/?id=8099
/?id=8099

Preparing For The People’s Climate March

On September 23, the United Nations is holding a Climate Change Summit to discuss the current climate crisis. Usual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change events are attended by country delegates and  representatives, but for this meeting the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is calling for Heads of State to come to the meeting in the hopes  to speed the negotiations process, making climate change a political priority. Climate change affects everyone and everyone should have the right to call political leaders to action. Two days prior to the UN meeting in New York City us everyday activists will get our chance to speak our minds at the People’s Climate March.

Three weeks ago I headed down to Princeton University to attend a training meeting for the march as a suggestion from an amazing neighbor. Prior to getting to the meeting I had little experience with activism outside of my work and experiences in health advocacy, so I was excited to see what the meeting was about.  When I got there I was surprised by the amount and diversity of the people attending the training. Representatives from across the mighty state of New Jersey, including students, concerned  citizens, and local stakeholders huddled in the not so tiny Princeton classroom and enjoyed educational presentations about the organization of the event and creative storytelling. After the basic presentations, we broke down into groups based on interests, such as transportation, creative messaging, and campus recruitment. At the end everyone left excited with a full plate of work to do if they wanted to make The People’s Climate March the largest climate march so far.

When I went to the training session one of the biggest issues discussed was transportation. Bussing will be coming from across the United States and Canada (check the website for public transportation opportunities near you). In New Jersey we have bus and train captains organizing transportation in popular areas. I will be joining a group taking a local train to New York City.

Interested?

It is not too late to join the march. You still have 3 weeks to figure out transportation and prepare for the march. Attending the march is important for anyone looking for a forum to express their views on climate change. I hope to express my concerns on the effects of climate change on infectious diesease and the importance of social responsibility.

I Hope To See You There!!!

 

Basic Information on The People’s Choice March

Date: Sunday, September 21

March Start: 11:30 AM

March Start Location: Columbus Circle, NYC (other locations global as well)

March  End Location: 11th Ave. in the streets between 34th Street and 38th Street

For more information visit: Peoplesclimatemarch.org

Expected Turnout: Between 40,000 and 200,000 people

Photo Credit: Rosemary Dreger Carey

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

College Reduces Deadly Window Strikes While Lowering Electric Costs At Same Time

Earlier this week I was sitting at the computer, minding my own business, when suddenly I heard a loud slapping sound against the window adjacent to me. Instantaneously I looked over to see the imprint and feathers of a panicked bird peeling itself off the window and promptly flying away. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this incident many times before and the crashing birds aren’t always lucky enough to be able to fly away.

According to a recent study reviewing and analyzing past studies on glass./bird fatalities published in The Condor, an ornithological journal, between 365 and 988 million birds are likely killed each year in the United States. This makes bird/window collisions the second largest source of direct human caused fatality, second to feral cats.

The Atlantic Cape Community College, Cape May County campus has come up with a way to reduce these bird accidents while also cutting electricity costs during the summer. By applying a window film, Atlantic Cape used one called CollidEscape, birds would no longer see the reflection of outdoor sky and  trees in the window, thus deterring the crashes. The window film is opaque on the side facing outside but see through on the inside allowing indoor students to still be able to be distracted by nature while in class.

The film also blocks about half of the heat energy from the sun, reducing glare, and suppressing infrared and UV radiation.. This results in energy saving by reducing the need for air conditioning.

Prior to the installation of the window film, Atlantic Cape experienced bird crashes almost daily. Since beginning installation of the window films on 255 windows of one of their newer buildings, bird crashes have ceased. Scientists hope this project will inspire architects and building owners to modify their buildings to be more bird friendly.

bird crash via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Art With Purpose: Emily Dickinson Poetry Slam Edition

Summer can be a very inspirational time for creative types. Nature is in full bloom, allowing artists to truly explore the world around them.

One such “artist” was the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson. Best known for poems like “I’m Nobody! Who are You?” and “Hope Is A Thing With Feathers”, only a few of Dickinson’s poems were published while she was alive even though she was a prolific writer. Many of these poems included imagery found in nature.

Below I have included a few of  such poems by Dickinson. Maybe they’ll inspire you to create some nature inspired art of your own.

 

Who Robbed The Woods

Who robbed the woods,
The trusting woods?
The unsuspecting trees
Brought out their burrs and mosses
His fantasy to please.
He scanned their trinkets, curious,
He grasped, he bore away.
What will the solemn hemlock,
What will the fir-tree say?

 

A Rose

A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn,
A flash of dew, a bee or two,
A breeze
A caper in the trees, –
And I’m a rose!

 

Cocoon

Drab habitation of whom?
Tabernacle or tomb,
Or dome of worm,
Or porch of gnome,
Or some elf’s catacomb?

 

Sunset

A sloop of amber slips away
Upon an ether sea,
And wrecks in peace a purple tar,
The son of ecstasy.

All poems are under public domain and written by Emily Dickinson

forest via shutterstock

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

28
Jul/14
0

Why Norway is Keen to Collect the Rest of Europe’s Rubbish

By: Guest Contributor, Andrew Johnson

The people of Yorkshire are known to say “where there’s muck there’s brass” and although it probably doesn’t translate directly into Norwegian, they definitely understand the concept.

The phrase was coined to mean that where there are dirty jobs to be done, there is money to be made. Norway is leading the way in Europe by turning other countries’ unwanted waste into energy, so they are successfully turning trash into cash.

Here is a look at how and why the market for importing waste to burn in Norwegian incinerators is growing at such a fast pace and what we can learn from it.

Ironic situation

The first thing to point out is probably how ironic it might be for some people to consider that a country like Norway, which has plentiful oil supplies, is importing such a vast amount of other nations’ rubbish. But in the world of commerce, Europe’s rubbish is fast becoming a sought-after commodity.

Paying to send our waste

Waste is something we should all try to avoid when it comes to energy consumption and when you look at this energy use heatmap for the UK, there are certainly opportunities to improve our own efficiency – and this isn’t just about energy. In 2012, the UK actually paid to send around 45,000 tonnes of household waste collected from Bristol and Leeds to Norway. The Climate and Pollution Agency in Norway are heavily involved in the waste recovery process and they are keen to accept rubbish from other European countries as well, to continue feeding their incinerators.

Commercial enterprise

Other UK towns have expressed an interest in sending their waste over to Norway. The fee paid to receive the waste accounts for about 50% of the income derived by the Climate and Pollution Agency and the other 50% is generated from the sale of energy they create.

Energy companies like npower already use innovative techniques to manage water and waste such as ash from their coal-fired power stations but in general terms of generating energy from household rubbish, it is hard to argue with the notion that Norway currently lead the way in this sphere.

20 million people

That is the current capacity for the 420 different waste incinerator plants dotted around Europe. It is estimated that 20 million people can receive their heat and electricity from facilities that are capable of turning waste into energy.

Germany is actually the largest importer of rubbish in Europe, followed by Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands, but it is Norway that heads the performance charts when it comes to having the largest share of waste to energy in district heat production.

Moving away from landfills

There is a growing trend in most European countries to move away from using landfill sites and therefore the prospect of turning waste into energy is a very attractive one.

The total figure for Europe is that we dump some 150m tonnes of waste into landfills every year, which confirms the level of potential that exists to turn more of that waste into energy rather than burying it in the ground.

Some UK waste centres actually find it cheaper to pay countries like Norway to take their waste from them rather than pay the landfill fees.

Not all rubbish is the same

The Norwegians are renowned for being meticulous about their waste and every household is asked to sort their rubbish into three categories.

They divide their rubbish into plastic for recycling, food waste (for biogas) anything else that will then be destined for the waste plant. The concern is that whether the rubbish coming from places like the UK has been properly sorted and ready for immediate use.

Concerns about recycling

Environmentalist group Friends of the Earth have concerns that burning our rubbish to generate energy may actually discourage people from recycling.

