‘A Brief History of the 5-cent Bag Tax’ Video.

A Brief History of the 5-cent Bag Tax “A Brief History of the 5-cent Bag Tax” video was created by DC based sketch comedy group Dunk Your Bagel for American University’s Eco-Comedy Video Competition. It’s a must see for any city government considering a plastic grocery bag fee. It turns out that gut punches, rat eating and being sprayed in the eyes with Windex won’t deter people from asking for a plastic grocery bag the way a $.05 fee will. [Planetizen]


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It’s Not A Painting – It’s A Picture Of A Polluted Lake In China.

Lake algae bloom caused by chemical fertilizer pollution in China.That floating stuff may look like paint but it’s lake algae that has bloomed from chemical fertilizer pollution. The Chinese government is spending $77 million to restore the lake.

Lake algae bloom caused by chemical fertilizer pollution in China.

Do you think this doesn’t happen in the US? Think again…

Algae bloom in Wisconsin's Lake Tainter

Algae bloom in Wisconsin's Lake Tainter (2010)

We’re doing some painting of our own. [RocketNews 24]

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GEOlino’s MELTDOWN Board Game: Lead A Polar Bear Family To Safety Over Actual Melting Ice.

GEOlino MELTDOWN Polar Bear Board Game.GEOlino’s MELTDOWN is a board game and the object is to save a family of polar bears before actual ice melts. Here’s a description of MELTDOWN from their website:

“The aim of the game is to take a polar bear family from the permanent ice floes to safety on the mainland. It’s a race against time, as the way leads across real, slowly melting ice floes, which children can make themselves with the accompanying mould, a bit of water and a freezer compartment. The chunks of ice are arranged on a blue polar sea sponge to form a small Arctic. The sponge is used as the game board and absorbs the melted ice at the same time. Now you can start saving polar bears.”

GEOlino MELTDOWN board game polar bearsMy take: after playing 100+ mind-numbing games of Candy Land, playing MELTDOWN would be a treat. Saving the polar bear family is a group goal in MELTDOWN so there are no winners or losers and MELTDOWN’s message about our environment is subtly delivered. What’s not to like?

Another nice feature of MELTDOWN: for parents who get stuck in the “lets play it again” loop – the melting ice is the clock and once it’s gone, you have to wait for it to re-freeze to play another game. Take that Candy Land. [MELTDOWN via Grist]


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What Would It Take To Power New York State On Only Wind, Water And Sunlight?

Wind, water and sunlight power.

“We must be ambitious if we want to promote energy independence and curb global warming,”
Study co-author Robert Howarth, Cornell University

Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy, led a study to calculate what it would take to power the State of New York by 2030 with only renewable energy generated from wind, water and sunlight. Currently, almost all of New York’s power comes from gas, oil and coal.

Based on power demand forecasts for all industries, here’s what Professor Jacobson and his team determined would be needed:

  • 4,020 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 12,770 offshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 387 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants
  • 828 50-megawatt photovoltaic power plants
  • 5 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 500,000 100-kilowatt commercial/government rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 36 100-megawatt geothermal plants
  • 1,910 0.75-megawatt wave devices
  • 2,600 1-megawatt tidal turbines
  • 7 1,300-megawatt hydroelectric power plants, of which most exist

Looks like a lot and it is but it’s an investment. If installed, renewable energy would be the fuel source for vehicles, home heating and all industries in the state – it would be powering everything. Check out the full article on the study and find out how the plan, if implemented, would save billions in pollution related healthcare costs and help mitigate the future costs of climate change. [EurekAlert via e360]

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Ecover Will Be Partially Packaging Their Products With Plastic Retrieved From The Sea. Good Idea?

Plastic bottle in the oceanBased in Belgium, Ecover manufactures natural cleaning products primarily for the European market. They are like the United States’ Method brand – which they own. Ecover is always working on improving the sustainability of their products and their latest effort is to harvest sea-plastic from the ocean and incorporate it into their packaging. The sea-plastic will be mixed with a plastic made from sugar cane (PlantPlastic) and other recycled plastic to create a new one-of-a-kind packaging. Here’s how Ecover will recover and recycle the sea-plastic (Guardian):

“Boats outfitted with special equipment will be able to collect between two and eight tonnes of waste per trawl for cleaning and recycling, while other fishermen will collect plastic debris mixed with by-catch and deposit it at special collection points. The sorted waste will then be sent to Closed Loop Recycling’s plant in Dagenham, east London, where it will be processed and turned into the plastic for the new bottles.”

Reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans and creating awareness of the ocean garbage patches are all good things but I just can’t get past the idea of sending fuel-guzzling fishing boats out to trawl the ocean bottom for plastic. Maybe they’ll just skim the surface for floating plastic – still, it seems like an extremely consuming way to make a statement about ocean pollution and the sustainability of your product. Wouldn’t it be less consuming and less labor intensive to harvest the plastic on land before it reaches the ocean?

What do you think? [Guardian]


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Worst Cruise Ever? Scientists Predict That In 2050, Ships Will Be Able To Sail Directly Over North Pole.

North Pole signThe northern sea route, or trans-arctic passage, has been passable by ships for the last 7 summers and now comes information that the North Pole may be open to ship traffic by 2050. According to a report from Dr. Laurence C. Smith and Scott R. Stephenson, the shortest route connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans will be accessible in 2050 by ice-strengthened ships that can travel directly over the North Pole. From the Guardian:

“The scientists took two classes of vessels and then simulated whether they would be able to steam through the sea ice expected in seven different climate models. In each case they found that the sea routes opened up considerably after 2049.”

The recent opening of the Northern Sea Route, for ship traffic from Norway to China, has saved shipping companies between $230,000 – 400,000 in time and bunker fuel; crossing directly over the North Pole could save shipping companies an additional 40%. To counter these savings, putting a value on the “holy crap!” factor of sending ships over the North Pole in our lifetime is incalculable. Sailing over the North Pole should not be a goal – it should be viewed as an obstacle that needs to be avoided. [Guardian]

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