Green news is good news (mostly)


Photo courtesy of Ted Abbott at Flickr.com.

A lot of news about the environment lately has been good news – there are huge solar arrays being built, energy efficiency is improving by leaps and bounds, and more people are recycling today than even knew what recycling was 20 years ago. But, there’s some bad news on the environmental desk too.

For starters, the ailing economy is threatening to undermine recycling programs nationwide. Demand for commodities has fallen so quickly that we have a surplus of many raw materials, and those surplus materials are exerting negative price pressure on recycled ingredients. Don’t worry though – runaway inflation in the first quarter of 2009 should “solve” those problems.

A controversy is brewing in the world of organic food. Several large organic suppliers have been caught using unapproved farming techniques in their overseas operations, and the FDA is reviewing their certification. This is a little bit of a good news / bad news situation, because the problem was caught before harm was inflicted and it’s a sign that the internal reviews are working to catch abuse.

A lot of politicians are burning the midnight oil before their terms in office expire, and this means that some poorly crafted laws, rules, and regulations are on the way. One of the most worrisome developments is that the Endangered Species Act is being undermined by rule changes within the Fish and Wildlife Department. The department has assigned only 15 people to review more than 200,000 unique comments… that means a lot of comments are going to be brushed off and ignored, and that the rule changes will likely face a legal challenge.

Okay, now on to the good news.

With automakers begging Congress for a bailout, there’s a lot of attention focused on their business plans. Last year, they were offered a $25 Billion line of credit to develop fuel efficient cars, and these green strings have been cut from the older loan. Just to confuse things, the Big 3 are asking for another $34 Billion dollars to fund their operations, which really makes you wonder if they forgot about the treat they were already given. Now that the funds have been released for GM, Ford, and Chrysler to use at their discretion, there’s still a good chance that some of the money will be used to make fuel efficiency improvements. Consumer preferences have shifted towards improved mileage, but there’s no consensus about how green the cars of the future will be.

There are a lot of competing standards for determining the “greenest car” on the road. Some carmakers stress miles driven per gallon of fuel, while others focus on the grams of CO2 emitted per mile driven, or the amount of smog causing particulates that are released. These competing claims can be very confusing, and the confusion allows some car makers to greenwash their dirtier vehicles with misleading claims. Until recently, there hasn’t been a clear mechanism to weigh the eco-credentials of competing cars. Now though, the Environmental Protection Agency has created a new standard that combines air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The new SmartWay Certification Program, is designed to highlight best in class vehicles just as the EnergyStar rating system highlights efficient appliances. Honda was able to secure the first top rating for a vehicle – they earned Smartway Elite certification with their Honda Civic Hybrid and the Honda GX (a natural gas powered car). Hopefully, American car manufacturers are following close behind.

Cars are raising environmental awareness in other ways too. Daniel Bowman Simon and Casey Gustowarow are driving cross country to gather signatures for the White House Organic Farm petition. The bus was donated by Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry’s fame) and has a very unusual container garden built into the roof. If you see a strange bus that looks like it had a collision with another bus and kept driving, ask for Daniel or Casey.

To bring this post full circle, here’s some good news about recycling. If you still have any McCain, Obama, or other political signs sitting around from election 2008, don’t throw them out. Waste management experts have found a way to recycle corrugated plastic campaign signs!

Vicky Portwain January 25, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Some countries are doing better than others. For example Scotland has a 50% renewable energy target for 2020 and are rapidly granting planning permission for wind farms. England and Wales are way behind. For more information I have put an article on my website http://www.windenergyplanning.com. I would be very grateful if you could put a link to this site on your blogroll or environmental resources page.

Thanks for a very informative site.

Ashley Futak February 24, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Hi,

The North Face and Polartec have just launched the first round of their two-round ‘Eco Champion’ campaign. The campaign, powered by social media marketing solution Brickfish, invites entrants to submit videos or blogs showcasing people, organizations or charities that deserve special recognition for their efforts to improve the environment. Twenty-five finalists, selected by The North Face and Polartec from round one, will advance to round two. Of the twenty-five finalists, one grand prize winner will be selected from the top ten entries in round two, to receive a $15,000 donation made in their name to a green cause of their choice! It’s easy to enter; your readers can simply follow a few easy steps.
• Submit videos or blogs showcasing people, organizations or charities that deserve special recognition for their efforts to improve the environment.
• Share their entries with each other via social media to get votes and reviews
• Make their entries go viral by sharing them across the Internet with friends and peers via their social networks
Rewards:
Round 1 Prizes:
• Grand Prize: Twenty-five finalists, selected by The North Face® and Polartec® from all entries, will win a warm and stylish 2009 Denali Jacket made from 87% recycled-content Polartec® fleece and advance to Round 2. Only the nominee of each of the 25 entries will win a 2009 Denali Jacket. The entrant will not win a prize unless he or she is nominating himself or herself as the “Eco-Champion.”
Round 2 Prizes:
• Grand Prize: One winner, selected by The North Face® and Polartec® from the top 10 highest scoring finalists who advanced from Round 1, will win a $15,000 donation made in their name to a “green” cause of their choice plus a $1,000 The North Face® online shopping spree.
• Second Place: One winner, selected by The North Face® and Polartec® from the top 10 highest scoring finalists who advanced from Round 1, will win a $2,500 donation made in their name to a “green” cause of their choice.
• Third Place: One winner, selected by The North Face® and Polartec® from the top 10 highest scoring finalists who advanced from Round 1, will win a $1,500 donation made in their name to a “green” cause of their choice.
You can see all the campaign details here: http://www.brickfish.com/Lifestyles/EcoChampion

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions, would like more information, or need some images!

Sincerely,
Ashley Futak

Adi Mandavkar August 25, 2012 at 4:20 am

Hey,guys please go green & save the environment.Other countries r doing their bit, then why don’t we ?

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