Reflections on Copenhagen

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The Copenhagen conference ended, for the most part, disappointingly. The Copenhagen Accord, the climate change agreement reached at the last minute, doesn’t effectively address climate change. While it may have been a step in the right direction, it was only an incremental step when the world needed a leap at this moment in time.

In the aftermath of such a disappointing effort, many have sought to place blame. Fingers have been pointed at China, predictably at the US, at Danish political leadership, and even at the UN. All of these narratives are partially correct, but only partially. The blame is plenty and should be spread far….

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Happy Holidays from Blue Planet Green Living

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From our house to yours, we wish you a very happy holiday.

Julia Wasson and Joe Hennager

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Talks Extended

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COPENHAGEN – COP15 TALKS JUST EXTENDED TO THE WEEKEND.

So much has happened, while so little real progress has been made.

Obama’s speech essentially reiterated the US’s already stated position: mitigation commitments by all major economies, transparency by both developing and developed countries alike, and US commitment of $10 billion in the short term/$100 billion in the long-term by 2020 for climate finance….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Friday, the Final Day

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COPENHAGEN – On the final day of COP15, the process of negotiations has moved from talks between delegates to direct communication between heads of states. As I write this, President Obama is in talks with other leaders over the remaining unresolved issues. CNN’s Ed Henry tweeted that President Obama has scuttled his schedule and is in a meeting with Ethiopia (representing China) Russia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, Norway, and Colombia. Accompanying President Obama to Copenhagen is a renewed sense of optimism for the prospects of success at COP15….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Wednesday, Two Days Remaining

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COPENHAGEN — The anxiety and anticipation rising in the conference center are palpable as the fault lines become more distinct and several entities attempt to resurrect negotiations. It’s Wednesday morning in Copenhagen, there are far fewer NGOs, a lot more press, and sightings of presidents and prime ministers scuttling to meetings. It’s difficult to make sense of everything that is taking place at these talks. But one thing is clear, the sense of urgency has heightened, and time is running out for nations to strike a deal….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Sour and Souring

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COPENHAGEN — The climate change talks taking place in Copenhagen are on life support. One week in to the conference, and with one week to go, progress towards a worthwhile climate change deal has been slow. In order to salvage COP15, negotiators will have to double down in order to reach a deal.

Monday’s major news was a group of African nations walking out on negotiations, then, in dramatic fashion — late in the evening hour — choosing to come back to the negotiating table. The story behind the walkout is that, last week, the Danish government reportedly had met with a group of wealthy nations, including the US, outside of the formal process. The parties agreed to a draft “text” that could eventually become the agreement that the Copenhagen conference produces. Several poor nations were angered by what they perceived as a backdoor deal that favored rich nations. The mood has been sour — and souring— ever since, culminating in today’s walkout….

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The Green Lounge – Where Eco Meets Luxury

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This past Sunday night at the posh Lowes Hotel in Santa Monica, television’s Nicole Sherwin (Celebrity Soul) and Wellness2Day.com hosted the first-ever Green Lounge. Set in the back of the ocean-side hotel, the lounge was lit in Oz-like emerald green and centered around an indoor fire pit filled with sparkling crystals. In a word, it was magic. Indeed, it did feel like entering the Emerald City. And, in a way, that was what the lounge was offering to guests — a new, better, green way to live….

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Activists Spread 350 Message ‘Round the World (and Here in Iowa)

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October 24, 2009, in what may well be the largest environmental action yet to occur, 350.org mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to make a statement about climate change. From the Maldives sea floor to the pyramids of Giza, from the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, from a rooftop in Shanghai to the steps of the Old Capitol on the campus of the University of Iowa — across the planet, in 181 countries — we stood, swam, danced, climbed, rode, kayaked, bungee jumped, surfed, dove, sat, lay, or did any number of other creative actions in protest and a plea.

Why?

