A collective sigh could be heard from W2O when the U.N. Climate Panel published their findings today. At first glance, it seems like the same old doom and gloom story. It might be easy to throw up our hands and feel helpless when the news is so dire about what is referred to in a New York Times summation of the findings as “the profound risks in coming decades.”  But the article also offers hope, “Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.”

At W2O’s recent event Women emPowered: Leading the Future of Clean and Efficient Energy at the New England Aquarium, our assembled experts echoed feeling hopeful about energy options and about how we can be a part of the growing moment to protect our planet, oceans and health by educating others about how to curb emissions.

“Think about how over air conditioned your office is, how cold your hotel room is when checking in on a hot day and lights your kids-or you-don’t bother turning off. Energy efficiency is about the supply we can avoid buying,” according to Massachusetts Dept. of Utilities Chair Ann Berwick.

And women are at the center of that hope. “Women are driving the choices. They are the decision makers,” Tom King, Executive Dir. and President of National Grid USA offered. Home energy usage is one of the leading contributors to climate change. “But if you don’t know how much energy you are using”, commented Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy, “how can you make a change?”  Signing up for an energy audit to find out your energy usage might be a good place to start because, according to This Old House’s Kevin O’Connor, “customers care about cost, comfort and convenience.”    Says Callahan, “Legislation for climate change may not be soon but the sweet spot on the hill is energy efficiency.”  Callahan recommends taking further action by writing in favor of the Shaheen-Portman energy bill which supports investment for innovative energy efficient solutions.

Ann Berwick wants us to take a closer, more analytical look at the data that tells us that hope lies in renewable energy sources. Her slide, included here, focuses on off shore wind because “although it comes with enormous challenges, and is expensive-no getting away from that- its nowhere near as expensive as the failure to address climate change. It is scalable to an extent that other renewable resources simply are not”. The Wall Street Journal quotes the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, as saying “Analyzing the costs and benefits of mitigation is a “complicated question,” but warned against putting a dollar value on the loss of human lives, ecosystems, oceans and marine life threatened by climate change. ”The affordability question has to be seen in what will happen if we don’t take these steps,” Mr. Pachauri said.

Ann Berwick concluded at our event; “Given the current state of technology, no renewable resource can match off shore wind in terms of the potential size of the suppy and accessibility-right off our coast. It’s expensive, but it’s pay now or pay a lot more later.”

Take Action!

Kevin O'Connor, Kateri Callahan, Tom King and Ann Berwick (photo: David Parnes)

Kevin O’Connor, Kateri Callahan, Tom King and Ann Berwick (photo: David Parnes)

 

 

Photo of flooding in Bangladesh courtesy of The Melbourne Age

Photo of flooding in Bangladesh courtesy of The Melbourne Age

Climate Change is in the news every day. It means different things to different people.  Here in New England, it means that we are concerned about the rising water temperature and the melting of the polar ice caps causing flooding of our coastal cities and properties. In some parts of the rest of the world it means so much more. The rising temperature of the earth and oceans is caused by human’s burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere “thickening” the blanket of heat trapping gases that in turn warm the planet. It is expected that these warming earth and ocean temperatures will most precipitously hurt the poorest of nations.  Today’s New York Times article, talks about Bangladesh in particular that “produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change.”  Bangladesh and other developing nations in coastal areas will lose their homes completely, forcing them to relocate and are referred in the article as “climate migrants.”  Connecting the dots on climate change is pretty easy. The United States and other wealthy nations are the largest polluters and contributors of climate change. We have a responsibility to curb our own emissions for the future and health of all nations.

Next week, W2O will host, along with the New England Aquarium, Women emPowered: Leading the future of clean and efficient energy. Come learn about what you can do in your own home and workplace to curb harmful emissions that contribute to this global issue. Every action, big or small can help. 

 

Kevin Connor courtesy of This Old House

courtesy of This Old House

 

Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, thinks seriously about customer satisfaction. When it come to contractors suggesting fancy ways to save on energy costs, he worries about big promises that are under delivered. “People want home energy efficient options that are easy to obtain, economical and bring results. Suggestions for energy efficient upgrades should be practical, feasible solutions.  The worst thing is when clients are bamboozled into buying something that is expensive and doesn’t live up to expectations,” says O’Connor

Don’t be bamboozled! Come hear Kevin at W2O’s April 8th event Women emPowered: Leading the future of clean and efficient energy and hear how you can easily and affordably  curb emissions that contribute to climate change by making some smart, energy saving choices in your home.  Every small change makes a big different to our health and the health of our oceans!

 

courtesy of Mass Save

courtesy of Mass Save

 

“There’s no place like home” according to Dorothy. We paint, decorate, and renovate because it is where we spent most of our time with family, friends, and each other.  But emissions from our homes are contributing to human- induced climate change which in turn is hurting our ultimate home-our oceans and planet.

 

So how might we be more earth friendly starting right where we live? One way to think about how to curb your emissions by signing up for a free home energy audit.

