protect and defend our ecosystems

Date: 16-Feb-10
Country: US
Author: Maggie Fox

WASHINGTON – The coastal fog that gives San Francisco its romantic ambiance is thinning out, a boon to drivers but a real threat to the giant redwoods there, researchers reported on Monday.

It in unclear if natural climate variations or human activity is to blame, but the result could be the loss of trees, they reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Fog prevents water loss from redwoods in summer, and is really important for both the tree and the forest,” biologist Todd Dawson of the University of California Berkeley said in a statement.

“The coast redwood is the tallest living tree species and notably long-lived, with some individuals exceeding 2,000 years in age,” the researchers wrote in their report, available here

“If the fog is gone, we might not have the redwood forests we do now.”

Dawson and colleagues estimated the frequency of fog by looking at weather records, especially airport records dating back to 1951.

“Since 1901, the average number of hours of fog along the coast in summer has dropped from 56 percent to 42 percent, which is a loss of about three hours per day,” said Berkeley’s James Johnstone, who led the study.

The fog is caused by cool surface waters of the Pacific Ocean meeting warm air from the interior of California. It is held in place by an inversion, caused when cooler air is trapped closer to the surface.

“The data support the idea that Northern California coastal fog has decreased in connection with a decline in the coast-inland temperature gradient and weakening of the summer temperature inversion,” Johnstone said.

“As fog decreases, the mature redwoods along the coast are not likely to die outright, but there may be less recruitment of new trees,” Dawson added. “They will look elsewhere for water, high humidity and cooler temperatures.”

The coast redwood, known scientifically as Sequoia sempervirens, is naturally found in a very narrow band along the northeast Pacific coast.

The researchers found changes all the way down the coast from northernmost California to San Diego.

“Fog is clearly a dominant climatic factor on the California coast, and long-term reductions likely have and may continue to impact the water and carbon economy of redwoods and other coastal endemic species,” they concluded.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

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Powerball

Feeling lucky about your numbers? Probably not if we’re talking the digits on your energy bill. Check out our tips to shrink your electricity payments and to keep both you and the planet rolling in green.

1. Raid your closet.

Rather than turning to the thermostat every time you catch a chill, grab a sweater instead. Dressing in layers is totally in: It’ll keep you off those fashion makeover shows, save you about $250, and keep 1,000 pounds of CO2 outta the environment per Biter, per year. Get the full Bite.

2. Break the (drying) cycle.

Save $25 a year by turning off your dishwasher’s drying cycle. It accounts for 15%-50% of dishwasher energy usage, and believe it or not, your dishes will indeed dry on their own. Get the full Bite.

3. Make your fridge chill.

Help your refrigerator run more efficiently by keeping it full, using glass storage containers, and cleaning the dust off the coils a couple times a year (if they’re at the base; this alone saves up to $20 a year). Bonus: Replace your current fridge with an Energy Star one to save $55 a year. Get the full Bite, and watch our vid.

4. Shed some light bulbs.

Replacing your standard bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can save the average household about $180 a year. Plus, traditional incandescents generate about 2-10 times more mercury than CFLs when you figure in emissions from the power plants that usually power them. Get the full Bite.

5. Get outta hot water.

Turn down the temp on your tank water heater to around 120 degrees (many installers set to 140 degrees) – that’s hot enough to clean you and your dishes but still save you 6%-10% on water-heating costs. Plus, if every U.S. household did the same, we could prevent the amount of globe-warming CO2 emitted by the country of Kuwait. Get the full Bite.

6. Leave your clothes in the cold.

Doing your laundry in cold water instead of hot will save you $61 a year and will keep your clothes looking newer, longer – and it does the job on all but the worst cases of griminess. Households that wash only in cold water prevent 1,281 pounds of CO2 from mucking up the air every year. Get the full Bite.

7. Kick it old school with nonelectric appliances.

Burn a few calories and cut a few dollars off your energy bill by using a manual can opener rather than an electric one. If 10,000 people ditch their electric can openers, in a month we’ll save enough electricity to power a lamp for about 11 years. Get the full Bite.

