Winner? The Neglected Topic of Climate Change

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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.

Kudos Boston…now time to calculate our own footprint.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

You Cold? Views then, now and ….in twenty years

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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/

 

W2O’s Favorite Things; Energy Efficiency for the Perfect Holiday Gift

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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? Being Mindful of the Oceans around the Holidays

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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.”

 

Finding the Answers to Key Ocean Issues

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4x6_LunchboxTag.Oct2013_PRINT

 

At the recent W2O event, featuring Celine Cousteau’s “A World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” we asked our guests to take home this action card and to find the answers to these ten important questions about Ocean Issues.  By researching and knowing the answers to these questions, you become an ambassador for the ocean; able to speak to friends, family and your community about what they can do to protect our blue planet.

 

1.  What are the top five threats facing our oceans?

  • Overfishing
  • Loss of endangered species, and habitat
  • Pollution
  • Climate Change
  • Acidification  (read more here)

2. How does the state of the cod fishery in New England compare to that of the fishery in the northwestern U.S.?

NOAA’s “FishWatch” website provides useful information on the status of various fisheries. Which should you feed to your family? Read here about Pacific Cod and compare here with the Cod of the Northeast.

3. Why are farmed shellfish generally OK to eat?

Through its work on sustainable seafood, the New England Aquarium is a wonderful resource for your questions about farmed shellfish. Find out how shellfish species are grown and harvested, their nutritional value, how to choose them at the grocery store, and even how to cook them! Oysters! Mussels! Clams!

4. Why will climate change cause the seas to rise and how much of an increase can we expect by 2100?

To answer this question and find out what everyone should know about Climate Change, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium Bud Ris, put together a list of the best resources and latest science on this important topic. For basic information about Climate Change and its effect on all of us, he suggests this article by the Union of Concerned Scientists that has an easy to read info graphic as well as a question and answer format. For information about the Boston area, his presentation on Climate Change Sea and Sea Level Rise in Boston Oct 2013, gives us an overview of what to expect if sea levels continue to rise in our back yard.  The most authoritative source on the latest science about Climate Change comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In this article, you can dive deep into the issues, and, learn why its authors say “Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming and understanding of the climate system.”

5. What happens to coral reefs if the water around them gets too warm?

Find out why Coral Bleaching endangers and upsets the entire balance of coral existence, and affects the health of all ocean animals here. Check out this short video “Coral Breakup: A Tragic Love Story” to find out why species have to rely on each other to survive, and how Coral Bleaching can ruin this relationship.

6. What are the principle threats to the North Atlantic right whale?

The New England Aquarium is a global leader on whale research and partners with shipping and fishing industries to reduce two major threats to the North Atlantic right whale: entanglement in fishing gear, and collisions with large commercial ships. The endangered and majestic North Atlantic Right Whale’s  scientific name is Eubalaena Glacialis, which in Greek means”well or true” and “icy” (referring to the cold waters of the Atlantic.) Read about the whales and follow NEAq’s blog, which introduces you to some of the recent sightings off our coasts. 

7.What is wrong with shark finning and what is the legislative initiative underway in Massachusetts?

Sharks have inhabited our oceans for 400 million years, but now scientists warn that existing shark populations cannot sustain the current level of exploitation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30 percent of pelagic (open ocean) sharks are threatened with extinction.  Like the slaughter of African elephants for their ivory, massive overfishing of sharks is largely driven by the market for their fins—which can be worth anywhere from 20 to 250 times the value of the meat, depending on the species.  Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, primarily for use in shark fin soup. H.3571, a bill introduced by Representative Jason Lewis, will ensure that Massachusetts ceases to be a part of the destructive global shark fin trade by banning the possession, trade, and sale of shark fins. Similar bans exist in Hawaii, California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, New York, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. An exemption exists for dogfish and skate species. Click here to read more about the purposed MA bill:  MA Shark Finning Factsheet H 3571 ALL LOGO 8-13.

8. What is bycatch and what can be done to reduce it?

Bycatch happens when fisherman, dragging nets, and scraping ocean floors from trawling, catch marine animals that are not their intended catch. The unintended catch is then thrown back into the ocean, usually stressed and dying. Thousands of sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals die as a result of becoming bycatch victims. The New England Aquarium leads a consortium on bycatch problems and solutions.

9. What is causing the plastic gyre in the middle of the Pacific?

Plastic Gyres are in the news. But how can you separate myth from fact?  Check out this information and video and learn the truth about plastic pollution.

10. What are the most important things we can do to help solve the problems facing our oceans individually and as a community?

What people eat, and how they move around, have some of the biggest impacts on two of the ocean’s most important problems: overfishing and climate change.  Influencing change often comes from small group discussion with peers. Community level action focused on seafood markets and transportation options that reduce carbon emissions are so important. Getting an entire community or company involved will have a much bigger impact than anything you can do on your own.

  • Talk to your friends and community groups about what fish they eat, and encourage them to speak to ask questions about where the seafood is sourced at restaurants and supermarkets.
  • Promote low-carbon transportation alternatives (e.g. high-speed rail, expanded mass transit, car sharing, bike sharing, installing bike lanes) and encourage the purchasing and use of fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
  • Include ocean conservation organizations as part of your annual giving.

For seafood ideas see:

http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/fisheries_bycatch_aquaculture/sustainable_fisheries/celebrate_seafood/ocean-friendly_seafood/index.php

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/10/08/230494959/fish-for-dinner-here-are-a-few-tips-for-sea-life-lovers?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

For tips on low-carbon transportation, see:

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/practical-steps-for-low-carbon-living.html

 

 

 

 

 

Uh Oh! “BAGNESIA;” Tips for Remembering Your Reusable Bag

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Bagnesia/HeatherHeather is a busy working mom who is thoughtful about her usage of single use plastic. She packs her children’s lunch boxes with care, limits her use of unnecessary plastic items and brings her reusable bags to the grocery story….unless she is having a bout of….BAGNESIA!  It happens to all of us. We head out to the grocery store with our list, are distracted by work or getting children into their car seats, get to the store and wammo! We realize that we have forgotten the reusable bags!  Should she buy another one?  Can she manage without one? (Did she read W2O’s blog about transporting groceries plastic free?)  Can her children help her carry items that can be transported without a bag at all? Will her husband chide her (again) about buying more bags each time she has forgotten them? What memory tricks could she use to try and remember those bags in the future?

W2O’s tricks for remembering your reusable bag:

  • Buy some really great bags that are small enough to fit into your pocket or purse. Small Footprint Family writes a great blog about figuring this out and recommends Envirosaxs, which fold up small and come in a variety of cool and pretty styles.
  • After unpacking your bags, hang them on the same hook as your car keys
  • Put your shopping list pad and list into a reusable bag. If you don’t have “listnesia” you will remember both!
  • Put a note or reminder in your car.  Conserving Now has an unobtrusive non adhesive cling sticker reminder that might be the perfect choice.DSCN3816

Always remember to wash your bags often and keep them for the specific use of grocery shopping. Designate other bags for when you are headed to the mall. Remember, even the smallest efforts will increase your awareness. Good for your health and good for our beautiful oceans.

 

Summer Reading from W2O

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Today I am setting you all up for some serious summer reading. Links to this New England Aquarium refresher on Climate Change is a good introduction to the more scientific facts in Science Magazine’s article “Natural Systems in Changing Climates,”  and its comprehensive list of articles that include a wide range of topics taking the mystery out of questions about the impact of human induced changes in our climate. Covered topics include the economic impact and human health vulnerability effected by our warming planet. Important summer reading from W2O.

photoWhat are you reading that might be of interest to our Ocean Loving members this summer?

W2O says Choose to Refuse those “non recyclables” in the Globe today

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IMG_0823 2W2O seeing another reminder today about why it is important to refuse plastic (yes, support that Massachusetts Plastic Bag Reduction Bill) and polluting waste when ever you have the option to do so. Todays Boston Globe the article “Are Big Blue Bins Bad for Recycling” talks about the limited success of single stream trash collection and outlines the list of “non recyclables.”

“At the plant, six people using hands and hooks pull non-recyclables off the line before the machines take over. Broken umbrellas, Styrofoam containers, wire hangers, plastic bags: all trash.”

Think about what you can do! It could be a simple “no” to a plastic straw, a plastic bag or a styrofoam cup.  It is easier than it seems. We can all play a part in keeping ourselves healthy and the ocean free of single use waste. Summer months mean cold drinks. We all love a frozen drink, iced coffee or tea.  I have been carrying my cup in the car (it tastes great in anything but plastic!) or if I am out and about without, I have asked the vendor to just put my drink in a paper cup. I get some funny looks and comments like “this cup won’t support that” and “it won’t be kept cold” Bullhicky. Icy and cold. I also did a little test the other day..the fear I had was that the cold drink would seep through the paper and ruin my oh so righteous moment of success.  Well, yes, it does seep through, but only after about an hour. If you are like me, you are consuming that cool lovely drink the moment you receive it! So, enjoy…but refuse the plastic.

Is the Bag Reusable if it has an apple on it?

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Plastic

Plastic

Apple would like us to think that its plastic white bag is a reusable bag. We might use it to take out the trash, but we certainly aren’t carrying it to the grocery store or using it as our “go to” environmentally friendly cool bag…It is Plastic. W2O believes that it is like any other single use bag-a pollutant that clogs our waterways, threatens marine animals and ultimately is a health risk to us.  Isn’t it time for Apple, an innovator on many levels, to make a great branding bag made out of a material other than plastic? Tell us what your think. Vote on our Facebook page.    Steve Jobs named Apple after his apple orchard and said in his commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005 that  “Whole Earth Catalog was the Bible of his generation.” I am sorry he is gone. I would have liked to have had this discussion with him..As our friends at Plastic Pollution Coalition  tell us:  Plastic Pollution is a health risk. Plastic is Forever.

Read more about the M.A. Bag Bill