Home Energy Audits-Because on our Blue Planet “There’s No Place Like Home”

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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!

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

Time-lining Climate Change

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Courtesy of Time Magazine Photo: Mario Tama

Courtesy of Time Magazine
Photo: Mario Tama

 

 

One year ago today, Super Storm Sandy tore up the Eastern seaboard, flooding communities, devastating our coastline, starting new conversations around the topic of climate change and weather influenced by rising ocean temperatures. In the last year, it seems like there are more statistics and articles about climate change in every paper and magazine, some confusing and difficult to comprehend. W2O board member Laura Parker Roerden takes a look at a new, easy to understand, tool for understanding climate change :

Not too long ago I received an unusual request from a friend of mine. She was condo shopping in a seaside New England community and wanted to know if I had any inside information on which shorelines would be inundated by what dates because of rising sea levels associated with global warming. Of course, she wasn’t joking. There is a lot of talk about curbing emissions and attaining a smaller carbon footprint, but the elephant in the room is when will it be too late?  How might global warming affect me? How do I protect my home and workplace?  What exactly is at stake and when is the critical time? Should I worry now?

A group of graduate students supervised by Dr. Camilo Mora at the University of Hawaii at Manoarecently applied climate models towards creating a way of thinking about temperature increases in a way that everyone can understand. Dr. Mora’s team calculated what they called a “climate departure” year—that is, the date in the future when the coldest year would be warmer than the hottest years in the past. The results, also published in the prestigious journal Nature, suggest that after 2047 (plus or minus a five year margin of error) more than half the earth’s surface will experience an average annual temperature hotter than anything that occurred since 1860 when records began being kept. To put that in context, think back to the hottest summer you can remember and come 2047 that will now be the coolest. Individual cities differ in the timing of their climate departure: 2063 for Moscow, 2046 for Bejing, and 2031 for Mexico City, and 2047 for Washington, D.C. for example.

But what can being aggressive now about curbing carbon emissions buy us? The researchers also calculated the answer to this question for specific cities and found that curbing such carbon emissions, while not expected to stop the warming, could actually slow it down by twenty-five years or so. Using Washington, D.C. as an example, our best efforts to curb carbon emissions could push out the climate departure date from 2047 to 2071.

According to Dr. Mora, buying such time might make the difference for both human and natural communities to adjust to the coming challenges of climate change.  This is particularly important for tropical marine communities, such as the coral reef, which lives in a narrow temperature regime. More time would also mean more critical scientific data and research. So thank you, student researchers, for helping us put the challenges of climate change on a timeline.

Buying property by the ocean is the ultimate luxury but with it comes risk and responsibility. As more and more people seek out coastal land to develop, the landscape is altered and becomes more vulnerable. If you are hoping to one day have beach front property, according to this Time Magazine article, you might just be “living dangerously by the sea.”  The good news for my condo shopping friend and all of us is that there is plenty we can do right now to protect our communities for the future, by reducing our emissions that contribute to the warming of our oceans and planet.

W2O board member, Laura Parker Reorden also is Executive Director and founder of Ocean Matters.

More on Climate Change here.

 

http://science.time.com/2013/10/29/a-year-after-sandy-living-dangerously-by-the-sea/

Celine Cousteau “Action Begins with the Heart”

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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.

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

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.

Celine with the children of GreenSchools courtesy of Robin Organ

Celine with the children of GreenSchools courtesy of Robin Organ

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

W2O and NEAq hosts Celine Cousteau on October 22nd

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Photo-Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo-Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

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.

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions