Monday, August 31, 2009

Fossil fuel industry outspends renewable energy industry on lobbying

The Daily Green is reporting that of the 1,000 or so companies that are paying lobbyists to influence legislators on climate and energy policy, no other group is spending anywhere close to the amount that fossil fuel companies are spending.

The Washington Post backs up this claim, reporting that oil and gas industries spent over $82 million lobbying Congress in the first half of 2009. The alternative energy industry spent only $12 million over that time.

The House has already passed a landmark cap-and-trade regulation. Whether the Senate passes it is yet to be seen. Environmental groups would like to see the Senate pass a version with more stricter requirements, while fossil fuel industry advocates would prefer if the legislation was never approved by the Senate. For more info, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The truth about cap-and-trade regulations

There's a multitude of negative information going around about cap-and-trade regulation. Some of the items are legitimate concerns, but most are misinformation being spread by the opponents of climate change legislation.

You may have heard some of them. One of the worst offenders is the notion that cap-and-trade laws will cost jobs. New jobs will be created in renewable energy fields that will more than offset the job losses in other fields. Another one of my favorites is that cap-and-trade will make the U.S. less competitive than the rest of the world. This is amusing because the U.S. is behind almost all of Europe and some of Asia in enacting climate change regulation.

For more misinformation that is being spread about the proposed cap-and-trade regulation, check out these seven myths from The Daily Green.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Find a farmer's market in your area

The Boston Globe's website has a really neat tool for locating farmers' markets in your area. The tool allows you to search for markets by town or by the name of the market.

Remember, farmers' markets are a great way to buy locally-grown (meaning sustainable) produce that is fresh. The markets also help support local farmers because the farmers don't have to give a bunch of their profit to distributors like they would have to if they sold their goods in supermarkets. If your dinner plans call for some fruits and/or veggies, search for a market that's on your commute home and give it a try.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls for "Scopes Trial" on climate change

The nation's largest business lobbying group—the Chamber of Commerce—announced yesterday that it is seeking a full-blown trial on the facts surrounding whether or not climate change is a man-made phenomenon.

"It would be evolution versus creationism," said William Kovacs, the Chamber's senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs, drawing parallels with the Scopes trial. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."

The Chamber has been lobbying for a public hearing on the facts surrounding climate change since the EPA's recent announcement that global warming represents a threat to human healthy. The Chamber is likely to file a case in federal court should the EPA refuse to agree to a public hearing.

While this is likely just a PR ploy, a modern day Scopes Trial over climate change would definitely be interesting and, quite possibly, beneficial for many people who are unfamiliar with some of the facts surrounding climate change. For more info, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Young adults waste more energy and water than older adults

A study of 2,000 people in the United Kingdom has concluded that young adults—ages 18 to 24—are the worst offenders when it comes to wasting energy and water.

This goes against conventional wisdom that suggests young people are the most interested age group in environmental activism and the best potential market for green businesses.

Fifty-six percent of young adult respondents admitted to leaving the tap running while brushing their teeth, and 40 percent said they turn the shower on a few minutes before getting in. These numbers are higher than the percentages of all respondents, but I wonder if it could be in part because younger people are more likely to answer the survey more factually than older respondents (just a guess)?

One of the conclusions of the study was that businesses would be wise to not assume that younger people will be automatically engaged in green business movements. This is similar to the idea that young people are "engaged" in politics, but often do not turn out to vote on election days, making it risky for politicians to rely on young voters to get elected.

Monday, August 24, 2009

City of Boston launches street repair tracking website

Ever wonder about the status of those requests you made to the mayor's neighborhood repair hot line? Well, the city is implementing a new tracking system that can be used online by the public to see what the status of the requests for any number of repairs is, from streetlight repairs to pothole fixes.

The main page of the website will provide a street-by-street view of the city. Each street will be marked with symbols indicating what is currently being fixed and also what needs to be repaired.

“It’s about transparency,” Bill Oates, the city’s chief information officer, told The Herald. “Ultimately, the expectation is all city services will be mobilized” and connected to the system.