They estimate that 80% of what ends up in the average waste stream is easy recyclable and if householders think that their rubbish is going to end up in an incinerator they may not be so diligent with their recycling efforts.

Estimates suggest that about 70% of the Norwegian population supports or is comfortable with the idea of burning waste to create fuel.

If you consider it to be a positive that waste can be turned into energy using incinerators then you will understand why their country is so keen to have the rubbish that we don’t want.

Recycling image via Wikimedia.

Andrew Johnson loves his work researching energy concerns and solutions. With an eye on renewable energy and innovative ways to get it, he enjoys blogging about his research and insights into the future of energy in the modern world.


by Editor

Dandelion Salad, Anyone?

Have you ever had a dandelion salad?

Yes, dandelion salad  is a real thing, not just a made up salad that kids make while playing pretend in the back yard. In fact, many commonly found plants are actually edible, including dandelions.

I thought it would be fun to include some easily found leafy appetizers for ENN users to experiment with. Of course, not all plants are edible, so it is important to correctly identify a plant before trying to eat it. There are many apps designed to help beginners identify plants because no one wants a mouthful of poison ivy or foxglove. Eating the wrong plant can be fatal.

Also, I would suggest washing your bounty before putting it in your mouth in order to remove pesticides or flecks of feces laced with parasites.

Laws against foraging may also apply.

Dandelions

All parts of the dandelions are edible. In the spring young dandelion leaves can be used for salads and later in the season they leaves and roots taste well boiled (the boiled water can be made into tea). The yellow flowers are also edible to add color to salads.

Wild Asparagus

Wild asparagus, which looks like the store bought kind only a lot thinner is delicious and high in vitamins.

Cattails

I remember as a child trying to eat the fuzzy part of the cattail when I was a child. Not a pleasant experience but many parts of the cattail are more enjoyable. The stem and rootstock can be eaten raw or boiled. The cattail’s leaves can be boiled like spinach and the female flower spike can be eaten the corn when the plant first starts developing in the summer.

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard is pungent like horseradish. Their roots can be used similar to horseradish and when the seeds ripen in the summer can be used as a hot spice.

Clovers

The less lucky three leaf clover can be easily identified and eaten raw or boiled.

 

Remember, don’t a plant unless you’ve properly identified it!

 

dandelions via shutterstock

wild asparagus via shutterstock

cattails via shutterstock

garlic mustard via shutterstock

clovers via shuttertock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

6 Green Living Principles Every Household Should Learn

By: Guest Contributor, Jonathan James More

Image from Flickr

Sometimes, you are presented with too many ideas on how to maintain sustainability in your living space and are unsure which ones are the most effective. The challenge is to put those concepts together and come up with the best game plan for a greener living.

Here are 6 green living principles your household should learn and live by.

1. Your Electricity Bill Tells a Lot

You can start at home. Try to consume less energy and you’ll realize that it will not only benefit the environment, but it would also yield higher savings for your family. Use natural sunlight rather than electricity during the day. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D and can boost your mood.

2. Meals Should Be Well-planned

Obesity rate among children ages 2-5 decreased 43% in the past 10 years, based on a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February 2014. This means that healthier habits are being practiced by more Americans. Do your part by preparing healthy and delicious organic food that your kids would like. As much as possible, have a good estimate of the food you will prepare for your family to avoid throwing away leftovers.

3. Make Play Time More Fun

Aside from preparing healthier meals on the table, you should also be concerned about your kids’ physical and mental development. Being active in the playground allows children to run around freely with other kids. Having fun playground time is one great trick that can prevent your children from watching too much TV, or playing too often using electronic gadgets, or spending too much time in front of the computer. Allow them to exercise at the playground with other kids in your community to make play time more enjoyable for them. Look for commercial playground equipment that would not only address their playground fitness, but also develop their cognitive and social skills.

4. Reduce Waste

Do your share by purchasing items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging. Buying reusable items rather than disposable single-use products can also help in avoiding waste. And when doing the groceries, bring tote bags to avoid the use of plastic bags.

