Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Reasons to Love Australia!

I wish governments in the States would recognize the importance of protecting our beaches from development not just for surfing, but as important ecosystems necessary to protecting our coastlines.


Surfers have always worshiped the world's best waves, but who knew the Australian government honored historic surf spots? On June 6, Killalea was officially recognized as a national surfing reserve, making it the fifth of its kind in New South Wales and the seventh in Australia. The purpose of identifying these sites is to both legally protect them and to spread awareness about the necessity of preserving the area. Not only that, but the reserves honor the relationship between the sport and the local culture.

Killalea’s popular breaks, The Farm and Mystics, are part of the 3.5km stretch of coast that will be protected. The area, which already belongs to a State Park, was recognized not only for the quality of surf but also for its natural beauty. During the ceremony to dedicate the national reserve, a booklet describing the history of surfing in the region was presented along with a plaque to commemorate the newly protected spot. More than 150 people attended the event, including 70 members of the Killalea family that historically farmed the area.

However, not everybody celebrated the site’s new recognition. The dedication was disputed by some who claim the measure was merely a distraction from the development of an eco-resort at Killalea that may be detrimental to the surf spots.

The first surfing reserve in New South Wales was Angourie, a point break that was dedicated in January of 2007 for its legendary waves. Since the 1970’s surfers have flocked to the destination that was originally a meeting place for local Aborigines.

Other surfing reserves in the state include south Sydney’s Cronulla Beach; Crescent Head, which became a popular spot after World War II and has been dominated by long boarders ever since; and Lennox, which was chosen because of its prominent role in the Australian surf history.

Cultural, historical, and environmental factors contribute to the selection of new surfing reserves, which are preserved for public use under the Crown Lands Act of 1989. Right now, there are 24 sites in New South Wales that have been suggested for dedication.

For information about an organization that creates similar reserves around the world click here.

Creative Ways to Recycle: Reuseable Sandwich Bags

I absolutely hate washing out and drying Ziploc(r) bags and I can't imagine it being anyone's favorite thing to do. So, today I stumbled across some inventive ways to make your own reusable (and stylish) bags.
From The Party Dress blog:

Here’s the how-to:
1. Cut a rectangle approximately 8 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ out of oilcloth with pinking shears or sharp scissors.
2. Turn edges under 1/4″ and stitch with machine.
3. With wrong sides facing each other, fold over oilcloth leaving 2-1/2″ of extra material for the flap.
4. Stitch along sides to form the pocket.
5. Attach velcro on flap and pocket of bag.
6. Enjoy your reusable sandwich bag and hand wash with soap and water.

CraftStylish also has some easy-to-follow directions using polyurethane laminated fabrics (i.e. table cloth material - great use for an old table cloth!)

You can also check out ehow for Reusable Sandwich Wrap directions.

Not feeling crafty? Check out these sites:
  • The Reusable Fresh Snack Pack is washable and see-through. As a plus, the flap can fold out to become a handy place mat.
  • Dajo Bags come in sandwich and snack sizes (a cute drawstring style) that look like they'd fit anybody's lunch needs.
  • 3 Green Moms offer the lunch skins which can hold both sandwiches and snacks in one convenient size.
  • Snack Taxi is another sandwich style bag that comes in a variety of colors.
  • Wrap-N-Mat unfolds completely for easy cleaning and to act as a place mat while eating.
  • Happy Sacks offers a variety of different reusable and biodegradable bags, as well as boxes, utensils and bottles.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tell Your Representative: Take Action Now for a Clean Energy Economy!

Click here to be directed to the Clean Water Action's site that easily allows you to contact your Representative about supporting The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009!

New Report: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States

From The White House blog:
TUESDAY, JUNE 16TH, 2009 AT 1:28 PM

Streaming Now: Climate Change Impacts Across America -- Renewed Focus for Decisions

Posted by Anne Waple
Ed. Note: Watch the release of the report now at

Report CoverToday, the White House helped to launch a new science report representing a consensus of 13 agencies developed over a year and half and focused on potential climate change impacts on the United States.

