Friday, 10 September 2010 16:52 Written by Ivan Chan
China's Vice Premier, Li Keqiang, said today that the international community needs to work together to overcome the challenges of climate change, working within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC/Copenhagen) and Kyoto Protocol while respecting the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." Li was referring to China having signed on earlier this year to the Copenhagen Accord, which essentially calls for limiting the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels. China has said it plans to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide per unit of economic growth, or "carbon intensity," by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. India also signed on to the Accord and set an intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, excluding its agricultural sector. The United States has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent by 2020 (a target that is not tied to economic growth or carbon intensity) from 2005 levels. Li made his remarks in conjunction with briefing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres in Beijing on the country's present policies and measures to reduce energy consumption, develop green jobs and promote environmental protection. China will host a session of the follow-up U.N. climate change talks in Tianjin this October. Currently, China’s energy consumption is growing faster than any other country’s, but on a per-person basis, China still consumes far less energy than other leading economies such as the U.S. To produce more clean energy and mitigate climate impact, China, already the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, aims to produce 20,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. Together with wind power and biomass, renewable energy in China is expected to contribute about eight percent, or double the current level, of electricity generation in less than a decade. However, improvements have come with substantial costs. Upgrading the country's electricity grid alone cost China last year about $45 billion.
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 15:10 Written by Michelle Lam
There is a lot of talk out there about how to “green” your home, but what if you rent? For instance, you cannot replace your windows with more efficient ones without your landlord’s permission. However, there are still steps you can take as a tenant to reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
- The most basic thing you can do is reduce water usage. According to the EPA, we consume about 2 to 5 gallons per day when we brush with the water running continuously. Of course, it takes energy to pump and heat water, so conserving water makes a difference.
- For paper goods, minimize their use but also choose recycled paper. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if every household in the nation swapped just one roll of traditional toilet paper for one made with recycled paper, the effort could save about 424,000 trees.
- Opt for energy-efficient alternatives to the traditional lightbulb, e.g. LED or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.
- Install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads. Aerators break up streams of water with air. You get the same water pressure but reduce the actual volume of water.
- Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. "Vampire" energy loss accounts for approximately 5-10 percent of residential energy use in the U.S.
Friday, 03 September 2010 13:00 Written by Ivan Chan
The Obama administration today reiterated its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and will rely on EPA regulation if Congress does not legislate to curb emissions. “I think EPA will be an important piece of the total equation, and there will be legislative progress also, though I cannot tell you when it’s going to be,” said U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern at a press conference following further international climate talks in Geneva. “I’m in no sense whatsoever writing off legislation over time, and I’m quite sure the president isn’t either,” he added. The administration might achieve an emissions reduction of 17 percent, compared with 2005 levels, by first implementing EPA regulations planned for next year that would set national limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
Friday, 03 September 2010 12:39 Written by Manvi Drona-Hidalgo
Growing up, we heard our parents say this to us as they tucked us into bed at night. Bed bugs were as mythical as the monster under our beds. Actually, bed bugs are real–these parasitic insects bite and in extreme cases, can cause anaphylactic shock. According to a recent article in The New York Times, “Treatment, including dismantling furniture and ripping up rugs, is expensive. Rather than actively hunting for bugs, hotels and landlords often deny having them.” So what CAN you do to protect yourself? Carbonfund.org partner, GBS Enterprises offers affordable mattress protectors in a variety of sizes. If you’re sleeping away from home–whether in a college dorm, at sleepaway camp, or in a hotel–GBS mattress protectors will protect you from potential bed bugs, allergens, dust mites and incontinence that may be lingering on the mattresses. GBS mattress protectors are also CarbonFree® Certified. 5 scary bed bug facts:
- Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed only on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They are also known to feed on bats or household pets.
- Bed bugs are 6-10 mm in length and take on the appearance of an apple seed. Immature ones appear colorless. Bed bugs develop a reddish brown color and become easier to see after they feed.
- Bed bugs are not known to spread disease, but getting rid of them from a home is tough.
- The tiny insects avoid light and attack in the middle of the night. They hide behind headboards, light switch covers, or in mattress seams during the day.
