Sustainability Almanac for October 25 to November 1



Leaf Bullet Letter from the Editors

Floating plastic bagTowns all across the globe are implementing plastic bag bans because they know the benefits. Most recycling companies don’t accept plastic bags because of the problems they pose to operations, such as clogging gears of conveyer belts and other machinery. Removing these plastic bags is a time consuming effort. Countless plastic bags end up in landfills or drift into public spaces, such as parks, beaches, rivers, sewers, and oceans. Most trash found in garbage patches, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, are plastics. Banning plastic bags, or charging consumers extra for paper or plastic bags, has been proven to reduce pollution. San Francisco became the first city to ban single-use plastic bags, and dozens of communities since have jumped onboard. These conscientious bans and regulations persuade more consumers to carry reusable bags with them, benefiting the environment and the economy.

Bees contribute more than three quarters of all insect pollination, and more than one third of all plant-based foods need pollination to develop. Populations of bees have been dying out all over the globe for years, which threatens agriculture, vegetation, and ecosystems. There’s no single explanation for colony collapse disorder, but exposure to pesticides is a commonly held theory, and recent studies have implicated the role of pesticides with changes in bee behavior, such as erratic flying, disappearing from hives, and reductions in colony queen production. The infiltration of pesticides into natural habitats and food manufacturing has enough people worried that The American Academy of Pediatricians stated parents should feed their kids organic produce, if only to avoid these tiny traces of poisons. The report issued by the Academy goes on to say it doesn’t believe Federal limits for pesticide levels in food are good enough.

Cities and towns with bicycle lanes or multi-use paths have half the amount of vehicle-related injuries as cities and towns without the added lanes. This isn’t a sudden revelation. Yet the research hasn’t persuaded all transportation planners and government representatives that separate lanes and paths are needed. The narrow, bureaucratic philosophy is that bicyclists should think and act like drivers, so must therefore ride on the road. Protected bike lanes have been proven to reduce deaths and injuries.

Leaf Bullet Global News

IkeaIKEA to move to clean energy by 2020, protect forests

IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, will shift to renewable energy by 2020 and grow more trees than it uses under a plan to safeguard nature that has won support from environmentalists. The Swedish-based group, which wants to build on many customers’ desire for a greener lifestyle, also said on Tuesday it would limit sales by 2016 to energy-efficient products including induction cookers and LED light bulbs.

Under the plan, IKEA will invest 1.5 billion euros ($1.95 billion) from 2009-15 in solar and wind power to produce at least 70 percent of the group’s energy. By 2020 it would produce as much renewable energy as it consumes Read more here.

BeePesticides put bumblebee colonies at risk of failure, study finds

Pesticides used in farming are also killing worker bumblebees and damaging their ability to gather food, meaning colonies that are vital for plant pollination are more likely to fail when they are used, a study showed. The United Nations has estimated that one-third of all plant-based foods eaten by people depend on bee pollination and scientists have been baffled by plummeting numbers of bees, mainly in North America and Europe, in recent years.

A 2011 UN report estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth $200 billion a year to the human economy and are in decline in many nations. Read more here.

Bike LanesDedicated Bike Lanes Can Cut Cycling Injuries in Half

A major city street with parked cars and no bike lanes is just about the most dangerous place you could ride a bike. All the big threats are there: open car doors, bad parallel parkers, passing cabs and public transit. This is not a particularly novel scientific revelation, although research has found it to be true. Things get more interesting when we compare this bad-biking baseline to infrastructure actually intended to accommodate cyclists.

New research out of Canada has methodically done just this, parsing 14 route types – from that bike-ambivalent major street to sidewalks, local roads with designated bike lanes, paved multi-use paths and protected “cycle tracks” – for their likelihood of yielding serious bike injuries. As it turns out, infrastructure really matters. Your chance of injury drops by about 50 percent, relative to that major city street, when riding on a similar road with a bike lane and no parked cars. The same improvement occurs on bike paths and local streets with designated bike routes. And protected bike lanes – with actual barriers separating cyclists from traffic – really make a difference. The risk of injury drops for riders there by 90 percent. Read more here.

ScientistHoly Grail of Fuel? Scientists Make Synthetic Gas from Air and Water

Engineers and scientists at a small company in the U.K. claim to be able to produce gasoline and other liquid hydrocarbon fuels from carbon dioxide and water vapor, which could be a huge boost in the production of renewable fuels.

The team at Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) has created a system for using renewable energy to power the capture of CO2 and water, which is then transformed into liquid hydrocarbon fuels that can be used directly in gasoline engines. The water is first electrolyzed to produce hydrogen, and then the CO2 and hydrogen are combined in a fuel reactor to produce gas using the company’s process. Read more here.

Also read about another innovative project: Solar Water Disinfection – cleaning contaminated water with ultraviolet light

More Global Headlines of Interest

Sharks killed for fins, yet little done to protect them
Water extraction helped trigger deadly quake in Spain
Electric Vehicles: Transitioning to a Sustainable Future
Largest Geothermal System in the Middle East is Complete

Leaf Bullet National News

Organic ProduceDocs Say Choose Organic Food To Reduce Kids’ Exposure To Pesticides

For the first time, the nation’s pediatricians are wading into the controversy over whether organic food is better for you – and they’re coming down on the side of parents who say it is, at least in part. It’s worth buying organic to avoid pesticide residues, at least in some foods, says the American Academy of Pediatrics in a report released today. Contrary to what the Stanford University study on organics a few weeks back suggested, the pediatricians say when it comes to feeding kids, relying on federal standards for pesticide residue isn’t good enough.

“Clearly if you eat organic produce, you have fewer pesticides in your body,” Joel Forman, an associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and a lead author of the new report, tells The Salt. That’s particularly important for young children, he says, because they are especially vulnerable to chemical exposure while their brains are developing. Read more here.

A Chesapeake Energy drill rig in DeSoto Parish, La. A natural gas glut and price plunge have hurt gas exploration companies - and their investors.The Energy Rush: After the Boom in Natural Gas

For most of the country, the result has been cheaper energy. The nation is awash in so much natural gas that electric utilities, which burn the fuel in many generating plants, have curbed rate increases and switched more capacity to gas from coal, a dirtier fossil fuel. Companies and municipalities are deploying thousands of new gas-powered trucks and buses, curbing noxious diesel fumes and reducing the nation’s reliance on imported oil. And companies like fertilizer and chemical makers, which use gas as a raw material, are suddenly finding that the United States is an attractive place to put new factories, compared with, say, Asia, where gas is four times the price.

But while the gas rush has benefited most Americans, it’s been a money loser so far for many of the gas exploration companies and their tens of thousands of investors. Read more here.

The White HouseTop 5 Green Jobs on the Rise in the United States

Nowadays, you see the newest and latest products marketed by components that relate to the benefit of the environment. The green economy is rising by the second. Businesses and people are placing more of a value on “going green.” The attention on the global environment is growing. For this purpose, more jobs have been created or altered to go green. Read more here.

Also read The world’s greenest companies according to Newsweek.

Gary's abandoned Methodist church was featured in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.Can you green a ghost town? Lauren Riga of Gary, Indiana is going to try

To say, that Gary, Indiana has seen better days is a laughable understatement. In an elegy for the city, James Howard Kunstler compared it to post-evacuation Chernobyl. Violent crime has decreased in Gary since it was dubbed the Murder Capital of the U.S., but it still hovers above the national average.

Gary, Indiana has been called the ghost of America’s future – as budgets dry up and jobs ship overseas, there are fears that more and more of our towns will look like the ruined backdrop of Life After People. Lauren Riga hopes that instead of Gary being a harbinger of post-industrial doom, it can show the rest of the country how to reimagine an industrial city green. Read more here.

President Obama's New Energy for America PlanEnvironmental agenda pushes sweeping attack on air pollution

The day after the November 2010 elections made clear President Obama’s greenhouse gas legislation was doomed, he vowed to keep trying to curb emissions linked to global warming. There’s more than one way of “skinning the cat,” he told reporters. Since then, Obama has used his executive powers – including his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act – to press the most sweeping attack on air pollution in U.S. history. He has imposed the first carbon-dioxide limits on new power plants, tightened fuel-efficiency rules as part of the auto bailout and steered billions of federal dollars to clean-energy projects. He also has proposed slashing mercury emissions from utilities by 91 percent by 2016. Read more here.

Other National Headlines of Interest

U.S. Government Has Little Authority to Stop Unsafe Cosmetics
Arsenic In Agriculture Enjoys Comeback In Poultry Feed, Pesticides 
On the Way to 1 Million Solar Roofs: Los Angelenos Can’t Get Enough Solar Power 

Leaf BulletVoices

CyberwarWill the Apocalypse Arrive Online?

First the financial system collapses and it’s impossible to access one’s money. Then the power and water systems stop functioning. Within days, society has begun to break down. In the cities, mothers and fathers roam the streets, foraging for food. The country finds itself fractured and fragmented – hardly recognizable. It may sound like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie or the first episode of NBC’s popular new show “Revolution,” but it could be your life – a nationwide cyber-version of Ground Zero. Read more here

Floating plastic bansPlastic Bag Bans Work to Curb Pollution

San Francisco became the first city to ban single-use plastic bags in 2007, and since then dozens of communities have jumped on the ban bandwagon. These bans help everyone learn to make reusable bags a habit and reduce trash, benefiting the environment and the economy.

If your city is considering such a ban, it’s likely there’s an army of pro-plastic lobbyists working to stop it-and they’ll say anything. San Francisco’s experience offers great lessons. Read more here.

Coal PlantU.S. Coal Exports On Pace To Hit All-Time High, Fueling Surge In International Global Warming Pollution

Here’s an energy-related foreign policy issue that isn’t getting any campaign attention: Coal exports are booming, fueling a surge in global warming pollution – and American taxpayers are picking up a good portion of the tab. The latest figures from the Energy Information Administration shows just how strongly coal exports have risen. Boosted by growing demand in Asia, the U.S. is on track to ship record amounts of coal overseas this year, surpassing the previous all-time high set in 1981.

So why should the U.S. taxpayer care? As journalists and analysts have pointed out time and time and time again, companies sending coal to be burned in other countries are getting access to taxpayer-owned lands for very cheap. Americans are paying for large companies to dig up coal at bargain prices, sell it to other countries at market prices, and subsidize their global warming pollution. Read more here.

Leaf Bullet Local News

Photo from BioneersMarion Institute hopes to draw more New Bedford residents to conference

NEW BEDFORD – Ameena Matthews is a “violence prevention activist” who has spent her career working with gang members in Chicago. On Friday, she will bring her message to New Bedford on the opening day of the Connecting for Change: Bioneers by the Bay conference sponsored by the Marion Institute. Conference organizers are hoping Matthews will be a big draw, bringing in a more local audience. “We pride ourselves on having a diverse attendance of people from across the globe, but probably only 20 percent come from New Bedford and that’s a … shame,” Marion Institute Youth Coordinator Zoe Hansen-DiBello said.

Held at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and its environs, the conference annually brings together innovators who speak on scientific and environmental innovations. That hasn’t changed this year, with talks from experts like climate change expert Bill McKibben and fermentation specialist Sandor Katz among those scheduled. Read more here.

Claims hound Cape Wind project

When plaintiffs in a lawsuit over Cape Wind’s potential effect on birds, whales and other wildlife announced recently they had filed a related legal brief, a company official dismissed the case as old news. Unfortunately for offshore wind energy developer Jim Gordon, the wildlife suit is one of several still pending that might determine whether he ever builds 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind still faces four legal challenges, now consolidated into one lawsuit, contesting federal approvals. Another pending suit focuses on the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of Cape Wind.

In the past several years, Gordon has had the wind at his back, with a slew of approvals from the federal government, deals to sell more than 75 percent of Cape Wind’s power, the siting of the project’s operations headquarters and the start of geological surveys presaging imminent construction. A group of fishermen on Martha’s Vineyard earlier this year even agreed to drop its legal fight against the wind farm. Despite these many achievements, Cape Wind still faces hurdles, including finding financial backers and settling those pesky lawsuits. Read more here.

Interim Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Wareham, Reverend Stan Duncan.Wareham pastor, church tackle poverty with Equal Exchange Coffee

The First Congregational Church in Wareham is doing its part to alleviate poverty in the third world… one drop of fair-trade coffee at a time. The church’s Interim Reverend Stan Duncan is the founder of the United Church of Christ Coffee Project. The UCC Coffee Project works with Equal Exchange, a fair-trade coffee producer out of West Bridgewater.

The goal of the fair-trade coffee movement is to purchase coffee from farmers at a reasonable price. Equal Exchange cuts out the middle man by developing relationships with farmer co-ops. Many small coffee farmers in Mexico, Central, and South America have been driven into poverty due to prices being driven down. The church now serves only fair-trade coffee and chocolate at its coffee hours. Read more here.

Protesting power plant in BrocktonBrockton has spent $845,000 fighting power plant proposed for city’s south side

Brockton has spent nearly $845,000 fighting a natural gas-fired power plant proposed for one of its poorest south-side neighborhoods, a figure that climbs approximately $40,000 a month, according to the city solicitor’s office. But despite criticism that funds in the financially struggling city could and should be spent more wisely – and that a power plant would bring jobs and revenue – elected officials who oppose the 350-megawatt facility backed by Advanced Power AG and Siemens Corp. say they will continue to do what it takes to protect public health and safety, and send developers packing.

Ward 2 City Councilor Thomas Monahan said it isn’t possible to put a price on safety. He said he has asked power plant officials twice to put up monitors to test air quality in the Oak Hill Avenue area where the facility would be located but they refused. “The problem is the air quality in the area is already close to maximum levels,” Monahan said. Read more here.

Katya RuckerTeach for America reaching out in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD – The city’s school district, as it does every year, has some new faces in its teaching ranks, but unlike years past, some of the newcomers arrived via a different route: a new partnership with Teach for America. Teach for America is a national nonprofit, founded in 1990, that recruits recent college graduates to commit to teaching for two years in low-income, underserved communities. Teach for America first expanded to Massachusetts in 2009, and this is the first school year that TFA “corps members,” as the organization’s teachers are known, are teaching in New Bedford schools.

