Posts Tagged ‘Climate change’

Two Must-See Documentaries

I recently watched two award-winning documentaries – “Merchants of Doubt” and “Sugar Coated”. Both films point out how the same PR tactics used by the tobacco industry to mislead the public about the dangers of smoking are also used to create doubt about the reality of climate change and to hide the studies showing the dangerous effect of sugar.

In “Merchants of Doubt”, the film uses a professional magician’s methods of distracting the audience to create illusion as an analogy to what some scientists and others are doing to distract us from the reality of climate change and thereby forestall governmental action.

“Sugar Coated” focuses on the obesity, diabetes and heart disease rates that have skyrocketed as the amount of sugar consumed has also skyrocketed over the past few decades. For the first time doctors are seeing children suffer from fatty liver disease. The sugar industry was able to deflect the negative health claims about sugar in the 1970’s, but it is doubtful they will be able to do it again.

Both films are extremely well done and alarming in their exposes. Why are these truths hidden? One reason is greed. For the sake of our health, for the health of our children and future generations, and to keep our planet a place where humans can live and thrive, we must look at these issues realistically.

On one of these long winter nights, settle down and watch these documentaries. Then act – keep leading a greener lifestyle, cut back on sugar and spread the word!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Steps That Make A Difference

My husband and I recently attended a fascinating lecture on climate change given by a scientist and director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, MA on Cape Cod. The center, ranked the #1 climate think tank in the world, researches the causes and effects of climate change and creates opportunities for restoration, conservation, and economic development around the world. Tesla cosponsored the event, which as the speaker pointed out, is not a usual practice for a center such as theirs. They do not typically align themselves with a car company. Tesla’s new mission however, “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”, is more in line with the Center’s goals. Their cosponsorship is an example of business and scientists working together.

There were some space-age, very cool electric Tesla cars to test drive, followed by the talk, which focused on the main contributing factors to climate change – deforestation in the Amazon and the Congo, the warming Arctic, “occurring twice as fast in this region than anywhere else”, and the consequences which are already occurring though global sea level rise, widespread wildfires, permafrost thaw, and extreme weather.

When the speaker was asked if there was any one thing people could do to help reverse the effects of climate change, he immediately said plant a tree. Trees are the earth’s lungs absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutant gasses. He elaborated saying that each individual can make an impact on reversing the effects of climate change by doing simple things in their daily life to conserve water and energy.

The tag line to “What’s Green With Betsy” is “Simple Steps That Make A Difference…” To hear a renowned scientist from such an important institution say basically the same thing gives me great hope. Keep going greener – we can make a difference! As Margaret Mead said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 http://whrc.org/

Pause and Think…..

 

Today is World Environment Day, celebrated every year on June 5, and run by the United Nations “to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth.”  World Environment Day is a day when the United Nations invites each of the seven billion people on the planet to make one change towards more responsible consumption of resources.  Whether you refuse a plastic bag, have a vegetarian dinner, take public transportation, or recycle your trash, each little step can make a big difference.

Make every day World Environment Day and take the time to read about climate change and its effects around the globe.  Think about your impact and what you can do help protect the earth.  Make it a goal to add new “green” habits to your lifestyle to lessen your carbon footprint.  Share your ideas with family and friends.

Appreciate the beauty of the earth and its many gifts………

 

For more ideas and green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Friday is Arbor Day!

This Friday is Arbor Day – always the last Friday in April – a tradition that began nationwide in 1872 and continues today with individuals and groups celebrating trees and nature.

Planting new trees and caring for existing ones is more important than ever as we battle exotic invasive insect pests, air pollution, soil compaction and contamination, limited water and nutrient availability and the overall effects of extreme weather conditions and climate change.  Trees are much more than just a beautiful big plant; their social, communal, and environmental benefits are numerous.

