Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Proposed Senate climate bill stricter than House version

The climate bill that is expected to be introduced in the Senate's Environmental and Public Works Committee today is more strict in regards to emissions targets than the one narrowly passed by the House earlier this year.

The bill would require a 20-percent emission reduction by 2020 from 2005 levels of CO2 emissions. The House bill requires a 17-percent reduction. Both bills target an 83-percent reduction by 2050.

The bill sets up a cap-and-trade system, which would allow industry members to buy and sell emissions within a total emissions cap. The House bill has a similar cap-and-trade system included.

The introduction of the bill is expected to ignite a climate change debate in the Senate within several committees before a debate on the Senate floor later this year. For more info on the bill, check out this story from The Boston Globe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Global warming talks heat up

With the landmark Copenhagen climate conference just a little more than two months away, news surrounding a potential successor to the Kyoto Protocol is heating up. Last week, representatives of the so-called G20—finance ministers and central bank governors of 20 major national economies—met in Pittsburgh to discuss global warming, among other things.

As the pivotal conference approaches, scientific reports are coming out that are raising the stakes. The U.N. released a report this week that states that the world is on course for a 6.3 degree temperature increases even if all the proposed actions are implemented by every government worldwide. Part of the report is particularly scary as it states that the worst-case scenarios for global climate disasters are actually worse—and not as far in the future—as previously thought.

For a good summary of all the recent news in the global warming debate, check out this story from The Daily Green that contains links to six items that are making news.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Volvo and other automakers see green

Volvo has crafted an ambitious environmental agenda, making the company the latest automaker to work towards a greener future.

The automaker announced a new vision that will attempt to produce cars that produce no harmful exhaust emissions or environmentally-impacting carbon dioxide. Yes, they said no emissions. And, the company is putting its money where its mouth is by investing $2 billion in the project through 2014.

Volvo and other automakers are working towards the 35.5 mpg federal standard that will be in place as of 2015. The standard was part of the federal legislation passed by Washington last year that legislators, unions, and automakers all agreed on as part of a compromise.

For more information on how automakers are going green, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Friday, September 25, 2009

11 ways to reuse packing peanuts

We all get them when we have something mailed to us by a family or friend or when we order something online: Those annoying packaging peanuts that inevitably make a mess all over the room you open the package in. If you are anything like us, the first thing that comes to mind when they spill all over the floor is to get them into the trash can as quickly as possibly. However, the material the peanuts are made of, polystyrene, takes hundreds of years to decompose in nature, meaning it's not the best idea to throw them into a landfill.

So, what is one to do with these annoying little things? You can reuse and recycle them to save money and keep the environment cleaner. The Daily Green has put together a list of 11 ways to do so. Check it out here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lechmere Station relocation presentation and public discussion

As the MBTA begins to move forward with plans to relocate Lechmere Station as part of its Green Line expansion, many residents are concerned about the impact the relocation will have on the East Cambridge area as well as the preservation of the historic buildings that make up the current station.

The East Cambridge Planning Team, which is comprised of concerned citizens of the Cambridge and Somerville area, is hosting a presentation and public discussion on the subject of the Lechmere relocation on Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the East End House on 105 Spring Street in Cambridge. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss how to ensure that the new Lechmere Station does the best job possible of serving as a hub into the neighborhood. Specific topics will include pedestrian crossings of O'Brien Highway, preservation of current buildings, improving the new station's entrances and lobbies, and intregrating the station into the future North Point Street Grid.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Massachusetts makes plans to expand rail service

Massachusetts has signed an agreement with a freight company to purchase rail lines from
Boston to Worcester and New Bedford to Fall River. Once the Commonwealth owns the lines, it will become possible for the MBTA to offer increased service. Currently, freight trains have priority over passenger trains, which limits the times that the passenger trains can run.

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, who announced the agreement today, did not say how much the Commonwealth is paying for the lines or give any indication of a timetable for service changes along the lines.

“The Patrick administration is dedicated to improving freight and passenger rail system for the long-term health of our economy and our environment,” Murray told The Herald. “A vibrant rail network that serves both passengers and freight needs is an important part of our transportation system.”

For more info, check out the full story here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Five food tips to keep the environment (and you) healthy

Much of the food we consume has detrimental effects on the environment caused by packaging, pesticides, and the release of greenhouse gases. However, The Daily Green has five tips today that can help you keep these hazardous items out of the environment while making your own body healthier by consuming nutritious food.

From buying local products to purchasing organic goods in a smart manner, these tips are sure to help you on your way to living a greener lifestyle. Check out the full list when you get a chance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

World population grows faster than expected

Since 1999, the world's population has grown by about 79 million people a year. A report released today by the World Resources Institute suggests that the world's population is growing more quickly than expected and could reach 9.1 billion people by 2050. The current world population is about 6.8 billion.

Here are some interesting facts from the report, courtesy of The Daily Green:
  • More than 95% of population growth is occurring in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, regions that account for more than three-quarters of the current population. U.N. demographers estimate that by mid-century, Africa will be adding 21 million people a year to world population and Asia 5 million.

  • Although the populations of Japan, Germany, Russia, and some Eastern European countries are already declining, U.N. demographers do not indicate a population peak among industrial countries as a group until 2036.

  • Global spending on contraceptive supplies and services totaled $338 million in 2007, considerably less than half the amount in 1995 — despite a 20% increase in the number of people of reproductive age in developing countries.

For more info on the report, check out this story.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Earn cash by cutting home emissions

Do you want to earn some extra cash for cutting your home energy use? A new site, My Emissions Exchange, offers credits for people who sign up and then lower their utility bills and carbon footprint.

Environmentalists say the voluntary carbon market has doubled since the beginning of 2008. Using My Emissions Exchange, consumers can sell their credits to participating companies. The credits are currently trading between $10 and $25 on the site.

For more info on the voluntary carbon market and My Emissions Exchange, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ozone hole not closing as expected

Scientists are telling us that the ozone hole is not closing as they hoped it would after 100 countries signed the historic Montreal Protocol in 1987 that regulated the release of ozone-depleting chemicals worldwide. The hole allows UV radiation to penetrate the atmosphere, leading to an increase in cancer risk and other health and environmental problems.

The good news is that the expansion of the hole has stopped, and scientists still believe that the hole will gradually get smaller as time goes by. As part of the protocol, the release of almost all ozone-depleting chemicals is not only regulated but flat-out banned by the end of next year.

There's a lesson to be learned here. While it's easy for man to cause environmental problems by releasing excess chemicals and carbon into the air, it takes decades, if not centuries, for us to reverse or stop these effects. For more info on the ozone hole, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NIssan's green guru dismisses eletctric car criticisms

Critics of electric cars often say that the argument that electric cars are much better for the environment than conventional cars is undermined by the fact that the cars must be charged using electricity that is likely created by burning fossil fuels.

Andy Palmer, head of the company's green vehicle program, said that even in countries such as the U.S. and China, where the majority of electricity is generated from fossil fuels, an electric car is responsible for 24 to 54 percent less emissions than a conventional car.

Nissan is currently working on its Leaf electric vehicle, which is slated to be released late in 2010. For more info, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Study claims switch to renewable energy will create jobs

One of the common arguments against switching to renewable forms of energy is that jobs will be lost in the fossil fuel industry. While it's certainly true that jobs would be lost in that industry, a new study by the European Renewable Energy Council and Greenpeace claims that more jobs will be created in new fields than those that are lost.

In addition, the study suggested that a global switch to renewable energy would prevent 10 billion tons of carbon emissions by 2030. If this switch were to happen, employment in the renewable energy industry would increase from about 1.9 million to about 6.9 million, according to the study. The study went on to discuss how job creation in the renewable energy field could be used to combat rising unemployment rates because of the current economic recession.

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

Monday, September 14, 2009

Livestock diet adjustment could curb global warming

Methane emissions from cattle and other livestock, which are far more potent than CO2 emissions, may be able to be mitigated by additives in the food livestock are fed.

Emissions from livestock make up between 5 and 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, depending on who you ask. Methane warms the Earth at about a 20 times faster rate than CO2.

As the Earth's population continues to grow, more livestock will need to be raised to feed the growing population. Previously, the only option seemed to be to give up meat altogether, a stance that environmentalists have long championed. But, experts say that dietary additives could not only reduce methane emissions from livestock but also provide better nutrition for the animals and higher yields to farmers.

For more information on the potential of reducing methane emissions from cattle, check out this story from

Friday, September 11, 2009

TVs may be 40 percent more efficient by May

The Department of Energy released stricter requirements for televisions to receive an Energy Star rating last week, meaning that, starting in May, some televisions will be 40 percent more energy-efficient.

For those of you that are interested in cutting your energy bill, this means that the televisions will cost you 40 percent less money to operate. Once you decide it's time to buy a television, you can search for Energy Star-rated televisions on the Energy Star website here. There are currently 19 plasma TVs and 199 LCD models that qualify for the rating.

For more information on this as well as how to recycle your old TV, click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Eco films and series set to debut

You may have heard that Ken Burns new series called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" is set to debut on PBS on September 27. PBS' website says that while the show was filmed over six years at some of the most breathtaking locales in the country, it is essential a story about people from all walks of life who are interested in preserving the natural wonders of the world. You can check out a sneak peak of the series here, and hopefully this makes you want to watch the rest because it looks like it will be really good.

Also in the link above, you will find clips and descriptions from three films debuting soon, including No Impact Man, The Age of Stupid, and Crude. These films depict various environmental injustices going on in the world.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Long-term Arctic temperature trends reverse

After cooling for nearly 2,000 years, the cooling trend has reversed in the Arctic regions of the Earth, according to a study released last week in Science magazine.

Northern Arizona University researchers used samples of lake soil as well as data from weather stations in the Arctic to create a decade-by-decade history for the average temperatures of the region. From the year 1 AD until 1900, the researchers estimated that the region cooled by .2 degrees Celsius per 100 years. However, by 1950, the temperatures in the region were .7 degrees warmer than would be expected at the rate of change demonstrated during the previous 1,900 years had continued.

It is important to note that this data supports the data of other studies which has suggested that temperature patterns in the Arctic regions of the Earth have changed during recent years. For more information on the study, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Federal grant helps veterans find green jobs

Massachusetts has received federal funding for a statewide project to help veterans find jobs in green and environmentally-friendly fields.

The state Department of Veteran Affairs has hired a Haverhill-based company called Veterans Northeast Outreach Center to assist with the job training and placement services necessary for the project.

“We are proud and privileged to have been selected,’’ said John Ratka, executive director of Veterans Northeast. “This provides an outstanding opportunity for veterans and their families to improve their quality of life."

The project is being funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and can be renewed for up to two more years. The grant is one of 17 that the department gave out to help veterans find jobs.

For more info on this project, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The next-generation of car technology

This sounds like something out of those futuristic, sci-fi movies and almost too good to be true, but Korean researchers are working on technology that would allow electric cars to "hook" into induction strips and inverters buried in roadways to charge the electric battery in the car.

This would alleviate one of the major drawbacks of electric cars—something often referred to as "range anxiety." Currently, electric cars only have a range of about 100 miles before they need to be charged. This can cause a feeling of anxiety in drivers who are used to going 300 miles or more in between trips to the fuel station.

For more info on this as well as the latest on automated driving technology (Who wouldn't love a car that drives itself?), check out this story from The Daily Green.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Whole Foods opens self-sufficient store in Dedham

Grocery chain Whole Foods is opening a store in Dedham today that generates nearly 100 percent of the power it needs to run using renewable energy sources.

Company officials said the store uses fuel-cell technology and solar power to generate power. The use of green energy reduces the release of about 750 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of removing about 90 cars from the road.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to improve our green operations and to explore the newest renewable energy technologies and recycling initiatives,’’ said Lee Kane, a spokesman for Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region.

In addition to using green, self-produced energy, the store also recycles or reuses 80 percent of its waste.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grocers with New England presence chill for the environment

EPA’s GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership announced its 2009 partner awards this week, and the awardees included Whole Foods, Hill Phoenix and Supervalu, the parent company of Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Market. All three companies have a significant presence in New England states.

An EPA cooperative alliance with the supermarket industry, the GreenChill Partnership works with supermarkets to reduce their emissions of ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas refrigerants.

Whole Foods, a nationwide chain of supermarkets and a GreenChill Founding Partner, received the award for Most Improved Emissions Rate. Another food retailer with many outlets in New England and nationwide, Supervalu, was recognized for achieving its emissions target in 2008/09. Supervalu’s stores in New England are Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Market.

To read the rest of this story, click here.