Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No Impact Week...

In an earlier post I mentioned a new documentary that is coming out called "No Impact Man." It turns out that our friends at the Huffington Post are encouraging its readers to take part of their "No Impact" Week. They're asking those that sign-up to lessen their carbon footprint for one week, they are offering a how-to guide, and lots of other useful information. Check it out here:

Heard about Huffington Post's No Impact Week starting October 18th? Interested in finding out more? What to get involved? Here's everything you need to know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Perfect Storm

So, being the dorky person that I am, even my social networking is full of newsworthy science, technology, and other exciting headlines. A colleague of mine posted this video of an amazing storm in Australia on facebook, and I thought I'd share it with you all. It is the perfect example of how spatially variable weather is, how clouds form by linking dust particles in the sky with water vapor, and just how awe-inspiring nature can be.

Note the height of the clouds, the color of the clouds, and the severity of the rain.

Check out the video!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Could You?

So, do you think you could do what this family did? How about for just a week? Let us know in the comments section.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Determined to Act!

NPR just posted a nice article outlining the US position on climate change action from Obama's address at the UN Summit. A quote I really enjoyed was this:

"All of us will face doubts and difficulties in our own capitals as we try to reach a lasting solution to the climate challenge," he said. "But difficulty is no excuse for complacency." President Obama

Difficulty is no excuse for complacency. What can you do today, in your busy, hectic, already difficult day, to make a small change? Turn that light off while watching prime time? Indulge in a whopping salad for dinner instead of steak? Let's remember not to get complacent.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happening Now...

NPR is live streaming President Obamas address at the United Nations on the subject of Climate Change.

Watch here:

Happening Now: Obama Says Time Is Running Out On Climate Change

Let us know what you think of President Obamas address in the comments section.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy World Water Monitoring Day!!!

Today is a special day. Its the eve of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, festive in its own right But it's also WORLD WATER MONITORING DAY!!! We all know that water plays a huge role in a regions' climate, and affects global climate through the creation of winds and ocean currents. We also know that pirates couldn't sail the seven seas without water! So, water is a pretty important phenomenon on Earth.

Here's the website for World Water Monitoring Day. The website teaches you how to get involved, not just today, but every day. They have water testing kits available through the site, events to help you get involved, and amazing resources like DVDs that help educate everyone about the importance of water monitoring.

Happy World Water Monitoring Day!!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sound the Alarm!

I, along with colleagues, and thousands of others received an email message about "Sounding the Alarm" on Global Warming on Monday, September 21st at Noon from the World Wildlife Fund. This call to action is not only important, it's the right thing to do. I hope you will take part and be sure to email and call your elected officials!

Here's what we received:

SOUND THE ALARM: A Climate Wake Up Call for our Senators

At noon on Monday, September 21, WWF would like for you to Sound the Alarm on climate change and join thousands of people from all around the country in calling their state's Senators urging them to vote "yes" on the Clean Energy & Security Act they are scheduled to vote on this fall.

Sound the Alarm coincides with world leaders descending upon the United Nations the week of the 21st to discuss climate change. It is part of suite of events happening around the world that will raise awareness to the need for impactful domestic legislation and a new global treaty that lowers our collective carbon emissions.

Calling your Senators is the most important way for your voice to be heard on this issue. It's fast and easy, and most importantly it works. Please set your alarms for noon on Monday, September 21 and tell your Senators that you need them to vote "yes" on the Clean Energy & Security Act.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cornell's climate plan cuts carbon emissions to zero by 2050, saves millions of dollars

Cornell's new Climate Action Plan, released Sept. 15, will not only make the university far more energy efficient but also could save Cornell hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 40 years. Presented entirely online in a paperless format, the plan seeks to enhance the university's core mission of academics, research and outreach, while cutting net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The plan includes 19 specific actions across five key areas -- green development, energy conservation, fuel mix and renewable energy, transportation, and carbon offsetting actions.

Read More: Cornell Chronicle Online

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Lazy 20-Something Compost Method...

Leftover vegetable scraps and coffee grounds create costly (and smelly) extra weight in your trash cans every week, so why not put them to work for you? Over the last year, my housemates and I have made a fairly substantial pile of compost in the backyard from vegetable scraps. There are a few different systems you can use to store the compost pile, but we have a fairly large backyard, so we just chose one of the back corners and made a pile. I call this the “lazy twenty-something’s compost method.” If space is a limiting factor for you, you can make your own compost bin out of wood scraps or buy a plastic one. There are a number of companies that sell special compost bins of varying complexity and cost.