8. See how your energy use measures up.

Get a home energy monitor to gauge your home’s power usage – down to the LCD TV you left plugged in and your kiddo’s night-light. Seeing where all that energy’s going will remind you to unplug and flip switches. Get the full Bite.

9. Exorcise your phantom loads.

A phantom load is the energy that’s sapped by your appliances when they’re plugged in but not on, and a whopping 40% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while they’re turned off. Curb the energy drain by plugging ’em into power strips that you switch off each night. Get the full Bite.

10. Let the sun shine in.

Installing solar panels is an up-front investment for sure, but it’s a great way to cut energy costs (with the right system, you’ll never have another energy bill again) and pollution. Just 1 hour’s worth of the sunlight that hits the earth provides more energy than we use in a whole year. Get the full Bite.

Posted by: jharper on 06/29/2009

EarthShare is an organization that keeps their thumb on the pulse of the topics directly related to actions we can all get involved with.  The reception is growing tremendously and proven to be effective.  Do your part, get involved, get your children and grandchildren involved.

Together Everyone Achieves More… CSea Perkins

Are Americans cooling on global warming? 350

What do a rural farmer in New Zealand, students in Boston, and a group of architects have in common? They’re all affected by climate change.

People from every background showed their support for global climate change action and leadership on October 24, the International Day of Climate Action. Coordinated by 350.org, the event brought participants together to raise global awareness of climate change prior to the United Nations climate change meetings in December. More than 5,000 demonstrations were held around the globe! You can check out www.350.org to see international images of people taking unique action in support of our planet’s health and future.

This effort comes on the heels of a recently published poll indicating that some Americans’ opinions on climate change may be changing in the face of the other pressing crises affecting the nation. Although more than half of the 1,500 adults surveyed still believe global warming is occurring, this represents about a 20% decrease since 2006.

What do you think? Talk to us in the comments section at the bottom of this page, or email us! You can also learn more about the pending Climate Bill and participate in the discussion with Environmental Defense Fund’s Twitter guide.
Holy cow! Meat and dairy = major greenhouse gases. Cow

You may not think the food you eat can affect the air you breathe or the water you drink, but it does. According to Worldwatch Institute, more than 50% of greenhouse gases are generated by the meat and dairy industries!

What can you do? Consider reducing the amount of meat in your diet. Meatless Monday is a growing sensation advocating skipping meat just one day a week to reduce your environmental impact.

You might also end up introducing some delicious new fruits and veggies into your diet — check out an excellent curried eggplant recipe! Worried that kids won’t go for it? More than 80,000 Baltimore students now go meatless every Monday, and Baltimore County Public Schools plan on building community gardens at each of their public schools.

If you don’t want to or can’t give up meat one day a week, you have other options. Buy meat from your local butcher or at a nearby farmer’s market. The meat goes through less processing, doesn’t require Styrofoam packaging, and barely travels to get to you.

Our friends at the Center for a New American Dream also have excellent online resources that help you “cater to the Earth” by making smart decisions when buying food. They work to help Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice. Taking care of the planet can be delicious!

Take our Green Quiz Challenge!

Baby, it’s cold outside! As your family migrates indoors for the winter, you want to keep them happy and warm. But not everyone properly prepares their home for the coldest season, often forgetting to use weather-stripping, remove air conditioning window-units, or neglect to put draft guards down.

So how much of your home’s heat can escape through gaps in windows and doors? If you know the answer, take our quiz and you could win an eco-friendly prize!

being treated for chemical exposure

being treated for chemical exposure

Posted by Colleen Hutchings in Tracking Kid Safe, Uncategorized on October 15, 2009 |

More than 150 representatives of industry, government, academia and the environmental community voiced a broad consensus this week that the time has come for comprehensive reform of the outdated federal law created to ensure that Americans’ health is not threatened by the thousands of chemicals they encounter in daily life. Click here to read the rest of EWG’s wrap-up.

