Maybe some of you also envision frustrating conversations like how I do. (And yes, they’re usually about sustainable agriculture or energy…). Here’s how this hypothetical conversation in my head normally goes….
[Jill (me)]: Hey America! How about more renewable electricity generation? Also, I think we should have some good ol’ carbon policy so that renewables can compete more fairly in the energy market.
[America]: Eh… I don’t know about that. Renewables are expensive!
[Jill]: Renewables used to be quite expensive, but these days, they can be quite competitive depending on the locale and the source! In Michigan, the levelized cost of wind is cheaper than coal!
[America]: Ehh…. well wind turbine energy is only available sometimes. I want electricity all the time.
[Jill]: Wind power could still be backed up by natural gas electricity generation. Incorporation into the grid is doable. The DOE even did a study on this.
[America]: But wind turbines kill birds! Lots of them! We love birds…
[Jill]: *sounds of frustration* Continue reading Birds on the Brain: Tackling the question…are wind turbines avian-friendly?
The organization 350.org just announced that they’re screening a new film about the rising movement for action on climate change.
The movie is called Do the Math, and it’s going to be a fast-paced, inspiring film — you can sign up for a local screening and check out the trailer here: www.350.org/math
We’re hosting a local screening in Ann Arbor – you can sign up for it here:http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/4199/
Or you can search for other events near you by clicking here.
The movie should be great, and it’s a chance to connect with other local climate activists and concerned citizens.
Hope you can make it!
The last couple of weeks have looked a little something like this for tar sands companies: spill in Minnesota, apologies and clean up; spill wreaks havoc on Arkansas, profuse apologies and intense clean up.
This photo was taken by theKalamazoo Gazette‘s Jonathon Gruenke days after the spill. Three years after the spill, Enbridge has been required to dredge the Kalamazoo River.
On March 29th, residents of Mayflower, Arkansas were evacuated from their homes when at least 84,000 of crude from an ExxonMobil pipeline spilled into their subdivision. A few days prior, 15,000 gallons of Canadian oil spilled from ruptured train tankers near Parkers Prairie, Minnesota – 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
The Obama Administration will soon issue a verdict on the most important climate change question it has the power to answer. The world’s foremost climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, argues that unlocking Canada’s tar-sands reserves spells “game over” for the climate. That’s why I’m asking you to join us in urging the President to do the right thing, and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
While the proposed pipeline would run through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, we in Michigan have seen tar-sands oil spills up close and personal, just like those folks in Arkansas and Minnesota have in the last couple of weeks. The million gallons of oil spilled in the Kalamazoo River in July 2010? Yep: tar-sands oil. The clean-up fouled a beautiful river, has already cost more than $1 billion, and still goes on. Our friends at the National Wildlife Federation have been doing an excellent job watch-dogging these spills; you can read their blog for more information.
Let’s make sure President Obama and the State Department know that another pipeline just means more movement in the wrong direction.
The official public comment period on Keystone is now open until April 22nd, a.k.a. Earth Day.This is a crucial opportunity to flood the State Department with comments about an issue that effects all of us.
Eiffel Tower before (top) and during (bottom) Earth Hour
One Small Hour for Man…
Last Saturday night at 8:30, downtown Ann Arbor went dark. Streetlights along one block of Main Street plus the lights at many homes and businesses shut off. However, this was all part of the plan. Earth Hour, as it’s called, was a global showing of solidarity in support of tougher action on climate change and reducing energy consumption. It began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has snowballed into a global movement across hundreds of cities.
P.S. If you like the Eiffel Tower pictures, you can check out more light/dark shots at National Geographic.
Although one hour might not make a huge dent in global energy use, it’s more about symbolism. Essentially, it makes us painfully aware that our lives depend on constant use of fossil-based energy, that there is still no international agreement on global warming, and as a co-benefit reminds people in big cities what the stars look like. It also demonstrates that people from government, businesses, churches, and households can all work together simultaneously to enact positive change. This one small hour is a starting point for collaboration on bigger projects.
