Category Archives: Climate Change

Want to make a video?

Hey guys,

I’m sorry this is a little bit of short notice, but in case anyone is interested, a friend told me about this film festival that is currently accepting submissions. I think the idea is really cool and could lead to a really meaningful and inspirational summer project.

Have fun!


Here’s some details:

From the earthquake in Haiti to the Gulf Oil Spill, environmental
disasters are currently at the forefront of world news
. In response,, a non-profit multi-media organization, has recently created the the explore/HATCH Short Film Award to be given to a filmmaker who best tells the story of a remarkable individual’s actions in response to a devastating environmental event.

Our goal? To spread awareness of disasters and bring recognition to those selfless heroes who are making a difference.

Submissions for the film are due August 25th. The winner will receive a full expense paid trip to HATCHfest Bozeman (Sept 22 – 25, 2010), and a prize from explore founder and documentary filmmaker Charles Annenberg Weingarten.

For full submission guidelines, please visit:

Tagged , , ,

This just in:

Exciting things are happening, people.

Today, the EPA announced their completion of a rule that will regulate smokestack emissions from large-scale polluters like factories, refineries and power plants. Wahoo!! According to an AP story these large polluters will have to,

“…reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that they release. Those emissions can exacerbate asthma and other breathing difficulties, which are worsened by particles in the air.

The rule would require companies to install better technology and improve energy efficiency whenever they build, or significantly modify, a plant.”

EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, even went as far as calling these “commonsense standards.” True. (But you have to ask, then why weren’t they already in place?)

As far as a timeline, the article says,

The pollution rule will take effect in January, when industrial facilities that already obtain Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants will be required to obtain permits for greenhouse gases, if they increase those emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year.

Starting in July 2011, the rule would apply to any existing plant that emits at least 75,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year, or any new plant that emits 100,000 tons per year.

If you’re thinking about how this will affect the climate bill, so am I. My earlier post was a little hazy on the matter, so here’s what I know,

The legislation aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and by more than 80 percent by 2050. Both targets are measured against 2005 levels and are the same as those set by a House bill approved last year.

But in a way, it’s better that the EPA takes action, because large companies tend to bargain and mold bills in Congress more than they do EPA rules. In fact, former bill coauthor Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, SC) was working with Liberman and Kerry but dropped out believing that the bill, though significantly weakened, couldn’t pass in the current “political climate.”

So anyway, this announcement is a big step in the right direction. The GOP has said it’s a job killer, but I wonder what about installing better technology and creating energy efficiency is job killing? Sounds like it’ll make jobs to me. And who would want to complain about cleaner air anyway? Lame.


Tagged , ,

Procrastination Station

Here I sit in college library, finishing my last paper and studying for my last final of college. I’m sad for it to end, but it can’t come fast enough.

It’s so glorious to think that my days of getting up at 7 and going to bed at 3 will soon come to an end. I can’t wait to say goodbye to processed foods, take out, dirty apartments, and ECONOMICS. Sorry, I’ll stop complaining.

Here are some things that are helping me to get through.

1. My top five favorite blogs. (Whoa, I don’t know that these are my favorites ever, but I check them regularly at least)

2. Planning fun summer adventures.The list so far includes::

  • Train for and complete a 1/2 marathon
  • Get over my fear of biking (by biking a lot)
  • Improve my outdoors knowledge and skills
  • Stay caught up on environmental policy
  • Get involved with community composting initiative again (check em out)
  • Blog interesting things, frequently
  • Get a sweet job
  • Save money (boo)


4. Downloading new summer songs (Latest, “Days Go By” by Keith Urban. But that’s not new.)

Sorry for dull post, I’ll be back at it post-exam.

Can’t wait.


p.s. What are your favorite blogs?? Comment!

Tagged ,

Should we pass a weak climate bill?

Today, the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” blog featured the discussion on the Senate’s version of the climate bill which is set to be released on Wednesday by Senators Kerry and Liberman. According to the post,

The bill has been recast to take into account the concerns of farm and energy states, and includes a provision that allows offshore oil drilling. The compromises have not gained Republican support — Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the sponsors, has dropped out — and have alienated Democrats.

