be correlated with liver disease. Reuters

--Della Watson

Party for the Big Picture

Join Sierra Club members on June 2 as they celebrate the kickoff of the Big Picture Campaign to fight global warming and create new jobs in a clean-energy economy. House parties are springing up across the nation, planned by Club members eager to have their opinions heard.

At a set time, party hosts will dial in to a conference call with Big Picture leaders to ask questions and learn about the campaign goals and issues they'll be working on in 2009. The house parties will have access to behind-the-scenes videos of hearings and attendees will have the chance to share their input on a national level through feedback forms. It's also a great opportunity to get together with like-minded neighbors over chips and salsa to discuss the energy issues most important to you and your community.

Search here for a party in your area, or send out invitations to host one of your own. Then dial in on June 2 to join the celebration.

--Jordana Fyne

Movie Review Friday: Bridge to Terabithia

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Available on DVD

Terabithia is an overgrown backwoods region in which two outcast kids form a lasting friendship, create a mythic world, and develop a truer sense of themselves. Based on Katherine Paterson's novel (written long before Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods), Bridge to Terabithia depicts a coming of age in the wilderness that every child should have, but increasingly fewer do.

The movie's main characters, Jess and Leslie, don't suffer from today's much-bemoaned Nature Deficit Disorder. Leslie, Jess's spunky new neighbor, finesses her way into a friendship with the imaginative loner after beating him in the race he's been training for all summer. Their friendship flourishes thanks to the time they share in the woods, exploring and creating.

Delicately weaving together the forest's natural beauty and vivid, imaginative elements, the film manages to avoiding the cliche, cheesy moments it would be easy to revert to. Beautiful cinematography, timeless themes and an honest, nuanced script make it appealing for all ages. But have your hankies ready -- the ending is sure to draw tears.

--Jamie Hansen

May 28, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 28, 2009

Keep it Pristine: The U.S. Forest Service announced a halt to building new roads in designated areas of national forests today, which may protect almost 60 million acres of land from development. Los Angeles Times

Congress in China: A congressional delegation that includes Nancy Pelosi is in China this week to discuss climate change and environmental issues with leaders there. Grist

Heat is On: The American West will be subject to more heat waves than initially predicted, say experts. Nature

Green on Top: Toronto’s council voted 36-2 that residential roofs in the city need to be green within one year, and that industrial roofs need to be green within two years. Treehugger

Blue Genes: Researchers have learned that pollution can change human DNA within just three days. National Geographic

--Avital Binshtock

Teaching Kids to Protect Nature is Important, Say American Moms


Most moms think teaching their children to protect the environment is important, according to the results of a recent poll by the online motherhood network MomsLikeMe.com.

The poll – released last month  – surveyed 850 moms and found that 69 percent of them think it is “very important” to teach their children about protecting the environment. An additional 19 percent of moms felt it was “somewhat important,” and 6 percent thought it was “a little bit important.” Only 6 percent felt that it was not important – an encouragingly small number, though it would be nice to see it at zero.

The organization chose to conduct the poll after noting that environmental issues had become a “very important topic of conversation” on the website, according to "spokesmom" Lisa Tyler.

Continue reading "Teaching Kids to Protect Nature is Important, Say American Moms" »

Painting the Town White

Other white houseThe newest revolution in the fight against global warming could be as simple as a brush and a bucket of paint. Energy Secretary and Nobel laureate Steven Chu  recommends painting flat roofs of homes and corporate buildings a heat-reflecting white. Making roads and roofs a paler color could have the equivalent effect of taking every car in the world off the road for 11 years, Chu said.

The light color favored by villages in southern Europe and northern Africa would enable buildings to stay cooler, use less energy for air-conditioning, and reflect enough sunlight to delay some of the effects of global warming.

Not a huge fan of white? Scientists have developed other colors that contain pigments that reflect the invisible, near-infrared radiation responsible for more than half of sunlight's energy.

--Jordana Fyne

Green Your Drinks: Cocktails

Mix cocktails with organic juice Raise your glasses: We'd like to propose a toast (or three) to the green life. This week we'll give you green tips about ecofriendly drinks.

Tip #3: Mix Organic

The next time you're playing bartender, start with sustainable spirits. Batiste and Flor de Cana are two rum brands with eco-cred. For vodka, try Square One or Prairie Organic. Tequila drinkers can opt for Casa Noble or 4 Copas. Find more organic booze suggestions at Cocktail Organico. Mix liquor with organic juice and fruit. Check out what's seasonal in your region, and adjust drink recipes to make the most of local ingredients

Share your tips: What is your favorite local or sustainable liquor?

May 27, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 27, 2009

Green for Green Jobs: Joe Biden and two members of the Middle Class Task Force announced funding for a new program that will train workers to improve the energy efficiency of public housing. Associated Press

Housing Crisis: Another victim of the recession, renowned green architect Michelle Kaufmann is closing her firm. Los Angeles Times

Cat Fight: A lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and a coalition of environmental groups challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's designation of critical habitat for the endangered Canada lynx. Environmentalists say the designation fails to account for the impacts of climate change and is insufficient to protect the lynx. New York Times and Sierra Club

Sunken Treasure: A World War II military vessel was intentionally sunk near Key West, Florida, to create an artificial reef that residents hope will attract both marine life and tourists. Reuters

Call It a Comeback: Most damaged ecosystems can recover if the source of pollution or disturbance is removed, confirmed an analysis of scientific studies conducted by Yale researchers. Science Daily

--Della Watson

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Eating Green

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Since the last time we recommended books about food and its relation to the environment, a new crop of books on the same topic has found its way onto our desks, so here’s another roundup of books that’ll help you eat green.

Big Green Cookbook: Hundreds of Planet-Pleasing Recipes & Tips for a Luscious, Low-Carbon Lifestyle (by Jackie Newcent, $25, Wiley, Apr. 2009): This chunky volume is well-designed and packed with non-intimidating recipes for people committed to eating conscientiously. Sprinkled in are tips for greener cooking, such as which coal to use when barbecuing (natural-lump charcoal from sustainably sourced hardwood), and using the microwave instead of the oven, thereby conserving two-thirds the amount of energy.

Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming (by Laura Stec with Eugene Cordero, $25, Gibbs Smith, Sept. 2008): Recipes are just part of the equation here: The rest of this colorful book provides the context for why your dinner might be linked to global warming (the authors call the standard American diet [SAD] “a Hummer on a plate”), what you can do about it, and a discussion of “America’s changing palate.”

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Eating Green" »

When Recycling Trucks Become Art

Philadelphia's recycling trucks make an impact Philadelphia's colorful recycling trucks don't blend in, and that's exactly the point. The eye-catching designs attract attention, which the trucks' creators hope will translate into support for recycling. The designs featured on the vehicles also represent creative reuse: The Design Center at Philadelphia University dusted off their historic textile collection and worked with the Mural Arts Program and the Streets Department Recycling Office to create fabric-inspired vinyl wraps for the trucks. Grown-ups weren't the only ones getting a kick out of recycling. Children in the Mural Arts' Big Picture after-school program learned about the historic textiles, created drawings, and met representatives from the city's recycling plant. Philadelphia recycles

--Della Watson

Images: Steve Weinik

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