Thursday, May 28, 2009

Greenland ice sheet melting is bad news for Northeastern cities

In case Boston area residents didn't have enough reason to be concerned with the effects of global warming, a study released today by the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that melting of the Greenland ice sheet could result in much higher sea levels because of ocean circulation patterns.

"If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant impacts this century on the northeast U.S. coast from the resulting sea level rise," NCAR scientist and the lead author of study Aixue Hu said. "Major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise."

The study concluded that sea levels could rise anywhere from 12 to 20 inches. Regardless of the exact increase, this much of a sea level rise would have a significant—and damaging—impact on the city of Boston.

With this news in mind, be sure you are doing everything you can to reverse the dangerous effects of global warming. For more information on the study, check out this post on The Globe's green blog.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Number of speeding tickets on Pike increases

For those of you who drive over the speed limit on the Mass Pike (and most of us do), it may be wise for you to slow down a little.

The Herald reported today that speeding tickets on the Pike between January and March of this year increased by 23 percent from the same period last year. The fines start at $100 and go up from there, so these tickets can be very costly.

At the current rate, there will be more than 48,000 tickets written this year—over 130 per day.

State lawmakers and Pike drivers that the Herald talked to were quick to point out that this is likely just a method for increasing revenue for the state. While it's clear the increase is likely more related to the state's budget crisis than public safety, drivers still should be aware that if they speed on the Pike, there is a stronger likelihood they will be ticketed this year than in the past.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

17 creative things to do with phone books

Even in the digital age we live in where most, if not all, phone numbers are available on the Internet, it is estimated that over half a billion phone books are printed in the U.S each year. In order to print these phone books, about19 million trees are cut down.

So, what do you do with your old phone book once the phone company sends you a new edition? Many people simply throw these away. Recycling is a good option, but, unfortunately, only about 10 percent of these books are recycled each year. The best option, however, may be to simply opt out of receiving the book by going to this website. Because, after all, you really don't need a new edition of the book every year.

In addition to recycling, The Daily Green has compiled a list of over a dozen other things you can do to reuse that old phone book. Check out it here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eight alternative car fuels

The search has been ongoing for a fuel that can remove our dependence on fossil fuels, but, so far, one ideal option has yet to emerge.

The Daily Green has a slide show today with eight alternative, and unusual, fuels that have been used in some cars, including chocolate and saw dust. It's not likely that one of these unusual fuels will ever replace fossil fuels, but it's nice to see that there are many options available if we take the time to explore the possibilities and develop the technologies.

Check out the slide show when you get a chance. It's an entertaining and interesting read.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Toll-free holidays may be coming

A report released today on the massive, miles-long traffic jams over Easter weekend on the Mass Pike suggested that Pike officials implement a toll-free policy for parts or all of the day during holidays.

The report also suggested reversing the change in overtime policy that left some toll booths understaffed and adjusting the "wave-through" policy that requires toll takers to get the approval of the executive director of the Pike Authority before allowing drivers to pass through the tolls without stopping during traffic jams.

Pike officials have yet to comment on whether the suggestions of the report will be implemented, but hopefully some of them will be so another traffic mess, such as the one seen over Easter weekend, can be avoided.

Mass Bay Commuter Rail newsletter

Here is the spring issue of the Mass Bay Commuter Rail newsletter. The newsletter contains a variety of information related to the train system in Metro Boston. Check it out for info on schedule changes and some services that are being added.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pike upgrades traffic information on site ahead of holiday weekend

Those traveling over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend will be happy to know that the Turnpike Authority has beefed up the traffic updates on its website in hopes of avoiding some of the traffic issues that occurred over the Easter holiday weekend.

The traffic page will offer streaming video from five cameras placed at various points on the Pike and will be updated much more frequently than in the past, officials said. Existing equipment was used to install the cameras, and staff did all of the website upgrades, meaning the upgrades cost taxpayers very little.

If you are traveling this weekend or just curious, check out the Pike's traffic page here. For more info on the upgrades, here's a story from The Globe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama announces new emissions standards

President Obama announced a nationwide plan today to increase fuel economy and reduce pollution that causes global warming, marking a massive change in environmental policy in the U.S.