Here’s some of the nitty gritty:

Their bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, through a variety of mechanisms, including a “cap and trade” system for utilities; it included major sweeteners for nuclear power, offshore oil and gas drilling, manufacturers, “clean coal” research and energy consumers. –LA Times Bog

However, there’s a lot of politics involved. Duh. Something to do with Immigration votes, filibusters, BP support, nuclear…

It’s really all very overwhelming to me… and sad… and scary. (For those of you wanting more specifics on the above, that politics link is a good explanation.)

Ah! I can’t be a politician!

Anyway, I digress. I, personally, believe that it is still important and even though I do not agree with expansion of offshore drilling, or nuclear, I think it’s still necessary to get the ball rolling (even if it’s a little square).

Since I am so lost, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on the matter or even some link suggestions so I can learn more.

But first, let’s just see what you think:

Tagged , ,

When I fell in love with the rainforest

This spring break I took a trip to Singapore and Malaysia.

While there, we went on a brief trip to the rain forest and I found it to be absolutely magical.

In light of all the sad environmental news lately, I think my boss, Sam, is right – it’s important to remember what we’re fighting for.

This world is a beautiful place!

Here’s some proof:

Tagged , ,

Corporate Green Deeds: What’s the verdict?

Yesterday on Twitter I stumbled upon a comment by a Green Blogger, The Good Human, who directed his readers to a post that outlined the 10 most polluting companies in the United States. Included was a link to the original article dictating the full list with the Top 100, as conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute.

Here are the top 10 worst polluters, along with their Toxic score (pounds released x toxicity x population exposure):

  • E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. – 285,661
  • Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) – 213,159
  • Dow Chemical – 189,673
  • Bayer Group – 172,773
  • Eastman Kodak – 162,430
  • General Electric – 149,061
  • Arcelor Mittal – 134,573
  • U.S. Steel – 129,123
  • ExxonMobil – 128,758
  • AK Steel Holding – 101,428
  • Many of the worst offenders (on this and the extended list) did not surprise me. Exxon, BP, Shell, Cargill, ConocoPhillips, Honeywell, 3M… they’re all there.

    (SIDE NOTE:  I don’t mean to target American companies as if they’re all on the naughty list. The only reason these are here is because they pollute worst in the US, because they are in the US. Ford Motors is on the list, and it should improve its practices. But that doesn’t mean we should all switch to Mitsubishi.) Another side note: I spelled Mitsubishi right on the first try, just fyi.


    Since many of my friends are on the job search these days, I copied the article link and put it in the body of an email with the subject: “A list of places you’re not allowed to work.”

    But then I had to pause, and another commenter did too. Have a look:

    While the Exxon thing doesn’t concern me and neither does Forbes’ useless awards, the comment about GE’s EcoImagination program did.

    One of my best friends, who is also concerned with environmental initiatives, just interviewed with GE and was particularly interested in working for them due to all their work with efficient appliances and benevolent initiatives (e.g. installing water filtration systems in Africa), not to mention good salary, benefits, and the like. Despite all this, I have to admit that at the time of her interview I was pretty skeptical since I knew of their dirty deeds.

    Was she wrong for wanting to work for GE for these honorable reasons, even though the company is in the top of the top polluters in the US?

    Is a corporation’s benevolence measured by the amount of “good” they do when compared to the amount of “bad?” Should working for these corporations be avoided at all costs so as to support grassroots efforts with more transparency? Or, is a good deed a good deed, no matter what other shenanigans happen behind closed doors (or from pipes dumping into rivers)?

    I wasn’t quite sure.

    So, today at Clean Wisconsin I officially instigated, “Environmental Chat in the Communications Office,” and brought the matter to the table.

    My wonderful advisers commented that if everyone went to work at GE with the intentions of my friend, GE would probably do even more to increase the effectiveness and occurrence of these green initiatives.

    Moreover, Exxon is a company that inherently pollutes, foundationally, no matter what. They sell oil, and as a result, they must promote our use of oil. Bottom line.

    GE however is a self-described, “technology, media, and financial services” company, so whose to say that their green efforts are not sincere and with potential for great progress?

    Could it be that working for these corporate polluting giants could end up being more socially beneficial than working for the little grassroots non-proft? (Or is it about the same?)

    What do you think?

    But really, I really wanna hear what you have to say about this one.

    I have applications to send!

    In the spirit of good intentions (and procrastination of final paper-writing),


    Tagged , , ,

    Environmentalists love practicality

    Coal plants and vehicle emissions polluting our air? Advocate for a switch to renewables and expanded public transit.

