Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

The GOP mantra is to put the phrase “job-killing” in front of any progressive policy.  Now we see that the Bush/Cheney’s pro-pollution, pro-rich policies aren’t as effective as even Obama’s modest clean energy, middle-class-oriented ones.  I think the analysis here is somewhat unfair to Obama since one ought to give some a short window to a new president to actually be responsible for the job loss/creation.  Even a roughly 3-month lag would mean Bush was responsible for essentially no net job creation during his Presidency, a time of rampant deregulation and dirty energy policies.


ACTION ALERT! Repeal provision added to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Bush/Cheney Administration) exempting the industry from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), one of our landmark environmental and public health protection statutes. Please encourage your Senators and Congress people to support the FRAC 2011 Act!


Republicans and the Koch brothers hired physicist Dr. Richard Muller in yet another attempt to disprove climate change. But when he presented his findings at a House hearing last week, the GOP who called him there must have been absolutely squirming. Dr. Muller’s conclusion? It echoes what the rest of us already know: CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!



Despite Newt Gingrich’s recent call to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, new polls show Americans want the EPA to do more – not less — and want Congress to provide incentives for clean energy sources such as solar and wind.


Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential GOP 2012 presidential candidate, proposed abolishing the Environmental Proection Agency during a speech at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, on Jan. 25, in Des Moines, Iowa.
By Charlie Neibergall, AP

Gingrich, former GOP House speaker and potential 2012 presidential candidate, proposed abolishing the EPA in a speech last month in Iowa and replacing it with an “Environmental Solutions Agency,” according to POLITICO. He said the new agency would spur innovation and new technology, not regulation and litigation.

To see how Americans feel about this, the Natural Resources Defense Council commissioned a survey by ORC International. Only 25% backed Gingrich’s plan to abolish the EPA while 67% opposed it, including 61% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats, according to the phone survey of 1,007 adults taken Jan. 27-30. The survey did not ask them what they think of Gingrich’s alternate agency idea.

The survey found that most Americans want the current EPA to do more, not less. Almost two thirds, or 63%, say “the EPA needs to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water,” while 29% say it already “does too much and places too many costly restrictions on businesses and individuals.”

A USA TODAY/Gallup survey finds Americans also place a high priority on developing alternative energy sources such as solar and wind, which President Obama called for in his State of the Union address. Of eight actions Congress could take this year, Americans most favored an energy bill providing alternative power incentives (83%) over issues such as overhauling the federal tax code (76%) or speeding up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan (72%).



Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 20, 2010; 12:53 PMA new analysis showing the presence of carcinogen in the tap water of 31 cities across the country, including the District and Bethesda, has raised questions about what consumers in those communities can do to reduce their exposure.

The chemical, hexavalent chromium, got public attention via the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich” and has been deemed a “probable carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Although basic water filters such as those made by Brita and PUR do not remove hexavalent chromium, several reverse-osmosis systems designed for home use can take the chemical out of water.

The analysis, released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, is the first nationwide look at hexavalent chromium in drinking water to be made public. The advocacy group sampled tap water from 35 cities and detected hexavalent chromium in 31 of those communities. Of those, 25 had levels that were higher than a health goal proposed last year by the state of California.

The federal government has not set a limit for hexavalent chromium in drinking water but is reexamining the chemical to decide whether it should impose such restrictions.

Last year, California proposed a “public health goal” for a safe level of hexavalent chromium in drinking water: 0.06 parts per billion. If the state sets a limit, it would be the first in the nation.

Hexavalent chromium was a commonly used industrial chemical until the early 1990s. It is still used in some industries, such as chrome plating and the manufacturing of plastics and dyes. The chemical can also leach into groundwater from natural ores.

Public awareness about the possible health effects of hexavalent chromium was heightened when residents of Hinkley, Calif., accused Pacific Gas & Electric of leaking the chemical into groundwater for more than 30 years. The company paid $333 million in damages in 1996 and pledged to clean up the contamination. The case was the basis for the movie “Erin Brockovich,” which starred Julia Roberts.

But a recent California study found that cancer levels in Hinkley are not elevated. The California Cancer Registry’s third study on the town, released this month, found that cancer rates remained unremarkable from 1988 to 2008. The state survey did not explain why any individual in Hinkley got cancer. State epidemiologist John W. Morgan has said it is still important that PG&E clean up the groundwater contamination, which continues to migrate despite efforts to contain it.

PG&E has been giving affected residents bottled water and has sent letters to about 100 property owners expressing interest in buying their property. The company has said it will continue those efforts despite the recent cancer study.

Washington Post Source:

Environmental Working Group Source:

Full Report:

by Jess Leber – November 03, 2010

Environmentalists woke up to a dramatically shifted political landscape this morning, as Election Day results pour in.

But there is one crucial way in which the world has stayed the same: California will continue to live by its landmark 2006 clean energy and climate law.

In a huge victory, California’s Proposition 23 went down in flames last night. What’s more, the measure—a Texas oil funded campaign to overturn another state’s climate legislation—went down big. (Early results late last night showed the measure was rejected by more than 59 percent of voters, including many moderate Republicans. In another boost, Jerry Brown, a strong backer of the law, also won the governor race).

National environmental leaders called it the “first and largest public referendum in history on clean energy policy,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The resounding victory proved a broad bipartisan coalition—including agriculture, faith, labor, public health, cleantech, national security and small business leaders—can turn out voters to out maneuver Big Oil’s corporate interests. Most importantly, it allows Californians to keep their booming green jobs sector and continue the good fight against rising global temperatures, which are set to ravage the state with drought, fires and smog.

For that, we can thank an record-setting organizing effort for the environmental movement.

The “No on 23″ campaign may have gotten a late start, but it’s come-from-behind victory has shown how the haughty visiting team (Texas-based Valero and Tesoro, plus Kansas Oil billionaire Charles Koch) didn’t even belong in the ring.

In an email, the organizers wrote “We won on the ground, in the mailbox, on the Internet and on the air.”  That effort included: 2.8 million calls, 3.4 million pieces of mail, 3,200 statewide volunteers, 20,000 Facebook fans, 10,000 email subscribers, protesters at Valero and Tesoro gas stations, and more than 800 contributions of $100 or less. Young people were also heavily invested: the PowerVote campaign organized on more than 50 campuses statewide and collected some 160,000 vote pledges.

The grassroots turnout was surely enabled by some large donations from clean energy investors, allowing the “No” campaign to outspend Big Oil by 3 times in the end, and by an awareness raising effort that included Governor Schwarzenegger and a red carpet full of celebrities. members also did their own part. Almost 1,000 signed the pledge to help defeat Prop 23 by spreading word, more than 2,500 raised awareness by writing to Oil billionaire Charles Koch telling him to accept Cal State college senior Joel Francis’s debate challenge, and finally a combined 26,000 of you signed petitions castigating oil funders Tesoro and Valero.

That’s not to say there weren’t setbacks last night.

Prop 26 (aka Prop 23’s evil, less publicized twin) did pass, which could affect how California’s climate law gets implemented.

And while it’s great that thousands of voices helped defeat Big Oil on Prop 23, what would be even better is if we could keep that momentum to enact more constructive change: a climate movement that doesn’t just win when it says “no” but one that also won’t accept “no” for an answer.  With the new Congress, that challenge will be even greater, but as the Prop 23 fight hopefully shows, not impossible.

Photo credit: Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Follow’s Environment page on Facebook and Twitter.


I just wanted to let you know that I just asked President Obama to create a new National Monument. 

For 50 years, the American people have protected our last great wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But when a radically changed Congress bangs its first gavel in January, “drill, baby, drill” will be on the tip of their tongues and at the top of their agendas.

Please join me in telling President Obama to take a stand and protect the Arctic Refuge as our newest National Monument.

We’re keeping it wild!

Maybe Sarah Palin will able to see this from her kitchen window?!

Sign & Send Letter to President using this link:

Twenty years ago, nearly all the world’s nations agreed to significantly reduce the loss of biodiversity by 2010. (The United States signed the accord but, like other treaties, the Senate has not ratified it.) Well, it’s 2010 and we are nowhere near that goal. While the Convention on Biological Diversity is currently meeting to update its targets for 2020, a new study released by Science says one-fifth of the world’s vertebrate species are threatened with extinction. But the good news is things would be a whole lot worse if we had done nothing at all.

“What our results show is that conservation efforts are not wasted. They are making a noticeable difference,” said Ana Rodrigues, a researcher at the Center for Evolutionary and Functional Ecology in Montpelier, France, and one of the authors of the study. The researchers compiled the status of over 25,000 vertebrate species as rated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List. “The rates of decline in the Red List index would have been 18 percent steeper” in the absence of conservation programs.

Preserving biodiversity may seem like a frivolous goal to some, given the current economic recession, but diverse and stable ecosystems provide many services, including clean drinking water, pollination, pest control, pollution abatement, and so on.

“These ecosystem services, as they are called, are estimated to be worth $33 trillion per year, ten times the size of the UK GDP, for example,” said Stuart Butchart, an ornithologist with BirdLife International and one of the paper’s authors. “Economists have calculated that not stepping up our efforts on biodiversity loss will cost us seven percent of the global GDP by 2050, and that doesn’t even include the consequences of resource conflicts, refugees, and political instability that will happen when these systems reach tipping points of collapse.”

Regardless of the economic costs of lost biodiversity, the study’s raw numbers are disheartening. One in eight birds are threatened with extinction, along with one in four mammals, one in seven bony fish, one in four reptiles, one in three amphibians, and one in three sharks. While the survey found threatened vertebrates on land and in oceans across the globe, most of the imperiled species inhabit tropical regions.

Southeast Asia stands out above other regions as having both the highest concentration of threatened species and the highest rate at which species decline in status. What’s to blame? “It’s a combination of habitat loss and overexploitation,” Rodrigues told Ars. Oil palm plantations have gobbled up large swaths of forest in the region, while the bushmeat and cage-bird trades threaten many species in the forests that remain, Butchart added.

In other regions, invasive species and new diseases have been largely responsible for dwindling populations and outright extinctions. Chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease, has been pummeling amphibian populations in California, Central America, Australia, and the Andes Mountains. In fact, the disease has so widely affected amphibian populations that more than 40 percent of amphibian species are classified as threatened on the Red List.

Though a lower percentage of birds and mammals are threatened, many are under constant pressure from invasive species. Species introduced to the Hawaiian Islands have driven many native fauna extinct and many more to the brink, Butchart said. Fortunately, conservationists have become relatively adept at dealing with invasive species, at least compared to other threats like habitat loss. Forty percent of animals threatened by invasive species improve in status once the interlopers are dealt with, the study reports.

There have also been a few remarkable recoveries. The Mauritius kestrel, of which there were only four in 1974, is nearly fully recovered with around 1,000 birds thanks to a successful captive breeding program. The humpback whale is another standout example. Due to the 1955 ban on commercial whaling, one of the world’s largest mammals is now classified as “least concern.”

Conservation’s successes prove extinction threats are not entirely intractable, though many problems like habitat loss will require political, social, and economic cooperation to successfully tackle. More protected areas, both on land and in the ocean, will go a long way, but there is not one answer. “What we need is tailored solution to a particular problem,” Rodrigues said. “It’s not just one solution that will work everywhere in the same way.”


Legislation to explicitly fight global warming is dead — weakened and then killed in the Senate. Environmental groups fought hard to push the bill. A majority of Americans and a majority of senators wanted to do something serious. Not this year. Sen. Harry Reid announced last week that he could not find 60 votes for what had already become a weak, compromised piece of legislation, so no vote would be held. Oil and gas companies and their friends in the Senate- all the Republicans and a number of key Democrats such as Sen. Rockefeller of West Virginia, Sen. Lincoln of Arkansas, and Sen. Conrad of North Dakota — got their wish. No action on global warming.

We know the planet is heating rapidly and that the consequences, already visible, will get much worse for every year we postpone action to slow, and then radically reduce, greenhouse gas emissions. At CREDO, we are enthusiastic proponents of tough action on global warming but had decidedly mixed feelings about all the compromises, backroom deals, special incentives, and loopholes that worked their way into the Kerry-Lieberman attempt to get to 60 votes.

The reality that we must face is that there are not 60 votes in the Senate for even minimally acceptable global warming legislation. Not this year and definitely not in the next few years.

But for us, unlike the Senate, no action is not an option. We have to change the battlefield because we must make progress.

Fortunately, there are a great many fights to be engaged, now that energy and resources are no longer focused on the dysfunctional U.S. Senate. We have compiled a short list — ten for simplicity — of work you can join in right now. You are all needed as each fight below is a tough one — but not as tough as passing strong legislation through the Senate!

You can join with us and other aggressive groups to work beyond the Senate:

1. Defend, at all costs, the ability of President Obama’s EPA to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act either temporarily. The imminent attack is coming from Sen. Rockefeller. Click here to take action now.

2. Fight Fox News, the leading purveyor of lies about global warming. The blowhards at Fox are confusing tens of millions of people every day. Nobody fights Fox better than Media Matters. Keep up with them here.

3. Decisively defeat Prop 23 in California, the malicious attempt by Texas oil companies — like Valero — to eliminate California’s pioneering global warming legislation – which is already in place and much stronger than anything considered by the Senate. This is a national battle. Join the campaign here.

4. Eliminate the Senate filibuster. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico will propose this in January. Join the fight at

5. Block all new coal-fired power plants – there is no such thing as clean coal. We love the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign — they are fighting individual plants and changing the rules here.

6. Eliminate the laughably low $75 million cap on oil company liability for oil spills and raise the damage fee from its current nickel-a-barrel to something serious – at least $1 per barrel. Ask President Obama to take this bold action here.

7. Urge EPA to adopt tough standards on reducing mercury poisoning from coal – a leading source of brain damage for infants. Join the Sierra Club and submit an official public comment to the EPA to protect communities from mercury in toxic coal ash here.

8. Stop the practice of mountain top mining, which literally blows off the tops of mountains in Appalachia and dumps the wastes into streams. We like the approach of Rainforest Action Network — take action here.

9. Block the import of filthy oil produced by the huge Canadian Tar Sands development, which requires a 2000-mile pipeline into the United States. The fine folks at 1Sky are fighting to convince Sec. of State Hillary Clinton not to issue the required State Department approval.

10. Put solar panels back on the White House. Reagan took them down, and neither Clinton nor Obama have restored them. Check out’s campaign here.

Okay, so the last one is not as big a deal — but wouldn’t it provide a little inspiration if President Obama installed a highly visible solar array on the White House with the components made in the United States? We have a lot of fighting to do if we are going to save ourselves, and every little bit of presidential leadership is welcome.


Thank you for the contacts you made with Senate offices over the August recess to urge passage of a national renewable electricity standard (RES).  Senate Majority Leader Reid told reporters in late August that the RES is “absolutely” in play as he continues to work on energy legislation this year.  We have seen a groundswell of support building over the past several weeks, and we need you to continue to call or write to your Senators so that we can bring a national RES across the finish line before the November elections!

Recent highlights include:

  • Moderate Senators have been voicing their support for this policy, including Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback, whoannounced his support for Senate passage of the 15% RES by 2021, which was reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee last year.
  • Renewable energy, agricultural, environmental, electrical utility and labor organizations wrote to Senate leadership to urge Congressional action on RES this September, and are expected to come together again this week to reiterate that now is the time for action.

