We can solve it

Have you seen this ad on tv? I almost fell off the couch in shock, when I saw these two sitting together, agreeing to do something about climate change. It’s easy to do, it’ll save us all a lot of money, we’ll have a cleaner planet (who likes smog?), and we’ll help the environment. Here’s the ad with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson.

Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich have also come together to tackle climate change (or talk about it, at least). It’s a wise move. While the videos won’t solve anything, they show that we can work together to make this a human issue, not a political issue. It’s something we can all agree on.

Green jobs are American jobs. You can’t outsource solar panel installation. If we don’t innovate soon, we’ll be buying “green” technology from our international competitors forever. That situation isn’t beneficial for anyone. We’ve got to start creating renewable energy technology. Oil is not the answer. Drilling in Alaska won’t help – that oil won’t be available for more than 10 years. Geothermal and biodiesel (from used vegetable oil – not food crops!) are available now, and they’re renewable.

It’s time people look past politics, toward the future. It’s only a political issue if we make it one. We’ve got to take this issue back and make it cooperative. Don’t let the politicians control the dialogue. We, as consumers, have to come together and do what’s best for our health and our planet.

Even if you dispute the science, don’t you want cleaner air? Cheaper power?

It’s about taking responsibility, not laying blame.

Let’s create a better life for everyone.

We can solve it. Ok, they changed their name to Climate Reality. I wrote this a few years ago, but it’s still relevant and impressive. And Climate Reality has a new project that will address Dirty Weather (caused by dirty fossil fuels) on Nov. 14, so check it out and see how you can get involved.

Taking Time Off

I have decided to take a break from this blog. I hope to do it for just a month, but it may be longer. I’m doing this so I don’t quit outright. This decision has been influenced by 2 factors.

If you want to keep up with what I’m reading, you can follow my del.icoi.us news at http://del.icio.us/terranotterror/green. This is where I bookmark all the articles that I find online that relate to reducing our impact on the environment. These will include all the fantastic ideas that I enjoy reading. So, you won’t get my summaries, but you’ll be able to see the resources I find to write them.

Reasons:

1. I work two jobs, and am trying to continue my schooling. One job involves staring at a computer for 8 hours a day. Since I don’t write posts when I’m at work, I have to write them at home, when I’m pretty tired of looking at a computer.

2. See comments for my 2nd reason. It gets political, which I’ve decided won’t get a place on the main page. I will make one request – take a look at the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, and then call your Senator if you are as concerned as I am about privacy and upholding the bill of rights. The FISA bill (HR 6304) will be voted on July 8th. United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Super Thanks to Senator Sherrod Brown for sticking up for the Constitution so far.

Happy 4th of July!!

Conference call with Sherrod Brown

Media Update: Sherrod Brown Press Release
Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune

I was fortunate enough to be included on a lunchtime conference call with Senator Sherrod Brown, who was announcing his new comprehensive energy bill. Senator Brown has participated in a series of “green” energy roundtables across Ohio. Anyone in Ohio knows that we have the potential to utilize our manufacturing base, and our educated workforce to create renewable energy. We can be the “Silicon Valley of Alternative Energy.” I’ve summarized his speech, and his answers to the press questions below.

Summary

Senator Brown introduced the Green Energy Production Act as a jobs bill, an energy bill, and an environment bill. Its purpose is to turn research into products, and put people to work in production of renewable energy technology. Our economic future depends on our ability to move to renewable alternative energy. If we take this step, we’ll attain the global leadership that America is accustomed to. This will would utilize the potential of this state, and other manufacturing states to expand businesses like solar & wind entrepreneurs.

Currently, Germans lead the world in solar technology because they made a decision to invest in it years ago. China is investing in wind production technology (building windturbines to sell to other countries)

While we’re debating whether to punch more holes in the ground, the rest of the world is passing us by.