5. Transform Waste into Treasure

Look for second-hand furniture or previously-owned home pieces that are useful and in great condition. If there are unused toys or old clothes that do not fit anymore, hand them down to other people in need. Donating them to the less fortunate is better than just throwing them away. Glass and plastic bottles are good for decorating the house. Use your creativity and give the house a makeover.

6. Grow Greens

If you have a spacious backyard, consider growing various vegetables in it. This can be a source of food available for your household, so you don’t need to buy them when you do your grocery shopping. If you do not have a yard where you can plant a fruit tree, you can still create a small herb garden. Grow them in a pot and place it on the front porch or windowsill. It’ll be a fun learning experience for the kids to watch the plants grow as well.

Jonathan James More is a medical writer. Connect with him via @JJMore022.

by Editor

Are You Smarter Than A Trash Can?

Walking through Boston earlier this week I came across an unusually large trash receptacle. When I went closer to inspect it (throw out my trash) I noticed that it was compactor designed for sustainability.  Besides having a function to compact the trash which would require less pickups, the cans also had solar panels to be self reliant.

BigBelly Solar, the company responsible for these innovative trash cans, was founded in 2003 with “the goal of transforming one of the least efficient and resource-intensive industries on the planet — waste collection. Cities were either collecting too often and wasting fuel and labor while creating CO2 emissions or they were not able to keep up with the demands and overflowing trash cans created litter, health and safety issues. ” BigBelly Solar wanted to fix these issues by inventing a smarter, more efficient, method for collecting trash in cities.

The BigBelly Solar compactors are smart include sensors and a wireless card that tracks the fullness of the compactors. Status updates are sent to the Streets Department so that trash is picked up or fixed when needed.

The city of Philadelphia started replacing traditional cans with BigBelly Solar in 2009 and is now saving 1 million dollars a year. Using trash receptacles that also act as compactors reduced the number of collections needed per week from 17 to 3. This saves money in operational costs and saves in fuel and truck costs.

Though Americans need to cut down on their consumption and the trash they produce, at least BigBelly Solar is providing a more efficient way of handling it. Adopting smarter technologies like BigBelly Solar is a step forward.

Trash Can via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Top 5 Ways to Chill out this Summer with ENERGY STAR

Even when the temperature goes up, your utility bills can still stay low. With help from ENERGY STAR you can keep your cool, tame those bills, and help fight climate change. The secret is to keep your cooling system from working too hard. Discover these Top 5 Ways to Chill Out with ENERGY STAR, so that you and your cooling system can both enjoy the summer! Find out more at www.energystar.gov/cooling.

1.     Keep the heat out

Take advantage of shades, blinds, curtains, awnings and even trees to  keep the sun out during the day, especially on the south and west side of your house. If you are upgrading your windows, consider ENERGY STAR certified windows, which will keep even more heat out. Find and seal leaks (the biggest ones are in your attic and basement) – this will also help reduce humidity and keep out pests and pollen.  Consider adding attic insulation so less heat radiates down into your house from your hot attic.  Sealing air leaks and improving your homes insulation could save you up to $200 a year in cooling/heating costs (or about 10 percent of your annual energy bill). Finally, if you’re replacing your roof, you can reduce the effects of the hot sun by installing ENERGY STAR certified roof products.

2.     Keep the cool in

You’re paying for your AC’s cool air, so don’t let it leak out of your ducts before it gets to the vent and the rooms you want to cool. That’s YOUR air!  In most homes, 25 percent of air that flows through air conditioning ducts leaks out before it gets to you. So get a contractor to test your ducts, seal them, and insulate them so you’re not paying for cool air you don’t get to use. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of an HVAC system by as much as 20 percent.

3.     Maintain Your Cooling System

A simple tune up of your HVAC equipment can do wonders.  Make sure you also change your air filter regularly – EPA recommends every three months at a minimum.   And, if you do not have a programmable thermostat – install one and program it around your family’s summer schedule. Setting the thermostat up by seven degrees when you’re away from home and up by four degrees when you’re asleep can save more than $180 a year.