Please take a few minutes to join this chorus of RES supporters by calling or e-mailing your Senators now
.  Tell them that a national RES has the power to ensure the future of the wind industry in America, and with it, your job and the jobs of 85,000 other Americans.  Tell them that passing a national RES is the step we need to take to make America the leader of a clean energy economy by setting targets for growth, and giving companies certainty that the U.S. is the best place to invest in renewable energy development and manufacturing.

Thanks so much for your support!

Most Americans have never heard of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the country, because it has no Koch-branded consumer products, sells no shares on the stock market and has few of the disclosure requirements of a public company. Although Koch intentionally stays out of the public eye, it is now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming.

Executive summary: Koch Industries has become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition. This private, out-of-sight corporation is now a partner to ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and other donors that support organizations and front-groups opposing progressive clean energy and climate policy. In fact, Koch has out-spent ExxonMobil in funding these groups in recent years. From 2005 to 2008, ExxonMobil spent $8.9 million while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the ‘climate denial machine’.

This report focuses on activities by Koch Industries and its affiliates, as well as the family—and company—controlled foundations which fund organizations that spread inaccurate and misleading information about climate science and clean energy policies. Included is research on the company and the Koch brothers, two of the top ten richest people in the United States.


Invisible Oil From Spill Could Still Pose Major Threat to Gulf

By Bryan Walsh Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010

Earlier this month the federal government released a report on the fate of the 4.9 million barrels of oil that had spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Interior Department estimated that 74% of the oil had either been directly captured, burned or skimmed, evaporated at the surface, been consumed by micro-organisms, or dissolved or dispersed into microscopic droplets under the water.

That left just 26% of the original total still present, either in sheen or weathered tar balls, on the shore or buried in sediment. Though the report was preliminary and came with the necessary caveats, the message from the White House was clearer: the oil was disappearing and receding as a threat. “I think it’s important to point out that at least 50% of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system,” said NOAA head Jane Lubchenco at an Aug. 4 White House press briefing. “And most of the remainder is degrading rapidly or is being removed from the beaches.” That was good news for BP — which hadn’t had much in a while — and just as good for right-wing bloggers and commentators like Rush Limbaugh, who had been claiming that greens exaggerated the disaster in order to boost the environmental cause. (See pictures of the spill.)

But it turns out the high-fives and told-you-sos might be premature. In a new report, researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) looked at the government oil budget survey and came to rather different conclusions. They believe that much of the oil the federal government viewed as dissolved or dispersed is still present underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, where its impact on aquatic life is far from clear. Nor is it well known how fast that underwater oil will continue to degrade, or whether the chemicals the crude leaves behind as it is broken down could be dangerous in their own right. “The idea that some 75% of the oil is gone and not a threat to the environment is just absolutely incorrect,” says Charles Hopkinson, director of Georgia Sea Grant at UGA.

The UGA scientists aren’t the only ones calling the federal government’s rosy picture of the oil spill into question. Another team of scientists from the University of South Florida (USF) are releasing a report today showing that chemical dispersants may have caused a share of the oil to sink to the ocean floor, where some of it has been found at the bottom of an underwater canyon 40 miles south of the Florida panhandle. That could have an impact on bottom-dwelling plankton that form the base of the marine food change. The USF researchers also raise questions about the possibility that the sunken oil could float up again in the future.

But the scientists from UGA come at their work with special credentials. In early May, they were the first researchers to identify underwater plumes of oil forming due to the BP gusher — and they held onto that conclusion in the face of skepticism from NOAA and BP, though government scientists later confirmed the existence of underwater plumes. So their take on Washington’s oil spill numbers gets special consideration. “The oil is still out there,” said Hopkinson, “and will likely take years to completely degrade.” (See the world’s top 10 environmental disasters.)

Here’s how UGA tallied up the oil spill totals. First, the researchers discounted the 800,000 or so barrels — about 17% of the total amount spilled — that were captured by BP at the wellhead, on the grounds that this oil never entered the Gulf. (The government report includes the 800,000 barrels, which somewhat inflates their numbers.) Of the remaining 4.1 million barrels, about 392,000 barrels were either burned or skimmed from the surface, so that crude has been accounted for, and is no longer part of the Gulf. But that leaves 90% of the total oil that actually made it into the water still to be accounted for.

The federal government’s happy report was based on the belief that everything but the residual oil that has come ashore was broken down enough through bacteria or one of the other mechanisms that it no longer posed much of a threat. The UGA researchers, however, don’t think such an assumption is justified. They had oceanographers and toxicologists from both UGA and elsewhere try to estimate how fast oil in the water would have broken down, and concluded that as much as 80% of the 4.1 million barrels of crude that actually spilled into the Gulf could still be present in the ecosystem in some form. “A large proportion of this oil is still in the system, floating around the water or trying to make it to the bottom,” says Samantha Joye, a marine biologist at the University of Georgia. “Until we put a hard number on how fast the oil is degrading, we can’t put a hard number on how much oil is still left.” (Watch TIME’s video “Oil Spill Anxiety on the Bayou.”)

Joye also added that the federal government hasn’t taken into account the impact of all the methane that was released by the blown Macondo, along with the oil. But it’s important to realize that while we can’t put hard numbers on how much oil is still out there, it’s also hard to get a firm fix on the risks — if any — the remaining crude presents to the Gulf environment. These plumes aren’t underwater rivers of oil — they’re likely invisible, and represent parts per billion of oil in the water. “No one is saying it’s all doom or gloom, but no one here is saying the oil is all gone either,” says Joye, who will be part of a new UGA expedition to the Gulf leaving later this week. “We’re trying to point out that for this system, the impact of the oil is there.”

This all means that we need many more studies — and we need them from multiple sources, because as long as the cleanup remains and the legal issues from the spill are still in the air, the Gulf is effectively a crime scene. That’s why Greenpeace has launched a two month-long expedition to the Gulf, giving scientists from a variety of universities the chance to use its Arctic Sunrise ship as a base for marine experiments. I’m with them now for the first leg, in the Dry Tortugas west of the Florida Keys. This gorgeous collection of coral reefs and uninhabited islands was fortunate enough to miss the biggest impacts from the spill, but it’s right next door to the Gulf. “Dispersed oil doesn’t mean the oil is gone,” says John Hocevar, Greenpeace’s oceans campaigner. The summer of the spill may be winding down, but this battle isn’t over.

Massive coral die-off seen in 93-degree waters

Massive coral die-off seen in 93-degree waters; Area off Indonesia is 7 degrees warmer than usual.

One of the most destructive and swift coral bleaching events ever recorded is under way in the waters off Indonesia, where water temperatures have climbed into the low 90s.


On June 10, the U.S. Senate will vote on Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Big Oil Bailout resolution that would prevent the EPA from holding polluters accountable, and fill Big Oil’s pockets with an additional $140 billion. That’s $140 billion for Big Oil, and higher gas prices and less domestic investment in jobs and our economy for you.

Your help is urgently needed to stop Murkowski’s lobbyist allies working for Big Oil. Use the Click-to-Call tool below to call your Senators and tell them to vote “NO” on the Murkowski Big Oil Bailout. Tell them it’s time to decide if they are with big oil or if they are with us.

Select this link below to ACT NOW!

We in Ohio want investment in clean energy technology that will stimulate our economy, create jobs and help prevent the worst of global warming. We are grateful for the Obama administration’s strong leadership on clean energy. But the Baard project will instead pollute our air and lock Ohio into the past. Tell Secretary Chu to say “No!” to the dirty Baard Energy project!


