Notes from the UK: Climate Change Is Here

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It’s fair to say that everyone has noticed the weather changes here in the UK — the heavy rainfalls, gale force winds, flooding, and even the reduction in snow. Every year, we notice more visible changes to the climate — which many believe is the result of climate change — and they appear to be getting progressively worse with each new year.

Heavy rainfall for extended periods is expected to increase the flood risk in the coming years. We have witnessed freak levels of flooding already this year, especially during September. With major flooding throughout the country, holidaymakers in Wales had to be airlifted to safety, and homes in the south of Devon were flooded. Northern areas of the country, such as York and Newcastle, didn’t get off lightly either, with many residents claiming to have experienced the most severe flooding in recent memory.

In fact, Meteogroup released figures showing a 14.25 inch (362mm) rainfall in June, July ,and August, making 2012 the wettest summer seen in the UK since 1912. One explanation is that the flooding is due to unusual circulation patterns in the atmosphere, which can sometimes become fixed on a certain cycle. Depending on whether the circulation is pointing away or towards the country, this can either lead to the UK experiencing excessively dry or wet conditions. This theory could certainly go some way to explaining the drastic alterations in weather that have been experienced in recent times….

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Notes from Iowa: It’s Hard to Be a Caped Crusader When You’ve Got a Day Job

July 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Notes from Iowa, Slideshow

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Just how do superheroes manage to hold down day jobs and save the world?

Frankly, I haven’t a clue (other than the obvious one: It’s fiction). If you’re a full-time working person, a full-time parental unit, a full-time student, or a full-time-searching-for-a-job person, you may be experiencing what I am: fatigue.

There’s so much to do to try to right the wrongs of the world. So many environmental causes to defend. So many social justice battles to fight. And there’s just so little time….

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Notes from Iowa: Earth Day 2012

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Like many of you, I’ve spent part of the Earth Day weekend celebrating our irreplaceable planet. Saturday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, turned out to be a bit cool and overcast with scattered showers. Yet, thousands of Eastern Iowans came to the EcoFest, an Earth Day-themed event, to watch demonstrations, enjoy live music, and—especially—to learn about […]

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Notes from Iowa: 100 Grannies … for a Livable Future

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Don’t we all want a livable future? Why would I target grandmothers? Why not everyone working in every way possible to make the necessary changes to our way of living now so that the children of the future will have a life that is full of the goodness of creation?

The answer to this is that we have to start somewhere, and I am a granny who happens to think that action is needed now. I believe there are others who think so, too.

Grannies have some advantages. We have lived long enough to have seen changes in our climate and our society and not like what we see. We are often retired and have time and underpinnings to be able to devote a considerable portion of our energy to the effort of reducing human impact on the environment, especially the atmosphere.

We know that “older means bolder.” What do we have to lose compared to what our grandchildren may not have?

I want my grandchildren to grow up in a world where there is clean water and air, healthy food, and where nature is usually friendly and beautiful. I do not want them to live in a world with frequent flooding, drought, heat that kills, and strong storms that require immense financial and emotional resources to recover from.

I live in Iowa and went through the floods in 2008. I know that this scenario will be repeated all over this country and the rest of the world if we do not do everything in our power to reduce the use of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

Two women friends—also grandmothers—Beth Robbins and Ann Christenson, and I read James Hansen’s Storms of My Grandchildren. We trust NASA’s top climate scientist of many years to be honest about what lies ahead if we do not curb our carbon addiction and if we continue to extract oil from dirty tar sands and natural gas by fracking. “Game Over,” is his conclusion….

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Moving Planet: A Play in Two Acts

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Last weekend, climate advocates and activists in more than 180 countries performed in over 2000 showings of what may very well have been the world’s largest production to date: Moving Planet. Billed as “A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels” and built on the backs of tens of thousands of impassioned participants, “energy” was both the central theme and the real star of this show. The production—massive in size and yet purposefully carbon-light—focused on moving our world from dirty energy to clean energy while showcasing the human energy powering the movement….

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Notes from Virginia: We Share Responsibilty for Activists’ Deaths and Rainforest Destruction

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Dear Reader,

Today I read an article on the Huffington Post called Adelino Ramos Killed: Third Environmental Activist Murdered This Week In Brazil. In case you didn’t know, as I didn’t, there’s conflict in Brazil. Loggers, farmers, and ranchers are illegally laying claim to the rainforest. The most terrifying aspect is that environmental activists, 1150 recorded to date, are being killed by hit men hired by the companies that profit from the destruction of the rainforest.