4.     Be a fan of fans

If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan instead, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Use bedroom fans on those cooler summer nights when you might be able to turn off your central air conditioning and naturally cool your home for a lot less. Plus, don’t forget to use your ENERGY STAR certified vent fans to get rid of that unwanted humid air in your bathroom after a shower.

5.  Look for the ENERGY STAR

If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR certified model could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent. In the market for a new room air conditioner? Find one that has earned the ENERGY STAR and use about 15 percent less energy. ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifiers also use 15 percent less energy than a conventional unit.  One last easy tip is to change out those old, hot, incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified CFL and LED bulbs, since they produce about 70 percent less heat.

HOW TO GET STARTED

Do it now:

  • Use your existing window coverings, add new ones, or adjust blinds to keep sun out
  • Raise your thermostat and use an ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fan
  • Schedule a summer cooling system tune-up
  • Change your air filter every three months
  • Replace old, hot, incandescent bulbs with cool ENERGY STAR certified bulbs.

 

Quick projects:

  • Install a programmable thermostat and program it based on your family’s schedule
  • Find air leaks around your house and seal them with spray foam, caulk, and weather-stripping

 

Plan & Renovate:

  • Improve insulation between your attic and roof
  • Seal and insulate the cooling system ducts in your attic and basement
  • Install low-e windows, awnings, or trees to increase shade
  • Install an ENERGY STAR certified vent fan to use after a shower to reduce humidity
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR if purchasing new air conditioning units, dehumidifiers or windows
  • Consider cool roof shingles; cool, reflective metal roofing; or even just reflective paint.   

Other resources:

 

This article was provided by ENERGY STAR. For more ENERGY STAR tips throughout the summer, see: www.facebook.com/energystar  www.pinterest.com/energystarwww.twitter.com/energystar, and www.youtube.com/epaenergystar

by Editor

Unplugging From Technology and Subscribing To Nature

By: Guest Contributor, Patricia Evans

Not a single day seems to pass by that your kid doesn’t have his laptop or tablet in his hands. You may find yourself convincing your kid endlessly to, for once, give it a try to enjoy what nature has to offer, but to no avail.

Convincing your child to enjoy and appreciate the benefits outdoor activities bring may prove to be challenging. However, if you can only be patient and determined, you’ll surely find yourself succeeding in making your child discard his gadgets in favor of enjoying some time outdoor.

An Extraordinary Camping Experience

Get ready for the return of outdoor vacations! Backyard camping among kids and their families has increased its popularity in the past years. Indulge in a cozy experience, engaging in creative camping play in a DIY budget backyard playground.  Enlist your kids’ help to build a camping playground that the whole family can truly enjoy without spending a lot of money. Build a two-storey haunted house with your kids in your playground. Have a good ol’ scary time playing ghosts at night while camping. Delight in seeing your kids actively yelling and screaming all night long.

Get to Know Your New Friends

Birds are the most common wildlife friends you encounter on a daily basis. Organize a nature-themed playground project by attracting birds to your own backyard. Make homemade feeders or nesting boxes for songbirds and hummingbirds to enjoy. Alternatively, you and your kids may just listen to the birds singing. You may subsequently ask your kids to indicate the types of birds they hear singing according to the sounds produced.

Photo via Zoe Flickr

Expand Your Nature Collection

Turn your kids into natural collectors in your playground. Keep the seeds, pine cones and rocks. Your kids may gather these things from your backyard as tools for a handicraft project. Better yet, make a space on a windowsill or table so you can showcase your child’s nature collection.

Sing and Get Wet

Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr

Change the way kids play. Don’t wait for the rain to go away and for sunshine to come back. Grab a pair of rubber boots and a raincoat for your child. Have fun playing with your kids in rain-damped yards and wet mud puddles. Don’t think twice about joining your kids for some water-shocking good time.

Don’t be Afraid to Take a Night Hike

Even though too much technology can harm children, most kids are fond of playing video games after school at night. Motivate your children to go on a nature walk with you after school. Going on an outdoor adventure is not simply restricted during day time.