The Obama administration has released for public comment a draft of a Climate Action Report that says in part, “Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.” In some of the strongest language yet, it uses scientific data to show the problems of the global temperature increase, including disappearing glaciers, shrinking sea ice, rising sea levels, droughts, expanding tropical diseases, and stressed water resources.

Already, climate deniers are swarming in on the public comment period. “The idea that man made emissions are primarily responsible for global warming is scientifically illogical,” says one. “The Climate Action Report is based on data known to be fraudulent and represents a willful and intentional effort to defraud the American people,” says another.

The government is forced to consider all comments before releasing a final version of this important document. Now is our last chance to drown out the climate deniers. The deadline for comments is Thursday, May 6 at noon ET.

We must flood the docket with comments in support of using science to guide our response to fight the human-made threat of global warming.

In 1992, the U.S. ratified the United Nations Framework Conversion on Climate Change. Part of this important agreement was that the U.S. must release a series of Climate Action Reports that outline what we are doing to address global warming and include updated projections on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The draft Climate Action Report strongly promotes using science to craft our global warming policy. “The latest and best scientific information forms the bedrock on which effective policy to combat and cope with climate change must be built,” the report argues.

This unequivocal language spells out the U.S. commitment to the world on climate change. And we need to ensure that the final version submitted to the United Nations keeps this strong call for action.

Don’t let the climate deniers be the only commenters. Submit a public comment today in support of strong climate science.


I got 7 questions correct out of 7 on Climate Quiz! YOU?

What do you know about climate change? Test your knowledge with the following 10 questions — and take initiative to fight climate change.


Do you know what your lungs are breathing? The American Lung Association State of the Air 2009 report shows that over 186 million Americans live in counties where air pollution endangers their lives. This includes over 40 million people in counties where the air failed every test.

You can help make the air you breathe cleaner.  Tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen the air pollution health standards, known as National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter (soot) and ozone (smog). These standards protect your health by setting a legal limit on the safe levels of pollution in the air.

The current standards set by the EPA are insufficient in protecting the health of sensitive populations such as children, the elderly, and those with heart and lung disease.

Please help by urging EPA to set tougher standards that protect the health of you and your family. We must let EPA know that the evidence is clear that allowing more pollution in the air is dangerous, even deadly.



March 30, 2010

Most Americans have never heard of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the country, because it has no Koch-branded consumer products, sells no shares on the stock market and has few of the disclosure requirements of a public company. Although Koch intentionally stays out of the public eye, it is now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming.

Koch Industries has become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition. This private, out-of-sight corporation is now a partner to ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and other donors that support organizations and front-groups opposing progressive clean energy and climate policy. In fact, Koch has out-spent ExxonMobil in funding these groups in recent years. From 2005 to 2008, ExxonMobil spent $8.9 million while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the ‘climate denial machine’.

This report focuses on activities by Koch Industries and its affiliates, as well as the family—and company—controlled foundations which fund organizations that spread inaccurate and misleading information about climate science and clean energy policies. Included is research on the company and the Koch brothers, two of the top ten richest people in the United States.

Full Report:


One. And You’re Looking At It.

by Charles Fishman, September 1, 2006

Sitting humbly on shelves in stores everywhere is a product, priced at less than $3, that will change the world. Soon. It is a fairly ordinary item that nonetheless cuts to the heart of a half-dozen of the most profound, most urgent problems we face. Energy consumption. Rising gasoline costs and electric bills. Greenhouse-gas emissions. Dependence on coal and foreign oil. Global warming.

The product is the compact fluorescent lightbulb, a quirky-looking twist of frosted glass. In the energy business, it is called a “CFL,” or an “energy saver.” One scientist calls it an “ice-cream-cone spiral,” because in its most-advanced, most-appealing version, it looks like nothing so much as a cone of swirled soft-serve ice cream.

Most people have some experience with swirl bulbs, but typically it hasn’t been happy. In the early 1990s, you would step into a room in a business traveler’s hotel, flip on the lights by the door and between the beds, turn on the desk lamp and the floor lamp, then stand in the gloom looking around and thinking, “There must be another switch somewhere that actually turns on the light.” Every one of the bulbs flickering to life was a compact fluorescent–and five of them together didn’t provide enough light to read the card listing the lineup of cable-TV channels.

For two decades, CFLs lacked precisely what we expect from lightbulbs: strong, unwavering light; quiet; not to mention shapes that actually fit in the places we use bulbs. Now every one of those problems has been conquered. The bulbs come on quickly; their light is bright, white, steady, and silent; and the old U-shaped tubes–they looked like bulbs from a World War II submarine–have mostly been replaced by the swirl. Since 1985, CFLs have changed as much as cell phones and portable music players.

One thing hasn’t changed: the energy savings. Compact fluorescents emit the same light as classic incandescents but use 75% or 80% less electricity.

What that means is that if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.

That’s the law of large numbers–a small action, multiplied by 110 million.

The single greatest source of greenhouse gases in the United States is power plants–half our electricity comes from coal plants. One bulb swapped out: enough electricity saved to turn off two entire power plants–or skip building the next two.

Just one swirl per home. The typical U.S. house has between 50 and 100 “sockets” (astonish yourself: Go count the bulbs in your house). So what if we all bought and installed two ice-cream-cone bulbs? Five? Fifteen?

Says David Goldstein, a PhD physicist, MacArthur “genius” fellow, and senior energy scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council: “This could be just what the world’s been waiting for, for the last 20 years.”

Swirl bulbs don’t just work, they pay for themselves. They use so little power compared with old reliable bulbs, a $3 swirl pays for itself in lower electric bills in about five months. Screw one in, turn it on, and it’s not just lighting your living room, it’s dropping quarters in your pocket. The advantages pile up in a way to almost make one giddy. Compact fluorescents, even in heavy use, last 5, 7, 10 years. Years. Install one on your 30th birthday; it may be around to help illuminate your 40th.

In an era when political leaders and companies are too fainthearted to ask Americans to sacrifice anything for the greater good, the modern ice-cream swirl bulb requires no sacrifice. Buying and using it helps save the world–and also saves the customer money–with no compromise on quality. Selflessness and self-satisfaction, twirled into a single $3 purchase.

So far, the impact of compact fluorescents has been trivial, for a simple reason: We haven’t bought them. In our outdated experience, they don’t work well and they cost too much. Last year, U.S. consumers spent about $1 billion to buy about 2 billion lightbulbs–5.5 million every day. Just 5%, 100 million, were compact fluorescents. First introduced on March 28, 1980, swirls remain a niche product, more curiosity than revolution.

But that’s about to change. It will change before our very eyes. A year from now, chances are that you yourself will have installed a swirl or two, and will likely be quite happy with them. In the name of conservation and good corporate citizenship, not to mention economics, one unlikely company is about haul us to the lightbulb aisle, reeducate us, and sell us a swirl: Wal-Mart.

In the next 12 months, starting with a major push this month, Wal-Mart wants to sell every one of its regular customers–100 million in all–one swirl bulb. In the process, Wal-Mart wants to change energy consumption in the United States, and energy consciousness, too. It also aims to change its own reputation, to use swirls to make clear how seriously Wal-Mart takes its new positioning as an environmental activist.

It’s a bold goal, a remarkable declaration of Wal-Mart’s intention to modernize and green up a whole line of business using market oomph. Teaming up with General Electric, which owns about 60% of the residential lightbulb market in the United States, Wal-Mart wants to single-handedly double U.S. sales for CFLs in a year, and it wants demand to surge forward after that.

Diane Lindsley, the hardware buyer who decides what goes in the lightbulb aisles at Wal-Mart, thinks 100 million swirls is perfectly reasonable. “Yes,” she says, “it’s rational, I think.” Before she started buying bulbs for Wal-Mart just three years ago, Lindsley didn’t even know what CFLs were. Now she pauses in a way that suggests the kind of determination Wal-Mart can bring to bear when its buyers decide they are going to sell Americans something. “We have plans in place to where it may not take that long.”