- Because an adult bed bug can survive for months without a blood meal, bed bug infestations sometimes require multiple exterminations.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 17:53 Written by Ivan Chan
"It started with a slightly puffy eyelid in early summer... The next morning, I couldn't ignore my son's symptoms when he appeared with two eyes swollen to slits, a bloated face and an itchy rash raging over his body." Laura Hambleton, writing in The Washington Post, notes that carbon dioxide—the levels of which have increased in our atmosphere by over 20 percent since 1960—may be feeding an increase in poison ivy. Jacqueline Mohan, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's Odum School of Ecology, has been tracking poison ivy since 1998. "Tree seedlings grew 8 to 12 percent more, with more C02," Mohan says. "Poison ivy grew 149 percent more. Poison ivy is getting bigger, faster and nastier." Mohan observes, "Vines are particularly adapted to take advantage of higher CO2 in the atmosphere," as they "can increase their rate of photosynthesis to make more green leafy tissue." By contrast, trees have to devote more energy "to creating woody, non-photosynthetic support tissues such as trunks and branches, which do not lead to further increases in photosynthesis." You may also be delighted that pests like ticks and bark beetles are on the rise from warmer temperatures. Check out this earlier blog posting.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 12:02 Written by Ivan Chan
This is a great video on why we all should take action on global warming. Alex Bogusky, who was a principal and co-chairman of the award-winning ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, launched this video on the web to engage more people by simplifying the message about climate change. If you haven't seen the video yet, you can play it here. In Pollution=Bad, Clean=Good, he urges us to stop debating climate change and start doing something about it. After all, taking positive steps will result in a cleaner environment and reduce the threats from climate change.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 10:28 Written by Greg Taylor
The following is a guest post from Matthew E. Porter, CEO of our partner Contegix, which provides high-level managed hosting solutions for enterprise applications and infrastructure. Great partners and customers do more than just refer other potential customers and pay their bills. They provide honest feedback, challenge you, and help make you to be better than you were the day before. Contegix has the fortunate situation of having great partners and customers who amaze us and do this everyday. Gliffy, a web-based diagram and flow chart editor, and a few others are some that have been pushing our sustainability goals. By the very nature of our business, we consume a large amount of power and do so from different sources. Our data centers have multiple power feeds and utilize diesel generators in case of complete power loss from utilities. In order to ensure operational status and efficiency, the generators need to be tested on a regular basis which amounts to consuming diesel fuel. We already take steps to minimize our carbon footprints, such as using low voltage CPUs, recycling all materials, and reimbursing employees for mass transit. In addition, it’s more efficient, and thus, arguable more sustainable to utilize large data centers, such as ours, rather than each company building small scale server room. Yet, we wanted to start experimenting with the next step in this effort, and Gliffy was happy to help. Enter Carbonfund.org. Carbonfund.org allows individual and companies to offset their carbon footprint by purchasing credits to invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. This is especially useful for companies like Contegix where we are very limited in our ability to reduce. There are a few points that make Carbonfund.org unique. It is a 501(c)(3) charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting global warming. As part of their commitment, they work directly with certification bodies to ensure the quality of their offsets. More importantly, they provide transparency in terms of their finances and their offset projects, including education. Using Carbonfund.org, we wanted to offset the entire footprint of Gliffy’s managed hosted internet infrastructure at Contegix. This would include all aspects and resources of the service. Some of these are dedicated solely to Gliffy. Many others, such as core border routers and the switching fabric, are used by all customers. In addition, we had to compensate for the managed service portion of Gliffy’s infrastrucutre. In essences, this meant assigning a percentage of our people’s carbon footprint to the delivery of their service. This included everyone—from engineer to office staff to management, to the Assigning values for the shared infrastructure and people required calculating the usage on a per customer level. In reality, it uses many of the same work we perform (and all businesses probably should be performing) around measuring, managing, and forecasting growth and profitability for shared resources. This is added to the specific measurable environmental footprint data, such as average distance of employees from Contegix and facility sizes. These numbers were proportionally assigned to the Gliffy as a customer. here to contact Contegix.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 10:14 Written by Claire Douglass
If you own a dog, you know how important doggy poop bags are. You never want to be caught with a neighbor watching you as your dog does its business and you are left with no bag. Not only do you feel like a bad citizen, but it is illegal and where I live and can cost you a $100 fine. Washington, D.C. passed a 5 cent tax on plastic bags this past January that reduced the number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and other establishments from the 2009 monthly average of 22.5 million to just 3 million in January. While significantly reducing plastic waste and encouraging the use of reusable bags, the tax simultaneously generated $150,000 in revenue to clean up the Anacostia River. You may ask what the D.C. tax has to do with doggie poop bags? Now that most people including myself are diligently using reusable bags at stores, my plastic bag supply is down and doggie poop bags are more important to me than ever. Carbonfund.org’s partner Intek sent me a sample of their GoECOlife™ Biodegradable Doggy Waste Bags and I couldn’t be happier. Not only are they just what I need for my dog’s healthy digestive system, they are biodegradable or compostable so I can feel good about my purchase & clean up after my dog’s waste. Intek has been a partner of ours since 2009 and to date has certified over half a dozen products, such as the GoECOlife™ SOHO Ultra-Quiet paper shredder, CarbonFree®.