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.
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
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?!
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!!
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
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.
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.”
At a W2O event last night Celine Cousteau presented “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” to a packed house at the New England Aquarium. I kept toggling back and forth from this very professional speaker to the image of the person on the screen: cold, tired, exhilarated and most of the time, wet. (Many references were made to the fact that, because of her surname, she is often “thrown in the water” and not always comfortably.) Exploring salt plains in Bolivia, copper mines in Chile, the coastline of Patagonia and what seems to be her most visited and impassioned site, the Amazon River region, Celine documents the intersection of communities and environmental issues. With powerful images of decimated, but beautiful landscapes, she reminds us that in poor rural communities, with no public resources, waste and garbage are left to make its way into lakes, streams and finally the ocean.
There are times when she is the first to explore a remote lake only to find that they are empty of life from the effects of pollution. Sitting on a hill in the midst of plastic pollution and waste, she is photographed looking out onto a magnificent ocean vista. The relationships and bonds that she has made with the people of these regions has inspired her to keep returning, filming, exploring and coming home to tell their stories.
The most dramatic moment of the night was the showing of her short film, “Scars of Freedom,” about a juvenile whale caught in 500 pounds of fishing net. In it, a film crew, which happened to be in the area and with no prior experience of rescuing marine mammals, struggle for hours to cut the net from the whale’s now infected tail. When Celine talks about the film, you can see emotion welling up as she tells us, “Change only comes with action, and action begins with the heart.”
Linked here are the questions to Key Ocean Issues that were given to the audience at our event.
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?
- Loss of endangered species, and habitat
- 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?
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:
For tips on low-carbon transportation, see:
Tickets are going fast for the Celine Cousteau event “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” on October 22nd. Here are some wonderful photos by Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions, to entice you and give you a preview of the wonderful images that will accompany Ms. Cousteau’s presentation about how important it is to protect the environment and especially our oceans.
Roz savage sat down and wrote two obituaries for herself. One about her then current life as a consultant and the other detailing all her hopes and dreams about what she wanted to become and what type of person folks would remember her as. She chose to change her life completely and is detailing her amazing transformation in her new book Stop Drifting, Start Rowing about her solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean...IN A ROWBOAT. Her vantage point (pretty low in the water, vunerable and awestruck), her successes and struggles engage us in a conversation with ourselves about our own journey and our obligations to protect our blue planet and especially the health of our oceans. Pre order the book now and help Roz gain a spot on the Amazon book charts that will then be visible to the casual book browser. Help her spread awareness about ocean conservancy.