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87 posts from June 2011

June 30, 2011

Daily Roundup: June 30, 2011

Starting to Sweat: Maximum and minimum temperatures increased in all 50 states this year, according to a new NOAA report. New York Times 

Frack Yeah! New Jersey is the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing. TreeHugger

Doing Swimmingly: The NRDC released a list of the best and worst beaches in the U.S. MNN

Solar Backfire: The German grid is overwhelmed by the amount of renewable energy being generated by homes. Reuters

Heh: Sen. James Inhofe, a climate-change skeptic, will not deliver the kickoff speech at the denialist International Conference on Climate Change this year because he's feeling “under the weather.” New York Times

--Mimi Dwyer

When Animals Tweet: JFK Turtles, the Bronx Zoo Cobra, and Sockington

The JFK turtles take twitter by storm When more than 150 diamondback terrapins wandered onto JFK Airport's tarmac in search of a nesting site, the turtles did more than cause flight delays: they became the latest Twitter sensation. As airport crews worked to transport the turtles to safety on Wednesday morning, the creatures mysteriously began communicating with news outlets and concerned citizens via the handle @JFKTurtles. The turtles even exchanged tweets with the Sierra Club

The tweeting terrapins, who have nearly 8,000 followers, aren't the only animals who've been given a "voice" on the micro-bloggging site. When the Bronx Zoo's cobra was on the lam, the escaped snake was kind enough to keep people informed of its whereabouts through its @BronxZoosCobra account. A peahen who subsequently escaped followed suit under the handle @BronxZoosPeahen. The zoo recovered both escapees, but not before the animals became Twitter phenoms.

Continue reading "When Animals Tweet: JFK Turtles, the Bronx Zoo Cobra, and Sockington" »

Universities Strive for Sustainable Dining

CollegeSouthern California's Pomona College has become America's first liberal-arts college to earn the Marine Stewardship Council's Chain of Custody certification, allowing the school to serve seafood with a mostly clean conscience.

After a comprehensive audit of the fisheries that provide seafood to the school, including a third-party assessment of sustainability and management practices, the MSC concluded that Pomona's seafood is sustainable at every step of the process that leads fish from the sea to students' plates.

Pomona's certification comes at a time when many colleges, including Dartmouth and UCLA, are trying to make student dining more environmentally friendly. Buying produce from local family farms has become a popular option in the collegiate quest for sustainability, especially for universitites in rural areas. By buying local, schools support small organic farms and reduce the emissions caused by long-distance freighting.

Continue reading "Universities Strive for Sustainable Dining" »

Software for Farms: The Next Big Start-Ups?

Vegetables and computer The food industry is one of America's biggest sources of emissions. That's why some greentech insiders think food's the next frontier for innovators in Silicon Valley. One such person is Benzi Ronen, who co-founded Farmigo in 2009. It's a Palo Alto-based start-up that provides an Internet platform for farmers and CSA members. He took a few minutes to answer questions:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Farmigo?

A: Agriculture is the number-one climate hazard that we have. The healthcare costs associated with food-related diseases in the U.S. is more than $150 billion per year. That includes obesity and diabetes. Some estimate it will double over the next 10 years. These are real issues.

The ability to buy directly from the farmer solves all of this. It gives us fresher food and changes our diet. It's better for the environment. It eliminates food miles. As long as we can scale this model and do it as convenient, if not more, as going into your supermarket, then we can achieve a better alternative food system.

Q: What's the future of food and greentech?

A: The food industry has lacked innovative software solutions. There's a perfect storm happening right now with people wanting to eat healthier and locally and the maturity of the Internet. There's a growing trend of farmers' markets and CSAs out there. A lot of that is a result of Food Inc. and various books. The awareness is already happening. We think we can be a catalyst in making it happen faster. And there will be more start-ups that address the food industry and revolutionize it.

Continue reading "Software for Farms: The Next Big Start-Ups?" »

Green Your Fourth: After the Party...

Picking up trash Independence Day is, from sea to shining sea, a glorious holiday. This year, your festivities can help protect those purple mountain majesties. This week’s tips tell you how.

Tip #4: Clean it up.

After the backyard barbecue or the picnic at the park, it’s best to leave not only your immediate surroundings clean, but the greater planet as well. To do that, it’d help to save leftovers, compost food and paper waste, recycle (or better yet, reuse) glass and plastic, and employ the greenest cleaning products you can find. Once you’ve attended to your own space, look around and consider your willingness to pick up others’ trash — it can take only a few moments of your time, but could prevent wildlife from being seriously damaged.

Tell us: What are your favorite green cleanup methods?

June 29, 2011

Daily Roundup: June 29, 2011

Dirty Shore: The Natural Resources Defense Council released its annual report on beach water quality. Southern California had some of the most consistently dirty beaches. Four U.S. beaches, including two in Delaware, were awarded "superstar" status for good water quality. Mother Jones

To the Bat Cave: Three Colorado caves will be opened to visitors despite a recommendation by the Colorado Division of Wildlife that the caves remain closed to protect bats from the spread of white nose syndrome. Los Angeles Times

Royal Reduction: Prince Charles reduced the carbon emissions at his official London residence by 22% last year. Treehugger

Evolution of Ideas: The Biodiversity Heritage Library has scanned 300 books from Charles Darwin's personal library. The books, posted online, are filled with marginalia written by Darwin. Audubon 

Feeling the Heat: Officials monitored the air around the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory as a 110-square-mile wildfire burned nearby. No radiation has been detected. CBS News

--Della Watson

Butte College Feeds the Grid

Electricity Grid The only thing better than fleeing the grid is feeding the grid. And America now has its first college to contribute renewable energy to its community. Butte College, in Oroville, California, today celebrated the installment of its new solar array, made of 25,000 individual panels and expected to reap more sustainable energy — 6.5 million kilowatt-hours per year — than the school can use. Administrators plan to sell the excess back to the grid, saving up to $75 million per year. While many houses have been already built to be grid-positive (Boston's mayor recently announced a goal to create 10 grid-positive houses on city-owned land), Butte's one of the very first large institutions to do so. 

Continue reading "Butte College Feeds the Grid" »

Book Review Wednesday: Nature and Spirituality

Book reviews Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books that explore the interaction between nature and spirituality. 

Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture (by Bas Verschuuren et al., $50, Earthscan, 2010): This comprehensive examination of sacred natural sites and the cultures that revere them draws on the diverse scientific backgrounds of its authors for strength. Part literature review, part policy analysis, and part critical discussion of conservation, the book's overarching focus on the ways in which sacred sites help to maintain biological diversity is clear and convincing. A tome worth owning for those already interested in the subject.

GreenDeen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet  (by Ibhrahim Abdul-Matin, $17, Berett-Koehler 2010): With a straightforward, analytical tone, Abdul-Matin frames personal anecdotes and current environmental issues within the tenets of Islam. GreenDeen succeeds in loosely relating scripture, society, and environmental policy without making its subject seem like a square-peg, round-hole issue. By incorporating more general themes, such as "stewardship of the earth," GreenDeen's message is relevant to secular readers as well. 

Continue reading "Book Review Wednesday: Nature and Spirituality" »

Green Your Fourth: Let the Sparks Fly


Independence Day is, from sea to shining sea, a glorious holiday. This year, your festivities can help protect those purple mountain majesties. This week’s tips tell you how.

Tip #3: How to get to the show

Fireworks are, of course, the highlight of this holiday. We know that Green Life readers, DIY as you all may be, would never think of setting off your own. But have you considered carpooling with neighbors, or taking public transit together, to get to the nearest sparkling display? Pack an eco-picnic beforehand, and enjoy the show.

Tell us: Where do you go to see fireworks on the Fourth? How do you get there?

June 28, 2011

Daily Roundup: June 28, 2011

Forever Young: Originally slated for 40-year life spans, many nuclear reactors in the U.S. are having their final days put off indefinitely. MSNBC

Dry Outlook: In East Africa, drought conditions have forced food prices up, bringing Djbouti, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and Ethiopa to the brink of famine. Guardian

Sub-Suburbia: As youth head for big cities, baby boomers are staying in the suburbs. As a result, those looking to lead a classic suburban lifestyle are having to head farther out, encouraging urban sprawl and long commutes. TreeHugger

Devil's Genome: Largely due to human-influenced inbreeding, the Tasmanian Devil population is being ravaged by a contagious cancer. U.S. News & World Report

Road Rage: Cities across Europe are trying to encourage people to use eco-friendly modes of transportation — by making urban driving even more miserable. New York Times

--Colin Griffin

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