Highlights from The Future of U.S. Chemicals Policy

Conference Multimedia Resources
Click here to watch The Future of U.S. Chemicals Policy in full.
Click to watch all of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s speech.
Click here to see a slide show of this historic conference.

Read reactions from EWG staff
Key stakeholders share ideas about TSCA reform
The morning session of today’s historic conference exploring routes to federal chemical policy reform made clear that there is now a strong consensus among key stakeholders – industry, the EPA and the White House, the environmental health community – on the need to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Thanks to today’s event, we now have the pleasure of discussing them.Click here to read the rest of the morning wrap-up.

You can help us keep reform moving forward!
Help us keep the pressure on Congress to reform TSCA. Sign our Declaration today to tell your Represenatives that you think children being born prepolluted is morally wrong. Click here to add your voice today.

We know far too little about chemicals coming into the market. Manufacturers have far too little certainty about how chemicals they make are regulated. The EPA needs the tools to do the job that the public expects.
– EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

Dear Christian,

October 6 was a historic day. In a first-of-its-kind conference, EWG brought together more than 150 representatives of government, academia, the environmental community and industry (yes, you read that right). The subject was chemicals policy. And everyone had one thought in mind:

The time has come for comprehensive reform of our nation’s outdated system for chemicals regulation. It has failed to ensure that the health of our children — and of all Americans — is no longer threatened by the thousands of chemicals encountered in daily life. As a result, consumers no longer trust that the products they are being sold are safe.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson joined us because she agrees that now is the time for change. Her keynote address signaled that the Administration is ready to take on chemicals policy reform.

Click here for blog updates, photos and video from the conference, including excerpts from Administrator Jackson’s keynote address.

Strange bedfellows
Parents, children, doctors, legislators and, of course, the chemical industry itself, are all stakeholders when it comes to comprehensive chemical reform. One refrain we heard over and over during the conference, from business leaders and environmental health advocates alike, was this: the time for change is NOW. Though we may not agree on every detail, we do agree that the goal of meaningful reform will not be met unless we all come to the table and hammer out our differences.

A special thanks goes to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Rep. Henry Waxman (CA), Rep. Bobby Rush (IL), and you. Unless consumers speak up — with your voices and with your dollars — these dialogues, and the reform on the horizon, will not happen.

Sincerely,

Ken Cook
President, Environmental Working Group

Every day, our government makes decisions that affect us, the environment and the security of our world. That is why science is so critical – for our health and safety, we need these decisions to be made upon the best available science.

How much do you know about the role science plays in ensuring a cleaner, safer world?

Take the “Sci-Q” quiz to find out »

Right now, decisions about global warming, energy policy, nuclear weapons and the safety of our food are being made. The more we know about these challenges that face us, the better we will be able to speak out for effective change.

Find out how much you know about environmental health and safety »

Sincerely,

Natasha
Care2 Campaign Team

Test Your”Sci-Q” »

Test your “Sci-Q” with these fun brain teasers – and see how much you know about science!

Take the quiz >>

Quiz link: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AFPNH/zJQF/AvNVH

It is our responsibility to help people and especially businesses to reduce their carbon emissions and vehicle maintenance expenses with less dependency on foreign oil… CSea

Date: 11-Sep-09
Country: US
Author: Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON – A top Obama Administration official said the U.S. oil and gas industry will survive a proposed repeal of billions of dollars tax preferences and there will be an insignificant impact on worldwide prices.

Current tax breaks for oil and gas production distort the market, leading to over-investment in domestic fossil fuel production, Alan Krueger, Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Treasury, told a an energy subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Because there will be little to no effect on the world supply of oil, removing these subsidies would have an insignificant impact on world oil prices,” Krueger told the panel.

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for the 2010 spending year includes ending tax breaks for oil and gas companies expected to raise more than $30 billion over 10 years.

A report issued this week by the Joint Committee on Taxation also said the proposals are likely to have no impact on world oil or gas prices. Still, the bipartisan Senate-House panel said there was no guarantee the policies would lead to a shift to renewable energy sources, an Administration goal.