“Think how many games Wal-Mart has changed. There’s no reason they can’t change this game.”

Which presents a daunting challenge: Wal-Mart’s push into swirls won’t just help consumers and the environment; it will shatter a business–its own lightbulb business, and that of every lightbulb manufacturer. Because swirls last so long, every one that’s sold represents the loss of 6 or 8 or 10 incandescent bulb sales. Swirls will remake the lightbulb industry–dominated by familiar names GE, Philips, Sylvania–the way digital-music downloads have remade selling albums on CD, the way digital cameras revolutionized selling film and envelopes of snapshots. CFLs are a classic example of creative destruction.

GE, facing the prospect of mothballing a centurylong franchise in lightbulbs–well, GE is smiling and swallowing hard. “CFLs are taking off,” says Robert Stuart, who heads consumer marketing at GE for lightbulbs. “No one has been as vocal about this recently as Wal-Mart. One hundred million bulbs in a year? It’s an aggressive goal. GE will find a way to make sure they are able to do that.”

GE, too, has launched a green business initiative: ecomagination, an effort to make environmentally sustainable technologies an ever-larger part of GE’s business. Swirls fit well, despite the inevitable cannibalization. “The real issue is, if we don’t do it, someone else will,” says GE’s ecomagination vice president, Lorraine Bolsinger, of Wal-Mart’s effort to push CFLs. “It’s old thinking to imagine that you can hold on to a business model and outsmart the consumer. You can’t.”

Steven Hamburg is an associate professor at Brown University, an expert on energy consumption and global warming who helped Wal-Mart think through the spiral-bulb strategy. “Can they change the game? Think how many games Wal-Mart has changed. There’s no reason they can’t change this game.”


For Chuck Kerby, it was ceiling fans that made the impact of energy-saving swirl bulbs dramatically clear.

Kerby is a vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Wal-Mart for hardware and paint (and ceiling fans) for all of Wal-Mart’s U.S. stores and supercenters. Lindsley is one of 12 buyers working for him. Kerby, who started out collecting shopping carts from the parking lot of Wal-Mart #189 in Kirksville, Missouri, 23 years ago, has known about CFLs for years. “I became aware of them when I would travel and go into a hotel room.”

Last year, conversations started in Wal-Mart around the potential of swirls to save customers money on utility bills. “Somebody asked, ‘What difference would it make if we changed the bulbs in the ceiling-fan display to CFLs?'” says Kerby. A typical Wal-Mart has 10 models of ceiling fans on display, each with four bulbs. Forty bulbs per store, 3,230 stores.

“Someone went off and did the math,” says Kerby. “They told me we could save $6 million in electric bills by changing the incandescents to CFLs in more than 3,000 Wal-Marts. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know I was paying $6 million to light those fixtures. I said, that can’t be right, go back and do the math again.” The numbers came out the same the second time: savings of $6 million a year. “That, for me, was an ‘I got it’ moment.”

It was Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s CEO, who started Kerby and Lindsley thinking about lightbulbs. “Last fall,” says Kerby, “we had had two hurricanes”–Katrina and Rita–“we had oil production disrupted, we had millions of people displaced in the South, and at a Friday officer’s meeting not long after Katrina, Lee Scott said, ‘Our customers are hurting, our customers’ dollar is not going as far as it could.’ He challenged everyone in the room to find relevant rollbacks, to lower the price of living and make a difference for our customers.” (Wal-Mart-ers really talk that way among themselves.)

In the wake of Katrina, Scott had asked his staff for a briefing on environmental issues, including global warming. One of the people he sat down with was Hamburg, the Brown professor who has won an award from the EPA for his ability to explain climate change.

“It was a very frank conversation,” says Hamburg. Not much of a Wal-Mart shopper, he had looked at one piece of Wal-Mart’s environmental performance before. In 1994, he critiqued Wal-Mart’s first environmentally sensitive store. “As I told Lee, it was a lot of green-wash. He needed to do better….I said, ‘What really matters is what’s on the shelves. Wal-Mart’s influence is much greater in the marketplace than in the built environment.'”

Hamburg has been working with CFLs since the 1980s, so that subject naturally was on the table with Scott. “I think he knew what they were,” says Hamburg. “I said, ‘It’s a very direct return to your consumers, and it has a big positive impact on reducing carbon emissions. So let’s do it. You do it.'”

The spirals, you could say, were converging. After Scott’s exhortation at the Friday officers meeting, Kerby did what a lot of Wal-Mart-ers do when they need to think and reconnect. He went shopping at Wal-Mart.

“I went across the street to #100,” says Kerby. “I thought about what people rebuilding would need, I thought about energy costs, I filled the cart, and I brought it all back to the office. I challenged the buyers to look for ways to save money on these important products.” One item in his cart: a three-pack of GE compact fluorescents, 60-watt equivalents, for $9.58–$3.19 each. You could buy three four-packs of classic GE 60-watt bulbs for that price, 12 regulars for the price of one spiral.

To Diane Lindsley, her boss’s point was crystal clear. “I called GE,” says Lindsley. “We started negotiating.”

Within two weeks, the price on a three-pack of GE spirals at Wal-Marts across the country was “rolled back” to $7.58. It was a 21% cut–although the bulbs were still $2.53 each, 10 times the cost of an ordinary bulb. The agreement with GE was for a 90-day price cut, to help out after Katrina.

Did it make a difference in CFL sales?

“Absolutely,” says Lindsley. “Faster than I’ve ever seen it before. In days.”

Then, in late October, says Kerby, “Our friend Oprah had a segment on her show talking about CFL lightbulbs. We didn’t ask her to do that or anything. But there certainly is an Oprah factor out there. That show led to a tremendous sales increase in the category that we have maintained to this day.” Month over month, Lindsley is selling double the number of spirals she did before Katrina.

It was a perfect swirl: Katrina, Rita, $70-a-barrel oil, price-chopping, corporate consciousness-raising, with Oprah’s lightbulb club thrown in.

“What had started as, ‘Let’s do something to help the consumer for 90 days,’ well, it became obvious this wasn’t a 90-day strategy,” says Kerby. “World events had changed the lightbulb category. The time had come for the energy-saving lightbulbs. It was going to be a different kind of product going forward.”

Inside the Bulb

Incandescent lightbulbs and spiral lightbulbs make light in entirely different ways, and it is that difference that makes spirals so potent. In a classic 60-watt incandescent bulb, light comes from the little metal filament quivering inside the sealed glass bulb. Electricity passes through the metal thread, heating it to 2,300 degrees Celsius, and the filament glows with the heat and throws off light. Electricity creates heat, heat creates light. It’s why incandescent bulbs are so hot–the glass is often 300 degrees. In the trade, incandescents are sometimes known as “a hot wire in a bottle.”

Compact fluorescents are something else again. In a fluorescent bulb, the glass tube is filled with gas and a tiny dot of mercury. Electricity leaps off electrodes on either end of the tube and excites the mercury molecules, which have a special property: When so excited, they emit ultraviolet light. That invisible UV light strikes the bulb’s phosphor coating, which itself gets excited and emits visible light, which shines out through the tube. Heat is much less of a factor–CFLs run at about 100 degrees.

Making the ionized fog bottled inside a CFL dance to the same steady tune as an incandescent has required a lot of research, and an electronics revolution. Early CFLs cost $25 per bulb (and still paid for themselves in electricity savings). The light they produced was bluish or pinkish, or varied; the phosphor coating had to be refined. The ballast–built into the bulb rather than in a separate fixture, as with traditional fluorescent tubes–hummed and didn’t cycle the electricity quickly enough; it had to be made electronic and miniaturized. Costs came down, as did size. The same wizardry that gives us Hallmark birthday cards that play “Love and Happiness” makes possible CFLs at $2.60 instead of $25.

