Saturday, October 22, 2011

Moving Planet

Check out this video taken from's website about Moving Planet day! Also make sure to visit the Tar Sands movement to see how you can prevent President Obama from signing this outrageous bill!
        On September 24, 2011 people all around the world in more than 180 countries participated in the event called Moving Planet Day hosted by In our local site, San Francisco, hundreds and hundreds of people gathered protesting the rise of carbon levels; people were dressed up as polar bears, trains, and endangered species all waving colorful signs protesting the Tar Sands movement. Visit the website to see hundreds of pictures people sent in from their respective parts of the world! It is truly awe-inspiring to see so many people around the world (many from countries I've barely heard of!) do their part in representing their country in protesting climate change.
        I think this global event reminded me of two very important things. One, we are NOT alone in our cause! There are environmental stewards all around the world willing to do everything it takes. And when all of us come together as we did on September 24, 2011, we have the power to not only let our voices be heard, but let our voices be the loudest and most resounding in the minds of our politicians and leaders. So whenever you feel like you are losing your spirit or passion after being bogged down constantly, remember that there is a community out there that is relentlessly fighting alongside you. Secondly, the environment brings people together. After seeing the news on TV reporting about constant struggles with country X, a problem with country Y or some suspicion of county Z, it is hard to feel like we are connected to the world. Moving Planet has blasted down any sense of isolation for me. I feel so internationally bound to everyone, almost like a global family. And the key thing to remember is that as long as our global family is unified we have the power and strength to protect and save the environment!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

None Like it Hot!

While interning at the Ecology Center, I was shown this clip that the center uses to illustrate global warming to teens who previously didn't care. It's a great little clip that definitely made me laugh! Maybe you can use it to show in your environmental clubs at school?

I don't own this clip, the clip is taken from the TV show Futurama.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is there a water problem?

Hi Dr. Green ,

I am pretty much into homework and parties but people say there's a water problem developing world-
wide. Should I care about that?

-Party girl

Dear Party girl,

I appreciate your concerns for this issue. The simplest answer to your question would be as a resident of
the world, any worldwide issue is something you should care about. Water in particular, is a substance
that no human being can live without. About 60% of your body, 70% of your brain, and 90% of your
lungs is made out of water. The average kidney needs about 1.5 liters of water to function correctly. The
water problem developing around the world today has two parts: access to water and scarcity of water.

Access to clean fresh water has become more and more limited. Approximately 1 in every 8 people
lack access to safe water supplies; that is about 884 million people. On top of that, each year there are
about 3.575 million deaths attributed to water-related diseases. While cities and slums are growing at
an alarming rate around the world, the ability to get clean water is diminishing by the minute. A five-
minute shower in America uses more water than a typical slum uses in an entire day. Often the people
in the slum end up paying almost five to ten times the price for water than a nearby city resident.

Water scarcity is quickly becoming a very crucial issue. Only 1% of the global water supply is usable for
human consumption. And of that 1%, a large amount of water is being polluted and then deemed unfit
for human consumption. As our population rises, the demand for water also rises, but the problem
is that we do not have an indefinite supply of water. In countries like Bahrain, the use of desalination
plants has already been implemented because of the lack of fresh water. In order to prevent this
problem from becoming any larger than it already is, the key lies in conservation of water.

Water conservation is essential in taking the first steps to solving this issue. Just because the problem
is worldwide doesn’t mean you can’t take measures right here at home. Just start with your own house
by asking yourself these questions: do I use a low flow showerhead? Are my appliances marked with
an EnergyStar label to indicate less energy consumption? If I have a standard toilet, have I managed a
way to either displace the water in the tank or get a water saver flush mechanism? All of these things
are easily manageable at home and save a lot of water! There are also behavioral changes you can
make to your lifestyle. For example, while putting on shampoo and conditioner in the shower, turn off
your shower and then turn it on again while rinsing it out. Cutting down your shower time saves a lot
of water and a lot of money. Try running full load dishwashers instead of hand-washing your dishes and
turn off your tap when brushing your teeth. Altering your lifestyle and the appliances you buy for your
home can do a lot to conserve water in an easy manner. So going back to your question, yes you should
care about the developing water problem because although it may have not touched you yet, it will
spread and grow until it does, and by then it will be very difficult to reverse the effects.

Happy conserving,

Dr. Green

Friday, March 11, 2011

Right to Light

The beginning of 2011 marked the start of the phaseout of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs in California. But unlike for the nationwide long-term phaseout of incandescent bulbs, don't expect a lot of talk about black markets or stockpiling.

The new requirements do not ban traditional incandescents, but require that they use 72 watts or less. The new halogen bulbs emit the same amount of light, but use less energy at a comparable price.

Although the California law has not created a ton of controversy, the 2007 federal law mandating the gradual switch to energy effecient bulbs is being challenged by the Republican majority. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is pushing the "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act," arguing that the mandate is another example of the US "nanny state" limiting consumer liberty.

The bill demands that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) prove that the new bulbs save money, prevent carbon emmissions, and are safe.

So the question remains, do bulb bans - and consumer restrictions in general - represent an important step forward for the greening of America? Or is big government restricting what should be a personal choice? Email your thoughts to or comment below

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union

I just finished watching the State of the Union address, and man, that was intense. Of course, with all the political tension in the air right now, environmental issues tend to get pushed to the back burner. Fortunately, Obama seemed to make environmentalism, at least green energy, a big concern for the next two years. Calling the race to regain technological superiority this generation's "Sputnik moment," the president seemed committed to funding green technology as part of a pragmatic approach to help the economy.

Among Obama's Promises:
-give 80% of Americans access to high-speed railways by 2036
- have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015
- eliminate subsidies to oil companies to fund green technology
- obtain 80% of American energy from clean power by 2035

These goals recall a hope for the future that has been more than a little muddied these last two years. However, their loftiness demands that definitive action be taken to achieve them, action that cannot be taken at a podium, but must be achieved through –dare I say it– bi-partisanship.

The obstacles to making these promises a reality are numerous. The Republican response, delivered by Congressman Paul Ryan, decried big government and wanted less intervention and spending. Leaders on both sides are more focused on curtailing the deficit and making cuts than investing more in new technology. However, hopefully the new sense of cooperation seen tonight will prevail into actual legislating, and meaningful measures can be drafted to turn rhetoric into reality.

Although Obama talked about clean energy and innovation, there was little talk of other facets of environmentalism. Relatively little time was spent talking about foreign affairs, let alone environmental affairs outside of the domestic domain. It looks like, for the time being, environmentalism in Washington will be built not from idealism, but from pragmatism. As long as the promises made tonight can be followed through on, that's nothing to scoff at.
-Dr. Green

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