    Mangos taste like cardboard in January? Pick a preserved or more seasonal fruit.

    Beef industry polluting our water? Cut down on meat consumption.

    200,000 gallons of oil a day pouring into the Gulf of Mexico from the sea floor? Take it as [yet another] a warning sign of our dangerous addiction to oil.


    No one likes a doomsayer, and I’m not trying to be one. But my morning news today certainly did nothing to cure the Monday morning blues.

    Really, it makes me quite overwhelmed.

    When we can’t pass a climate bill for the life of us and Sarah Palin takes this opportunity to advocate for increased domestic drilling, I get a little bit riled up.

    [Deep breath.]

    The only thing I can do now is remember that my choices make a difference, and hope that you remember this too.

    I recall why I don’t mind living without air conditioning and can opt not to buy products that have too much packaging. I recall that biking this summer means fitness, extra cash in my pocket and it means that I think we can change our culture to rely less on our cars. It reminds me to be a voice for climate bills and renewable energy legislation and an advocate for responsible businesses.

    So, today, I will advocate for a few things (this is as much a reminder to me as anyone else):

    1. Read the news. Be aware, and get freaked out because it’s motivating (once you pick your jaw up off the floor).
    2. Then read this. It made me feel better.
    3. Call your senator about the Climate Bill (won’t take more than 5 min and is super easy.)
    4. Pick a few things and stick to them. “10 ways to help the environment” lists are everywhere. But here’s one I like. (Annnnd here’s a vastly extended version.)
    5. Once you make the changes and save money, feel healthier, breathe better, and are happier as a result, tell your friends!

    Get set, go.


    Tagged , ,

    Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy

    But before I begin, I should follow up with yesterday’s post by saying that Mifflin yesterday was pretty wild.

    Bloody Marys and pancakes, then Mifflin Street, followed by a long nap, and then a fun time at my friends’ apartment. I’m going to miss these days [of nothing to do] so much!

    Anyway, the title of this post is something I’ve been thinking about and so has No Impact Man. He said in his book:

    What  really filled me with despair, though, was that I didn’t believe that the way of life that was steadily wrecking the planet even made us happy. It would be one thing if we woke up the morning after a big blowout party, saw that we’d trashed our home, but  could at least say we had had a rip-roaring good time. But if I had to generalize, I would say that, on average, the 6.5 billion  people who share this globe are nowhere near as happy as they  could be.

    Sadly, that might be true. Anyway, this funny video pairs nicely with the idea. However, while it is funny, I think it also may be quite profound.

    You decide, and tell me what you think.


    For more similar thoughts about the state of our happiness as it relates to the environment and society, check out this list. (I love this list.)


    Why I’m optimistic about Earth Day- Part 1

    Well, right now I’m not. But I promise I will be. (That’s why this is Part 1)

    This semester, I work at the state’s largest environmental advocacy group, Clean Wisconsin, and I have really enjoyed it. One of my main “projects” has been helping out with anything related to the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which is in game time mode this week at the capitol.

    If you don’t know about it, just know that it’s a piece of legislation years and years in the making that calls for increased renewable energy standards in Wisconsin and forces the state to start making new energy technology, create jobs, and stop wasting money importing foreign oil and coal. It used to have a lot of other really neat stuff like Low-Carbon Fuel Standards and Energy Efficient Community Standards… but that all got cut. Hey, it’s still a step in the right direction.

    I can’t speak for the Clean Wisconsin guys, but I may have let myself get a little overly excited about the potential for such progressive energy policy to finally be enacted… with me having a [small] hand in it. So, anyway, Clean Wisconsin has been working really hard to get it passed. But then it looked like what actually needed to be done was convincing legislators to even vote on it (it’s an election year, after all). And NOW, the session ends tomorrow and it still needs to pass TWO rounds of voting. Not good.

    Ok there’s the background.

    So I woke up this morning to this:

    So that was, well, really disheartening.

    But then, I went to the Earth Day at 40 conference and listened to some really incredible speakers and was inspired by all the accomplished and motivated individuals coming together to celebrate in the place earth day began. So that was cool. Then, I went to the office, and, being the optimistic (well if not optimistic, at least persistent) environmentalists they are, here was the mood there: (you can click on the image to go to the page if it’s too small)

    Quite the headline, huh?