“Having Teach for America here enhances the school district in a number of ways,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell, chairman ex officio of the School Committee. “Teach for America is a highly selective program that is well-established around the country at this point,” the mayor said. “They draw their teachers from the all the top schools in America, and those young teachers bring a level of energy and vitality to the classroom that is infectious in their schools.” Read more here.

Freetown determined to pursue solar array project at landfill

Two years ago, former interim Town Administrator John Healey expressed optimism about a potential solar array project at a capped landfill at the town’s transfer station on Howland Road. The potential project hit a roadblock last year and another one recently, but town officials are not giving up hope.

Town Administrator Richard Brown said there needs to be three-phase power in the area, so solar power can be fed back into the power grid. Consultants in the field are looking into correcting the problem so Freetown could move forward with a solar project, which could generate both revenue for the town and more energy. Read more here.

Carol Steinfeld, of Ecovita in Marstons Mills, shows Louise Luckenbill of Falmouth how a composting toilet works during Monday's conference on sustainable solutions to wastewater management.‘System shift’ eyed at wastewater conference

HYANNIS – Call it a sea change in the debate over how to manage Cape Cod’s wastewater. Engineers, citizen activists and regional planners were all included among the speakers at a conference on sustainable solutions to wastewater management at the Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis.

It’s the first time such a diverse group has met on equal footing to discuss the future of the Cape’s wastewater management planning, according to organizers and attendees. The two-day event sponsored by the Water Alliance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Cape Cod Commission continues today with a series of speakers and panel discussions. For the past several years, the Cape has been embroiled in discussions over how to reduce the damaging flow of excess nutrients from septic systems through groundwater into local bays and ponds. But a split developed between planners who, critics argue, are biased in favor of traditional sewer systems and citizen activists or entrepreneurs promoting sometimes unproven alternative technologies. Read more here.

Vegetable stands are one of many accessory uses farmers could incorporate on their property in order to remain viable.Accessory Uses Can Help Keep R.I. Farms Going

Rhode Island has lost more than 80 percent of its farmland since the 1940s, when there were 300,000 acres in production, according to the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM). To counter that trend, the DEM has developed guidelines to help communities maintain working farms and forested lands.

The focus of the guidelines is on helping towns develop laws that offer economic incentives for landowners to preserve their land in agriculture or forestry. By incorporating an accessory use, a farmer or forester may avoid selling his or her land to a developer. Accessory uses suggested in the guidelines vary widely. Suggested uses for farms include landscaping businesses, pick-your-own fruit seasons, equestrian centers, wedding venues, farm cafes, tractor repair businesses, bed and breakfasts, and small manufacturing such as crafts, cabinetry or specialty clothing. Uses for forested lands include day-care centers, bed and breakfasts, bird-watching sites, professional office space, and small businesses such as barbers, caterers, tutors or antique shops. Read more here.

Town Meeting voters will decide whether a solar field should be constructed at the Water Pollution Control Facility. The field would help power the sewer plant.Wareham Town Meeting to discuss three renewable energy projects

Voters will decide whether the town should buy power generated by out-of-town alternative energy projects, and whether to build a solar facility near Wareham’s sewer plant, when Town Meeting commences next week. The requests from the out-of-town facilities are in two separate articles on the fall Town Meeting warrant. Two different companies are seeking “net-metering power purchase agreements” with the town. That is, the companies are asking the town to commit to buying power. Neither project is constructed. In advance of construction, companies are seeking commitments from customers. Article 16 is a request to grant the Board of Selectmen permission to negotiate a net-metering power purchasing agreement with Future Generation Wind LLC, which plans to build four wind turbines at 810 Head of the Bay Road in Buzzards Bay. Read more here.

Papaya Salad from Spicy LimeNew Bedford Thai restaurant diners trade produce for dinner

NEW BEDFORD – Spicy Lime may be the only restaurant in the city where customers trade their garden yield for dinner. Co-owner Lita Sawang encourages her patrons to bring in ingredients like Thai basil and tomatoes from their own home gardens so she can produce fresh, traditional cuisine with West Coast panache. Sawang is a Thailand native by way of San Francisco. Although some garden-grown ingredients her guests cart in are not traditionally Thai, she wants to support local growers and fishermen. “Flavor-wise, we will try our best to keep it original, but the look we go for adds more veggies,” Sawang says. “It’s healthier, it looks more appetizing. Knowing where your food comes from is a blessing – especially when it comes from your own backyard.”

Spicy Lime is what Sawang calls “just a hole in the wall with good food.” But the fact that the restaurant has been open for nearly seven years in a sleepy downtown seems to suggest a bit more. Natural light from an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows spills into a compact dining room that holds about 11 tables with white tablecloths and glass tops. Locals lunch leisurely while they chat over the hum of the kitchen radio. A smiling Buddha in black paint and strings of twinkle lights adorn a white wall, perpendicular to a sea-foam green one, warming the room with its eclectic charm. Read more here.

