Even Rolling Stone Gets It — Why Don’t We?

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Once upon a time we had a concept called global warming. Then we had something called climate change — we called it climate change to make it easier to digest, although that didn’t seem to help the many conservatives in government who refuse to admit such a thing is even possible.

With the name change, there’s an added benefit that the temperature can go up or down, hurricanes can blow, and freak weather patterns can appear all under the same broad category of description. But even with melting ice caps, record droughts and any number of outrageous weather patterns, some individuals and organizations are still dragging their feet about climate change. Others are turning an absolutely blind eye….

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Top-Rated Eco-Friendly Cars

December 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Car, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Hybrid, Natural Gas, Slideshow

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Between rising gas prices and the ever-present issue of climate change, there’s never been a better time to consider environmentally friendly cars. Once relegated to only a small sliver of the population, improved technology means eco-friendly cars are beginning to overcome many of the typical stereotypes they’re associated with. Here are three of the best choices to help you minimize your impact on the environment.

Honda Civic GX

Although hybrid and electric vehicles garner most of the public’s attention, Honda’s natural-gas-powered Civic GX leads the pack in emission standards. The Civic GX has won the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy’s “Greenest Vehicle of the Year” award for eight consecutive years. Since it is fueled entirely by natural gas, the GX is the cleanest internal combustion vehicle ever tested by the EPA, and meets federal zero evaporative emissions standards….

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What’s Your Steel IQ?

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When artist Alli ReauVeau talks about steel, the medium on which she paints, she gets passionate. And one look at the gorgeous artworks she creates convinces us that steel is a perfect “canvas,” indeed. But there’s much more about steel that ReauVeau admires from a construction and architectural viewpoint — and she knows whereof she speaks.

ReauVeau is co-owner, along with her husband, Alan Bendawald, of Steel IQ™, suppliers of an environmentally friendly construction product called Bare Naked Steel™. ReauVeau serves as Education Specialist for the company, sharing the message that Bare Naked Steel is the best steel for construction, for architectural design, and for the planet….

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Fee and Dividend – A Better Plan to Reduce CO2

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For many years, the words global warming meant little to me. I was quick to dismiss climate change as a hoax or a natural phenomenon and continue to live as I always have. Then, one day, I heard someone on the radio ask, “Whether it’s man-made or a natural occurrence, shouldn’t we be doing something about it?” This comment stuck in my mind, and through a number of events, my thinking slowly changed….

One bill in Congress to address climate change uses a cap-and-trade approach. Cap and trade sets a carbon cap for utilities, transportation, and manufacturing. While this sounds like a great way to limit carbon emissions, the details are dicey to say the least. Businesses will have no true financial incentive to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, the amount of carbon allowed is still a mystery, and — even if it works — it won’t be fast enough. We need something more transparent and effective, and we need it now.

Citizens Climate Lobby and a number of other climate-oriented organizations came up with a solution: the Fee and Dividend plan. Under this proposed legislation, an escalating carbon fee will be imposed on fossil fuels at their point of entry into the economy, whether it be at mines, wells, or ports. This fee will raise the price of fossil fuels and make clean energy technology more competitive.

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They’re Blowing Up Our Mountains – There Oughta Be a Law!

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In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned that the U.S. needs “continued investment in … clean coal technologies.”

But, according to Matt Wasson, Ph.D., Director of Programming at Appalachian Voices, as well as many other experts, when you look at the entire process — from mountaintop removal through burning and coal ash disposal — there is no such thing as clean coal.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Dr. Wasson about the activities of Appalachian Voices, and about coal in particular…

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The Great Energy Debate Pop Quiz

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The energy issue is very confusing, and frankly, most of us will never catch up with the experts on all the details. Still, there are some basic facts that are good to know. Do you know them?

True or false? When it comes to global warming and air pollution, nuclear power is one of the most dangerous forms of energy.

Not true. The accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island left lots of people worried about nuclear plant safety, but if you’re worried about climate change, nuclear power is one of the least dangerous forms of energy we have. Generating electricity from nuclear power releases virtually no carbon dioxide (the major green house gas) into the atmosphere, and it doesn’t cause air pollution either. …

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Book Review – Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guide to the Energy Crisis

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Being an environmentalist means I have to choose from a million aspects of concern, direction, and interest. Planet Earth is facing a flood of problems, too many for one writer to assimilate, even for one magazine. For me, there is too little time to read about all the daily assaults on our planet, let alone verify the data in print; seek out authorities on the subject; interview them; type, edit, and post their points of view.

Being a journalist, as well, compounds the problem. Now, it is just as important to seek the opposing opinions and compare conflicting scientific data. Every topic has many angles, often many points of view, and frequently, two polar-opposite conclusions.