    So that was uplifting, a little.

    But now, some more strongly-worded news came out that is NOT uplifting:

    Even though it’s looking pretty grim, the reason I’m sharing all this is because it has taught me a lot.

    I have been really discouraged by the misinformation campaign lead by coal and oil lobbyists that were somehow MORE convincing than all these smart people I work with. (huh?)

    I couldn’t (and still don’t) really understand why people are so quick to reject new policies and accept the status quo, but I can also recognize that I have been surrounded by nothing but supporters of this bill all semester. Having my first longer-term taste of the political process showed me just how dedicated, persistent, and knowledgeable you have to be to accomplish policy change, and how difficult it is to get people to think long-term in the name of environmental improvement. This was something I vastly underestimated before.

    Aside from the political aspect, I have also learned how much work there is to be done, particularly in just convincing others that this “environment stuff” not only matters, but is in the best interest for them. I would like to focus on re-framing environmentalism into a universal goal for bettering the earth, in whatever sector is most important to YOU. (And also do a little work on combating all those negative stereotypes that currently exist out there). One other thing I learned was exactly how riled up I get about all this stuff! (One too many “I-have-to-go-to-bed-at-9-because-I’m-depressed-about-the-environment” days have occurred lately. Time to snap out of it.)

    All that said, I am excited for earth day this year because it is a really fun part of being “green.” Getting outside on a spring day, volunteering, sharing information (read: free food), and having community events is not only fun, it represents the crux of this movement.

    I am excited to see others who are also passionate about making the world a better place, and I’m even more excited to kick ass in the name of making up for what Wisconsin lost by not passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act.



    P.S. Looking for some Earth Day reading? These are awesome:

    “As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day the most serious environmental problem that we face is not global warming or the pollution of our air, water, land and food. It is whether or not our country moves forward in developing public policy based on science or whether we make decisions based on politics and fear mongering.” –Let’s Set The Record Straight, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Grist)

    And, I’m really motivated by this approach. Very good perspective (except the leaving the lights on thing):

    “…Ask why the business is still using incandescent bulbs when there are $1 compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs at Ace Hardware down the street. Ask why the faucet in the restroom pours water out faster than Niagra Falls when low-flow aerators cost about $5. Ask why coffee comes in styrofoam cups when paper cups are used at every Starbucks and Caribou. Ask why the air conditioning is set at 55 when the door is left hanging open. And ask if you can turn the temperature back to 70. Pay attention, and speak up. Write letters, write comments, write letters to the editor, ask to see the manager, and threaten to take your business elsewhere — somewhere that you like the way things are being run.” –For Earth Day, A Plea for You to be a Pain in the Ass, Jenn Henry

    Tagged , , , ,


    Wisconsin needs your help.
    The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is coming down to the wire. This very important piece of legislation, if passed, would have important implications for Wisconsin’s economy, the well-being of farmers, environment, and leadership on renewable energy policy (25% renewable by 2025!!!).

    Individuals, organizations, clubs, campus student groups… anyone… can get involved to make sure a strong bill gets passed that includes a significant renewable and efficiency resource standards.

    After discussing with Sam Weis (communications) and Ryan Schryver (grassroots organizer) at Clean Wisconsin, we determined the most important role we as can have is:

    a. Call/email legislators! Area representatives can be found here:

    b. Write letters to the editor, guest columns, and op-eds to any WI paper. Be it in Madison, your hometown, or just a place that published a negative article, any press supporting CEJA is helpful.

    It would be awesome if people around the state could organize some sort of “CEJA day” to write a few letters and make some calls and emails, or start a campaign urging friends/coworkers/etc to do so as well (Also, I’d be more than happy to help out with this… email me!).

    Second, it’s just as important that we make sure to collaborate with other friends and groups around the state to make sure that it’s not just the Dane County voice that’s vocal about CEJA.

    Specific areas to target are: *Eau Claire, Green Bay and Milwaukee*. SO if you have any contacts at those schools or an idea of how to collaborate, that would be awesome. If you don’t have time to contact them, could you hook me up?

    I’ll organize a list of talking points (both with benefits and disputing criticisms) soon, and will happily make that available to anyone who is interested.
    Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in organizing or if you have any questions.

    Thanks and I’m excited to see what we can do with this exciting and important opportunity.

    Tagged ,