NC Conservation Network Blog
"When North Carolina moved to kick the can from landfills in 1994, the message that aluminum being tossed out in the trash was illegal got crushed by public apathy.
But when the state moved to ban plastic bottles from the dump effective Oct. 1, the response was overwhelming.
So what changed this time around?
Buzz, good and bad, said Scott Mouw, the state’s recycling director.
'We worked hard to get the message out, and the media did too,' he said."
Alright! This is wonderful news. Great job, NC, keeping the recyclables out of our landfills! And great job to the media and the NC Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance for all of their resources and hard work.
Have a great holiday!
As much of the political debate in America remains primarily focused around health care right now, this report serves as a good reminder that health and clean energy reform are clearly linked together:
Physicians for Social Responsibility has released a groundbreaking medical report, “Coal’s Assault on Human Health,” which takes a new look at the devastating impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health. This report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted by those pollutants on three major body organ systems: the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system. The report also considers coal’s contribution to global warming, and the health implications of global warming.
Since the beginning of September, the NC Conservation Network staff, our allied organizations and 67 concerned citizens have been collecting postcards to Sen. Kay Hagan. The postcards call on Senator Hagan to ask her to support legislation that:
- puts North Carolinians back to work by creating thousands of new green jobs;
- takes strong action to reduce global warming pollution; and
- continues NC's transition to a clean energy economy by investing in renewable energy.
Yesterday myself, fellow 1Sky NC Organizer Chris Gianino, along with John Bonitz (with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy) walked over to Sen. Hagan's Raleigh office and delivered 1,696 of these postcards! This brings our total postcards delivered to date to 2,196 with more coming in each day!
The picture is of Sen. Hagan's staffer Patrick Ayers who was a good sport about receiving the huge stack which he will now have to enter.
While we were there we had a good meeting with Sen. Hagan's Deputy State Director, Tony Caravano. We covered a lot of ground, Chris talked about his travels across the state where he worked with a lot of you to make phone calls and collect postcards. John talked about his work with North Carolina's farmers and woodland owners and the economic benefits that are available to help boost our rural economies. We really appreciated Mr. Caravano's time and we came away from the meeting knowing that while we make slow progress towards a climate bill, Senator Hagan is aware that strong clean energy and climate legislation will greatly benefit North Carolina’s economy.
We all have to continue make sure that our elected officials, our friends & family, and the media knows that there are economic benefits to federal climate and energy policies. We also all have to continue our emails, calls, and face-to-face meetings with members of North Carolina's Congressional delegation as the fight for strong energy reform that addresses climate change moves into 2010.
A lot of the buzz in the climate change/global warming world right now is revolving around some of the comments that appeared in the “Global Cooling” chapter of Superfreakonomics. Their main argument, for people who haven't read the book, is that if global warming is the problem, then we should focus on the most expedient way to cool the earth. Their “solution” is geoengineering--namely, launching sulfur into the upper atmosphere. Now, there’s so much wrong with this approach that I don’t really know where to start except to repeat my old line: you can’t have your planet and eat it too.
To me, geoengineering is to global warming as pills are to health care reform. I hear many commentators say that the reason our health care costs are so high is because we as a society demand a pill for every complaint, even when there is a clear cause that could be dealt with by changing a habit. Yes, the pill might fix the symptom, but not only does it not address the underlying issue, the side effects might be worse than the original complaint. This is certainly not true in every case, but here’s an oversimplified personal example: I’ve recently gained twenty pounds. Now, I could start running again and stop eating breakfast at Bojangles three times a week, or I could take one of many prescription weight loss pills. I will let you work out the implications of each choice.
Focusing simply on global cooling misses the largest single issue of the entire climate change/global warming debate: the way we as a global society create and consume energy is unsustainable. Period. We can focus our efforts on finding the magic pill that will let us continue to walk down this path of “unsustainability” indefinitely, or we can focus on doing the things that will actually solve the underlying problem.
Global warming is a symptom of an unsustainable lifestyle, much like my added twenty pounds, and if we are to truly solve it, we don't need quick fixes--we need to change some bad habits.
Did you all know that this Sunday is America Recycles Day? My coworker found this blog post from NC Go Green regarding this year's event. Check out the national website (www.americarecyclesday.org) where you can take the pledge, look for events near you, and use their cool conservation calculator tool. This is just the kind of info that's helpful when you get the "yeah-but-recycling-takes-energy-too[duh]...is-it-really-worth-it?" spiel from your nay-sayer friends.
