news & media (1243)
Life is hard and filled with technology, people and all sorts of things that seem to all too often stress me out. That is why when I take a vacation the best thing for me, if I want to relax, is to get as far away from everything as possible. Camping is a great way to recharge your battery, vacation on the cheap, experience nature, and maintain a small carbon footprint. My favorite camping trip to date was when I piled some supplies in a canoe and paddled aimlessly through the Georgian Bay, looking for the perfect island to camp on. The waters were clear (and cold!) and the weather was perfect. All I needed on that trip to make me happy was some easy to make food, a cheap bottle of wine and some pieces of driftwood to make a fire. My carbon footprint was small, but my satisfaction was great. When traveling, much of your carbon footprint comes from getting you to and from your destination. So when picking your camping location, consider some place close enough to drive. Sites like trails.com provide a quick reference for camping locations near where you live. Also, consider supporting Carbonfund.org's CarbonFree® Partners, like Mountain Plus, when looking to gear up for your trip. Also, where ever you may roam, offset the car or flight emissions that got you there. This Labor Day, if you are looking for a real break from life, pack a tent and some food and make a b-line for the wilderness. Camping keeps your carbon footprint small, won't break the budget and it might be exactly what you need to recharge your battery.
With both our economy and our climate in crisis mode right now, the 'Cash for Clunkers' CARS program took aim at both reducing global warming emissions and spurring investment in America's manufacturers. The program came to a close on Monday and has been deemed 'wildly successful' by Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Dealers submitted 690,114 rebate claims totaling $2.88 billion dollars. 84% of people traded in their 'clunker' trucks for fuel efficient cars like Toyota Corrolla, Honda Civic and the Toyota Camry. The switch from older trucks to more efficient cars has resulted in a 58% improvement in MPG among the nearly 700,000 participants of the CARS program. That is going to save consumers a lot of gas and a lot of money! There are many benefits to a program like CARS that highlight what Americans may be able to expect from comprehensive climate legislation.
- Job Creation - by putting the right incentives in place that encourage greener technologies, jobs are created that can't be outsourced. Americans need to build the technology needed to meet our ambitious climate goals. The CARS program claims to have saved or created over 42,000 jobs and boosted economic growth for the third quarter of 2009 by 0.3-0.4 percentage points.
- Consumer Savings - though there is an upfront cost to cleaner technologies (those participating in the CARS program were only subsidized for part of the value of the new vehicle, the rest they had to spend out of pocket), savings will be reaped over the long run. An average vehicle's lifespan is about 13 years and 145,000 miles - so one vehicle traded in through the CARS program will use about 3,354 fewer gallons (and emit about 65,600 fewer pounds of CO2!) than their clunker predecessors over that lifetime. Assuming gas costs $3.00 over that lifespan, that is a savings of more than $10,000!
- Environmental Benefits - the benefits to the environment from reducing emissions, be it at the tailpipe or at a smokestack, are multifaceted. By reducing global warming pollutants, we are also improving local air quality (which improves human health), preventing the release of toxic materials that seep into our water and food (which also improves human health), and reducing the need to drill or mine for fossil fuel resources.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 14:10 Written by Ivan Chan
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." 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
Monday, 24 August 2009 14:09 Written by Jason Fitzgerald
Our partner Clean Air Lawn Care is up to exciting things! In addition to offsetting their business footprint, their lawn maintenance service 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.
Monday, 24 August 2009 13:26 Written by Ivan Chan
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. 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.
Monday, 24 August 2009 13:18 Written by Emily Pugliese
In 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
Friday, 21 August 2009 17:17 Written by Amy Givler
Many 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>>.
Friday, 21 August 2009 14:04 Written by Jason Fitzgerald
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. If 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.
Friday, 21 August 2009 12:12 Written by Ivan Chan
A 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.
Kenya 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