Doyle Rice of USA Today reported that the Midwest will see the most temperature rise within decades from global warming. This according to analysis by The Nature Conservancy and two US universities of UN climate data. If greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue rising at their current rate, within the next 40 years avg. temperatures are expected to be five degrees higher across much of the US, with the greatest increases in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.
farming"The surprise was that the biggest changes were in the Heartland and the Great Plains," said Jonathan Hoekstra, director of the climate change program at The Nature Conservancy. So far, he said the western US has been the area that has seen the most warming.
"In many states across the country, the weather and landscapes could be nearly unrecognizable in 100 years," he added. By 2100, states such as Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota could see average temperature increases of more than 10 degrees.
The analysis was based on data from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was produced in conjunction with the University of Washington and the University of Southern Mississippi.
Some impacts Midwesterners could see by 2100 include significant declines in the dairy industry because dairy cow productivity decreases above 77°F.  Also, the US' $200 billion agriculture industry would face drier soil and shifting crop production patterns.
Friday, 28 August 2009 16:17

LA Lawmakers Giving Cash for Grass

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lawn freeLos Angeles just launched a new program that is aimed at reducing water use. Their innovative approach gives a $1 rebate for every square foot of turf to people who replace their lawns with drought tolerant groundcovers or native plants that require a maximum of 15” of water per square foot per year. The program has already been implemented in Las Vegas where officials estimate they will save 7 billion gallons of water per year. I love this plan. There’s nothing more boring than a lawn, and if you’re unfortunate enough to have to care for one, you know how annoying it is to mow it. They also dirty up our water system with all the herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers people use to keep them pretty. And, according to the US EPA, gas mowers represent 5% of US air pollution and use 800 million gallons of gas per year. And, if you’ve ever been to the LA area, you know that’s not a place where lawns are supposed to grow. It’s hot and dry; all you should really see is chaparral and other drought-tolerant plants. From Sustainablegardeningblog.com:
With very few exceptions, California’s residential and commercial lawns are all “exotics”, coming from outside of North America. These turfs include Tall Fescue (Europe), Blue Grass (Europe), Bermuda Grass (Africa), Zoysia (Philippines), Seashore Paspalum (tropical Americas), and St. Augustine (West Indies, West Africa). All of these grasses come from areas with much higher rainfall than California. Of these, tall fescue is our most common landscape turfgrass state-wide, and this grass type is also one of the most water-requiring, using upwards of 40” to 50” of water per square foot per year.
But should we all just get rid of our lawns? Maybe not. Lawns still provide an essential filtration service, cleaning rain water before it empties into reservoirs and groundwater sources. They also mitigate that hot summer heat generated by city streets and buildings. And there are still those suburbs that need their white picket fences and impeccably cut lawns. Certainly, some regions can easily grow grass without using enormous amounts of water and chemicals. Sustainablegardeningblog.com recommends using water-friendly turf, such as a native Carex or buffalograss. Researchers at UC Davis and Riverside have developed a type of buffalograss called ‘UC Verde’ that has been shown to get by on just 12” of water per year, resulting in 75% water savings over regular lawns. Check out the section on Lawn Reduction and Lawn Substitutes and The Great American Delawning Movement from Sustainable-gardening.com to read about how to create a lawn-free yard. Or if you have to keep your lawn, use a sustainable lawn maintenance company like Clean Air Lawn Care.
Last Friday, Kathie Lee and Hoda discussed personalized wine on their MSNBC show Kathie Lee & Hoda.  Showcasing numerous festive wines including Cabernet and Pinot Grigio, the talk show hosts describe the customized labels that each bottle of wine can offer.  The wine company is none other than Stoney Creek Wine Press, a proud CarbonFree shipping partner!  For over a year, Stoney Creek Wine Press has been offsetting all of the shipping emissions associated with shipping their wine to their customers.  Check out Stoney Creek Wine Press to get your own personalized wine today and view the video below!
Thursday, 27 August 2009 16:58

Camping: Your Low Carbon Vacation

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georgian bay at sunsetLife 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.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 16:59

Carbon Reduced, Economy Stimulated

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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.
The CARS program was a success because it was an easy to understand initiative that benefited consumers and the environment. Many of the proposed initiatives in the current climate legislation provide this same kind of win-win. If only the Waxman-Markey bill had four-wheels, a steering wheel, and surround sound stereo, I don't think that we would still be debating it's merits in congress... Vroom Vroom! (Image Courtesy of the AP)
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.