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

Friday, August 21, 2009

Digital textbook business slowly grows

Students at 400 colleges and universities will have the opportunity to download their textbooks online at the cost for $20 per book through a service offered by Flat World Knowledge.

While hard copies of the books often cost $100 or more, the service allows students to purchase a PDF of the book for much less. And, seeing that students are required to buy books for up to six classes per semester, purchasing books is not cheap at all. Furthermore, the books are created and managed using open-source software, meaning that professors can edit the book and add supplemental materials as they please.

In addition to the obvious benefit of reducing costs, digital textbooks are also great for the environment because they cut down on the huge amount of paper required to print all of the textbooks that are used every year in the U.S. We certainly hope that this small, but growing, field continues to partner with more and more colleges and universities.

For more info on this digital textbook service, check out this story from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

U.S. agriculture secretary calls for more forest conservation

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the country needs to spend more resources managing and protecting its forests in remarks he gave in a speech last week in Seattle.

Vilsack said that protecting the forest has a number of environmental and economic benefits, including creating jobs, combating climate change, and conserving water. Climate change has largely been cited as a reason for the increase of in the number of catastrophic wild fires seen in the western half of the U.S. And, as more forests are destroyed, climate change only gets worse in a seemingly endless cycle.

Vilsack's plan calls for the government to create green jobs that restore forests, so the forests can be used as "carbon sinks" to lessen the impact emissions have on global warming.

For more info on what Vilsack had to say, check out this story from The Boston Globe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Six tips for saving time, money, and stress in your commute

The Daily Green has some great tips today on how you can save time and money and cut a lot of the stress out of your daily commute.

An interesting fact in the article: It is estimated that 30 percent of workday traffic comes from parents dropping their children off of picking them up from school. Imagine how much congestion could be reduced if parents had their kids either take the school bus or walk or bike to and from school.

To read more about this tip and others, check out the full story on The Daily Green's website.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Boston GreenFest 2009 starts Thursday

Greater Boston's green awareness festival kicks off this Thursday at Boston's City Hall Plaza. The event will feature live music, food, exhibits, workshops, and other activities aimed at giving people of all ages a better understanding of the changes we all need to make in our daily lives in order to combat climate change and other environmental issues.

Boston GreenFest also features the One Gallon Challenge, which challenges people to build automobiles that can travel 100 miles on a single gallon of gas. The One Gallon Challenge starts Thursday in Greenfield and ends at City Hall Plaza.

For more information on GreenFest, check out the event's official website here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Global warming increases weed growth

An interesting note for those of you who garden or pay particular attention to your lawns: As the earth gets warmer, the climate becomes better for those pesky weeds that try to take over your gardens and lawns.

Researchers at UC-Irvine tested this by planting test lawns in varying temperatures. The researchers found that weeds, such as crabgrass and Bermuda grass, grow much better in warmer conditions because they grow more quickly than other plans, meaning they get to the resources first. Obviously, this takes nutrients away from the plants that you want to grow well in your gardens or lawns.

For more info on this, check out this story from The San Francisco Chronicle.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some wines are greener than others

Believe it or not, not all wines are the same level of green. In fact, there is a good amount of variance in the level of sustainability and green practices that wineries use.

Instead of going out and doing the research for you, Greenopia has done the work for you. The web site has ranked wineries based on growing practices, efficiency of buildings, transportation, and packaging. Greenopia rates the "greenness," or environmental impact, of companies in a number of fields, including airlines, auto makers, fast food restaurants, and others.

For more information on which wines are the greenest, check out the ratings on the Greenopia web site.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Government study suggests glaciers melting at an alarming rate

A 50-year government study has concluded that the world's glaciers are melting at a rapid and alarming rate.

The U.S. Geological Society has been tracking the movements of three benchmark glaciers, two in Alaska and one in Washington, since 1959. The three glaciers are considered benchmarks by the government because they are in different climate zones and at different elevations. The study is yet another argument that the world is warming at a rate more rapid that anyone expected. For more info on the study, check out this story from

So, what can we do to combat the earth's warming? It's simple, really, and your company wants to help. Your company offers benefits and incentives to encourage you to do things other than drive alone to work and use more eco-friendly methods such as carpooling, transit, or bicycling. If you have any questions about what commuter benefits are available to you, don't hesitate to contact your Transportation Coordinator.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama prepares executive order on emissions targets

President Obama is planning to sign an executive order next month requiring federal agencies to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

In order to meet the requirement of cutting two percent of emissions each year from 2010 to 2020 (or 20 percent over the entire time), public sector officials will have to build more efficient structures, use more renewable energy, use less fuel, and hire more "green" contractors. Furthermore, private sector companies with government contracts will also have to show how they plan to cut emissions in order to keep their contracts with the government.