  • They manufacture oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
  • They provide shade in summer and windbreak in winter.
  • The beauty and serenity of trees have been shown to help hospital patients recover more quickly.
  • Trees reduce crime in low-income urban areas and increase home property values.
  • Trees save energy, improve air quality, conserve water and provide homes to wildlife.
  • Trees offset our carbon footprints.
  • Large and majestic trees are a major asset to any community.

This Arbor Day, plant a tree seedling, learn how to care for the trees in your yard or neighborhood, read a tree identification book, or simply take a walk and appreciate not only their beauty but what they do for our health and for the health of the planet.

For group activity ideas, go to arborday.org.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Turn Your Kitchen Waste Into Gold!

One more Vitamix advantage that I neglected to mention in last week’s blog – When making a smoothie or juice drink in your Vitamix, the whole fruit is juiced, which includes the juice and the fiber.  The fiber contains valuable nutrition that is missing in extracted juice, making your Vitamix drinks even more nutritious!

Several of my readers have asked me about composting.

Composting means recycling food waste or organic material to the soil, which is then broken down by natural bacteria and turned into compost or a dark, soil-like humus and an incredibly rich (and free) organic fertilizer!  Compost adds nutrients to the soil and improves soil structure, eliminating the need for high nitrogen-based chemical fertilizers, and produces thriving, pest resistant plants.  Compost is unbelievable fertilizer for your gardens and lawn.

Composting is just as important as recycling cans, bottles, papers, plastics or anything else.  According to the EPA, “ In 2011 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only four percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.” When food is thrown away and goes into the landfill, it rots and emits methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

You can compost all organic matter – kitchen waste including fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, and tea bags, (but avoid meat and dairy which turn rancid and attract scavengers and citrus which is toxic to the worms); grass clippings; and yard waste including leaves.  Do not add weeds or chemically treated grass clippings.

I keep a compost bucket with a charcoal filter (to prevent odors from escaping) in my kitchen sink, which I then empty into the compost pile in the backyard. You can buy compost bins online or from garden centers that cost approximately $30 – $100, but you can easily build your own. It takes about a year before the organic materials are broken down into compost and ready to add to your garden soil. Regularly turning the pile and occasionally adding a compost inoculant to help break down organic material speeds up the process, but isn’t necessary.

For Apartment Dwellers

Some cities like San Francisco and London offer kitchen waste pick up service, but most don’t.  You can still compost however, even without access to a yard.  There are two fun options.

One is vermicomposting, or composting with worms.  Vermicomposting involves buying a shallow worm container and lid (punch holes in the top and sides for drainage and ventilation), making a bed for the worms using torn newspaper mixed with leaves and potting soil, then adding kitchen waste (it works better if it is small pieces) and about 2000 red wriggler worms, sold at garden centers or ordered online through commercial growers.   Leave the lid off so the worms will burrow underground; they are sensitive to light.  In two to three months, your worms will produce dark, rich, nutritious worm castings or organic fertilizer, which your plants will love.  Click here for more information.

A second option is bokashi bin composting. Bokashi means fermented organic matter in Japanese.  This method uses a mixture of “effective microorganisms” in a medium like wheat bran.  You simply add your food waste to the bin and then sprinkle the microorganism mixture on top.  The microorganisms help to break down the scraps and if managed properly, there won’t be any smell.  This system works fast – it makes compost in two weeks!

With both indoor systems, be careful not to compost too much food waste at once.

I never stop marveling at the beautiful rich soil transformed from my kitchen waste.  It’s another one of nature’s miracles.  Get ready for spring and start composting now!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from www.bokashicomposting.com, http://www.howstuffworks.com, epa.gov, and www.ecolocalizer.com

 

 

 

Earth Day 2013

   April 22 is the 43rd annual Earth Day.  According to earthday.org, more than one billion people take part in Earth Day – individuals, communities, organizations and governments from around the world.  This year, earthday.org is collecting and displaying images of people, animals and places directly affected by climate change as well as those helping to do something about it.