You won’t need much to get started, just some lawn or plant clippings, some vegetable scraps from your kitchen, and a nice, moist place to make a pile. Build your compost heap over grass or soil instead of concrete. That way, earthworms will move in and make themselves right at home. Naturally occurring microbes and fungi will break down your compost even if you don’t have worms, but worms really speed up the process.

It’s also really simple to keep up. Make sure you turn the whole pile over every two weeks or so, to aerate your compost properly. We leave the shovel up against a tree right next to the pile to remind us. Regular turnover and worms are the keys to a quickly decomposing pile. After you’re set up, just keep adding to the pile. Compost piles are a great way to get rid of fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and most yard waste and paper. There are some things that shouldn’t go in compost piles. Meat, fish, poultry, fatty foods and whole eggs can attract some serious pests, and rat infestations are a steep price to pay for compost. Chemically treated wood and human and pet feces should also never be put in compost, especially if you plan to use the compost in a vegetable garden. The chemicals and biota in these can be poisonous if consumed.

The payoff for a little work is pretty substantial. Not only do you reduce your trash weight, which saves you money on trash tags, you should have a really nice pile of black, fluffy, rich finished compost. This can be used to enrich any soil, just ask the hops plants that are currently taking over our back yard.

For more information on composting, and to see where I got most of the information for this post, please see and

-Kelly Cronin, Outreach Project Support Associate

Monday, September 14, 2009

Steven Chu -- The Optimist...

Every morning my alarm sounds, not blaring horns, or beeps, or to loud music, but to NPR. This morning I awoke to an interesting interview with Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Chu knows cleaner coal, new nuclear power plants, more renewable energy — will take time. In a conversation with NPR's Steve Inskeep, he lays out ambitious plans for the country's energy future: NPR Morning Edition -- Energy Secretary 'Optimistic' But Cautious

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cornell's Biggest and Oldest...Trees that is...

Photo: Cornell University Web Site
Cornell's first comprehensive tree inventory, conducted this summer, finds that the campus's 7,000-plus trees store millions of pounds of carbon and provide more than half a million dollars in benefits to the university. The oldest tree on campus? A 350-year-old white oak below the Gannett Health Services building on the southern end of Libe Slope, pictured here with graduate students Chris Gruber, left, and Fred Cowett, who conducted the inventory.

Read More: Trees

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sprawl: a problem without a solution?

I got this great article from and wanted to share it with you:

Adam Stein | September 3, 2009

New study suggest we need to look elsewhere to curb carbon emissions

Dueling headlines cropped up in my newsreader today:

More People, Less Driving: The Imperative of Curbing Sprawl (Smart Growth America)


Forget Curbing Suburban Sprawl: Building denser cities would do little to reduce CO2 emissions, a new NAS report concludes (MIT Technology Review)

Both articles refer to the same study, conducted by a blue-ribbon panel for the U.S. Department of Energy. And both are pretty much right: the study does affirm the link between sprawl and carbon emissions, but it also strongly suggests that attacking sprawl is a tough way to curb energy use.

Despite the common-sense link between density and driving, establishing cause and effect in a rigorous manner remains difficult. The sheer number of variables tend to overwhelm the analysis. Nevertheless, empirical evidence does support a link between land use and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The MIT Technology Review summarizes the study’s conclusion thusly:

Even if 75 percent of all new and replacement housing in America were built at twice the density of current new developments, and those living in the newly constructed housing drove 25 percent less as a result, CO2 emissions from personal travel would decline nationwide by only 8 to 11 percent by 2050, according to the study. If just 25 percent of housing units were developed at such densities and residents drove only 12 percent less as a result, CO2 emissions would be reduced by less than 2 percent by 2050.

In other words, an enormous shift in land development trends yields a roughly 10% cut in emissions over 40 years. A more modest shift in land development trends yields a fairly anemic drop in emissions over 40 years. Vehicle fuel efficiency provides a much bigger lever for lowering emissions from transportation. This is what I was getting at the other day when I said, “If your car runs on electricity, and your electricity comes from the sun, and your McMansion is built to the Passive House standard, then your suburban lifestyle is suddenly looking a lot more benign.”

All that being the case, the study sensibly recommends a variety of policies to promote compact, mixed-use development. There are a number of good reasons to pursue smart land use policies, even if attacking sprawl isn’t likely to save us from climate change in the near- or even medium-term.

The first is that many anti-sprawl measures are just good policy in their own right. Carbon taxes, gas taxes, transit development, better zoning laws, etc., all make sense regardless of their immediate payback in reduced gasoline consumption. And, of course, sprawl has environmental impacts beyond just VMT.