The NC Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance has their own website for the big day that's worth checking out. They include a list where you can look for retail locations near you that sell products made of recycled content.
So pass it on! This weekend, America recycles!
This past weekend, there was a great article in the New Bern Sun Journal about a man contributing his time and passion to cleaning up the Neuse River. Marty Lawrence is a volunteer of the Neuse RiverKeeper Foundation, and takes part in two of their programs: RiverWatch and Muddy Water Watch. From the article:
"His Riverkeeper foundation volunteer duties include maintaining and updating the library – cataloging the history of the Neuse over the years by converting nearly 300 VSH tapes to DVD and organizing printed media clippings.
'It is a way to preserve the history,' he said.
He hopes that the work can eventually be uploaded to the foundation Web site as a resource for anyone interested in the history of protecting the river."
I wanted to pass along this article because we so seldom hear stories in the news media today of passionate people doing great work--cheers, Marty!
Calling all crafty & artistic folks! Art is a powerful visual for elected leaders who may be a little disconnected from constituents. Across the country, volunteers decorated murals last year and we dropped them off in Congressional offices on the Hill. This year when we returned, those murals were hung up in many offices throughout Capitol Hill. That's some grassroots impact!
As we lead up to the holidays and continue with hearings in the Senate on a climate bill, it's the perfect time to host something festive - including anyone ranging from you, your friends, or your kids to inviting new people to join your efforts.
Between now and November 23rd, we're asking you to hold a small art gathering where you decorate a piece of fabric (or old sheet) representing the urgency of acting now. We're recommending writing Tck Tck Tck on it to tie it into an international movement leading up to climate talks in Copenhagen.
Sign up today by following this link to our online network: http://1sky.org/art or just shoot an email to local[at]1sky.org.
We'll reach out to you and make sure you get an envelope with pre-paid postage to mail your mural back in.
Just in case you haven't heard, the NC Conservation Network launched a new website yesterday to get the word out to Senator Kay Hagan that her constituency supports climate and clean energy legislation.
In a nutshell, the House has passed a modest clean energy bill (HR 2454) and we hope that Senator Hagan will help improve and strengthen the Senate Bill (S1733). But as of today, Senator Hagan has not committed to support or oppose a strong climate and energy bill in the Senate. When she does cast her vote, we need your help to make sure it's an AYE and not a NAY. Check out the website at www.dearkay.com and make sure to let her know where you stand!
Tomorrow, the Raleigh City Council will hold a vote on whether or not to reopen the discussion of including bike lanes on Hillsborough St.
Those of you that know me know that I’m a committed “bike guy.” This is not because I’m an environmental activist and want to make everyone else feel terrible about not doing enough, or because I feel the strong need to “walk the walk” (“ride the bike,” in this case), but simply because bikes are cheap - I built mine at the Bike Kitchen. As of now I’ve been a bike-only commuter for upwards of 4 years while I lived in LA, Orange County, Seattle and now Raleigh. While it might surprise some of you to hear that Raleigh is by far the least safe place to ride a bike, for those of you who ride these streets daily, it probably comes as no surprise at all. While there are many factors that contribute to this, the single largest factor is lack of infrastructure on our streets. There are more and more people on bikes every week (more and more cars too) and without bike lanes, adequate signage or even the dreaded “sharrow” it just gets worse. For drivers, more bikes on unsafe roads is an inconvenience - sometimes a large one, admittedly. For bikers, it is literally a matter of life or death. Bikers die on unsafe roads.
Initially, the plan for Hillsborough Street included a space for bikes. While many of us can and will argue over the relative efficacy of 6 blocks of a bike lane that doesn’t connect to a larger system, the bottom line is that it will make it safer for the students and commuters who frequently clog that street. Unfortunately, those bike lanes were later removed from the plan. Tomorrow, the Raleigh City Council will vote on whether or not to re-open the discussion of including a bike lane for Hillsborough St tomorrow at 1PM. A group bike ride is being held to show support for this effort and will be meeting at the NCSU bell tower at noon. Join us if you’re able, or contact me - christopher[at]ncconservationnetwork.org for more details.