This bill would encourage the commercialization of renewable products. There are too many great ideas left on drawing board or produced overseas because America hasn’t invested in renewable technology yet. Ohio would benefit from this because we have the potential. Our green energy manufacturing future should build on our manufacturing past.

The bill creates a Green Markets Program, and a Green Redevelopment Opportunity and Workforce program. It seeks to explore as many ideas and inventions as possible, and to encourage internships and apprecticeships to help our students learn the critical skills to meet the demand of the renewable energy future.

There is an efficiency grant program which would match energy companies dollar for dollar to develop renewable energy and to encourage energy savings. Currently, coal-based energy companies have an incentive to misinform the public about the benefits of solar and wind. This bill would help energy companies develop clean technology, so they don’t go bankrupt, but they can do the right thing for the environment.

Senator Brown said we need to build green energy here. It’s inevitable. Importing renewable energy technology like we do oil doesn’t need to be inevitable. It’s not in our country’s best interest.

Essentially, this bill will create good-paying jobs here at home.

Questions

Funding… over 5 years. This is a $36 billion bill, which incorporates a gradual increase ($1 billion the first year, $5 the next, and then $10 billion the following 3 years). It will make grants & proposals available. Some money comes from climate change legislation, which may include carbon credits.

We currently give oil companies $18 billion in subsidies per year. Perhaps some of that money could be used to fund the bill that creates jobs here in America and makes us energy independent. That idea would make it hard to gain the support of some Republicans, because they like to call the removal of oil subsidies a tax hike. Oil companies are the most profitable they’ve every been, and are more profitable than any other American company. We also spend billions of dollars in Iraq.

The bill creates an “investment corporation” to take it out of political process. There will be 7 members on the board, appointed by the president, confirmed by senate. Eligibility is based on criteria in the bill, which emphasizes business, labor, environment, and manufacturing.

Senator Brown doesn’t support the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill, and he doesn’t think it will pass. (I honestly don’t know much about the bill b/c I’m out of politics, much to my delight) Brown’s Green Energy Production Act is not an amendment to a climate change bill. This bill stands alone.

Is clean coal or nuclear included? No. This is about solar, wind, fuel cells and other new tech. “Clean coal” and nuclear power are not called “green” energy by most because of their harmful byproducts. They are not renewable sources.

Ethanol is not specifically mentioned in this legislation. As we look at food prices, Brown said, more technology will be developed to create energy from renewables other than food, such as restaurant waste.

What are the chances of it passing in this cycle? This bill is so different and innovative that it will take a long time to pass, so he is entering it into the public debate this week. It has potential. There are two other energy bills left to be debated this term.

This bill will get economic development off the ground by building solar panels, fuel cells, wind turbines, etc. Not necessarily producing the energy, but producing the technology. (The solar panels at Oberlin College came from Germany. They should come from Ohio.)

This bill gives me a little hope that, if we can get something like this started, we can swing ourselves out of the recession. We need green jobs, green manufacturing, and renewable energy that is inexpensive for the consumer. We can achieve this by producing the technology here at home. It’s the responsible thing to do.

Spilled Milk

Ohio is considering restricting the amount of information that can be included on milk labels. Specifically, it will not allow producers to label their milk free of growth hormones (rBST and rBGH). I think consumers deserve to be as informed as possible about how our food is produced. Not allowing this information is not in the best interests of consumers. That’s my opinion.

You can inform decision makers of your opinion by visiting this site and sending them a letter or e-mail.

The OFPA requires by law that the certified organic milk produced follow strict verifiable standards. Farmers cannot inject or use any growth hormones (including rBST or rBGH) with their cows. To verify that they are following the production practices required by law farms undergo an annual inspection by a USDA-accredited certifier.

I am concerned that adopting the proposed rule would restrict interstate commerce making it difficult for suppliers, farmers and processors to do business in and out of Ohio.

The proposed rule would infringe on the consumers’ right to know about how the products were produced.

I like to know where my food comes from, and I don’t think cow-grade hormones are appropriate for human-sized consumers. It’s my opinion, not based on research, just thoughtfulness and reason. I don’t think we’re missing anything by drinking hormone-free milk. (rBGH is banned in Europe)

Vote today in Ohio!

Today is an election day. Please vote to keep the Akron Metro RTA system running. I’m not getting political here, but the Metro is critical to keeping our economy as affordable as it is. Without the bus system, workers won’t have a way to get to work, so employers will have to hire people with cars who demand a higher wage, which will increase the cost of goods we buy in the Akron area, not to mention putting thousands of carless people out of work. The Beacon Journal did a good job of explaining the importance of the RTA. Please read the article with an open mind. Think long-term about the economic consequences.

Also, the MetroSCAT is at stake today. SCAT is used by people with disabilities, and seniors who need to get to the grocery store and to medical appointments, etc.

Vote yes for our economy, and your neighbors.

Find out where to vote here. Polls are open 6:30 am – 7:30 pm. If you have problems voting, call your local Board of Elections. (Summit County – 330-643-5200)

Beet Juice in the News

NPR did a story about beet juice de-icer this morning on Morning Edition. They highlighted the benefits beet juice has over calcium chloride (rock salt). Stuff like … better for the environment, safer, longer-lasting, works at colder temperatures, better for roads and cars. It costs more per gallon, but it spreads better and only has to be applied once, rather than 3 times for calcium chloride. It also saves taxpayers’ money on roadFOOD SEASON-BEETS CS repair, as it does less damage to roads than the salt. The citizen they interviewed from Akron didn’t seem impressed, because of the immediate cost. I think he must have forgotten the long-term benefits of saving money on road repair. How exciting for Akron to be featured on a national program for reducing our impact on the planet by thinking differently!

The Cleveland Plain Dealer also featured a story about the effectiveness of beet juice. According to the article, “the juice blocks ice from forming on pavement even at extremely low temperatures.” Fantastic! I have definitely noticed a difference. The streets aren’t slick when they use beet juice. They’re much less predictable when the temperature is in the 20s or 30s and they use salt. Also, my dog hasn’t had hot spots on her feet this winter. I love that!

(Sarah from the PD contacted me for her story, but unfortunately I hadn’t been checking the blog while I was out. Sorry, Sarah!)

Ohio is “Focused” on reducing emissions, spending

focusOhio government workers will be driving the smaller and more fuel efficient Ford Focus (24/35 mpg), as part of an effort to reduce the state’s spending. Previously, state workers drove mid-size sedans, which are more expensive and emit more pollution than the economy-sized Focus.

The switch to a Focus fleet will save the state $242,000 this year alone, and the dollar figures go up as more economy cars hit the fleet.

That savings is just in purchasing the car. The gas savings will make the Focus an even better decision.

According to Autoblog, some state employees aren’t thrilled about the conversion, but Ohio has to do what it can to save money these days. The folks at Autoblog said they liked the Ford Focus, despite the exterior design.

(I like the “no parking” sign in the picture)

Bioneers week: Intro

The Bioneers conference this weekend was truly inspiring. I learned enough to share some revolutionary ideas with you for a long time. Throughout the week, and maybe longer, I’ll summarize the things I’ve learned and what we can do. I didn’t get any “rain barrel” type suggestions for things I can do at home. Bioneers is about restoring the earth, communities, and individuals, using a different mindset through which to consider things.

Nancy King Smith, the chairperson of the Cleveland Bioneers, began the conference. She reminded us that Bioneers are about solutions, and the change from fear to hope. There were 4,000 attendees in California, and 18 beaming sites. In Cleveland, we had visitors from Canada and the Bahamas, and throughout Ohio.

Cleveland Mayor Jackson was the first to speak, and he pointed out that there is no separation between humans and the environment. As Mayor, he tries to make decisions with that notion in mind. Mayor Jackson supports sustainability, and he has signed the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to advance the goals of the Kyoto treaty.