The fact that I try to keep an open mind on these issues is exactly why I like this book. The writers, Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson, have tried to present both sides of every energy issue, or at least, remain neutral in their presentation. The book gives “just the facts,” not opinions, and provides extensive end notes for the reader to verify all sources. …

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Dear Department of Energy – A Consumer’s Plea

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Dear Department of Energy:

I am far from being an outspoken environmentalist or even very green, but I have been trying to figure out ways to reduce my energy consumption and look for green alternatives. I have recently been trying to read the energy labels on many devices, only to find that the “required energy disclosures” are pretty much worthless.

Let me cite some examples. …

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From Swamp to Gas Pump – Cattails Take on New Role

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Cattails are among nature’s most primitive species. They were here when dinosaurs ruled. They kept baby Moses from floating down the Nile to a premature death. They’re ubiquitous, found in ditches the world over. Grown in clean water, they’re edible. Grown in wastewater, they remove pollutants from the sewage so it can be safely returned to the natural water cycle. In the process, cattails absorb the atmosphere’s increasingly abundant carbon dioxide to fuel photosynthesis, producing sugars and starches that can be converted easily, cleanly, and cheaply into alcohol used for biofuel.

Biofuels solve the same problems that petroleum fuel creates. Plants use the carbon dioxide they remove from the environment to grow. Harvested and converted to alcohol, they return that same energy when used as fuel. This is why corn has garnered a lot of attention as a source of biofuel. But corn-for-ethanol is problematic. Land devoted to growing fuel is land that can’t be devoted to growing food. And, unless it’s grown organically, corn is fertilized with materials that pollute our groundwater and contribute to global warming. Gas-powered tractors harvest it; gas-powered vehicles truck it to market. All this for a fuel source that yields – depending on which study you consult — 75 to 200 gallons per acre? There’s got to be a better way…

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Coal Industry Creates Appalachian War Zone

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Bo Webb lives in a war zone. He fears for his life and the lives of his family every day. He wonders, will an explosion cause debris to land on his house and loved ones? Will the toxic fumes from explosives poison their lungs and their waterways? Will the dam above his children’s elementary school break, covering everyone below with toxic waste? Will the scarred landscape of his homeland ever recover? Bo Webb lives in West Virginia. He has asked that his letter be spread as widely as possible. Read it, and you’ll understand the urgency with which he writes. There is no “clean coal.” There is only destruction. Pass it on.
As I write this letter, I brace myself for another round of nerve-wracking explosives being detonated above my home in the mountains of West Virginia. Outside my door, pulverized rock dust, laden with diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate explosives hovers in the air, along with the residual of heavy metals that once lay dormant underground.

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Choosing to Value a Sustainable Life

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Yesterday we introduced you to author James Glave, a very down-to-earth, environmentalist who is working to reduce his family’s carbon footprint. He is also active in his community, helping to not only spread the environmental message, but also to make the island he lives on more sustainable. In today’s post, Glave talks about pressing environmental issues that confront both his own community and Canada at large.

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Peace Corps Volunteer Teaches Green Living in Namibia

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Seated across from me is a gentle, silver-haired woman. She speaks in soft tones, gesturing slightly from time to time. Her manner is warm and welcoming. You could easily call her mild-mannered. But don’t let her appearance fool you. Miriam Kashia is a force to be reckoned with when there’s a job to be done. And that’s just the spirit with which she tackled her recent Peace Corps assignment in Namibia, home to some of the world’s most impoverished people.

Kashia returned to the United States a year ago, in January 2008. She’s had time to reflect on her experience, and to see from a distance the effects of the work she did half a world away. I interviewed her in her Iowa City home.

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The Positive Economics of Going Green

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“The only way the Green Revolution will be achieved is through economic opportunity, not through regulation,” says Rob Rafson. A world-renowned environmental engineer and author of the highly regarded book, Brownfields: Redeveloping Environmentally Distressed Properties (1999), Rafson has cleaned up and redeveloped 17 brownfields — including four Superfund projects. He’s on a mission to teach sustainability management to businesses. “Once they see the economic benefits of going green, the transition is easy to sell to shareholders and management,” he tells us.

“In our opinion,” Rafson says, referring to Full Circle, his Chicago-based Sustainability Management Solutions firm, “any business interested in going green should do a cost benefit analysis of tactical opportunities that support their overall strategy and simply look at the return on investment (ROI). Whether it’s through renovating to make a building LEED certified, going to solar power, reducing waste stream, etc. — if you filter all the tactics by ROI, the steps become obvious. If you execute on the projects that have immediate and real economic impact, you can stair-step toward more complex projects with longer term ROI.”

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“We Can Get Completely Off Oil in 15 Years”

January 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Electric Cars, Events, Front Page, Oil, Slideshow, Solar, Wind

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Jeff Wilson has a plan: “We can free the United States of its dependency on oil, not just foreign oil, in 15 years.”

Yeah, sure. This guy’s dreaming. I thought, as I began to read his book, The Manhattan Project 2009. I’ve heard pie-in-the-sky schemes before.

Then I read his book, and I was convinced. My next thoughts were, Everybody needs to read this book. It’s all here, in a step-by-step program. He’s even written legislative proposals for congressmen. It’s all here, and it is possible. I wanted to talk to this guy.

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