"The status quo is no longer acceptable," he said during his speech.

The new standards require vehicles to have a fuel efficiency of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The White House said the changes will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce emissions by 900 million metric tons.

“In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible,” Obama said. “That is why this announcement is so important, for it represents not only a change in policy in Washington, but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington.”

For more information on these new standards and to read all of Obama's remarks, check out this story from The Globe.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coca-Cola introduces its "PlantBottle"

Coca-Cola has introduced its appropriately named "PlantBottle," which is made using plastic that contains 30 percent plant materials.

Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive of the Coca-Cola Company, said that "PlantBottle" is a "significant" step towards the company's goal of developing bottles made from materials that are "100 percent recyclable and renewable."

The company said the bottle has an advantage over similar plant-based bottles because it can be recycled using the technology that is already in place in recycling facilities.

The "PlantBottle" also accounts for 25 percent less emissions than petroleum-based bottles.

For more information on this exciting green advancement by Coca-Cola, check out this story from Business Green.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't hate the rain!

If you live along the Eastern seaboard, you probably were overwhelmed by the incessant rain we experienced over the two previous weeks. I guess many people suffered from cabin fever due to the dreary weather. Nonetheless, there are some benefits from the rain that we are now enjoying. What benefits, you may ask?

Well, prior to these storms, there were areas in Maryland and other Eastern states that had deficits in precipitation for 2009. Groundwater levels had been approaching potential drought levels which seem to have been erased with the recent rains.

To read the rest of this story from the EPA's blog, click here.

Pike drivers receive erroneous toll tickets

Since April 30, some Pike drivers are receiving paper tickets with toll rates that seem to match the increases that were expected to go in place in May but were canceled before they took affect.

One driver told The Globe that a toll of $4.10 was printed on his ticket instead of the usual $3.85. However, Pike officials insist that drivers are not actually being overcharged and that the tickets just contain a typographical error. When the toll worker runs the magnetic strip through the machine, it should tell the driver to pay the correct amount, not the erroneous amount.

With that said, I'd encourage everyone who receives these tickets on the Pike to make sure they pay what the toll both operator and the screen at the booth tells them, not what is printed on the ticket. A quarter here and a quarter there would really add up over weeks and months of commuting.

For more info on these ticket errors, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Massachusetts gets $25 million for wind turbine testing center

The Massachusetts government has received $25 million in federal stimulus money from the U.S. Energy Department to build a wind turbine testing center in Charlestown.

The Charlestown facility is expected to be able to test blades up to 300 feet long. The money will create over 100 construction jobs and about 10 full-time jobs once the facility is built.

The allocation of this part of the stimulus money is intended to work towards President Obama's goal of 10 percent of energy generated in the U.S. coming from renewable sources. Currently, about two percent of the energy generated in the country is from renewable sources.

For more information on the wind turbine facility, check out this story from The Globe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tips for saving time and money on your lawn

The Daily Green has a list of five tips that will save you time and money on your lawn. And, of course, these tips will also help you be more friendly to the environment.

Even the most basic lawn care packages from a landscaping company will run you well over $100 a month. That can really add up over the summer. From mulching over areas to hardscaping to using old-school reel mowers, these tips will save you some green and keep the environment safer. Check out the list at the link above when you get a chance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Class-action lawsuit alleges Pike charges "illegal" toll taxes

Hundreds of people have joined a class-action lawsuit that is suing the commonwealth for using over half of the funds received from Mass Pike tolls towards debt from the Big Dig.

Former Pike official Christy Mihos told The Herald that the lawsuit is unlikely to succeed because a 1997 law gave the Turnpike Authority the job of overseeing the Big Dig, which would, in theory, allow them to use tolls to pay for Big Dig-related items.

While I agree that the current transportation structure in Massachusetts needs a massive overhaul, suing the state seems like a Catch-22 because the commonwealth will use tax money to pay for any litigation expenses it encounters, or any judgment it is told by the courts to pay out.

For more info on this lawsuit, check out this story from The Herald.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cyclists kick off Bay State Bike Week

Fifty or so bicyclists gathered in Christopher Columbus Park in the North End to celebrate the beginning of Bay State Bike Week.