Under the most dire scenario where domestic producers shifted all costs to consumers, removing the breaks could result in a one cent per gallon increase in the cost of oil, or a one percent increase in natural gas prices, Krueger said.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents giants such as BP America and Chevron Corp, argued the proposals, with others planned by the White House, amount to $80 billion the industry would lose over a decade.

“The proposals are aimed at crippling our industry,” said Larry Nichols, chief executive of Devon Energy Corp and chairman of the industry group, calling any effort to reduce domestic production of oil and gas “absurd.”

He warned of higher consumer prices and job losses if the proposals go forward.

“We need to ask if the proposal would cause more than a negligible increase in consumer prices,” subcommittee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat.

The state employs about 23,000 people in the oil and gas industries.

Stephen Brown, a fellow at the nonpartisan research group Resources for the Future, said eliminating the tax breaks would amount to less than one percent of the industry’s $3.4 trillion in estimated annual revenue for the period.

A small drop in U.S. oil consumption should help energy security, by cutting the exposure to oil price shocks, he said.

“The near record-high prices that are projected for oil and natural gas over future years suggest that free markets will provide sufficient encouragement” for domestic production, Brown added.

Obama’s plan would levy an excise tax on oil and natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, raising $5.3 billion in revenue from 2011 to 2019. This 13 percent tax on all oil and gas production in the Gulf would only affect those companies enjoying a loophole that allows them to avoid paying royalties on the energy supplies they drill. Companies already paying royalties would get a tax credit.

Obama’s budget would also place a $4 per acre annual fee on non-producing energy leases in the Gulf. The budget proposal expects the fee to generate $1.2 billion from 2010 to 2019.

The administration is also considering putting an excise tax on oil and gas produced offshore.

Several panel Republicans derided Krueger for what they called pursuing a goal of reduced domestic energy production.

“I wasn’t aware that overproduction of American-made energy is a problem,” Jim Bunning of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee said.

Krueger said the administration’s goal is to have resources invested to yield the highest social return, taking into account environmental harm caused by the release of greenhouse gases associated with oil and gas production.

(Editing by Andre Grenon)

Date: 05-Aug-09
Country: US
Author: ClimateBiz Staff

Gap Inc. shrunk its carbon footprint by 20 percent over the past five years through lighting retrofits, sourcing renewable energy and an energy management program that targets energy-intensive stores.

Its performance helped the San Francisco-based company exceed the goal it set as a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders Program. Gap planned to reduce emissions by 11 percent between 2003 and 2008.

The company has focused on its energy use as part of a multi-pronged approach to reducing its environmental impacts, Gap explained in its latest social responsibility report released Friday. Other planks include reducing waste and advancing sustainable design and fabrics.

Gap formed its Environmental Council in 2008 to improve its performance in energy use, waste and sustainable design and cotton. The council is made up of senior executives and mid-level managers from all of its brands, representing functional areas such as logistics, real estate, marketing, trade compliance and merchandising. It meets quarterly to identify opportunities, share best practices, and engage senior leadership. The company joined the Ceres-led Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy in March to lobby Congress to pass progressive climate change legislation.

The company is currently undergoing an environmental footprint assessment scheduled for completion this year. The assessment will examine energy, water use, effluents and waste at more than 2,800 retail stores, transportation, seven distribution centers, 11 headquarters and five design studios. A second phase focusing on its supply chain will begin early next year.

By far, the company’s retail stores account for nearly 82 percent of its energy consumption in 2008. Between 2007 and 2008, Gap shrunk its average U.S. store energy consumption by 2.8 percent.

In 2008, the company installed a one-megawatt solar energy system at its West Coast distribution center in Fresno, Calif.

The company also shrank the amount of waste generated, leading to a drastic reduction in recycled materials. Gap expects a program being implemented that shifts to new containers at its distribution centers will cut its cardboard waste by 57,000 tons and save the company about $20 million annually.

In 2008, Gap introduced a new denim laundry policy that requires all suppliers to meet wastewater quality guidelines. All denim laundry locations participate; about 79 percent have passed requirements.