Spring Gardening, Watersheds and Our Ocean’s Health

By | Action today, Featured Post, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments

This time of year, some of us that live in urban areas are enjoying spring preparations for our garden and lawns. With this privilege comes responsibility to our blue planet.

Photo: thegardeningblog.com

Photo: thegardeningblog.com

Run off from our lawn flows directly into what Tufts University’s Institute of the Environment calls the “three giant watersheds” comprising of streams, rivers and lakes that flow into the sea: “Watersheds can be nested one inside the other. For example, the United States could be divided into three giant watersheds: one to the west of the Rocky Mountains that drains into the Pacific Ocean, one to the east of the Appalachian Mountains that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and one in between those two that drains into the Gulf of Mexico. However, within each one of these watersheds, there are many watersheds that drain into rivers and smaller bodies of water.”

So what are your plans for a healthy beautiful, pesticide free garden this spring? On her website for the Great Healthy Yard Project,  Dr. Diane Lewis explains why using pesticides can be bad for our own health as well as the health of our wildlife, planet and oceans. Read her blog, listen to her mission and take The Pledge to garden pesticide free because, as she states, it’s “Our yards, our children, our responsibility.” Protect what you love. Garden pesticide free for healthy oceans and a healthy you.

 

 

Chicago’s Bag Ban-a step in the right direction

By | Action today, Events, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments

MTSOfan:Flicker of bagsChicago is poised to be the next US city to implement a bill that would ban single use plastic bags in large retail outlets.  It’s not perfect, some say, but it is a step in the right direction. On NPR today, San Francisco’s spokesman from the Dept. of the Environment, Guillermo Rodrigues, reminded us of the baby steps taken by San Francisco before a wider and finally, a complete ban on single use plastic bags. It took three steps which started with a bill similar to the current Chicago bag bill and over the course of a couple of years, with three amendments, banned single use plastic bags altogether.  San Francisco had the same reservations about the ban that Chicago retailers are voicing now: higher costs and loss of jobs due to the bag ban. But NPR found out that “Those are all concerns that San Francisco dealt with when it became the first major city in the country to issue a plastic bag ban in 2007.”  According to Mr. Rodrigues, retailers are not complaining.  He says that the main issue turned out to be that retailers didn’t want to deliver the “bad” news to customers. To smooth the transition, San Francisco put an aggressive education campaign in place to support the retail community by delivering a compelling message about how single use plastic pollutes, causes health risks and costs taxpayer money from cleanups. “We haven’t heard from retailers that it is a economic loss for them,” says Rodrigues.

 

W2O emPowered and Searching for Hope in the Data

By | Action today, Events, Featured Post, In the News, Past Events, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments

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)

 

 

Connecting the dots on Climate Change

By | Action today, Events, Featured Post, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments
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 O’Connor recommends not being “Bamboozled”

By | Action today, Events, Featured Post, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments

 

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!

 

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

By | Action today, Events, Featured Post, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments
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

By | Action today, Featured Post, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments
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.

By | Action today, Featured Post, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments
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

By | Action today, Events, Featured Post, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments
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/