Environmental groups lend support to keep Long Wharf a park

Four prominent Massachusetts’ environmental groups have joined the legal fight to keep the tip of Long Wharf a park by filing friend of the court briefs to the state’s highest court. A group of residents known as the North End Ten have been fighting Boston Redevelopment Authority’s six-year effort to expand and enclose an open-air pavilion the public uses at the end of Long Wharf and lease the space to a restaurant.

The residents say the agency, by law, must get approval from the state Legislature to change the use of any park. Yet the BRA says the area is private redevelopment land that can be used to further the city’s urban renewal goals without lawmakers’ approval. In their brief, The Conservation Law Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions and the Trustees of Reservations say the court’s decision would be precedent setting for redevelopment land and “could have profound and damaging effects on protecting open spaces and parks throughout the Commonwealth.” Read more here.

Environmentalists question dollar amount, methods of AVX settlement

NEW BEDFORD – Environmental activists are questioning whether the EPA’s $366 million settlement with Aerovox’s successor, AVX, will be enough money to rid the harbor of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The city and the state “came down here and had a big hoopla about how it’s the biggest settlement from a corporation,” said Hands Across the River President Edwin Rivera. “But you know it’s not enough to cover it.” Calculations on the EPA’s website from 2010 estimate the cleanup costs of New Bedford Harbor to be much higher than the settlement amount. Representatives for the EPA said they stand by the settlement amount and that the $366 million will cover “over 90 percent” of harbor remediations; they estimate the total cost of remediations at $401 million.

Buzzards Bay Coalition President Mark Rasmussen said he is unhappy that the settlement money will be used for CAD cells – specially engineered holes dug in the harbor floor to hold contamination – instead of off-site disposal. Read more here.

Locations of nuclear power stationsNUKE MATTERS in Plymouth: America’s Hometown goes nuclear

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are currently 65 commercially operating nuclear power stations in the U.S. with 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states. These reactors are estimated to produce only 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Power stations have an operational lifespan of 40 years – after which time radioactivity degrades parts, leading to leaks and compromising safety. Despite this, the regulatory body that oversees nuclear facility safety in the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), has extended licenses to facilities allowing them to operate decades past their intended lifespans – including Pilgrim. Despite outstanding concerns, the NRC recently relicensed Pilgrim for another 20 years. These concerns include: Read more here.

Program lets shoppers trace seafood origins

NEW BEDFORD – New Bedford seafood processor Foley Fish has joined forces with Massachusetts supermarket chain Roche Bros. to offer consumers a way to trace the origins of their seafood. Launched earlier this month, the new program, known as Sea Trace, allows the customer to scan a bar code that displays where the fish was caught. It also provides a picture of the fishing boat, a description of the fishing gear used and an assurance that the product was naturally processed.

“It’s exciting for us to promote fish that is locally landed by captains working to bring fresh fish to market,” said Laura Foley Ramsden, co-owner of Foley Fish. “And Roche Bros. is one of the few supermarkets where you can still buy locally landed seafood.” While various conservation groups offer consumers guides to sustainable seafood, none of them considers how seafood is handled after it comes across the dock, according to Foley Fish. Read more here.

College students from 15 universities used engineering software donated by MathWorks last month in Natick to make green modifications on 2013 Chevrolet Malibu cars.MathWorks in Natick hosts project to build eco-friendly cars

If you’re looking for the newest generation of eco-friendly car builders, search no further than Natick. Locally based MathWorks, a company that develops engineering software, has lent a helping hand to the best and brightest college and graduate-level students seeking to learn how to develop and improve upon such cars in the EcoCAR 2 competition.

The company hosted teams of students from 15 US and Canadian universities in Natick late last month, donating software, time, and employees to help students compete in the three-year-long contest challenging them to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu. The competition, which is sponsored by General Motors and overseen by the US Department of Energy, not only seeks to provide students with hands-on educational tools, but also benefits the private companies looking to hire young talent with fresh innovation ideas. Read more here.

Mayor Will FlanaganPink recycling bin effort nets $2,380 for American Cancer Society

A community executive with the American Cancer Society’s New England division, Wills has criss-crossed the state this month as organizations and communities have stepped up their support of breast cancer awareness. Wills’ travels brought her to Fall River, where she was greeted with an oversized check for $2,380 to support the fight against breast cancer.

The money was made possible through the city’s pink recycling bin program. Businesses across the city were offered the opportunity to acquire pink bins for the cost of the bin plus a $5 donation. Mayor Will Flanagan said 152 businesses across the city agreed to participate and purchased a total of 238 bins. In return, the city matched each donation to the American Cancer Society. The pink bin effort began in June 2011, with 85 businesses quickly signing up. Read more here.