It’s hard to think of a better reason to act on principles. I’m writing to get us started on thinking of how we can make a difference for those struggling to sustain the most vital piece of our planet’s environment, our life sources, and biological diversity. The enemy is obvious, and his power is too: money. What’s less obvious is how American consumers are responsible for the conflict….

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Notes from Iowa: The Downside to Biofuels

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Fully 58 percent of Iowa’s 2010 corn crop was used to make ethanol. So, it is not just “surplus” corn that is going into ethanol, as is claimed by the ethanol industry. Even the livestock industry does not believe the ethanol industry’s claim that this much corn going for ethanol does not affect prices. That is why the livestock commodity groups for hogs, cattle and poultry are all lobbying against ethanol subsidies in Washington, D.C.

A recent Iowa State University analysis indicated that ethanol subsidies are no longer needed to keep the ethanol industry profitable. It’s time to end the $0.45 per gallon ethanol subsidy, which cost taxpayers nearly $6 billion in 2010….

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Notes from India: We Are Poisoning Our Planet

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How does one think or write about pollution of water and soil (not dirt, as this website makes an effort to point out) without spreading guilt in the heart of people who take their humanity seriously? It’s not easy, though you will notice I have tried. There isn’t a new fact that I bring to you — but just the fact that we have so much inertia of inaction and perhaps more so in thinking.

All of us use the three-pronged plug for electrical appliances. The third, thicker pin is for the earth. So with any amount of electricity we consume, the earth has to be a party to it. This is fine, scientifically, but it reflects our attitude towards the earth, which we symbolically call “Mother Earth” in most societies. What if, someday, our mother stops taking all the third-pin electricity?

Just now this is a hypothesis of nonsense. But a very similar thing has happened. In many instances, the earth has stopped cleansing itself. If the earth had legs, she would have run away from us by now….

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Notes from New Mexico – Documenting Ecotourism

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From Albuquerque, highway 25 sprawls northeast to Santa Fe and Taos, alongside vast mountain ranges, beside pastel-red adobe homes and flashing casino lights, past cholla cacti and ranching supply stores and tribal reservations. The Rio Grande River Gorge cuts through the landscape, quietly winding south under a brilliant blue sky.

New Mexico is a place of converging cultures, a state where ranch lands border Native American reservations; where filmmakers, skiers, and artists flock; where Hispanics and descendants of Spanish conquistadors live together, along with 19 sovereign Native American nations. The topography is just as diverse, from sprawling deserts to high mountain ranges and pine forests.

I was in New Mexico with Green Living Project, a media production and marketing company that showcases sustainability initiatives around the globe, to check out the state’s ecotourism initiative….

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Notes from India: 1984 – Bhopal

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Posts in Blue Planet Green Living’s “Notes from…” category provide readers with a personal viewpoint, often an essay, from a writer whose views are intrinsically linked to their own nation or locale. In this case, we present reflections on a needless and gruesome tragedy that occurred 26 years ago in Bhopal. Those responsible for operations […]

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Notes from Canada: Giving Back to Uganda with Love

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I was born a white child in Uganda, East Africa to missionary parents, Velma and David Freeman. When I was 8 years old, our time in Africa came to a sudden and frightening end.

Just three months earlier, my dad had witnessed the brutal killing of our town mayor in Masaka. The mayor had been dragged through the town on the back of a pickup truck, and then a major in the army openly slit his throat as a warning to anyone who might stand against the regime of the ruthless and unpredictable dictator, President Idi Amin. My father was the only white man he could see, along with a few Asians in the crowd.

Our deportation was ordered shortly thereafter. Idi Amin’s soldiers picked up my father late one night and took him to jail. We had 48 hours to leave. Little did I realize at that young age that everything I knew as normal would change forever….

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Notes from Minnesota: Return of the River Otter

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On a frigid February afternoon, I walked the path around the Mill Pond in downtown Austin, Minnesota. A recreational area with a bike path, skate park, and swimming pool, the Mill Pond was formed by damming the Cedar River in the early years of the city.

As I crossed a bridge spanning the river, movement out on the ice caught my attention. For a moment, it looked like a sheet of black tar paper, waving in a non-existent breeze, but a closer look revealed an otter! A big guy, he was greedily devouring a fish.

I pulled out my camera and began to shoot video as a second otter appeared from under the ice. This was the first pair I’d seen since those I’d observed in Austin’s Sutton Park back in the mid 1970s. After 35 years, the river otters had returned….

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Notes from Canada: A Plan for the Planet

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“I’ve got an idea – let’s play hide and seek!” Mary Travers spoke, as I recall, on the 33-rpm vinyl record by Peter, Paul and Mary called Peter, Paul and Mommy, an anthology of some of my favourite children’s songs. Songs I love.

Well, I have an idea: let’s save humanity so that many more generations of children will sing children’s songs. Not an original idea but let’s stay with it.

Dependable science delivers a picture of planet Earth as we pass through the consecutive impacts of changing climate, consequence that may start with ecology but quickly moves through the food chain and the economy into the health and wealth of humanity, and the security of civilisation.

This somewhat succinctly embodies the essential message that Gwynne Dyer delivers globally, to all people in government and the smart folk who do “military intelligence”….

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Notes from Canada – Good Luck, Earthlings

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Appearing in Toronto, award-winning author and columnist Gwynne Dyer delivered a dire report on Earth Day’s Eve. Along with Dyer, environmental lawyer and Canada’s Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, shared an urgent message. May warned that we have about a month to convince the Canadian media to convince the irresponsible Canadian government to put climate change on the agenda of the G20 meeting in Toronto in June 2010, or our great grandkids will not live in a civilised world.

The G20 allows the host nation to set the agenda. In June, the G20 meets in Toronto. Canada’s Prime Minister, arguably representing as much as 35% of Canada, will not put climate change on the G20 agenda for 2010. Canada has one month to make the change that will permit the G20 to act this year as a globally responsible organisation. Good luck, Earthlings….

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Notes from Canada: Nuclear – Power or Folly?

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I just watched “My Nuclear Neighbour: The Nature of Things” with David Suzuki, a documentary about building a plant to generate nuclear power in the rural community of Peace River, Alberta. The key point never raised is that wind and solar power will generate more electricity for the same investment in dollars with none of the same investment in angst and risk, a point that Obama also recently missed.

I know that the organisations that most strongly oppose nuclear power in Ontario and Saskatchewan make the same point: investment in new nuclear facility is not wise according to traditional economic theory, even without mention of the long-term effect on widespread earthly ecology or human health….

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Notes from Iowa: Peace on Earth in 2010

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As we greet the beginning of a new year and a new decade, let’s remember what is truly important: Saving our planet and caring for each other. We cannot do the first without doing the second. And, if we do not pull together to end the climate crisis, we will have fought each other over a planet that we don’t get to keep. Humankind will be “history,” but there will be no one left to read the records of our misdeeds.

Yet, the climate crisis is far from our only serious problem. We are warring with each other over religion, ethnicity, property, power, and money. We fight and kill each other in the name of our god, presumably the same almighty being we call by different names: Allah or Jehovah or God or Yahweh or another name entirely. To me, it makes no sense. I cannot envision an almighty being who would be pleased to have humans killing and torturing each other in the name of religion. And yet, historically, religion has been one of the major reasons we’ve shed blood, seized property, and enslaved other humans.

In my view, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can — and must — change the way we treat each other and our planet, if we want to survive as a species….

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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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Notes from Iowa: We Are Gambling with Life Itself

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As part of the National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions held at colleges and universities across the U.S., the University of Iowa invited activists and experts to participate in panel discussions. Blue Planet Green Living was privileged participate on a panel with Andrew Saito, a student in the MFA program in Playwriting. After a short reading from an original play, Saito read the following essay to the audience. We found the images and the message so thoughtful, beautiful, and powerful that we asked him to share it with our readers.

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Notes from India: Greenathon Raises Funds for Solar Lights

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One of India’s biggest green events, the Greenathon, aired recently on NDTV (a leading Indian television station). The purpose was to raise money to support a program sponsored by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). TERI’s “Lighting a Billion Lives” (LaBL) initiative is working to “provide solar lanterns to villages that would otherwise be without electricity for a decade or more.”

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Notes from Nepal: Cautions about Expanding Ecotourism

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Ghale Gaun is an inviting village of about 200-300 people. It sits 2,075 meters above sea level in the remote mountains of Nepal inside the Annapurna Conservation Area. Ghale Gaun is becoming an increasingly popular ecotourism and village-tourism destination, attracting many national and international visitors. Previously, the major source of income of the village people was from international sources, as most of the young boys were involved in the armies of the United Kingdom and India. Because it is a very poor village, the prospect of creating a new income source is highly appealing to the residents.

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