Andrew Watterson is the Sustainability Program Manager for Cleveland, and he spoke second. He pointed out the goal of Cleveland is to have lower utility costs to help the city’s residents. As Sustainability Program Manager, he is focused on green affordable housing, consistent with the triple bottom line: economic, environmental, and community sustainability. He spoke about the City Fresh program, which allows urban youth to take part in community gardens, where they can grow their own vegetables and sell them at markets. (more on community gardens later!) He mentioned the importance to lead by example, and it seems that Cleveland’s leadership is taking steps in the right direction when it comes to the triple bottom line. Cleveland’s operational efficiency task force is focused on improving service and efficiency. Since automating recycling, Cleveland’s recycling program has increased from 6.9% participation in 2005 to 9.6% in 2007. That small increase has saved 22,000 tons of waste that was destined for a landfill.

Bioneers is beyond sustainability, and seeks to restore the planet.

Media Update: The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a nice article about the conference.

The US Military and Green Power

Our US military uses renewable energy to save money and resources. They have the manpower to research, purchase, and build eco-technology. Renewable energy would also help when they are on assignment in locations where fuel is scarce. Here are some of the technologies our military is using:

tentPowerfilm solar tent covers. They are able to generate solar power by covering their tent with a “thin amorphous silicon technology.”

Aviation Biofuel. The Defense Department is looking for ways to reduce the military’s reliance on oil to power jets, ground vehicles, and ships, so it is turning to biofuels as a possible source of energy.

Micro fuel cells. MTI builds fuel cells the size of a phone book, which is a portable source of energy for our servicemen and women. These fuel cells utilize methanol, which is not as flammable as gasoline.

Efficient in-the-field solar cells.” Instead of transporting batteries to soldiers in the field, which is costly and dangerous, soldiers can use solar cells to generate the power they need.
tank
Ground Combat Hybrid. That is, hybrid tanks. BAE Systems designed these hybrid tanks, which have been tested and are planned for production in 2008 as part of the Army’s Future Combat Systems.

Soldier Solar. United Solar Ovonic is working on a solar pack that can be worn by soldiers to generate solar power to be used in powering field generators and vehicles.

Hybrid Aggressor. “The Aggressor [is] a high-performance, off-road Alternative Mobility Vehicle (AMV) for military ground exploration and scouting missions.” The Army had been exploring fuel cell technology, but has decided to go with diesel-electric hybrid power for the Aggressor.

earth2tech

Thanks Betty Sutton

Congresswoman Betty Sutton introduced legislation to increase federal penalties for dog fighting. This bill has 9 co-sponsors. People care about dogs. The same legislation has been introduced in the Senate by John Kerry.

There are so many loopholes in the current dog fighting laws that people can easily slip through. Spectators are currently not open for prosecution. They are the reason dog fights happen, so they are just as bad.

“My legislation will close these loopholes and make our federal animal welfare laws more comprehensive by ensuring that anybody who knowingly sponsors, exhibits an animal in or views a dog-fighting venture can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. My legislation also ensures that it is illegal to buy, sell, possess, train, transport or deliver any animal specifically for the purpose of participating in a dog-fighting venture,” Sutton said.

There could be tens of thousands of people involved in dog fighting in the US every year. Even in Ohio, dog fighting is a popular activity. “In March, a federal grand jury in Dayton, Ohio, indicted nine people on 45 counts for their roles in the operation of an extensive, multi-state dog-fighting ring.” NE Ohio has also seen some dog fighting and cock fighting cases.

The legislation will also delete provisions in current law requiring prosecutors to prove that animals crossed state lines to fight and increase the penalty for dog fighting from a maximum three-year prison sentence to a five-year prison sentence.

It should have a much longer sentence, in my opinion – participation in dog fighting unveils some serious psychological problems, and animal abuse often leads to domestic violence and other crimes.

Dogs are so amazing and should be treasured for the joy they bring people. I hope this legislation does a little more to deter this vicious activity.