New Bedford Public Housing to go smokeless within a year

New Bedford public housing will go smoke-free within a year. Steven Beauregard, executive director of the New Bedford Housing Authority, said that move will be the first volley in a stop-smoking campaign fueled by a $1 million federal grant. About 75 representatives of various local organizations and elected officials assembled to hear the news that SouthCoast had won a “community transformation grant” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It is one of only two in Massachusetts and 48 nationwide, said U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass., and comes in the first round of such grants under the federal Affordable Care Act. The grant goes to a fledgling organization called Voice for a Healthy SouthCoast, which has many partners and is led by the Southcoast Hospitals Group and the YMCA of Greater New Bedford. Read more here.

Leaf Bullet This Week in Sustainability

The Risks and Efficacy of Solar Geoengineering

Thursday, October 25, 5 pm The Green Room, Bldg. 54 Room 915 (Access via 21 Ames St.), Earth, Atmosphere & Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
Solar geoengineering may enable a significant reduction in climate risks by partially offsetting climate change due to increasing greenhouse gases, however this emerging technology entails novel risks and uncertainties along with serious challenges to global governance. Professor Keith will attempt a rough summary of recent findings regarding (a) the climate’s response to radiative forcing by stratospheric aerosols, (b) methods of producing appropriate aerosol distributions, and (c) risks. In closing he will discuss the trade-off between solar geoengineering, emissions reductions and adaptation in climate policy.

Solar geoengineering is the concept of deliberately cooling the Earth by reflecting a small amount of inbound sunlight back into space. It is the only currently known method for reducing temperatures in the short term (years to decades), and therefore has the potential to reduce many of the worst impacts of global warming. But what would be the side effects, both physical and socio-political? How would it work and who gets to decide if it is deployed?

This seminar series, held jointly by the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) and MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, will explore the science, technology, governance and ethics of solar geoengineering. In bringing together international experts, participants will learn some of the greatest challenges and hear opinions on how this technology could and should be managed. Lisa Matthews Read more here.

Bioneers By The Bay: Connecting For Change

October 26 – October 28, 2012 Downtown New Bedford, MA
The 8th Annual Connecting for Change Conference is a three-day SOLUTIONS-BASED gathering that brings together a diverse audience from all over the globe to create deep and positive change in their communities. Presented by the Marion Institute, Bioneers is an unforgettable weekend filled with: live keynote speakers – including Sandor Katz, Judy Wicks and Bill McKibben, afternoon workshops, FAMILY programming, Youth Initiative program, exhibition hall featuring sustainable businesses and organizations, farmers’ market, films and live music, an open mic night; seasonal, local and organic food; art installations and more. Join the Movement. Visit or call (508)748-0816, to register, apply for a scholarship or to volunteer. Read more here.

Paper Shredding Day for South Coast Businesses and Residents

Saturday, October 27, 9 am – 12 noon Parking lot across from New Bedford City Hall on the corner of William and North 6th Streets, enter on the William Street side.
Businesses and residents of New Bedford and the surrounding communities are welcome to bring paper that they want shredded (e.g. bank statements, medical forms, insurance forms, retired tax forms, receipts, personal files). There is a charge of $5 per box for a standard size box used to hold reams of paper. Paper clips and staples do not need to be removed, but please remove paper from folders and binders. Shredded paper will be recycled into new products such as paper towels. New service added: there is a charge of $5 for the destruction of a computer hard drive. For more information, call (508) 979-1493 or email Recycling New Bedford Read more here.

9th Halloween Wildstock Benefit Concert

Saturday, October 27, 6 pm – 1 am Jackie’s Galaxy, 383 Metacom Ave., Bristol, RI
Concert to benefit the care of injured and orphaned wild mammals and birds at The Wildlife Clinic of Rhode Island. Featuring: Rendition, Trinity, Band of Brothers, Liquid Fix and Crushed Velvet. Cost is $20 per ticket. Read more here.

4th Annual New England MREC Technical Conference

Tuesday, October 30 – Wednesday, October 31, 2012 Crowne Plaza, Providence/Warwick, RI
Hosted by the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center, A Center within UMass Dartmouth. Two days of technical presentations on research relating to wave, tide, ocean and river current, offshore wind, environmental monitoring, policy and regulations, industry lessons learned, and more. Now in its 4th year, the Annual New England Marine Renewable Energy Center’s Technical Conference brings together engineers, scientists, policy makers and industry developers to share results of research that will advance the field of water energy.

Join US and international colleagues in a highly technical professionally reviewed and chaired format that is building the body of literature (albeit digitally) on the subject of renewable ocean and river energy generation. There will be ample time for networking with engineers, scientists and policy professionals from government, academia and industry. Technical papers, posters, and exhibits will be available. Graduate students are encouraged to submit abstracts. Attendees are expected from all over the world.

