A number of senators are spending Congress' August recess viewing and speaking about the effects of global warming. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) visited Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park in Colorado on Monday and heard from park staff and scientists on the impacts of global warming. The AP's Kristen Wyatt reports that on Monday's tour the senators were shown, for example, dying pine trees infected by beetles spreading as temperatures warm in the Rocky Mountains. National Park Service Assoc. Director for Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Herbert Frost said climate change could be the most "far-reaching and consequential challenge in our history." McCain commented, "A common misperception is that this is a crisis that is down the road. Climate change is real. It's happening now."Udall-McCain Alaska's Democratic Senator Mark Begich said today he'll host four other senators on a tour this weekend in his state. The senators are expected to see retreating glaciers, forests damaged by invasive species, and drying wetlands. They'll also visit the North Slope to see the Prudhoe Bay oilfield. The senators are Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who's chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Image Credit: AP/Ed Andrieski
Our partner Clean Air Lawn Care is up to exciting things!  In addition to offsetting their business footprint, their lawn maintenance serviceClean_Air_Lawn_Care_ helps reduce CO2 emissions by providing alternatives to gas powered equipment and chemical fertilizers.  According to their CEO and founder Kelly Giard, approximately 5-10% of US emissions are from lawn maintenance equipment.  Clean Air Lawn Care uses electric mowers and truck-mounted solar panels to charge its equipment. They are currently in the running for Entrepreneur Magazine's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2009!  As a finalist, they are competing against several other businesses in the "Emerging" category.  Help make Clean Air Lawn Care the next big thing!  To vote, click here and view their video and company bio.  To see if the service is available in your area, check out their website.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today pressed for passage of climate legislation by the US before the world's climate talks in December at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen. "We think it is important for the president to be empowered to be able to say to the rest of the world that America stands ready to lead on this issue," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said after an energy briefing at the White House. Reuters is reporting that Vilsack and Secretary Locke met with groups from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, advocating that passage would be good for the environment and economy. An Agriculture Department study shows farmers could boost their net income by $10 billion to $20 billion in the long term earning money from offsets-- contracts to plant trees or change the way they till land to lock more carbon in soils, Vilsack said. Locke spoke on leadership by the US, vis-a-vis reluctance by some countries to set significant caps of emissions. "The United States needs to set a very firm and clear example if we are to be successful in getting the other countries to be equally aggressive in addressing climate change," said Locke.copenhagen The House of Representatives passed by a close margin the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) bill on June 26. The Senate is expected to consider and possibly debate its version of the legislation when it reconvenes in September.
carbonfree certifiedIn the Waxman-Markey bill (HR-2454, Section 274) is a provision for a product carbon disclosure program. The program would be voluntary and include a carbon content label intended to help consumers understand the carbon footprint of the products they buy. I know, it sounds great, but even if the bill were approved tomorrow the program could take over 4 years to implement due to the approx. 18 month feasibility study and up to 36 months to enact the program. Plus, it’s really nothing new, our CarbonFree® Certified Product Program has been up and running for years. The CarbonFree® Certified Label, the first in the U.S. for carbon neutrality, was created in response to consumer demand for transparent, credible and readily accessible information about the environmental impact of the product at the point of purchase. Like the proposed program, our program requires that CarbonFree® Certified products undergo an intensive life-cycle assessment (LCA) to calculate the emissions resulting from each phase in the life of the product including manufacturing, shipping, and usage. What distinguishes our label is that once the carbon footprint is calculated, and reduced where possible, the remaining footprint is offset, creating a carbon neutral product. Motorola, Anvil, and Domino Sugar are among the growing list of businesses who have partnered with us to be able to offer their customers a CarbonFree® Certified product. The label brings carbon neutrality, responsibility and action on global warming to the heart of a business, its products and customers. Plus, it’s available today! To learn more about the CarbonFree® products or the certification process click here. To read the full text of this section, go here: http://www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/hr2454_house.pdf
farmersmarketMany consumers have started to make more climate-friendly decisions about their food. This has led to increased access to farmers markets all over the country, which provide access to healthy fruits and vegetables to urban markets and an income for small farmers. Check out LocalHarvest.org to see if you have a farmers market in your town. Or, if you prefer to garden yourself, see if you have a community garden. From the UK to DC, there were a few great stories out this week about our food--how we can keep eating deliciously and more climate friendly. Tesco, a supermarket in the UK, started displaying the carbon footprint of their milk, and have pledged to measure another 500 products by the end of the year. It’s a part of a campaign to help their customers understand their carbon footprint better. You can also learn more about product labeling at our CarbonFree® Products page. Also, President Obama would be interested in a farmers market in front of the White House, where visitors can see what great produce we get in the Washington region—and perhaps get a snack that is more healthy and nourishing than the typical vendors tourists frequent. He said, "It gives suddenly D.C. more access to good, fresh food, but it also is this enormous potential revenue-maker for local farmers in the area." More excertps of his view here>>.