Many bicyclists across the street have pledged to ride 250,000 combined miles this week to show politicians that they are serious about their demands for more bike lanes, racks, and other improvements.

There are many events across the Greater Boston area scheduled to promote bicycling. For more information on bike week events, check out this page of our website. Also, check out this story from The Globe on the events today in Christopher Columbus Park that marked the beginning of bike week.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Taking public transit saves big money

Boston was the top city in the nation in terms of money that can be saved by taking public transportation, according to a survey released yesterday by the American Public Transportation Association.

The survey found that Boston residents can save $12,632 a year by taking the bus or subway instead of driving to work. New York and San Francisco were second and third on the list.

Remember that your company offers you programs and incentives to encourage you to use transit, including paying some (or all) of your transit costs at many companies. If you have any questions about these incentives, contact your Transportation Coordinator today.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Green gifts to make your mother happy

As Mother's Day approaches, many of us are left wondering what would be the perfect gift for our moms.

If you are stuck searching for an idea or are just curious, check out this slide show with eight green gift ideas. From flowers to jewelry to shoes, these eco-friendly gifts are sure to make your mom happy. Plus, you won't have to worry about the negative consequences your gift has on the environment, so it'll make you happy as well.

Scientists serve as climate detectives

Scientists have to think like detectives. They look for clues to help them understand how the world works. Then, they investigate the clues to find evidence—real facts that can give them a better idea of what is going on. Here are some of the ways that scientists gather evidence about climate, both past and present:

Weather Stations

Weather stations help us find out the temperature on the surface of the Earth. Weather stations use special thermometers that tell us the temperature. They can be set up almost anywhere on land. Weather stations also can tell us how fast the wind is moving and how much rain falls on the ground during a storm.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

California says green cars need more noise

Electric and hybrid vehicles may be better for the environment, but the California Legislature says they're bad for the blind.

The State Senate passed a bill Tuesday to ensure that the vehicles make enough noise to be heard by visually-impaired people about to cross a street.

To read the rest of this Associated Press story, click here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

30 ways to save money by going green

The idea many people have about green products and ideas is that they have to cost more money. However, there are countless ways to go green and actually save money.

The Daily Green promotes these methods with daily content and ideas for its readers. For instance, the site has a slide show with 30 ways you can go green and save money. Check it out, and you might be surprised with how easily you can save some "green."

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Greenness" of products sway purchasing decisions

A study released today found that environmentally-safe product attributes are influencing the purchasing habits of buyers.

However, those that would like to buy green products are often not finding them on store shelves because the majority of companies still view green products as nothing more than a marketing tool.

The study surveyed over 6,000 people at 11 retail stores. Two percent of respondents said they were "committed" to buying environmentally-friendly products, while 52 percent said they were either "proactive" about weighing environmental factors or "influenced" by environmental factors. The study noted that the "proactive" and "influenced" groups were the most important groups for retailers to market.

To sum it up, the study found that the majority of consumers are not yet committed to buying only green products but that awareness about environmental issues has increased enough to where the "greenness" of a product is serving as a sort of tiebreaker to differentiate it from less green competitors.

For more info on the study, check out this story from Business Green.

Friday, May 1, 2009

MBTA steps up cleaning to prevent spread of swine flu

In the wake of Vice President Biden's misguided comments urging people to avoid subways, the MBTA says its increasing its cleaning of subway cars, buses, and public areas.

“The MBTA has directed its cleaning crews to give special attention to places such as seats, hand rails on escalators, and grab bars on subway cars and buses,” T General Manager Daniel Grabauskas told The Herald in an e-mail. “People should not hesitate in going about their daily activities while also keeping themselves informed about how to stay healthy.”

Biden later apologized for the comments and said that he meant to say that if you are sick, you shouldn't travel. But, as The Herald found out, some people are still fearful of taking the subway because of the potential flu outbreak.

Hopefully, the MBTA's ramped up cleaning program will make people feel safer about using public transit to get around the Greater Boston area.

For more info on the MBTA cleaning program, check out this story from The Herald.