Bask in the serenity and the views of the moon and the stars offer. Bravely interact with night animals that you may encounter. Take a moonwalk, study the star constellations, and get to know nocturnal insects. Give your child a moon journal to help him better remember the different phases of the moon.

Discover the Animal Homes

Discover the homes of different animals in your backyard, neighborhood and nearby parks with your kids. Nests, webs, hive, and holes signal signs of wildlife in the area. Your child can easily gain stock of knowledge about the natural habitats of animals they can proudly boast about in school.

Draw a Neighborhood Map

Guide your child in making a map of your very own neighborhood; drawing only the natural landmarks. This activity can tremendously enhance your kids’ observation abilities. It can also initiate the creation of a nature field guide around your neighborhood.

Get Carried Away With Imagination

Photo by John Mueller via Flickr

Your kid doesn’t need to be a brainer to pick out shapes in the clouds. Picking out the shapes of the clouds brings out the visual learner out of your child. Drive your imagination wild just by staring out into a sky filled with big fluffy cotton ball shaped clouds.

Snack and Paint with Berries

Photo by Dan McKay via Flickr

Berry picking is a great activity that can let your kids know that food doesn’t originally come from the supermarket. Pick berries with your kids in a nearby farm or your backyard. Use the extra berries to make watercolors your kids can use in their art projects.

Nowhere but Up

Photo by Matt Patterson via Flickr

Kite flying provides a classic pastime experience that brings enjoyment to the whole family. Fly your kite on a windy day at a local park. Keep track on how long your kid can keep the kite up in the air.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

If you enjoy catching a fish on your own, consider taking your kid to catch one, too. Teach your child how to use the rod. You’ll be amazed to see the stars in your child’s eyes as he catches his first fish! Take games and books to heighten your fishing experience. Absorb the serenity by telling imaginative stories and playing discreet eye spy games.

Expose Your Kids to Lovable Pets

Pet shops are the best places for children to find out how animals smell, sound and move. Take your child to a pet shop for a visit in your free time during the day. Talking parrots will surely make your kid laugh. Moreover, colorful fish will definitely not fail to brighten up your child’s somber mood.

You and your kids can help reduce carbon footprint by managing a healthy lifestyle outdoors. Enjoying nature-related activities doesn’t mean making things difficult for you and your kids. Your kids may enjoy these outdoor activities by spending a minimal amount of money only. In certain times, you and your kids may even enjoy having these activities for free, while not having to sacrifice living a healthy lifestyle along the way!

Patricia Evans is a Huffington Post UK blogger. Connect with her via Twitter.

by Editor

Celebrate July 4th With an Ice Cold Responsible Beer

Friday is the Fourth of July, which for many Americans means fireworks and BBQ. Most likely, if you’re enjoying a BBQ, you’re going to want some ice cold beer available. Beer is a refreshing drink for the summer (when drunk responsibly, of course), but like many food products consumption of beer can have an environmental impact.

The process of making beer requires a lot of energy and water.  Brewing beer requires the heating and cooling of water and the ingredients to produce the flavor from the hops. According to ColdRiverBrewing, to complete this process breweries use 5 to 10 times more water then leaves the brewery as beer.   Many breweries are now working on ways to make brewing beer more efficient, like reusing the heat used to warm the water and using CO2 recapturing systems.

Consider the following while stocking up on beer for your BBQ:

-If you’re having a lot of people opt for renting a keg. The average keg is reused 20 times a year and can last 20 years.

-There is a debate over which is more eco responsible option, cans or bottles of beer. Can’s are lighter which makes them easier to ship, and they are also easier to recycle. But can’s are made of aluminum which can come from environmentally hazardous mining.

-Remember to recycle.

-Look for organic beers that use locally grown ingredients.

-If you’re going to a bar opt for an on tap variety.

-Celebrate Fourth of July with an American brewed beer, not only are you supporting local breweries reduced shipping saves energy.

PS Check out ENN’s Earlier article on organic wine!

beer and flag via shutterstock

beer in flag bucket via shutterstock

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

TOP