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78 posts from January 2010

January 29, 2010

Daily Roundup: January 29, 2010

A Whale of a Problem: The U.S. Navy plans to build an "undersea warfare training range" near the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale's only known calving ground. Conservation groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the plan. ENS

Just Do It: President Obama ordered federal agencies to improve energy efficiency. The government aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent by 2020. New York Times

They Fought the Law: Russian police raided the offices of Siberian-based Baikal Environmental Wave. The outspoken group recently challenged the government's decision to reopen a polluting paper mill on Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world. AFP and BBC

The Score: Iceland ranked first in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index, a report compiled by researchers at Yale and Columbia University. The United States ranked 61st. Christian Science Monitor

Seed Money: The U.S. Department of Energy will give Nissan a $1.4 billion loan to assist with the production of the LEAF electric car. Treehugger

--Della Watson

Mr. Green's Top 10 Eco-Blogs

Green top 10 list Sierra magazine’s own Mr. Green has listed his top 10 environmental blogs on Blogs.com. We're thrilled that the Green Life made the cut. He also recommended the writings of Carl Pope, the outgoing executive director of the Sierra Club. Mr. Green dubbed him "the smartest person in the environmental movement."

--Nicholas Mukhar

Architect Jan Gehl on Urban Planning, Human Scale, and the Bicycle Revolution

Biking Danish architect Jan Gehl is one of the world's preeminent urban planners. Since the 1960s, he has worked to make Copenhagen a cycling- and pedestrian-friendly city. His concepts of human-scale design and the importance he places on public spaces have led city planners the world over to rethink the way they design. In 2007, New York City sought Gehl’s help when improving its bicycling infrastructure, which has paid off with huge increases in cycling. We interviewed Gehl to find out more about how he thinks about urban design.

Q: What does it mean to build on a human scale?

A: You put an emphasis on the people walking and bicycling and also on public life in general. That means you start with the people and end with all the other things. You have motor traffic and buildings as second priorities. If you don’t start with the people side of the story, you can never add the people side after you have made cars happy and placed a number of buildings around a place. You have to start with the people.

Continue reading "Architect Jan Gehl on Urban Planning, Human Scale, and the Bicycle Revolution " »

Go Wild for Valentine's Day

Wolf couple This year, skip the candy and cut flowers and show your sweetie you care about conservation. If enjoying the outdoors together is a popular pastime in your relationship, help protect the places you love so much by sponsoring a wild place in your Valentine’s name.

The Sierra Club offers sponsorships starting at $20. letting you choose from ten wild places such as Acadia, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Most sponsorships come with a plush version of an animal found in your park of choice (like a wolf or a mountain lion), which you can present to your date as evidence of your good deed in his or her name.

--Sophie Matson

Movie Review Friday: Creation

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.

Creation (2010)

Now playing

Many amateur naturalists dream of what it would have been like to explore the Galapagos on the H.M.S. Beagle, Charles Darwin at your side, watching the scientist’s mind at work as he sorted out his budding theory. This film, however, provides an affecting portrait of Darwin (Paul Bettany) later in life, his discoveries mostly behind him, his tales of adventure merely stories he tells his children before bedtime.

Based on the book Annie’s Box,  by Darwin’s great-great grandson Randal Keynes, this earnest and visually appealing film centers around the death of Darwin’s ten-year-old daughter Annie in 1851, whom we meet through father-daughter flashbacks and through her ghost, which haunts the scientist to the point of near insanity. In the midst of this turmoil, Darwin wrestles with the implications of publishing The Origin of Species, a book his supporters predict will "kill God." Jennifer Connelly (Bettany’s real-life spouse) gives a convincing performance as Darwin’s devoutly religious wife, who supports her husband’s scientific pursuits but worries for his soul.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: Creation " »

January 28, 2010

Daily Roundup: January 28, 2010

Yes We Can? Environmental groups are pleased with Obama’s call for energy legislation during last night’s State of the Union address but worry that his plans will be stalled in Congress. Christian Science Monitor

Rising Tides: Sea levels in China reached a record high late last year, threatening the country’s coastal communities. Global sea level has risen an average of 1.7mm per year for the past three decades while near China the rate has been 2.6mm. China Daily