I hope you will participate too!  There are lots of easy and meaningful things you can do.  You can:

  • It’s spring – plant a tree
  • Sow some seeds for your garden
  • Visit a local farm
  • Change a conventional light bulb to an energy-saving compact fluorescent or LED one
  • Pick up litter on the beach
  • Take part in a trash pick-up
  • Use a travel mug rather than a paper cup for your coffee-to-go
  • Drink from a reusable water bottle rather than a plastic one
  • Recycle newspapers, bottles and cans
  • Start a compost bin in your backyard for kitchen waste
  • Make a commitment to drive less and carpool or walk more
  • Take public transportation
  • Shorten your shower by one minute
  • Shut down your computer for one hour
  • Attend an Earth Day event in your area or volunteer
  • Include your kids and grandkids and teach them about the importance of protecting our beautiful earth

End the day with an Earth Day Dinner Celebration with foods that are grown locally if possible and are gentler to the earth – organic vegetables and fruits, grass-fed, grass finished beef, free-range chicken or sustainably harvested fish and raise awareness about the origins of our food at the same time. You could host a potluck dinner with regional specialties, plan an earth dinner fundraiser for your favorite local organization, and have an earth day party for kids or a simple supper with your family or friends.  If the weather is warm, try an earth day picnic.  Use real cutlery, not plastic, real plates, not paper and cloth napkins.  Seed packets make great place cards.  For a more festive dinner, eat by candlelight and save energy;  wash the dishes with non-toxic detergent.

Check your local newspaper or go online for Earth Day events in your town.  Make Earth Day and Earth Dinner celebrations your new tradition.  Never forget that simple steps really do make a difference!

 

Bill Clinton and Environmental Stewardship

I recently had the good fortune and privilege to hear former president Bill Clinton speak at an event given by the Walden Woods Project where he received the Global Environmental Leadership Award.  The award recognizes “significant achievement in the areas of climate stability, biodiversity, natural resource stewardship, human understanding and global environmental policy”.

English: Official White House photo of Preside...

English: Official White House photo of President Bill Clinton, President of the United States.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always found President Clinton a mesmerizing and thoughtful speaker, but I have never heard him speak only about environmental issues, nor in person.  He spoke of his work with the Clinton Climate Initiative, which he launched in 2006, and I found myself thinking how lucky we are to have this man of prestige and influence speaking worldwide about solving the urgent issues of climate change with sound solutions that benefit the earth and the economy.   He has partnered with climate leadership groups in cities around the world that are taking action on combating climate change, and one point that particularly hit home is that while other nations are debating the best way to combat climate change, here in the United States we are still debating whether climate change actually exists.  The hot, dry drought conditions affecting most of the nation this summer and the strange and sudden microburst storms that seem to be a new pattern, along with other weather extremes, a mixed up growing season, super weeds, invasive plants and pests, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, etc., leave little room for doubt.  We are wasting valuable time and resources stuck in this debate while other nations move forward with their solutions.

Clinton’s programs are vast and “work to increase accessibility and deployment of clean energy, reverse deforestation, and reduce carbon emissions in cities and communities”.  One example is his refurbishment and renovation of buildings to “green”, LEED-certified ones (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) like the Empire State Building.  LEED certified buildings are designed to reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants, reduce harmful gas emissions, and lower operating costs.  Through these building reconstructions, many jobs are created – from the architects to the designers, engineers, builders, to the manufacturers and suppliers of products and tools used in the project.  This one program contributes significant solutions to environmental challenges and unemployment.  Clinton thinks all Federal buildings should be converted to LEED certified.

Though we have a long way to go, I left the event feeling more hopeful knowing solutions exist and action is being taken to the devastating issue of climate change.  Check out his website Clintonfoundation.org for more information. 

 

Information compiled from the Walden Woods Project, http://www.usgbc.org, and clintonfoundation.org.