Monthly Archives: December 2009

Happy Holidays – Go Hug Someone!

Before I get out of here for Christmas, I wanted to give you all a free (if virtual) hug. This video has been kicking around the Internet for awhile now, so many of you have probably already happened upon it. But what better time of year to join the campaign?

Until later, Happy Christmas, Merry New Year and all that good stuff.

Greenlines – EPA Dithers on BPA, Big Oil’s Deniers Club + More Shame over Sidewalks

I’ve seen tons of stories and received a slew of activist emails about the need to ban BPA, or bisphenol A. The material used in baby bottles and many other products was considered safe for years but a growing body of scientific research suggests toxins in the plastic seeps into whatever is stored inside, meaning we may be consuming it with every sip. The EPA was poised to take a side on the issue, but NPR reports that the agency now plans to delay action pending the results of even more studies.

Mother Jones on Big Oil continues funding climate deniers abroad and how the corporate largess undermines international climate action.

The EPA is reversing a long-standing decision with plans to require pesticide manufacturers to disclose to the public the inert ingredients in their
products. Federal regulators are also shifting course on the policy toward pharmaceutical residues in the nation’s drinking water.

Farmers use more herbicides on GMO crops, according to a new report.

Hey, did you see that the shoveled sidewalk story made the TV news last night and outrage has not yet waned! There are posts in Borderstan, Urban Places & Spaces, and the DCist.

Congress Heights on the Rise takes on the pros and cons of gentrification.

DC Mud reports that Zip Car has won the right to park in alleys, a victory that will help the car sharing service expand its presence in parking-strapped neighborhoods.

Qualia, the Petworth coffee joint, is staying open late tonight to help last-minute shoppers stay alert. Oops,I’m confusing my blog posts. This one’s better for my new Washington City Paper Series “Confessions of a Wi-Fi loafer.” Check it out on the WCP’s City Desk blog!

Today’s Greenlines – Shoveling, Snowmen + Subprime Mortgages

Pix from Park View

The Prince of Petworth has a post on “Sidewalks of Shame,” where nobody has bothered to shovel. When I lived in Boston, the city would fine property owners who failed to clear the snow away from the fronts of their properties. It was a hassle for the owners but made the city much more walkable this time of year. Why doesn’t the District have a similar ordinance?

It turns out, the Prince and I aren’t the only one peeved about impassible sidewalks. The Hill is Home‘s Claudia Holwill rants on the subject today too. And, those ever-unflappable folks at We Love DC have also found something with which they are not so enamored: Here’s a post with photos of a snow bank blocking a crosswalk in Arlington. Sometimes tough love is the only option.

The Prince also has a nice collection of reader-submitted snowmen shots.

The Washington Business Journal says fewer Washingtonians will be driving long distance to see the relatives this year. High gas prices are the culprit, according to this story that sources the AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Here’s more confirmation that man’s BFF is a carbon hound.

Living near busy roads may affect brain health and could contribute to cognitive decline as women age, according to a new study by German scientists.

The Guardian has the most “bizarre wildlife stories of 2009

The Guardian pix

The UN has agreed to revamp the “beaurocratic and unwieldy” climate talks process in the wake of last week’s much maligned negotiations in Copenhagen, which critics have now dubbed: “Flogenhagen.”

USA Today has a story on environmentally friendly ways to get rid of snow and ice.

The Park View blog also has a nice collection of snowmen pix. Hey, what’s not to like? Snowmen are a low-carbon way of decorating for the holidays!

Finaly, please check out my story today in the Huffington Post. The tale is one one man’s subprime mortgage – not exactly an environmental issue but it does fall in the broader sustainablity catagory. And, hopefully, it’s a good and informative read. There’s also a video documentary and another story by David Heath on the topic that ran yesterday.

Cherry Blossom Festival Dates Set

We Love DC pix

In what seems like wrong timing, what with all the snow on the ground, We Love DC reports that the Cherry Blossom Festival will begin on Mar. 27 this year.

Greenlines – Climate Diplomacy is Dead, Go Rent a Xmas Tree!

Greetings, this post-blizzard, pre-holiday Monday! It almost feels like a Sunday since so many offices are closed and the roads are still snow clogged.  Let’s start things off with an informal readers’ poll: How many of you have had your street plowed by city crews? Here in Takoma DC, my little block has seen no plowing action but a few neighbors appear to have driven to work this morning anyway.  Encouraging news, for sure.

There is not a lot of DC sustainability news this morning though I did happen upon the website for Weatherize DC, which had a big meeting in Chevy Chase to talk about replacement windows and other “weatherization” options last week.

Beyond the Beltway, the fight to stop mountaintop removal coal mining is getting more volatile. The Associated Press reports: “Fear of violence grows in mountaintop mining fight.” Meanwhile, we’re coming up on a year since the huge coal ash spill at a Tenn. coal-burning power plant created huge damages and made headlines around the world. But ” the battle over potential new rules to protect coalfield communities and the environment from the dangers of toxic coal ash is just getting started,” according to the Charleston (WV) Gazette.

Another story worth checking out is the New York Times coverage about toxins in the nation’s water supply. Here’s a link to the Times coverage. The Washington City Paper also has a post on the story.

BP‘s green luster is finally starting too look gangrenous. The British petroleum company is often hailed for the most successful green advertising greenwashing campaign in history. But the treehugger rhetoric apparently didn’t wash with a federal jury that awarded more than $100 million to workers exposed to toxic fumes at its troubled BP Texas City, Texas refinery that was named by the EPA as the country’s most polluting plant a few years ago. BP officials were quoted saying they were “shocked and outraged” by the verdict but it’s hard to understand why when BP has already paid many millions of dollars in fines and other penalties for failing to meet federal environmental and other laws at the Texas City plant, on Alaska’s North Slope and elsewhere.
It’s official: Copenhagen Summit has been roundly hailed as big-time failure! Check out these cheery headlines:

“A GRUDGING ACCORD IN CLIMATE TALKS”

“CLIMATE SUMMIT HOPES LESS IS MORE”

“AN AIR OF FRUSTRATION FOR EUROPE AT CLIMATE TALKS”

On a lighter note, do you think this rent-a-christmas-tree concept will ever catch on in the District? One can only hope!