“Energy efficiency is getting the most from using the least” according to Mass Save, the company that partners with utility providers to coordinate free home energy audits in Massachusetts. Have you had a Home Energy Audit? Everyone is talking about them but are you  unsure of what one is; or maybe you wonder whether or not you need one or have the time or funds to address any of the suggested changes. Some of the good reasons to sign up for a free audit include managing your costs (there are rebates!!!); increasing the safety, comfort and value of your home; and  (W2O’s favorite)  protecting and conserving energy while protecting our blue planet.

The Mass Save website is easy to use and includes a very thoughtful YouTube presentation about what to expect when choosing to have an audit. (The gentleman that did my audit did not look like the presenter in the video, but he was professional, personable and full of information). Energy tips I received ranged from changing a simple set of lightbulbs to insulating my roof. Whether big or small, armed with the possibilities, every effort makes a difference. Come to W2O’s April 8th event “Women emPowered: Leading the Future of Clean and Efficient Energy” and learn more!

 

Home Energy Assessments

Mass Save® Rebates and Incentives

Available rebates and incentives may include:

  • 75% up to $2000 toward the installation of approved insulation improvements
  • No-cost targeted air sealing
  • Generous rebates on qualifying energy-efficient heating and hot water heating equipment
  • The opportunity to apply for 0% financing for eligible measures through the HEAT loan program
  • And more!

April 8 INVITE

Courtesy of Ben MacShane

Courtesy of Ben MacShane

W2O wanting to draw your attention to an opinion article in Sunday’s New York Times by Nicholas Kristof.  The first sentence of the piece, “Here’s a scary fact about America: We’re much more likely to believe that there are signs that aliens have visited Earth (77 percent) than that humans are causing climate change (44 percent),” sets the tone for his description of just how neglected the topic of climate change is in the media and our communities.

Take a look and learn the facts, because, starting the conversation amongst your peers about human induced climate change can challenge nay sayer and encourage more research and education within your circle of friends, family and business associates and hopefully elected officials. Kristof also recommends “The Climate Casino” by William Nordhaus, a Yale University economist, who warns that “the pace of global warming will quicken over the decades to come and climate conditions will quickly pass beyond the range of recent historical experience.”

Kristof challenges the question of whether now is the time to act, saying, “In politics and in the military, we routinely deal with uncertainty. We’re not sure that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, but we still invest in technologies and policies to reduce the risks. We can’t be sure that someone is going to highjack a plane, but we still screen passengers.”  Lets acts now and win some accolades for doing the right thing-protecting what we love.

Courtesy of Matthew Eich for the NYTImes

Courtesy of Matthew Eich for the NYTImes

So much is in the press about human induced Climate Change and thank goodness. Better late than never, as the saying goes. Actions speak louder than words. So, I am wondering, after a sigh of relief that Massachusetts is putting up important funds for storm relief, funding the use of clean technology, just what our individual obligation is for curbing emissions. After all, it is not just our back yard that is suffering. This is a collective, global issue that reaches every nation in the world, (but of course hits the poorest populations the hardest).

Time to calculate our own footprint so that we can better understand how we can curb emissions that are contributing to loss of land and livelihood because of the effects of human induced climate change globally. It is easy to do, free, and will help you, personally, get on the band wagon of change, protecting what we love.

There are many personal carbon footprint calculators out there. Here are just two:

EPA: This calculator assesses and then gives you feedback of how you lower emissions and also save money doing so.

Nature Conservancy: You can calculate on this site as an individual or as a household

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of the Desmoines Register

Courtesy of the Desmoines Register

Thinking (on this very cold day) about all of the personal habits that were deemed “ok” in our youth around the topics of our health and the environment and how archaic some of them seem now. Reflecting on those habits and wondering what we are doing now that the next generation will consider crazy. Weren’t animal skins used to keep us warm? Didn’t doctors promote smoking in the 40s? Didn’t we throw bags of garbage off of our recreational boats without a second thought? We are eating kale, insulating our homes, and driving smart cars.

Will our grandchildren smirk while reading about health and energy “side effects” related to those items? Ones that we haven’t yet contemplated?

It is damn cold today and this could be just the cycle of nature. But wouldn’t it be terrible to miss another sign of our impact on the changing planet because of our habits-the ones that we are thinking are just ok……today?!

 http://science.time.com/2014/01/06/climate-change-driving-cold-weather/

 

One of the major challenges to our ocean’s health (and our own) is Climate Change. This spring, W2O will kick off its fourth year with an event focused on how to curb emissions by simple innovations in our own home energy use. Each of us can have an impact on the future of the planet by being more conscientious about energy efficiency. These ideas, some simple and some more adventurous, come from the women of W2O and their families. We hope you have a healthy happy season and will join us in our renewed efforts in ocean conservation for 2014. Happy, healthy and ocean friendly always!!energy_saving_1

Watch for information on our home energy efficiency event scheduled for April 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a list of our favorite energy efficient gifts for the holiday season.