The second is that we’re stuck with our built environment for a very long time, so if we want the future to look different than the past, we had better get started making some changes. As Ryan Avent reminds us, “Between now and mid-century, the country will very nearly have to build itself all over again to accommodate population growth. In addition to the 100 million homes now in America, somewhere between 62 and 105 million more will be built.” Examples such as Portland show that it is possible to buck the dominant trend in development. But it takes a few decades for the results to really show.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Regreening the Galapagos?

There was an interesting article in the September issue of WIRED magazine about the greening of the Galapagos Islands. The government there is embarking on several projects to turn the isolated archipelago into a more self-sufficient and non-fuel aided country. They rebuilt their fuel depots in 2004 to become one of the safest in the Americas, they have embarked on bringing wind power to one of the islands, in 2004 the reinforced their electrical grid with solar panels, and they are bringing bio-diesel generators to the islands, and finally they are giving their main airport a makeover which include solar panels, a concrete runway, and a terminal that captures the breeze for cooling.

Is it enough?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Finger Lakes Bioneers Conference October 16th-18th

The Finger Lakes Bioneers Conference announces keynote speakers and the launch of a new website

Finger Lakes Bioneers is honored to host the first and only Beaming Bioneers site in all of New York State. Bioneers is celebrating its 20th year of providing a global environmental forum with practical solutions for people and the planet.

The mission of Finger Lakes Bioneers is to establish an ongoing conversation that transcends the barriers of geography, class, race, and generation to co-create a shared future based upon sustainability and social justice. Together we are offering the We Make Our Future conference as a regional venue for that conversation.

The conference will be held October 16-18 on the Ithaca College campus and various downtown locations. For more information please visit our recently launched website

By linking nationally renowned speakers at Bioneer headquarters via satellite with local topics and experts on the ground, the We Make Our Future conference aims to inspire a potent global-local approach to our environmental and social dilemmas. Citizens, policymakers, youth, community leaders, and business owners are coming together to do the exciting and necessary work of co-creating our shared future in the Finger Lakes Region.

Finger Lakes Bioneers is proud to announce Jonathan Todd, Omar Freilla, John Logue, and Dorothy Cotton as presenters of this inaugural year’s keynote addresses.

Todd is the COO of John Todd Ecological Designs, and is best known for his work in the planning, fabrication and operation of a wide variety of Eco-Machines™ and floating water Aqua-Restorer™ technologies.

Omar Freilla and John Logue will deliver a keynote address and in-depth workshop on worker-owned green business. Freilla founded Green Worker Cooperatives (GWC) to foster environmental and economic justice by developing worker-owned and environmentally-friendly businesses in the South Bronx. Logue is the director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center. Both groups are organizing low-income residents into worker-owned cooperatives in the green economy and providing the necessary training and assistance to launch new businesses.

Ithaca’s own Dorothy Cotton will present Sunday’s keynote address. Cotton was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for twelve years under the direct supervision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She will speak on the lessons of the civil rights movement for the sustainability and social justice movement.

In addition to on-site conference activities, Finger Lakes Bioneers will host a series of public events throughout the weekend including a poetry slam, recognition ceremony, live music, a Bioneers Salon, sustainability marketplace, DJ dance party and more.

Tickets to attend the conference are $35 dollars per day or $90 for all three days. To learn more about all of the activities, presenters, and opportunities to get involved please visit or email

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cornell's Solar House

Ithaca Journal – A house powered by the sun, Big-Red style

It’s got a kitchen island that unfolds into a table seating eight, a rain showerhead and tankless toilet in the bath, a bed that can be lowered for non-sleeping space, and furniture made from bourbon barrels.

It evokes images of New York farm silos, has three rooms, has Energy Star-rated appliances, and is yours for $199,000. You have to provide the land, but not the power: It all comes from the sun. That’s the rule.

The house is the Cornell University entrant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon Contest. Multi-disciplinary teams from universities across the country design, build and deliver prototypes of solar-powered houses. Cornell’s entry was the work of a team of students representing such fields as architecture, marketing, engineering, business, landscape architecture and communications. Their work will be on display at the New York State Fair in Syracuse through Labor Day, then will be shipped to the National Mall in Washington for the contest in October along with the other 19 entries.

Continued at Source – (photo slideshow at source)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wasting food?

Sick of your tomatoes growing moldy? Sick of having to toss/compost those fruits and veggies. Stop wasting that food! Learn some tricks on how to keep your food fresher and better longer!

Read Here: Planet Green