As utility bills slowly increase, many families are looking for energy efficiency measures that can help them save money, reduce energy use, and fight climate change.  A good start on your path to sustainability is to buy a rain barrel for collecting rainwater.  Not only do they reduce your water bill and prevent sewer runoff, but many of them are highly decorative and will add a great look to your outdoor space.  CarbonFree® Partner GardenSuperMart.com offers many rain barrels in different styles and sizes. rainbarrel1If you're not ready for collecting rainwater, how about collecting your kitchen scraps and starting a composter?  GardenSuperMart.com recently introduced their new Terra Composter which matches their rain barrels and complements any backyard decorative theme.  GardenSuperMart.com owns its own manufacturing plant and ensures that recycling scraps are reused in the manufacturing process.  Also, they are committed to offsetting their corporate footprint annually, sourcing as much as possible locally, and recycling. Check out their website at GardenSuperMart.com to learn more about their environmental commitment, rain barrels, and composters.
wheatfieldA Purdue University-led team determined that urban dwellers in developing countries could be the most adversely affected population by global warming. These include working people in countries like Bangladesh and Zambia. Even more developed countries like Mexico and others would be among those most at risk from more heat waves, droughts and extreme weather, which affect agricultural production and can raise food prices. Thomas Hertel, professor at Purdue and executive director of the university's Center for Global Trade Analysis, said in Science Daily,
"Food is a major expenditure for the poor and, while those who work in agriculture would have some benefit from higher grains prices, the urban poor would only get the negative effects... This is an important finding given that the United Nations projects a continuing shift in population concentrations from rural to urban areas in virtually all of these developing countries."
With nearly 1 billion of the world's poor living on less than $1 a day, extreme events can have a devastating impact, he said. Other reports on global warming impacts relate the harm on coastal areas in developed as well as developing countries, and the impact of droughts and extreme weather on agriculture and public health globally. The complete article on the urban poor, co-authored by The World Bank's Syud A. Ahmed, is at Environmental Research Letters.
Thursday, 20 August 2009 16:36

From the Land of Cool: Solar Powered Phones

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solar phoneKenya is the first country to roll out a new line of solar powered phones. Rural Kenyans, for whom power can be inaccessible and expensive, will be able to tap this natural resource for powering their phones. Launched by Kenyan telecommunications company Safaricom, the phone will cost under $40. Kenya has 17.6 million cell phone subscribers but just 1.3 million are connected to the national electricity grid. People have to walk long distances to charge their phone and pay third-party vendors for the service. Despite being inaccessible, power in Kenya has become very expensive. Most of their power comes from hydro-electric plants, but due to drought the power is being rationed. The shortage has spurred calls for greener energy sources—mostly wind and geothermal—and the production of solar devices like this phone. Americans use an estimated 200,000,000 kWh a year to power their cell phones, and an estimated 95% of the power drawn from chargers is wasted because users leave their chargers in the wall. Image Credit: Energyboom.com
Carbonfund.org will participate in the National Business Travel Association’s 2009 Convention in San Diego, CA from August 23-26. This marks the second straight year that Carbonfund.org has offset the Convention, and this year we’ve created a website where attendees can calculate and offset the footprint resulting from their travel to San Diego. nbtasmalllogoBusiness travel is frequently the second largest part of a company’s carbon footprint, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with NBTA again to help spread the word about how important it is for companies to make their business travel greener. Several of our partners will be in attendance at NBTA including Virgin America, JetBlue, Avis Budget Group, and Amtrak. If you happen to be there as well, please stop by and say hello to the Carbonfund.org team at booth #1346.
collegeRide a bike. Biking or walking is the best way to save on gas and save on money. Plus if you have a bike, you could do bike delivery. Check out this awesome business model: harvestcycle.com. They pick up produce from a local farm and deliver it carbon-free to their clients. Return your beverage bottles. Some states require stores and other distributors to give you a refund of 5-10 cents for every beverage or beer bottle you bring back. Plus, it’s green and gets the whole house to participate. Learn more here: www.bottlebill.org. Eliminate your vampire leakage. If you are paying the electricity bill, start off right by buying power strips that you can easily turn off when you’re not using the microwave, the TV and other appliances. A friend of mine was able to lower her electric bill to $7 a month this way! Stop the red cup madness! Start off right and buy a reusable party cup and get all your friends to do the same. If you have a party, let everyone know that they have to bring their own cup—you’ll eliminate waste AND clean-up time. Offset your events, and your carbon footprint. Calculate and offset in support of innovative projects to reduce carbon emissions, while reducing your own impact on the planet. You can calculate at the Carbonfund.org individual calculators here. Get involved in your campus climate group. Hundreds of college campuses have pledged to go carbon neutral because of activism by students. Find out at AASHE which campuses have pledged, and ask your own campus to do its part. Colleges and universities are helping to lead the way in the fight on global warming. Students are inventing clean energy technologies, designing the efficient green buildings, and pushing state and local policy. Get involved in the growing movement of young people who are helping to avert climate change today. Also check out the International Youth Climate Blog at itsgettinghotinhere.org.