Rates include full access to all technical sessions, keynote addresses, exhibit and poster display area; daily continental breakfast, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, lunch and ticket to hosted reception on Tuesday October 30, 2012. See rates here. Register here.

Fall Farmers’ Market at UMass Dartmouth

ONGOING: Wednesdays in September and October, 10:00AM – 3:00PM, Center of Campus, Outside Campus Center Facing Academic Buildings
Vendors selling at the market will be supplying produce, eggs, natural bottled foods, homemade cookies, coffee cakes, oils and vinegars, home made soaps, acrylic paintings and much more. Please come and join the fun. Parking available in Lot 7a at UMass Dartmouth. Follow the walkway to the stairs leading towards the center of the campus.

Seeds of Sustainability at BCC Fall Workshop Series

ONGOING: Every Wednesday, 2:00PM-3:00PM, September 26 – November 28 Bristol Community College, Fall River, MA
The student organization Seeds of Sustainability is sponsoring a series of workshops this fall to encourage people to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. Topics/activities for classes include edibles walk, canning and preservation, composting, seed saving, permaculture, the art of brewing tea, and making your own household cleaners. Please note that all are FREE and will be held in room E-101 on the Fall River campus of BCC. Questions? Contact Dr. Jim Corven at (508) 268-2811, ext. 3047 or email or Mark Zajac, Director of Seeds of Sustainability, here.

Leaf Bullet Save The Date

Sustainable Schools Summit

Friday, November 2, 8 am – 1 pm Rhode Island College – 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence, RI 02908
This free event will bring together an array of educational constituents in the name of sustainability. The event is designed to connect the dots between educators, students, parents, administrators, facility managers and community members in an effort to share best practices and learn more about the growing sustainability movement in the context of schools.Read more and Register here.

Fairhaven Community-Building and Visioning Forum

Sunday, November 4, 2012, 1:00PM – 4:00PM Fairhaven Town Hall, Center St. Fairhaven, MA
The “Beyond the Bicentennial” campaign’s Community Visioning Forum concerns all residents, organizations, and businesses in Fairhaven, MA. It will be a professionally facilitated action-planning session and opportunity for community members to have their voices heard regarding their idealized vision for Fairhaven’s future. It’s a means to officially determine what the people of Fairhaven want and believe their town needs, and how to attain and/or preserve them. From all this sharing of ideas and acknowledgment of the issues, groups and strategies will be formed to continue courses of action. This forum is true community participation meant to bring about real change. Don’t miss out on the chance to shake up Town Hall. This forum is sponsored by the Fairhaven Sustainability Committee and the Fairhaven Bicentennial Committee. People wishing to attend should RSVP at our official event page, Event Brite. This isn’t required, but we’d like to attain a strong headcount for providing refreshments.
For more information, go to our website, or email here. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Winter Growing with Movable Greenhouses

Sunday, November 4, 1 pm – 4 pm Roots Farm, 217 East Road, Tiverton, RI
Roots Farm is one of the few farms in Rhode Island with movable greenhouses. Mike and Kelli will discuss the advantages and uses of movable houses and low tunnels for winter growing. Attendees will learn how to (and help) move the two houses that day, weather permitting. Roots Farm is a certified organic vegetable farm, with a focus on year-round growing using only the sun for heat. This free event is geared toward farmers, farm apprentices and farm workers, but everyone is welcome. No registration required. Read more here.

Film Screening: A Sea Change (2009, 83 minutes)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 6:30PM UMass Dartmouth, Woodland Commons Building
This film follows the journey of retired history teacher Sven Huseby on his quest to discover what is happening to the world’s oceans. After reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Darkening Sea,” Sven becomes obsessed with the rising acidity of the oceans and what this “sea change” bodes for mankind. His quest takes him to Alaska, California, Washington, and Norway as he uncovers a worldwide crisis that most people are unaware of. Speaking with oceanographers, marine biologists, climatologists, and artists, Sven discovers that global warming is only half the story of the environmental catastrophe that awaits us. Learn more here.

Council on Sustainability Energy Efficiency Seminar

Thursday, November 8, 2012, 8:30AM – 1:00PM UMass Dartmouth, Woodland Commons Building
One of four seminars being presented by SRPEDD and the Sustainability Office designed to help municipalities in the Southcoast region realize the financial and environmental benefits of energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and local food production.