It is this–the way swirls make light–that saves so much energy. In an incandescent, only 5% to 10% of the electricity passing through the wire becomes visible light; the rest becomes heat and invisible UV light. The vibrating mercury vapor atoms in a fluorescent bulb produce light more efficiently than a tungsten filament. You get more photons for every watt of electricity pumped in. An old-fashioned incandescent makes 15 lumens per watt; a 60-watt bulb shines with 900 lumens. In a CFL, you get 60 lumens per watt. To get 900 lumens–to get the light you expect from a 60-watt bulb–you need only 15 watts.

A 60-watt classic bulb and a 15-watt swirl are identically bright–the swirl just uses 45 fewer watts.

The Swirl Cascade

What really revolutionizes the lightbulb experience, and the business itself, is a second quality of swirls, beyond their ability to squeeze more light from a kilowatt: their longevity.

The compact fluorescents that GE, Philips, and Sylvania are putting on shelves are rated to run for 8,000, 10,000, or 12,000 hours. Few bulbs in a home are lit more than four hours a day; at that rate, an 8,000-hour bulb lasts five-and-a-half years; a 12,000-hour bulb lasts eight years and three months. As swirls take hold, it will be a surprise, a novel event, when a lightbulb goes dark. Imagine all those hard-to-reach bulbs that need to be replaced every three months. From four times a year, to once a decade.

“This is about selling lightbulbs, but it’s far bigger. This has huge implications for the world.”

And the impact of swirls cascades outward. Since every CFL has the life span of 6, or 8, or 10 equivalent incandescent bulbs, if Wal-Mart alone sells 100 million swirls in the next year, it does away with the need for 100 million old-fashioned bulbs to be manufactured, packaged, shipped, bought, and discarded next year–and every year until 2012 or beyond.

How much is 100 million bulbs? It’s 25 million classic GE four-packs. That many boxes of bulbs would fill 262 Wal-Mart tractor trailers, a ghost convoy of Wal-Mart trucks, loaded with nothing but lightbulbs, stretching 3.5 miles–a convoy that will never roll. Every year for six years–just from one bulb, this year. Not to mention the line of garbage trucks necessary to cart 100 million burned-out incandescent bulbs to the landfill.

What you don’t make, of course, you never get to sell. As enthusiasm for compact fluorescents mounted in Bentonville, there were multiple strategy meetings between the Wal-Mart lightbulb people and the GE lightbulb people–including a conversation January 12 between Lee Scott and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt in which swirls were a significant topic.

GE had launched its ecomagination business push in May 2005–neatly summarized by Lorraine Bolsinger: “Green can be green.” Scott launched Wal-Mart’s sustainability repositioning last October in a speech to his own executives. Understanding the power of the CFL, Scott told them, had helped him see that environmental problems are really a disaster like “Katrina in slow motion.” Pledging to take Wal-Mart and its customers and suppliers down a new path, he declared, “Environmental problems are our problems.”

Immelt and Scott agreed in January that a major push on swirls was in order. But strategic enthusiasm doesn’t change a simple short-term fact: Every new energy-saving swirl you sell obliterates sales of six or eight of your classic product. Incandescents won’t ever go away–we still use candles–in part because there are some places CFLs simply don’t work well. They are not tiny or elegant enough to be chandelier bulbs. They do not work as accent lighting. But in as little as five years, if Wal-Mart sparks a significant conversion to swirls, the lightbulb business will be rocked.

Total unit sales could be half what they are now. In the short run, there’s a bonanza: 95% of sockets in U.S. homes don’t have swirls in them, and a billion of them, or more, could. At the moment, with CFLs selling for 10 times what regular bulbs do, there’s no immediate loss of revenue or profit. But prices won’t stay where they are for long. At Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart’s club-store division, GE swirls already sell at $12.73 for an eight-pack–$1.59 per bulb, or just six times the cost of old-fashioned bulbs. At that price, the economics change. Competition from other retailers will force the price even lower–especially because of what happens next.

Once a third of the sockets in U.S. homes have compact fluorescents–once you sell the bulge of conversion replacements–both incandescent sales and CFL sales will fall off a cliff. Incandescent bulb sales could be cut in half, because we won’t use them any more. And after we’ve installed 1.5 billion swirls, we’ll only be buying perhaps 200 million a year, because they’re on a six- or eight-year replacement cycle. Executives at Wal-Mart are already imagining a day when the shelf space for lightbulbs is cut by 30% or 40%.

For Wal-Mart, the appeal of swirls is clear, even to GE executives. “Wal-Mart sees its customer putting more money in the gas tank, more into electrical bills–their customer is saying, ‘I need some help,'” says Bolsinger. “They are very close to that. If they can help a customer save money in the long haul, that’s money that comes back to Wal-Mart.”

Once Wal-Mart decides to make swirls an important product, the appeal for GE also becomes clear. It’s the power of the big dog: GE can either help Wal-Mart sell swirls, or some other lightbulb company will. In either case, GE’s regular-bulb business shrivels. “The business case is pretty clear,” says Bolsinger. “If we don’t grab the market share of CFLs, we lose.” The only way to survive creative destruction, in fact, is to get out in front of the tsunami, to catch the wave.

In the spring, Diane Lindsley changed the way she stocks her 60 feet of lightbulb shelves. Like other merchants, she has struggled for years with whether to group energy-saving bulbs in their own section for conservation geeks, or to mix them in with regular bulbs in the hope more customers will try them. Either way, particularly for a shopper schooled by Wal-Mart itself to focus on price, CFLs that cost 10 times what a dependable 60-watt cost are a hard sell.

Inspired by last fall’s rush of swirl sales, Lindsley moved dramatically to emphasize them on her shelves. She decided to have it both ways–to group CFLs together and mix them with regular bulbs. She has made swirls the most prominent bulbs in the store: They are now on the top two or three shelves, at eye level, with the old-fashioned bulbs on the bottom. The prominence is eye-catching–three or four sections of shelves, with bright yellow and green packages of GE CFLs. Horizontally, the swirls form a band of energy savers that stretch down a third of the aisle. Vertically, each shelf unit is both energy savers and incandescents — 60-watt-equivalent swirls on top, old-fashioned 60-watts below.

For bulbs, “that’s the most coveted shelf space in the entire store,” says Bolsinger. “It was a bold move on Wal-Mart’s part to put it there.” Lindsley was taking a risk, giving swirls shelf space their sales didn’t quite justify. She was positioning them prominently to drive sales, and in anticipation of more growth.

An even more dramatic push is coming this month, when Wal-Mart will roll out a lightbulb education center in every U.S. store. The display, developed with GE, shows 10 categories of lightbulbs, organized by room through a typical home, with a box showing the CFL appropriate in that area, the equivalent incandescent, and the energy savings a customer can reap from switching. Each category features a warm lifestyle photo of the room in question. Each box is color-coded to match color-coding on the shelves of CFL bulbs.

For a company that measures sales of its merchandise per running foot of shelf space, giving up 12 feet of stock space to a static display, however entrancing, represents a significant investment. Lindsley is evaluated in part based on the bulbs she sells, and “I have to perform, of course,” she says. “I have to have my sales. I think about it differently. I think about it daily. But this is absolutely the right thing to do.”

This is at least as big a deal for GE. Between 2004 and 2005, it tripled its manufacturing capacity for compact fluorescents. By the end of 2006, GE will have tripled capacity again. Anticipating the shift to swirls, it plans to close an incandescent bulb factory in St. Louis.

