Sustainability Almanac for November 1 to 8



Leaf Bullet Letter from the Editors

Supercomputer Our thoughts, prayers, and wishes go out to those who felt the force of Hurricane Sandy.

Supercomputers can make millions of scientific and mathematical calculations in a matter of seconds. They are also enormous, expensive and require lots of energy. The Titan Supercomputer in Tennessee can make trillions of calculations in one second making it perhaps the fastest computer in the world. Yet, it draws no more electricity than other supercomputers. The secret is the merging of central processing units (CPU) with graphics processing units (GPU). GPUs are normally used for creating video games, but they have astonishing data-driven computing aptitude. It’s also because of this energy-efficient and sustainable design that the Titan is being utilized by U.S. government and laboratories for research and calculations for projects in climate change, fuel-efficiency, renewable energy, waste management, and biomimicry.

Despite increased fuel-efficiency standards, studies show that improvements in the U.S. fuel-economy are sluggish due to another factor: passenger weight. As cars get lighter and more advanced, drivers get heavier, equaling a zero sum gain. Obesity is driving fuel-efficiency down no matter how much mileage per gallon our vehicles are designed to meet. Obese drivers and passengers are negating fuel-efficiency and increasing fuel-consumption. Criticism over rising obesity rates in this country aside, the author study makes the following case: “We’ve built a nation around forcing people to drive. The question is, if we structure our lifestyle around the automobile, will that exacerbate the obesity problem in the nation…?”

Sweden’s known for many things: beautiful landscapes; models; music; healthcare; architecture; IKEA; and fish. It’s also known for being one of the cleanest countries in the world. Pollution is scarce in the Nordic country. Only 4% of trash in Sweden ends up in landfills, with the rest either recycled or used for its massive waste-to-energy program. Waste energy is used to generate electricity and heat many homes and businesses, making Sweden one of the most efficient countries in the world. Well, there is such a thing as being too efficient. Sweden needs to import trash from other countries in order to run its waste management and heating facilities. Of course, Sweden knows how to profit by this; countries are paying them to haul away their trash.

Leaf Bullet Global News

Trash in Italy that Sweden wants exported. Sweden Wants Your Trash

Move over Abba, Sweden has found new fame. The small Nordic country is breaking records – in waste. Sweden’s program of generating energy from garbage is wildly successful, but recently its success has also generated a surprising issue: There is simply not enough trash. Only 4 percent of Swedish garbage ends up in a landfill, according to Swedish Waste Management. Due to its efficiency in converting waste to renewable energy, Sweden has recently begun importing around 800,000 tons of trash annually from other countries. Read more here.

While phytoplankton are microscopic, they're critical to the foundation of the marine food chain. Rising Ocean Temps Threaten the Ocean Food Chain

Of all the plants and animals facing a potentially dire future because of climate change, a study released paints a potentially grim picture for one of the most important and underappreciated groups of living things on Earth. The study reports that phytoplankton – water-dwelling, single-celled micro-organisms including algae and other species – may have trouble adjusting to rising ocean temperatures. “Phytoplankton have evolved to do really well at current temperatures,” said lead author Mrudil Thomas, of Michigan State University, “but if they don’t evolve further, the warming this century is going to lead them to move their ranges, and their diversity in tropical oceans may drop considerably.”

That could be a very big deal. Phytoplankton are not only the very foundation of the marine food chain, but they also consume about half of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere, and take it to the bottom of the sea with them when they die. Read more here.

Illustration of Apps for phones Smartphone apps allow users to see critical environmental issues

With smartphones and tablets becoming increasingly popular, so are their applications or ‘apps’. Collins Geo, a cartographic team of UK-based developers has created an interactive app that enables users to explore global data on several critical issues, including how human populations are impacting the natural world and the production and consumption of energy resources. Recently released, Atlas by Collins uses a series of 3D globes to illustrate seven topics, including energy, the environment, politics, and population.

Another cool environmental application is the new WAZE smartphone navigation app that recently introduced a water pollution detector. The feature informs users if the lake or river they pass by or intend on using for recreation suffers from pollution. Read more here.

Bacterial spores are added to the concrete mix; they are activated by water Experimental concrete that re-seals cracks by itself undergoing tests

The concrete contains limestone-producing bacteria, which are activated by corrosive rainwater working its way into the structure. The new material could potentially increase the service life of the concrete – with considerable cost savings as a result. It is the brainchild of microbiologist Henk Jonkers and concrete technologist Eric Schlangen. If all goes well, Dr Jonkers says they could start the process of commercialising the system in 2-3 years.

Bacterial spores and the nutrients they will need to feed on are added as granules into the concrete mix. But water is the missing ingredient required for the microbes to grow. So the spores remain dormant until rainwater works its way into the cracks and activates them. The harmless bacteria – belonging to the Bacillus genus – then feed on the nutrients to produce limestone. Read more here.

Other Global Headlines of Interest

Leaf Bullet National News

Titan Supercomputer In Race for World’s Fastest Supercomputer, U.S. Lab Deploys a Titan

The Titan system at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is a leading contender to top the industry’s official list of the world’s fastest supercomputers. It can handle 20,000 trillion calculations each second-a speed of 20 petaflops. It would take 60,000 years for 1,000 people working at a rate of one calculation per second to complete the number of calculations that Titan can process in a single second.