Door draft stoppers! I found some nice ones on line. Some companies, will make them to match your decor. Some are filled with balsam like this one from Maine: http://www.themainesalescompany.com/Standard-Balsam-Filled-Draft-Stoppers-Draft-Stoppers/b/5521176011

From left: Winter looks from the collections of Jean Paul Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana and D&G. NYTimes

From left: Winter looks from the collections of Jean Paul Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana and D&G. NYTimes

Long undies-they keep you warm when you turn the thermostat down! And, according to all the fashion mags, they are in style as under and outer wear!

Hot water bottles! We remember them from simpler days but there are updated ones out there. Great for warming the kids beds or snuggling with anywhere! Check these out: http://www.etsy.com/search?q=hot%20water%20bottles&view_type=gallery&ship_to=US

Heated mattress pads are essential if you want to preheat your bed in the winter. Some models have duel controls that let you adjust both sides of the bed in case someone prefers a different temperature. http://www.sunbeam.com/heated-bedding/mattress-pads/MRU5SKS-S000-12A44.html

Nest-this gadget lets you control your heat from an app on your phone. Perfect for the techie in your life and great for lowering the heat when you are away and presetting the heat so that the house is warm when you return: https://nest.com

Crank radio: http://www.rei.com/product/836243/eton-frx3-radio

Give the gift of time for an Energy Home Audit. In most cases, it takes under two hours. Every state offers them. Here is one in MA: http://www.masssave.com

LED lights! Simple but so important. There are new options out there that will illuminate and are esthetic. Here are few resources: http://reviews.cnet.com/light-bulb/buying-guide/ and http://www.digikey.com/us/en/techzone/lighting/resources/articles/LED-Luminaire-Design-Guide.html

IPhone/pad solar charger by Novothink (most highly rated): http://www.amazon.com/Novothink-NT02-BLK-Surge-Hybrid-Charger/dp/B002S53DIQ

Remote controls for your water heaters, lights, appliances: http://www.insteon.com/handheld-remotes.html

LL Baan solar charging “Adventure Kit” powers all of your held hand devices: http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/78123?productId=1289723&qs=3016887_mercent_google_pla&attrValue_0=Black&mr:trackingCode=256AD896-B0F0-E211-A497-90E2BA285E75&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=pla&mkwid=RCOkqXVq_dc&pcrid=30047741097

Shrimp seems like the perfect holiday cocktail party and buffet table staple-decadent, but low in calories and perfect along side a glass of celebratory champagne.  Shrimp is one of the most consumed seafood products in the world and folks enjoy it without too much thought of how catching it harms our oceans.  When you learn the facts, you may never look at shrimp the same way again…and we hope you make other choices like oysters, mussels and clams, (which as filter feeders, are great for our oceans and for you) the new staples of your holiday indulgences.  Lobsters and crabs, caught in pots, are also ocean friendly and delicious alternatives to shrimp.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, summed it up very well on Thursday nights lecture series at the New England Aquarium, “They are called shrimp, right? Because they are…shrimps!  The net that we use to catch shrimp have tiny holes and therefore collect unintended species or bycatch. For every pound of shrimp we eat, three pounds of bycatch are caught along with it.”  According to Sharpless’ book  The Perfect Protein,  76% of marine life that shrimp trawlers haul isn’t shrimp. Most distressing is that thousands of the marine life caught in shrimp nets are endangered sea turtles. Shrimp is also farmed and some folks may think that is a good alternative to risking the wild caught shrimp with its bycatch issue, but this also turns out to be a disappointing story. Again, Andrew Sharpless writes, “…(T)he majority of farmed shrimp comes at a heavy cost to the environment, with pristine tropical mangroves destroyed to make way for industrial farms that spread pollution and disease. These farms not only degrade the environment but also the prospects for artisanal fishermen, who watch as habitat crucial to their local fisheries is demolished.”

In The Perfect Protein Sharpless talks about the benefits of eating abundant wild seafood, avoiding the species that he calls the “big fish” and encourages you to eat local. The book includes recipes from famous chefs and most can be prepared in under 20 minutes. The Perfect Protein is the “Perfect” gift of knowledge and insight for family and friends interested in protecting the oceans and making healthy choices for their family and friends.

For those of you that have to eat shrimp and love it like I do, the New England Aquarium recommends US farmed shrimp from Green Prairie Shrimp in Alabama. The owners are committed to the environment and very careful about best practices to ensure that their products and the land used to farm them are sustainable. Some Whole Food stores carry it but be careful of labels, they also sell from farms in Thailand. I emailed Green Prairie Shrimp and received this note from owner David Teichert-Coddington:

“The Whole Foods Market sells our shrimp in that area, although I am unsure
if every store carries them.  You may find them in the frozen seafood
section as a “club pak”, or they might have them thawed in the seafood case.
The club paks will have our name on them, but the thawed shrimp are not ours
unless they are labeled as USA farmed.  The seafood counter folks will tell
you where the shrimp are from.”