Making compact fluorescents is expensive and complicated, compared with incandescents, in part because of the electronic controls each bulb contains, and in part because swirls remain partly handcrafted. To make each spiral, a Chinese worker wearing gloves takes a tube of glass, holds it over an open flame, then wraps the heat-softened tube around a metal form. The job requires a deft touch so the tube doesn’t become flattened while getting its spiral shape.

“For us,” says Bolsinger, “the opportunity is to sell enough of them, to get down the [manufacturing] cost curve. We’re still pretty early in the learning curve.” Greater automation would allow GE to both continue to reduce the price of swirls and keep a margin that softens the blow to the incandescent side of the business.

This fall, GE will rebrand its CFLs as “energy smart” bulbs–in an effort to give them a clear identity equivalent to “soft white”–and launch a major print advertising campaign to support the Wal-Mart push. Working with Wal-Mart, GE has made its bulb packaging both more dramatic and more explicit–it promises that the 60-watt equivalent “saves $38 in energy.” Spend $2.60, earn $38. These days, that’s a great return.

At the Wal-Mart home office, they talk about swirls with a zeal that goes beyond product promotion, as if the bulbs are a pioneering product, a new way of thinking about retailing. Says Andrew Ruben, Wal-Mart’s vice president of sustainability: “We realize that we can influence big things. Energy usage. Efficiency. Dependence on foreign oil. And we realized that if we’re really going to move things, it’s not about our direct footprint–our stores, our offices–it’s about our supply chain and our customers. So this is about selling lightbulbs, but it’s far bigger. This has huge implications for the world.”

Chuck Kerby did swap out the ceiling-fan bulbs, at least in most Wal-Marts. The idea surfaced in November; it was executed in February. And Kerby has a clear vision of the future.

“It’s certainly possible to see a day when a cartoonist will draw a cartoon with a character having an idea,” says Kerby, “you know, with the traditional-shaped incandescent lightbulb going on over the character’s head–and my grandchildren will look at that and not know what it means. And that’s not a bad thing, because we’ll be living in a much better world.”

Charles Fishman ( is a Fast Company senior writer.


The Power of 60 Watts:

The Might Light:

January 20, 2009 (CNN) — Human-induced global warming is real, according to a recent U.S. survey based on the opinions of 3,146 scientists. However there remains divisions between climatologists and scientists from other areas of earth sciences as to the extent of human responsibility.

Against a backdrop of harsh winter weather across much of North America and Europe, the concept of rising global temperatures might seem incongruous.

However the results of the investigation conducted at the end of 2008 reveal that vast majority of the Earth scientists surveyed agree that in the past 200-plus years, mean global temperatures have been rising and that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.

The study released today was conducted by academics from the University of Illinois, who used an online questionnaire of nine questions. The scientists approached were listed in the 2007 edition of the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments.

Two questions were key: Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures?

About 90 percent of the scientists agreed with the first question and 82 percent the second.

The strongest consensus on the causes of global warming came from climatologists who are active in climate research, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role.

Petroleum geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 percent and 64 percent, respectively, believing in human involvement.

“The petroleum geologist response is not too surprising, but the meteorologists’ is very interesting,” said Peter Doran associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and one of the survey’s authors.

“Most members of the public think meteorologists know climate, but most of them actually study very short-term phenomenon.”

However, Doran was not surprised by the near-unanimous agreement by climatologists.

“They’re the ones who study and publish on climate science. So I guess the take-home message is, the more you know about the field of climate science, the more you’re likely to believe in global warming and humankind’s contribution to it.

“The debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes,” said Doran.


Lights Out! Welcome to our 1 hour of power!

Posted: March 25, 2010 by iactnow in Environment

Things have started to heat up where the climate crisis is concerned. And just in the nick of time, too, because the scientific community is growing more concerned about global warming. So get ready to spend some time in the dark as you participate in the largest climate movement in history.

Earth Hour takes place on Saturday, March 27th at 8:30 pm local time. At that moment, hundreds of millions of people around the world and some 4,000 cities in 87 countries will turn off their lights for sixty minutes in an international call to stop global warming.

Participation is easy, and we’re urging all our friends to join us. All we need to do is turn out our lights for a single hour. The blackness that follows will send a message to Washington and other capitals that it’s time to take strong action and make sure that the Earth remains habitable. But we all need to participate for that message to be heard. So gather your loved ones and light some candles, then tell stories, sing songs, and dream of a sustainable world. We can build it if we try.

Talk to your friends and neighbors and urge them to shut off their lights, too. Let’s join people from New York City to Shanghai to spark this movement to save the environment. Because this is the hour when we can all make a difference by coming together in a single, simple act. This is the hour when we dissolve all borders to bring lasting change to the world. Let’s hit the switch and get that party started.


Source of Statistics used in Poll:

by Nirmala George, AP

by March 24, 2010

NEW DELHI – For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said.

“What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Scientists at the School of Oceanographic Studies at the university have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.

Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) a year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) annually, he said.

Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to move to the mainland, while almost half the land of Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra said.

“We will have ever larger numbers of people displaced from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water,” he said.

Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 150 million people, is one of the countries worst-affected by global warming. Officials estimate 18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20 million people will be displaced if sea levels rise 1 meter (3.3 feet) by 2050 as projected by some climate models.

India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) long and 3 kilometers (1.5 miles) wide. Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti.

There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilitary soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag.

The demarcation of the maritime boundary — and who controls the remaining islands — remains an open issue between the two South Asian neighbors, despite the disappearance of New Moore, said an official in India’s foreign ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on international disputes.

Bangladesh officials were not available for comment Wednesday.


12 Tips for Saving Energy in Your Home Office

Posted: March 25, 2010 by iactnow in Environment

By: Jane Hodges

Published: September 9, 2009

Cut your power consumption, lighting, and heating and cooling costs when you work from home.

With roughly 34 million telecommuting adults in America—a number slated to double by 2016, according to Forrester Research—adjustments to your home office power consumption, lighting, and heating and cooling can impact the environment and your wallet—up to about $200 per year in energy costs.

Down-shift your power consumption

1. Activate power-management settings. Home office electronics have multiple power modes: active (or “on”), active standby (“on” but consuming less than 100% power), and passive standby (or “off”), according to the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, which promotes energy efficiency to consumers and government policy makers.

You can instruct your computer to move into lower-consumption modes automatically when you’ve stopped using it temporarily—during a lunch hour or phone call, for instance—yet also wake up when you’re ready to resume working. Such tactics can reduce your computer-related electricity costs by $25 to $75 per machine annually, says Energy Star.

Energy Star-rated power management features are available on Macintosh and Windows platforms (XP, Vista, 2000). Energy Star offers tips for how to adjust settings on different platforms.

Other providers offer help, too: Software vendor Verdiem offers a power management set-up tool called Edison and EnergyStar offers a similar tool called EZ Wizard, both of which guide you through the process of setting up power management.

If you’re uneasy launching power management protocols yourself, you can pay software companies’ IT pros to log on to your computer remotely and adjust your settings. Symantec, for instance, charges about $20 for its “Green PC” service.

2. Use a power strip for your computer, printer, copier, and other peripherals. If you plug office electronics into a power strip, you can switch all of them fully off (versus leaving them in “standby” mode) with one button. Power strips cost around $3 to $12 from online retailers. Standby power—the energy that’s wasted by electronic devices that are plugged in, but not in use—represents about $100 per year in the average household’s electricity costs, says Energy Star. Assuming your home office equipment represents about 4% of your electricity bill, you could save up to $4 a year.

3. If you’re investing in new computer equipment, look for Energy Star-rated computers, small servers, copiers, fax machines, and adapters. Energy Star estimates that using these rated electronics in your home office can save $115 over the products’ lifetimes.

4. Consider a laptop over a desktop. Laptops use one-third the power (22 watts) of a typical desktop (68 watts) when in active mode, according to ACEEE. Annually, a laptop could save you about $19 compared with a desktop.

5. Opt for a flat-panel vs. CRT monitor. A cathode-ray tube monitor consumes about 70 watts of power, while an LCD or flat-panel eats only 27, according to ACEEE data. That’s about $1 in savings over year.

Reduce lighting costs

6. Replace traditional bulbs with compact fluorescents. By replacing one 60-watt incandescent bulb with an equivalent compact fluorescent in a home office where lights are on for eight hours per day, you could save up to $15 per year, according to Energy Star.

7. Buy CFL versions of halogen lights. If you like the look or brightness of halogen or torchiere lamps, the The Edison Electric Institute recommends buying compact fluorescent versions that consume less than 25% of the power (55 to 65 watts) of conventional versions (300 watts) and cost about the same.

8. Consider task lighting. Opting for a desk lamp versus whole-room lighting lets you use fewer bulbs concurrently, according to The Institute.

9. Locate lamps in corners. The adjoining walls will magnify the light across the room.

10. Turn off lights when leaving a room.

Keep heating and cooling costs at bay

11. Lower thermostats 10% during the day (to 62, for instance, from 68). This can save up to 10% on annual heating and cooling bills, according to the DOE, or about $100 per year. Supplement with thick slippers and sweaters in winter and keep windows open in summer, with shades down in the afternoon.

12. Use a space heater in winter and a portable or ceiling fan in summer. Both room-specific solutions cost far less than running whole-house systems at maximum capacity. Using fans or space heaters will eat into your savings for lowering the thermostat, but not nearly as much as using a central heating or cooling system throughout the house. Fans can run $25-$150; space heaters, $10-$80 at online retailers.

If your office is one-third the size of your house or smaller, you can safely estimate that space heating will be more cost-effective than heating the entire home just for the sake of the office, according to NYSEG, a utility company in Rochester, N.Y.

Optimizing your home office for maximum energy efficiency requires little effort, but can help lower your home’s overall energy consumption and annual utility bill without hampering productivity.

Jane Hodges has written about real estate for publications including The Wall Street Journal,, and The Seattle Times. In 2007, she won a Bivins Fellowship from the National Association of Real Estate Editors to pursue a book on women and real estate. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, CBS’s BNET, and Fortune. She lives in Seattle, in a 1966 raised rancher with an excellent retro granite fireplace. Latest home project: Remodeling a basement bathroom.


Yes, even clothes can be recycled

Posted: March 21, 2010 by iactnow in Economy, Environment

Yes, even clothes can be recycled.  There are options besides throwing away that tattered sweater, wine-soaked blouse or out-of-fashion leisure suit.  Charities, resale shops and even retailers can help

By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times

March 21, 2010

Call it the Forever 21 effect, or fast fashion. Americans are buying, and discarding, clothes more quickly than ever. The average American throws 54 pounds of clothes and shoes into the trash each year. That adds up to about 9 million tons of wearables that are sent into the waste stream, according to the Environmental Protection Agency — a 27% increase in a mere eight years.

Although resale shops are a good option for clothes that still have some fashion value, and charities will take items that are well past their prime, there are still an awful lot of ink-stained dress shirts and moth-eaten sweaters that find their way to the dump.

What to do with that favorite old shirt you ruined by inadvertently spilling a glass of red wine down its front, or that well-worn pair of slacks that finally split at the seams, or that dress you loved last year but now wouldn’t wear to save your life?

There are a wide variety of options that are better than the trash bag, including charities (such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army), resale shops (Buffalo Exchange, Give + Take) and the retailers that first sold them to you.

Goodwill and the Salvation Army will not sell defective clothes or shoes, but they do offload them to textile recyclers, who either ship them to Third World countries where they may have a chance of a second life, or sort and resell them to textile “de-manufacturers” who can turn them into materials that can be worked into new materials, whether it’s cleaning rags, carpet padding or rubberized playgrounds.

Forty-five percent of recycled clothes are sold to other countries, 30% are turned into cleaning rags and 25% are turned into fibers for stuffing or insulation, according to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textile Assn.

Recycling awareness among clothing manufacturers seems to be on the rise. Goodwill, which in Southern California alone sold 14.6 million pounds of textiles to recyclers last year, recently joined with San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. to educate jeans owners in how to care for their pants so they stand a better chance of reuse through the charity.

The partnership evolved out of a Levi’s study of the environmental effect of a pair of 501s, which found that the amount of water used to grow the cotton was rivaled by the amount owners used to wash their jeans. That finding led to Care Tag for Our Planet, which started showing up on Levi’s late last year, instructing owners to wash their jeans in cold water, to wash them less often, to air dry them rather than use a clothes dryer and, when they no longer want them, to donate them instead of throwing them away.

The Gap, which last weekend concluded a 10-day blue jean recycling event, collected about a quarter-million jeans that will be turned into insulation.

Patagonia, a pioneer in using recycled materials in its active wear since the ’90s, has been running a garment recycling program since 1995 called Common Threads. The program has collected 13,000 pounds of clothes, which are shipped off to Japan, broken down and turned in to new Patagonia items such as rain parkas. Despite their long journey, Patagonia spokeswoman Jen Rapp says that recycling clothes, rather than making them from raw material, saves 72% in energy costs and 76% in CO2 emissions.

Recycling plastic that is used in textiles saves 57% of the energy used to make them from virgin materials, or about 1 ton of CO2 emissions for every ton that is recycled, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Patagonia’s goal: that 100% of its clothing either be made from recycled material or be recyclable. Right now, the company says 70% of its offerings are recyclable.

Customers who want to recycle their Patagonia gear can do so by returning items to Patagonia retailers and dealers such as REI, or by mailing items to the company’s Nevada-based service center.

Dora Copperthite is doing her own form of clothing recycling. Her Give + Take Boutique in Playa del Rey is like a large public clothing swap that lets people trade their clothes for others. For a $20 monthly membership fee, women who’ve tired of their Prada handbag or H&M romper can have them valued for points that are then traded for other items.

Open since November, Give + Take has about 124 members and 1,000 items, the latter of which are divided into three categories: designer, cheapies and free.

“For me, it’s an environmental cause. We have so much excess,” said Copperthite, who donates whatever isn’t swapped to Goodwill. “The green movement is big on shopping in your own closet. What I’m doing, you’re not only shopping in your own closet but the closets of hundreds of ladies.”


Katie Spotz 22, of Mentor, Ohio, did this not just to challenge herself but to raise funds and awareness for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a charitable organization that funds safe drinking water projects for billions of people around the world in need.

“I am so thankful to all of the people who followed my journey and sent me encouraging messages, but especially for their donations and support for safe drinking water, which were inspirations for the row,” said Spotz.

She has raised over $100,000 for this wonderful cause!  Congratulations!


The pipes that keep America’s drinking water circulating and the treatment facilities that keep it clean are falling apart.

Degrading water systems are now causing more than half of all waterborne disease outbreaks in the U.S.  A common bacteria associated with leaking water pipes, fecal coliform bacteria, is not a merely unpleasant – it can be deadly for children and the elderly.

Sewage-contaminated water also sickens swimmers and poisons seafood, which when eaten by humans leads to more illnesses – as many as two million per year.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given our water and wastewater infrastructure systems a D- grade (Poor), and the Environmental Protection Agency reports we are falling short on water infrastructure spending by $22 billion per year.

In short, we’re facing a looming crisis of clean water.

Fortunately there is a solution: the Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund, currently before Congress.  This bill would create a dedicated source of public funding so that communities across America can keep their water clean, safe and affordable.


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