This is certainly good news for the environment if the President carries through with this executive order. To read more about the proposed executive order, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The 10 most visited national parks

National parks in the United States offer visitors an affordable way to see some of the most beautiful environmental landscape in the country. From the nation's most visited park, Smokey Mountain National Park (to the right), which had almost 10 million visitors in 2007, to Maine's Acadia National Park, these parks offer single or multiple-day getaways for you and/or your family.

All national parks contain picnic grounds and camp areas, along with nature trails and other attractions. For more info on as well as pictures of the 10 most visited national parks, check out this slide show from The Daily Green. These natural beauties are certainly worth preserving through the green practices that we discuss on this blog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

State legislators criticize Governor Patrick over potential MBTA fare hikes

Several Massachusetts legislators said today in a press conference that they felt misled by the Patrick Administration because of the potential MBTA fare hikes. The legislators voted to increase the sales tax last month in part to help offset some of the state's transportation budget difficulties.

The lawmakers called the fare increases unfair, unjustified, and ill-advised. This news comes after the Patrick Administration bought out the contract of the MBTA general manager (also known as politely fired) and announced that any decision on the fare hikes would be put on hold until an internal review of the MBTA's finances is complete. The review is expected to be finished by November 1.

However, the workshops and public hearings on the fare hikes that were scheduled to begin today will still be held over the next few weeks. This would lead one to believe that the fare increase is still likely to occur in January as planned, but we can all hope that the state finds a better way to meet its budget deficit than raising more fares and/or taxes.

For more info on the news surrounding the fare hikes, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The "clunkiest clunkers" traded in during the government's Cash for Clunkers program

Most of you have likely heard the debate surrounding the government's Cash for Clunkers program that allows consumers to trade in vehicles (no matter what shape the vehicle is) for a $4,500 credit towards a new vehicle. While the supposed environmental benefits are debatable, there is little doubt that the program has been good for the automobile industry and the economy.

But, instead of discussing the pros and cons of the program, we found this fun slide show that describes 10 of the "clunkiest clunkers," whether they are vehicles that are in terrible shape or that are terribly inefficient with gas. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Where do your electronics go after you're done with them?

In the U.S., after companies are done with their electronics, they are often exported overseas to dumps. There, they are burned to dispose of them, which allows a ton of chemicals to seep into the environment. These chemicals cause countless environmental and health risks, including cancers and reproductive problems.

"People living and working on and around the dump sites, many of whom are children, are exposed to a cocktail of dangerous chemicals that can cause severe damage to health, including cancer, damage to the nervous system, and to brain development in children," Kim Schoppink, Toxics Campaigner at Greenpeace, told CNN.

Nigeria, and other countries in Africa, are leading importers of so-called e-waste, which is a term for all consumer electronics. Studies have found that the land around these e-waste dumps is often high in lead and other hazardous materials.

While only 20 percent of electronics are recycled safely (or given to charity), there is a growing movement for safe recycling processes for electronics. For more information on these e-waste dumps, check out this story from

Monday, August 3, 2009

Global poll suggests governments should be more concerned about climate change

A global poll of people in 19 countries found that the majority of people in the world think their government should put more emphasis on combating global climate change.

Respondents in 15 of the 19 countries said they believe their government should put a higher priority on climate change policy, including the three biggest greenhouse gas emitters—the U.S., China, and Russia. The poll was conducted in China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, Chile, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and South Korea, according to the press release by the polling agency.

Interestingly, the poll also found that a good number of people overestimate how much they care about climate change because twice as many respondents said they care more than the average person than respondents that said they care less than the average person.

For more info on the results of the poll, check out the full results here.