The first seminar is on Energy Efficiency. Keynoted by Rick Sullivan, MA Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. With a welcome by Chancellor Grossman. Other speakers include Steve Grattan from NStar, Steve Smith from SRPEDD and officials from Fairhaven, Lakeville and Mansfield. They will introduce the numerous programs available to help Massachusetts cities and towns become more energy efficient in their buildings, streetlights, vehicles and public works operation. Attendance is FREE. Contact the Sustainability Office for more information. Register here

Workshop: “The Work that Reconnects”

Saturday, November 10, 9:30 am – 5 pm New Bedford Unitarian Church, 71 Eighth Street, New Bedford, MA 02740 (corner of Union and County Streets)
Join Emily Johns and Karina Lutz for a day-long spiral of “The Work that Reconnects.” This perspective-changing, life-affirming experiential learning process was developed by Joanna Macy and other deep ecologists ( It helps us face, feel, and make sense of our increasing and multiple global catastrophes: from Fukushima to the Gulf of Mexico, the Afghan War to global warming, to the intertwined unemployment, foreclosure, energy, and financial crises. We’ll work to reclaim the energy for action that is thwarted when we put our natural responses to these crises on the back burner or suppress them altogether. We’ll reclaim our sense of interconnectedness with each other and as part of the web of life in Earth. Contact Emily Johns at 508-994-2164 or Karina Lutz at (401)941-2874 Read more and Register here.

Film Screening: Happy (2011, 75 minutes)

Tuesday, November 27, 6:30 pm UMass Dartmouth – 285 Old Westport Rd., No. Dartmouth, MA. 02747 – Woodland Commons CR1
The latest award-winning film from Academy Award nominated director, Roko Belic (Genghis Blues) and Executive Producer, Tom Shadyac (I AM), takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion. Read more here.

Leaf Bullet Announcements

Internship/ Independent Study Abroad in Panama available for almost all majors

Kalu Yala is a sustainable community that will be built in the mountains about 45 minutes outside Panama City, Panama. Working to build a truly sustainable community, Kalu Yala is founded on the core tenants of culture, new urbanism architecture, organic food, wellness, recreation, education, preservation, and conservation of the natural environment. The Kalu Yala Valley is located in the rainforest highlands of Central Panama in a 7,000-acre valley that backs up to the Chagres National Park. The internship program allows students and young professionals to come to Panama and gain cultural exposure, work experience, and knowledge in order to create a project that will ultimately help shape this sustainable community. Internships take place in 3 venues: creating the town’s foundation in the Kalu Yala Valley; creating relationships in the neighboring town of San Miguel; and working on business logistics in Panama City. Since Summer 2010, Kalu Yala has had interns from 38 states, 12 countries and 80 colleges.
Upcoming semester dates:
Spring Internship Dates: January 14th- April 12th
Summer Internship Dates: May 20th- August 2nd (Early Admission Deadline: February 4th)

    Programs include:

  • Business Development and Entrepreneurship in Panama City
  • Community Outreach in the rural town of San Miguel
  • Digital Development in Panama City
  • Education in San Miguel
  • Living Systems (Agriculture, Animal Science, and Biology) in the Kalu Yala valley
  • Outdoor Recreation in the Kalu Yala valley


Interns are encouraged to come up with and implement their own semester project. Some interns choose to do solo projects while others work in groups to make their dream a reality. Along the way, our Program Directors are always happy to help them plan and lend a helping hand. Students can apply online by filling in the application form here or email for more information.
Read more about the program here
Watch a video from the program here.

Massachusetts Honored for Second Year in Energy Efficiency

Originally appeared in the Boston Globe

Massachusetts is the most energy-efficient state for the second year in a row, according to rankings by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. This is the sixth year the council, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, has rated states according to criteria such as utility programs, state initiatives, policies, and building codes aimed at improving energy efficiency. The council said the state’s Green Communities Act – one of several pieces of environmental legislation passed in 2008 – contributed to Massachusetts’ keeping the number one spot. “The Act laid the foundation for greater investments in energy efficiency programs by requiring gas and electric utilities to save a large and growing percentage of energy every year through energy efficiency,” the report said.

Massachusetts surpassed California as the most energy efficient state last year. California held the top spot for the first four years of the council’s ranking, while Massachusetts was ranked second in 2009 and 2010. “We are proud to have maintained the number one spot in the nation because of our continued focus on innovation and investments in energy efficiency,” Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement. “Our Green Communities Act is cutting our dependence on imported energy sources, creating jobs, and leading the way to a more sustainable future for Massachusetts.” Read the full story here

Leaf Bullet Green Tip

Clothes dryer efficiency tips

In some situations, a clothes line just isn’t an option, so here are some tips for reducing environmental impact of clothes dryer use – and the impact on your wallet. Learn more here.

Leaf Bullet Preparedness Tip

Build an ultra-efficient DIY wood stove from tin cans

Using little more than two tin cans, and a few readily available tools, you can build a stove that boils water in minutes for next to nothing. Learn more here.


Quote of the Week

"We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do."
~ Barbara Ward, Economist

Clip of the Week

Urban Air Billboard Garden
To artist Stephen Glassman, billboards are a canvas, and a potential tool for confronting pollution challenges as cities grow. To understand how it'll look, picture a simple billboard, but instead of an advertisement, imagine tall stalks of bamboo and other native plants that gobble up carbon dioxide and create a tiny, cool microclimate.

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