It’s the most comprehensive report to date on the possible impacts of climate change for everyone across America, and begins an important process of redefining the sort of information we need in order to deal with climate change at national and regional scales. Effectively managing our response to a changing climate falls into two general categories:

1) Implementing measures to limit climate change and therefore avoid many of the impacts discussed in the report. These measures must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and might include increasing our reliance on clean energy, and developing energy efficient technologies
2) Reducing our vulnerability and increasing our resilience to ongoing climate change in pro-active, community-based ways. Examples of this include such measures as developing more climate-sensitive building codes to keep people out of harm’s way, or planting more drought or heat tolerant crops, for example.
As a first step in reducing the impact of climate change, we need to know what impacts we must avoid in the future, and this report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States", does just that– outlining the possible direction of climate change under two broad scenarios: the first if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions aggressively, and the second, if we are less aggressive. These are neither the highest or lowest possible scenarios but begin to compare the possible futures for the U.S.
An important element of this new report, apart from that it is deliberately written in plain language so we can all read and understand the science in it, is that it dives down in the various regions of the U.S. and provides much more regional detail about possible impacts than ever before – critical information for an effective response. It also breaks down the potential climate change impacts by economic and social sectors, most of which transcend regional boundaries, such as water, energy, health, transportation, and agriculture – all vital components of a healthy and stable society.
Report Cover
The report notes climate change impacts that we are already seeing across the U.S. as well as those that will soon emerge or become more intense if action is slow to occur. Some of the impacts that the report mentions are:
· More rain is already coming in very heavy events, and this is projected to increase across the nation. This would have impacts on transportation, agriculture, water quality, health, and more;
· Heat waves will become more frequent and intense, increasing threats to human health and quality of life, especially in cities;
· Warming will decrease demand for heating energy in winter and increase demand for cooling energy in summer. The latter will increase peak electricity demand in most regions;
· Water resources will be stressed in many regions. For example, snowpack is declining in the West, and there is an increasing probability of drought in the Southwest, while floods and water quality issues are likely to be more of a problem in most regions;
· In coastal communities, sea-level rise and storm surge will increase threats to homes and infrastructure including water, sewer, transportation and communication systems.
Gulf Coast Area Roads at Risk from Sea-Level Rise
Gulf Coast Area Roads at Risk from Sea-Level Rise
Through identifying the climate change impacts we are experiencing now, as well as those that are emerging faster than we thought, and those projected to increase in the future, the report clearly highlights the choices we face regarding possible response options to reduce the impacts of climate change across the United States.
Responses to climate change impacts in the United States will almost certainly evolve over time as we learn through experience. Determining and refining the responses will involve partnerships between scientists, policymakers, the public, private industry, communities, and decision-makers at all levels. Implementing these response strategies will require careful planning and continual feedback on the impacts of policies for government, industry, and society.
More of the report’s findings are located at , which is the new home of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the interagency Government program that commissioned the report. The report was led by NOAA.

Dr. Anne Waple is with the US Global Change Research Program


From the Politicker NJ:

Measure Would Focus Research on Acidification Threatening Oceans, Marine Life

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Legislation authored by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) to focus research on rising ocean acidity was recently signed into law by President Obama. Ocean acidification harms marine life and poses serious risks to the fishing industry.

"Ocean acidification is a serious threat to our environment and to our marine life," said Sen. Lautenberg. "Changes in ocean chemistry, caused by carbon dioxide, will affect our food supply and the health of our oceans, yet research on ocean acidification is still in its infancy. This new law will provide the needed research to analyze and address the environmental and economic impacts of ocean acidification."

Increased carbon dioxide emissions are causing oceans to become more acidic. Ocean acidity has increased 30 percent in the last 100 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA also projects that, by the end of this century, current levels of carbon dioxide emissions would result in the lowest levels of ocean pH in 20 million years. Lower levels of ocean pH signify higher levels of ocean acidification.

Oceans require a balanced pH to maintain water quality favorable to marine life. If oceans become too acidic, the shells of scallops, clams, crabs, plankton, corals and other marine life begin to dissolve. In New Jersey, sea scallops and clams are some of the state's most valuable fisheries, valued at $121 million, according to NOAA.

Sen. Lautenberg's measure, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act (FOARAM), will require a committee of federal agencies led by NOAA to coordinate research and monitoring of acidification of our oceans, develop a national plan to assess the environmental and economic impacts, and recommend solutions. The measure will also establish an ocean acidification program in NOAA - the federal agency with primary responsibility for preserving the health of our oceans and marine life.

The new law is based on a bill from last Congress sponsored by Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and was co-sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

The measure received support from environmental and conservation groups including the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Marine Fish Conservation Network, the Climate Institute, Environmental Defense, Gulf Restoration Network, Ocean Conservancy, Coastal States Organization, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.

