The idea of carbon offsets has gained increasing exposure and public interest over the past few years. A carbon offset is a way to reduce your footprint on the environment by essentially purchasing a credit for your own carbon usage. So, let’s say you were taking a trip to rub Lincoln’s nose in Springfield, and you couldn’t bike, walk, take a train, levitate, or use other green forms of transportation. You could purchase a credit for the gasoline you’d burn. The money you give for the credit is used by organizations who do environmental good deeds that remove carbon from our environment. The trouble is that there are some not-so-honest folks out there, so you need to be sure you are purchasing credits from a legit site. The site below from Tuft’s University aims to help you out.
Voluntary Carbon Offset Information Portal
Information about buying carbon offsets to neutralize carbon dioxide emissions created by individual air travel. Features a consumer handout on “flying green,” report on voluntary offsets for air travel carbon emissions, a paper with an overview of international climate change policies and the current carbon market, description of offset project types, list of carbon offset companies, a glossary, and more. A joint project of Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI). (citation from LII.org)
PBS’s investigative program Frontline had a show that I thought was worth sharing for Earth Day. Frontline: Hot Politics examines the political forces that have impacted how our current laws have fallen (or not fallen) into place concerning the environment and climate change. Here’s a description from the show’s Web site:
FRONTLINE and the Center for Investigative Reporting go behind the scenes to explore how bi-partisan political and economic forces prevented the U.S. government from confronting what may be one of the most serious problems facing humanity today. The film examines some of the key moments that have shaped the politics of global warming, and how local and state governments and the private sector are now taking bold steps in the absence of federal leadership.
You can watch the entire show on the Frontline Web site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/teach/hotpolitics/
Chicago Publc Radio’s 848 presented a special program for Earth Day yesterday. I listened to the podcast of the show on my drive to Moraine Valley this morning, so I thought I’d post the links to these stories. These are worth a listen.
- Selling Earth Day: Rebecca Williams explains how companies hope we’ll buy our way to a greener world.
- Al Gini on Mother Earth: For more on the ethics of environmentalism, we welcome Eight Forty-Eight’s resident philosopher, Al Gini.
- Big Apple’s Lesson For Chicago Bag Ordinance: Next month, the Chicago City Council’s likely to require some stores to recycle plastic sacks. Like it does with a lot of ordinances, Chicago’s cribbing off another city’s legislative work—in this case, New York’s. However, in some ways the latest version of Chicago’s bag recycling ordinance strays from the Big Apple’s.
- A Pagan Earth Day: Eight Forty-Eight’s Kristin Moo took a road trip north this past Saturday for a pagan Earth Day celebration.
The library hosted short films as part of the Earth Day (week) Celebration. The following films were shown:
The push for cleaner car standards in Illinois has been stalled in Springfield. This would move us to standards that have long been in use in California, so this is hardly anything cutting edge. It is more like catching up. Anyway, there isn’t too much discussion in the media about this program, but I caught this piece on Chicago Public Radio’s 848 program:
Illinois Clear Car Program
Here’s a quote from the Web site:
Cars are thought to be a major source of the emissions responsible for global warming. So some advocates are proposing the Clean Car Program, currently under consideration in the Illinois General Assembly. Right now the state uses the guidelines in the Federal Clean Air Act. The Clean Car Program would impose the stricter standards originally introduced in California. Rebecca Stanfield is state director of Environment Illinois, which recently studied the impact of vehicle emissions. She says tackling that tailpipe pollution is essential.
Back in December, I posted about Google’s Green Initiative. I thought that I should pass along this March 2008 article from Harpers, Google’s Addiction to Cheap Energy. It talks about the massive amounts of energy that Google needs to power its server farms, and the impact that the hydroelectric energy is having on the environment. I know that I often catch myself thinking that online is “greener,” since we may save paper by sending electric documents. But, it is good to remember that the energy to power our computers (and this blog) has to come from somewhere. Google is no exception.
The April 14 issue of Newsweek’s featured article took a look at the Green credentials of the three presidential candidates, “Just the Tree of Us.”.
This interactive map ranks countries for their green activities. (The US ranks an embarrassing 66th.)
What does John Muir, Harriet Lawrence Hemenway, Rachel Carson, and Also Leopold have in commen? They are included in Newsweek’s The Century’s Environmental Leaders.
New’s 10 Fixes for the Planet
(You have to read the article for more detail.)
- Zero Waste
- LED Light Bulbs
- Greener Fairways
- Kite Sails
- Plastic Solar Cells
- Climate Counts
- The Aptera
- Stoves for the Masses
- New Roots for Old Crops
- Democratize Green
Newsday’s What’s your footprint? is a cool way to estimate (although a rough one) your carbon footprint. I just estimated mine, and I have to admit that it’s much higher than I’d like.
You may have thought that installing solar panels on your home was too expensive or too difficult to do, but it’s not. The Sierra club provides tips for solar projects and they are under $1000. Many of them qualify for governmental grants too, saving you even more money. The solar water heater kit is not only economical, but the U.S. Department of Energy provides you with simple directions for installation. Check it all out here: http://www.sierraclub.org/wecandoit/home/solar.asp.
Architect Michael Reynolds produces this independent film called Garbage Warrior in which he uses garbage to build houses. I have been following Michael for a while and salivating over his Earthship homes. The bathroom are beautiful with walls of colored glass bottle bottoms emitting a rainbow of sunlight into the bath. Check out this humorous interview with Stephen Colbert from the Colbert Report on Comedy Central. It may inspire you to start living in your garbage.