Full Disclosure: The SEC voted to require public companies to warn investors of the toll global warming could take on their business. The agency has long required companies to disclose the possible financial impacts of environmental problems but this is the first time it has specifically referenced climate change. New York Times

Full Speed Ahead: President Obama announced $8 billion in grants for high-speed rail as part of the first nationwide plan for inter-city passenger rail service. Thirty-one states will receive money through the Recovery Act passed by Congress last year, with California, Illinois, and Florida benefiting most. Los Angeles Times

Right of Way: Environmental groups are suing the U.S. Navy to try to stop plans for an offshore training range that they say is too close to the breeding grounds of right whales, a species of which there may be as few as 300 left. NPR

--Wendy Becktold

Recycled Bracelet Benefits Haiti

Haiti It's almost time for shower of flowers, jewels, and chocolate known as Valentine's Day, and we think the generosity associated with this romantic holiday shouldn't be limited to couples. By purchasing responsible gifts, you can give love to the earth, help relieve the suffering of your fellow human beings, and make your sweetie smile. We've got several suggestions for earth-friendly gifts, but this option seems especially timely: If you buy the Cornelian Bangle from eco-jewelers Alex and Ani, you'll be helping earthquake victims in Haiti. The jewelry is crafted from recycled materials, making it more appealing than traditional Valentine's Day gifts of newly mined diamonds and gold, which include serious environmental costs. In addition to earthquake relief contributions, the company also donates a percentage of its proceeds from select items to organizations like the African Rainforest Conservatory, Save our Seals, and the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

If you're looking for more ways to help the people of Haiti, the Huffington Post's detailed list of relief programs is a good resource.

--Della Watson

Climate-Cooling Communities

Houses in neighborhood If we learned anything in Copenhagen, it’s that we can’t wait for governments to hammer out a solution to global warming. Bottom-up, community-based approaches seem just as likely to save the day. Which is why hundreds of cities and towns are signing on to the Cool Community campaign launched by David Gershon, founder and CEO of the Empowerment Institute. “Approximately 50 percent of America’s carbon footprint is residential,” he explains.  Reducing the carbon output of regular Americans could make a big difference, or at least buy us some extra time.

Gershon's 2006 book The Low Carbon Diet lays out a 24-step program for individuals to shed 5,000 pounds of carbon emissions in 30 days. Those who tried the campaign’s pilot program in Portland, Oregon, reported a 22 percent (6,700 pounds) cut in carbon emissions. Since then, local governments across the country have signed on to get their constituents involved: Rochester, New York, aims to involve 40,000 households, and Massachusetts is taking the program statewide.

Continue reading "Climate-Cooling Communities" »

Green Your Sports: Soccer Gear

Green soccer ball Outdoor exercise is a great way to reconnect with nature. This week, we’re giving you tips about how to be more earth-conscious while pursuing your fitness goals.

Tip #4: Green Your Soccer Game

It may be the world's most popular sport, but it's still extremely difficult to find a green ball for soccer. The Ecological Institute is developing an FSC-certified ball but until that's ready, you can still green your soccer-playing by opting for jerseys, shorts and goalie gloves made of recycled materials. For your water bottles, go with reusable instead of throwaway plastic.

January 27, 2010

Daily Roundup: January 27, 2009

iPlanet: Apple’s new iPad boasts an impressive environmental resume: It’s fully recyclable and free of arsenic, mercury, and PVC. Ecorazzi and Apple Insider

Snow Suit: An Inuit community on an Alaskan barrier island filed a lawsuit against several large oil corporations for causing the climate change that's accelerating their island's erosion and forcing them to move to the mainland. San Francisco Chronicle

Ocean Commotion: A new study suggests that the positive feedback loop between rising ocean temperatures and their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide may not be as dire as past predictions have indicated. BBC

Windy Country:  The American Wind Energy Association announced yesterday that, partially thanks to Obama’s investments in renewable energy, turbines capable of producing a record-breaking 10,000 megawatts were built in 2009. EnergyBoom

On Target: You won’t find farmed salmon on Target’s shelves any longer; the retailer promised to replace it with wild-caught Alaskan salmon in all their fresh, frozen, and prepared products. The Daily Green

--Sophie Matson

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