The bill also was supported by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) representing 95 academic institutions and universities; the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) - the world's largest professional organization devoted to the study of aquatic science; and the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) representing about 120 coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes laboratories.

In 2007, Sen. Lautenberg authored a provision in the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill to direct funds to the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the acidification of the oceans and how this process affects the United States. Sen. Lautenberg has also authored provisions to research and protect deep sea corals, another habitat threatened by ocean acidification. Those provisions became law in January 2007 as part of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006.

Quote of the Day

"Humans are the only species that can savage the environment. And we are the only species that can save it."

- from The Return of the Cuyahoga

Monday, June 15, 2009

Will Boredom Kill Us?

I found a great editorial in The Sydney Morning Herald which pretty much sums up my fears and views on the climate debate:

Maybe we're all too bored to bother saving the planet

June 13, 2009

Boredom is going to kill us. Wait. Too dramatic. Let me put it more boringly. Boredom, and our collective inability to endure it, is going to compromise our capacity to tackle the challenges of our age in a way that is productive and conducive to progress in our society.

For more than a century, thinkers have been writing about how modern life, with its endless stimulations, actually makes boredom worse - and less easily tolerated. When the boom of the 1920s was busting, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote about this, focusing on the blah of waiting hours for a train.

If only he knew how bad things would become a lifetime later. Train commuters now have to endure the tedium of watching a blue monitor as they wait as the estimated time of arrival flicks down to three minutes, then back up to four, then back down to three. All that the commuter can do to ease this torture is check emails on a mobile, skim newspaper stories about the spat between Gordon Ramsay and Tracy Grimshaw, return missed phone calls and slurp coffee from a paper cup.

Boredom has always struck the most fortunate, people with plenty to keep them occupied. In Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Anna's lover, Vronsky, finds himself restless and dissatisfied right when his desires are fulfilled, when he is swanning around Europe in freedom with his lady love.

"It showed him the mistake men make in picturing to themselves happiness as the realisation of their desires," Tolstoy writes. He describes boredom, or ennui, its more glamorous and chronic cousin, as the "desire for desires".

Are we all like this now? Easily over it? Crippled by the attention span of gnats? How ironic it is that in the very era of impatience and shrunken attention spans, the world has been confronted with a dilemma like climate change.

It is like a test God has sent us to remind us we're idiots, because it is a problem modern society is uniquely unsuited to fixing: the worst consequences are a long way off, and we don't care about a long way off, and the solutions are dull, and we don't care about dull.

If climate change could be solved with a sell out-charity concert and natty fund-raising ribbons, we'd be sorted. But it doesn't. It requires immediate action of a complex and boring nature. Negotiations over trading and credits and prices per tonne and projections. Just yesterday I fell asleep reading that the State Government has stalled on the issue of bonuses for rooftop solar panels, unsure of whether to grant home owners a gross tariff or a net tariff.

Have you noticed that when climate change activists have got into trouble for misrepresenting the issue, it is usually because they are trying to shape global warming into an issue more suited to our attention-deficit times? Appropriating the genre of before-and-after snaps of the gossip mags, only substituting melted faces with melted glaciers? Trouble over illustrating the issue of melting ice caps with sad photos of polar bears stranded on icebergs, as if climate change has robbed them of the ability to swim. Or trouble over turning disasters such as hurricane Katrina into news hooks, to show huge consequences are already upon us.

The trouble is not the lack of hard evidence but that hard evidence tends to be technical and unphotogenic, and not many media outlets do technical and unphotogenic these days.

In fact, if I was working on a public relations strategy on behalf of climate-change denialists or the fossil fuels industry, I would be concentrating on making the issue so complicated and dry that it loses traction in the wider community. Maybe this is happening already.

Sometimes spin is about sexing up an issue, but the reverse can be true. Spin can mean putting lipstick on a pig. It can also mean hiding a time bomb in a bucket of slops. I am reminded of this every time I get a letter from my bank saying its policies have changed, almost always to the detriment of the customer. The bank hides the nasty details in a little grey brochure, alongside tiny technical changes, so only the extremely vigilant look before chucking it.

Powerful interests can abuse our fear of boredom, just as effectively as they can abuse our desire for sensationalism. Maybe we have a civic duty to push through the boredom barrier.