Scientists calculate that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is currently at 390 parts per million (ppm). They also tell us that the only safe level is 350 ppm or below. We need some carbon in our atmosphere — until the Industrial Revolution it was about 275 ppm — but we’re in the danger zone now, and global warming is causing devastating changes. …

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Rebuilding after Disaster – Greensburg Becomes a Green Town

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On Friday, May 4, 2007, an EF5 tornado cut a two-mile-wide swath of absolute destruction through Greensburg, Kansas. This was the largest tornado in recorded history, and it reduced Greensburg to rubble. Eleven people were killed in Greensburg that evening, while 22 other tornados swirled violently across the state. Every building in Greensburg was damaged or destroyed.

Under such dire circumstances, it would have been easy for the townspeople to give up and walk away. But that’s exactly the opposite of what happened. …

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I-Renew Executive Director Announces Renewable Energy Workshops and Tour

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Mike Carberry, Executive Director of Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew), has only been on the job four months, but he’s already hosted the organization’s state-wide, annual conference and is planning four significant renewable energy events before the end of the year….

“I read Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth, about five years ago, and realized that what I was doing wasn’t enough. Even though I had been an environmental volunteer and an environmental and political activist, I wasn’t doing enough to change the world,” Carberry says. “I was starting to think about legacy and what would be on my tombstone — that I was a great antique dealer? a nice guy? a spiffy dresser?” He chuckles, but then gets serious. “I wanted to know, Could I do something that would effect change in the world and turn my passion into a vocation? That’s when I decided that I would make a change to something that I thought was really important.” …

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Wilson’s Apple Orchard – Eco-Friendly Farming Yields Bumper Crop of Family Fun

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Drive a little more than 4 miles north out of Iowa City on Highway 1. Turn east down Dingleberry Road for a little less than a mile, and take a right down an unpaved road. Soon you arrive at Wilson’s Apple Orchard, a local Iowa City landmark that you won’t soon forget. Ask just about anyone in the Iowa City – Solon area, and they’ll tell you about a family outing they took to Wilson’s when they were kids, about their own child’s recent preschool field trip, or a romantic apple-picking outing with their date. Young and old, Wilson’s Apple Orchard figures into the fond memories of generations of Iowans.

Paul Rasch bought the grounds from previous owners, Robert “Chug” and Joyce Wilson, last year. When asked about the environmental practices he is putting in place in his new venture, Rasch comments that there are three main environmental concerns associated with farming: manure, erosion, and pesticides. Wilson’s Apple Orchard has no livestock, so manure is not a concern. Rasch does no tilling, so the soil is stable. That leaves only pesticides to deal with…

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Notes from California – Time to Evacuate! What Will You Pack?

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When confronted with imminent evacuation — as thousands were during the largest fire in Los Angeles in a century — what do you take with you?

Smoke billows up and over the brown mountain ridge. Ash sifts down in swirling flakes and settling dust. The sky is an eerie golden grey, the color of the end of the world. Helicopters roll over and around every few minutes with ominous hums, dropping fire retardant in great white swaths onto flames.

August is fire season in Los Angeles, a month predictably scarred by blazes, when fires spread across the bone-dry desert chaparral like water sliding downhill. This one, the “Station Fire,” was the largest forest fire Los Angeles County has seen in a century and a half. It burned 242 square miles, destroyed 80 homes, and killed two of the nearly 5,000 firefighters who bravely fought the blaze. The scope is unfathomable…

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Chicago Hosts First Annual Carbon Day Festival

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Chicago-area environmentalists gathered in Lincoln Park on September 15 to celebrate Carbon Day, which the Illinois state legislature designated as an official state holiday earlier this year, as reported on Blue Planet Green Living. The festival was ideally sited amid a beautiful stand of shade trees and conifers adjacent to Lincoln Park’s Farm in the Zoo. The event featured demonstrations, educational booths, speeches, and activist organizations. In addition, visitors learned about sponsoring companies and area businesses committed to the goal of reducing the national carbon footprint and making a positive impact on the environment…

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Indie Film “A River of Waste” Issues Urgent Call to “Vote with Our Ballots as Well as Our Forks”

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“Only after the last tree is cut down, the last of the water poisoned, the last animal destroyed… Only then will you realize you cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian Prophecy

So begins the documentary film A River of Waste, setting the stage for a discussion of how agriculture in the U.S. — and indeed, much of the world — has left behind the family farm and turned into profits-at-any-cost Big Ag. And there are costs — costs to the animals kept in filth and confinement; costs to the environment in air, soil, and water pollution; and costs to the health and well-being of people.

This excellent indie film presents a story that has been carefully researched and seamlessly assembled to show consumers just how dangerous CAFOs are. But it doesn’t stop there; it presents solutions in the form of regulations and practices that are common in the European Union…

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EPA’s STAR Fellowship Competition Underway — GRO Soon to Begin

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, EPA, Front Page, U.S.

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Are you a grad student who is engaged in environmental studies? Here’s your chance to earn a STAR fellowship from the EPA to “help defray the ever-increasing costs associated with studies leading to advanced degrees in environmental sciences.”

But it’s not just a matter of asking; it’s highly competitive. Applicants undergo “a rigorous review process.” Master’s and doctoral degree options include “traditionally recognized environmental disciplines as well as other fields such as social anthropology, urban and regional planning, and decision sciences.” …

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Coolerado AC Units Excel at DOE/NREL Performance Challenge

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, California, DOE, Electricity, Energy, Front Page, Water

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University of California, Davis issued a challenge to manufacturers to build more efficient air conditioners for the Western U.S. The objective was to exceed the 2010 U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards by an aggressive 40 percent. Coolerado Corporation, the first certified winner of the UC Davis Western Cooling Challenge, entered the program with its new hybrid commercial rooftop unit — a system using its proprietary indirect evaporative technology in concert with a traditional compressor and refrigerant system. DOE laboratory testing indicates that Coolerado’s new system, the Coolerado H80, beat the 2010 standards by 60 percent at peak demand and will use 80 percent less energy overall…

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Farm to Table’s 100-Mile Menu Coming Soon to NYC

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Orchestrated by Great Performances, Farm To Table conducts the 100-Mile Menu, bringing fresh, seasonal, local foods from New York State farms within reach of New York City slickers — coming soon…

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Carbon Day Chicago Promises “Music And More For A Better World”

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This past May, the Illinois State Legislature was among the most recent legislative bodies to designate September 15 as Carbon Day, an official State holiday. State Representative Karen May and State Senator Susan Garrett sponsored the resolution.

Illinois’ Carbon Day festivities will coincide with other activities around the globe. The kickoff event will take place in Chicago at Lincoln Park, and will feature live music, a tree tour with arborist Jose Eduardo Medina, and possibly a speech by a politician involved in environmental issues, according to Brae Hattaway, the coordinator of the event. “We put a lot of effort into getting Carbon Day moving, and we got done really quickly,” said Hattaway, referring to the upcoming Chicago event. “The time to do this is now…”

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Cap Recycling Project Earns State Fair Invitation for Young Environmentalist

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Many of us begin the journey to environmentalism as adults. Others start when they are still children. Recently, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) had the privilege of interviewing 11-year-old Jack Potter, a soon-to-be 6th grader, who began his environmental journey by collecting and recycling #5 plastic bottle caps. Jack didn’t just collect a few bottle caps, he saved nearly 1,000. And this week at his county fair, he earned the right to exhibit his project at the Iowa State Fair. Jack’s determination to make a difference impressed us, so we asked him to share a bit of his story. — Publisher

BPGL: What was the purpose of your recycling project?

POTTER: My goal for the project was to raise awareness of the fact that plastic caps are almost never recycled. When they’re not recycled, they end up in landfills or in the ocean, and that’s bad for the environment…

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Good Beer at BAM Fundraiser Is Something to Savor

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The Good Beer at BAM fundraiser presented by Edible Brooklyn magazine on July 29 combined a great crowd, amazing beer, and exciting food. Over the course of the evening, I sampled more than 20 varieties of artisan ale by brewers from all over Brooklyn and New York State. Brewmasters presented everything from clean, crisp, and simple pale ales to richly complex varieties. And, of course, the chefs on hand pushed the envelope of American culinary creativity with pairings that defied convention and expectation…

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