Greenlines – Post-Blizzard Edition!

Snowflake

Pix by Artgeek, Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution

The city has this nifty new web tool that let’s you check out which streets around D.C. have been plowed. It’s pretty cool to find out that Georgia Avenue NW is passible, for instance, but doesn’t do me much good since my little side street hasn’t seen a plow or even a bucket of salt from city crews. And, if passed years are any indication, we’ll be waiting for a thaw before we’ll be able to get our cars out of the snow bank.

Some people, in fact, are getting a little snippy about the city’s plowing priorities. On the Petworth listserv, one resident took note that the pavement in front of Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s house was looking good – some much plowing action has taken place there that the asphalt is not just visible but nearly dry, she reports. To which, another resident suggests checking out the streets where other city pols live to see if they are pulling down similar clout with DC snowplow crews.

Meanwhile, on the same neighborhood listserv, Roshani Kothari posted links eco-friendly methods of getting rid of the ice and snow. I guess it’s a bit late for all us shut-ins. But I just thought I’d pass them on for next time!

http://www.grist. org/article/ De-salt-of- the-Earth/
http://www.gardensa live.com/ article.asp? ai=725

http://www.ecos. com/icemelt. html

http://www.thedaily green.com/ living-green/ blogs/green- products- services/ driveway- ice-environment- 55013001

http://www.amazon. com/Scotwood- Industries- 50B-CLEAN- Clean-Melter/ dp/B001J5QO82/ ref=sr_1_ 23?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1261181797&sr=1-23

http://www.amazon. com/Keep- Green-KIG40- Snow-Melter/ dp/B001E5CUAS/ ref=sr_1_ 1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1261181797&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon. com/Howard- Johnsons- 40Lb-Melter- 9586/dp/B000KL0Y IC/ref=sr_ 1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1261182111&sr=1-1

Hot Air at Copenhagen

In honor of the meager accord reached last week at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen – which even the New York Times called less meaningful than even the least ambitions expectations bandied about before the conference – I am reposting a link to this video with William Rees,  a professor at the University of British Columbia, who came up with the concept of the Ecological Footprint. Rees offers a compelling argument about why we humans are failing to act more aggressively in our own self-interest to beat back global warming.  He made the remarks at the GreenAccord conference in Italy a few weeks ago.

“We have the science to deal with the global warming problem and we’ve had it for some time. So the question is: what is it about the nature of our species that we are intelligent enough to know we have a problem but we are not capable of organizing socially in order to solve this problem?” –William Rees.

To hear more, check out the video by Alex Savulescu

Greenlines: Public Schools May Get Better Lunches + Goethermal Power – But Not Both

Miles Grant reports that the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment board has endorsed a plan for installing geothermal power at the new Wakefield High School.

There is a cross-post on DC Food For All and The Slow Cook l has an update on the DC Council’s Healthy Schools bill that would improve the food served in the city’s public schools.

Here’s a good reason to move into the city: The Washington Post reports that the controversial new Inter-county connector will be the region’s most expensive highway, costing more than six bucks each way.

Much excitement is brewing about DC’s new streetcars though the cars won’t be operational for a while – maybe not until 2012. Still here’s a post by DC MUD and another from WTOP.

Barry Farm (Re)Mixed recommends the documentary FOOD, Inc. I agree with the Urban Architect; the movie is worth a view. Here’s a review I posted to the Washington City Paper site after the premier at the E Street Cinema last spring.

From here, it’s hard to tell just how badly things are going at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Get a load of these two conflicting headlines, one from the New York Times, the other from The Guardian:

Obama Presses China for Accountability on Climate

Barack Obama’s speech disappoints and fuels frustration at Copenhagen

On that note, I wish you well this pre-holiday Friday. Bundle up, there’s a storm coming!

Water, Water Everywhere but Not a Drop to Drink!

While rising sea levels may get a lot more ink as a frightening impact of global warming, climate change is also fueling water shortages all over the place:

TomDispatch reproduces this article originally posted the winter 2009/10 issue of World Policy Journal about Iraq‘s increasingly dire water shortages, ultimately caused by climate change but exacerbated by power plays – in the form of reservoir construction – by two of Iraq’s parched upstream neighbors – Iran and Syria.

The New York Times reports from Bolivia on how once plentiful water is disappearing as the glaciers melt.

Nepal, as we’ve discussed before in this blog here and here, is another country facing water shortages as Himalayan glaciers melt.

Greenlines: Climate Talks on the Rocks, Monsanto Bad, DC School Lunches Better + 5 Fab Bikes

The Slow Cook asks: Does DC’s sweeping new  legislation on healthy school lunches go far enough?

The Washington Post reports that UN climate talks were temporarily suspended this morning after a block of developing countries walked out. But Miles Grant says the death of the Copenhagen talks have been greatly exaggerated. Here’s a link to his “brief note on bullshit,” which doesn’t directly relate to the Post story but provides some context to last weeks climate saga.

The Associated Press breaks a story of Monsanto’s business practices. “Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.’s business practices reveal how the world’s biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found.” Read more.

Tree Hugger pixFinally, from Tree Hugger: “5 Fab Bike Solutions Seen On The Streets At COP-15″

Enjoy! And, don’t be spinning your wheels today!

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