Mayor John Hieftje said, “Earth Hour is another way to highlight Ann Arbor’s commitment to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and raise awareness on how citizens and government play a part in addressing climate change.”
As an awareness tool, I’d say Earth Hour was a success in that it reminded this writer to report on something very important to our local climate efforts. (Something he should have reported on 3 months ago.) Something everyone in Ann Arbor needs to know about…
Continue reading Hour of Darkness Sheds Light on Climate Change, and Ann Arbor’s CAP
In December, Seattle’s Mayor Mike McGinn sent a letter to the city’s two chief pension funds on friday, formally requesting that they “refrain from future investments in fossil fuel companies and begin the process of divesting our pension portfolio from those companies.”
McGinn’s letter includes a compelling argument:
There is a clear economic argument for divestment. While fossil fuel companies do generate a return on our investment, Seattle will suffer greater economic and financial losses from the impact of unchecked climate change. Our infrastructure, our businesses, and our communities would face greater risk of damages and losses due to turbulent weather that climate change causes. As a waterfront city, several of our neighborhoods and industrial districts are at risk if climate change causes a significant rise in sea level.
Think Ann Arbor should divest too? Sign this petition to Ann Arbor’s City Council to show your support!
Transit improvements are important to more than 220,000 people living Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Pittsfield Township or Scio Township – the “urban core” of Washtenaw County.
We need your help to make these improvements happen. Please visit http://bit.ly/WashtenawTransit to take action on transit.
Better transit means increased connectivity to nearby cities, townships and villages; reduced urban congestion; less pressure on limited parking resources; and increased services, extended hours and more direct routes for people who rely ontransit for work, school, medical appointments and other basic needs.
Local officials are currently working on a transit plan for Washtenaw county’s urban core. Although the case for improved transit is overwhelming, this issue is not a slam dunk. Without strong public support for new funding streams, we could see service cuts instead of improvements.
That’s why we’re asking you to sign this petition to local elected officials. Let them know how important transit is to you, and to Washtenaw County’s future.
Slow Food Huron Valley is hosting the perfect event for the indecisive local eater this weekend: CSA speed dating.
Delicious bounty ready for you weekly
Many of you may be familiar with… speed dating, but CSAs? CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture is a way to connect growers to eaters. Physically, it is a box of food, generally weekly (ranging from assortments of greens, to tubers and eggs, maybe even some dairy or meat) that is available for pickup or delivery usually from Spring until Fall.
The CSA share one purchases is advanced capital to the farmer and therefore a vote of confidence for the farmer. Due to this advanced payment and stability in knowing the steady customers, the CSA share is usually a great deal for the food purchased.
Purchaser/eater receives fresh, seasonal produce weekly while being engaged much more intimately with the grower. And the grower gets the vote of confidence, deeper relationship with customer, and advanced capital to make it all happen. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Continue reading Speed Dating for Local Food: Slow Food Huron Valley hosts CSA Fair this Sunday
Recipe: Tomatoes, beans, cilantro, and some CREATIVE community innovation
Funding awesome local projects has never been so tasty.
Only one day remains to submit your ideas for creative, community-based projects to UM Soup.
What is UM Soup you ask? SOUP is a monthly, community dinner that makes micro grants for local projects… projects that often would never have any other means to get off the ground. SOUP is a national movement, with groups popping up all over the country, dedicated to implementing innovative and beneficial projects in their towns. For this month’s March 23rd SOUP meet-up, project proposals are due March 13th!
With a seed grant from Shareable Magazine, UM Program in the Environment junior Isabella Morrison is organizing UM Soup to involve students more in their community. Isabella was inspired after she attended another nearby SOUP in Detroit. Isabella remarks, “[...] I was inspired by the people, ideas, conversations, and community activism that brewed over soup.” What could be a greater metaphor than eating nourishing, warm, comforting, complete-meal-in-a-bowl soup while also sharing ideas about how to nourish and nurture the communities that we live in?
For $5, A2 residents and UM students can have a fun evening learning about local projects, eating a local meal, jamming to live music, and voting on their favorite community project! Continue reading UM SOUP: Opportunity to be both full and fulfilled