But Titan’s signature achievement is how little energy it burns while blazing through those computations.Titan’s energy-saving secret is a “hybrid” architecture that boosts the power of central processing units (CPUs) by marrying them to high-performance, energy-efficient graphical processing units (GPUs)-the technology that propels and animates today’s most popular video games. Because Titan marks an achievement in energy efficiency, it is perhaps appropriate that one of its primary uses will be to advance science on the future of energy. Read more here.

Drought-damaged corn yields In aftermath of drought, U.S. corn movement turns upside down

The devastating U.S. drought and ensuing crop disease are upending traditional grain movement patterns, with dozens of trains and barges shipping North Dakota or Mississippi corn into the Corn Belt rather than out to the coasts. Processors and ethanol producers in No. 2 corn state Illinois, where the average corn yield was the lowest in nearly 25 years, are “importing” millions of bushels of the grain – an unprecedented volume – from North Dakota, which produced a record crop this year, trade sources said.

While atypical shipments are not unheard of in the agricultural market, traders say the scale of this year’s upheaval is unprecedented. It is being fueled both by the dramatic difference between drought-hit Midwest crops and bumper harvests in fringe states, as well as the prevalence of a naturally occurring toxin, aflatoxin, that can harm livestock. The unusual grain flow could foreshadow a scramble for quality corn supplies in the months to come as end-users work through the smallest U.S. harvest in six years. Read more here.

Big Gut Is Obesity a Heavy Drag on Fuel Economy?

Consumer worries over gas prices and new fuel-efficiency regulations are causing automakers to get serious about trimming fat from their cars, with some even swapping out hard-copy owner’s manuals for flash drives in the push to cut weight. But an insurance company has compiled data suggesting that car companies’ efforts are being stymied by increasing loads on one key area: the driver’s seat.

According to an infographic created by the insurer Allstate and to explain the relation between fuel economy and obesity, “the growing trend of American obesity adds unexpected weight to vehicles, making it difficult for consumers to realize fuel efficiency gains.” Indeed, studies suggest that America’s obesity epidemic is having a significant impact on gas consumption and fuel economy in more ways than one. Read more here.

Underwater National ocean policy sparks partisan fight

Partisan battles are engulfing the nation’s ocean policy, showing that polarization over environmental issues doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. Conservative Republicans warn that the administration is determined to expand its regulatory reach and curb the extraction of valuable energy resources, while many Democrats, and their environmentalist allies, argue that the policy will keep the ocean healthy and reduce conflicts over its use.

The wrangling threatens to overshadow a fundamental issue – the country’s patchwork approach to managing offshore waters.”The whole concept of national ocean policy is to maximize the benefit and minimize the damage. What’s not to love?” said Les Kaufman, Boston University Biologist, adding that federal officials make decisions about offshore energy production, fisheries and shipping without proper coordination. Read more here.

Other National Headlines of Interest

Leaf BulletVoices

Colorful Orca Illustration Geoengineering: Testing the Waters

An American entrepreneur named Russ George dumped 120 tons of iron dust off the hull of a rented fishing boat off the coast of British Columbia; the plan was to create an algae bloom that would sequester carbon and thereby combat climate change. Mr. George is one of a growing number of would-be geoengineers who advocate high-risk, large-scale technical interventions that would fundamentally change the oceans and skies in order to reduce the effects of global warming. In addition to Mr. George’s scheme to fertilize the ocean with iron, other geoengineering strategies under consideration include pumping sulfate aerosols into the upper atmosphere to imitate the cooling effects of a major volcanic eruption and “brightening” clouds so they reflect more of the sun’s rays back to space.

The risks are huge. Ocean fertilization could trigger dead zones and toxic tides. And multiple simulations have predicted that mimicking the effects of a volcano would interfere with monsoons in Asia and Africa, potentially threatening water and food security for billions of people. Most news reports characterize Mr. George as a “rogue” geoengineer. But what concerns me, after researching the subject for two years for a forthcoming book on climate change, is that far more serious scientists, backed by far deeper pockets, appear poised to actively tamper with the complex and unpredictable natural systems that sustain life on earth – with huge potential for unintended consequences. Read more here.

Prop 37 sign Just Label It: Let the People Decide

I’ve farmed all my life and I have to tell you, all food is not the same. No food or farming system is perfect, but as farmers, as citizens, we should not be forced to accept a globalized, industrialized, genetically modified system of agricultural production. I dropped out of the conventional farming system (seeing organic production as a better, safer and more productive alternative) just as the revolution of genetic modification (GM) and its “promise” to feed the world was being forced upon the world. When I say forced, I mean just that.

Our current food system, dominated by intensive farming practices (notably GM crops), is a system that is failing in so many ways. It is a system that has destroyed rural economies worldwide. A system that contributes to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, food allergies, heart disease and cancer for some, while at the same time allowing hunger to persist for others. A system that that is controlled by multi-national corporations whose interest is profit, not healthy food, not land stewardship, and certainly not fair prices for farmers. Read more here

Illustration of Climate Silence Filling The Silence: What Obama and Romney Should Have Said (Had They Been Asked A Climate Question At The Debates)

It’s hard to take, frankly. Another presidential debate and no mention of the most important, and most pressing, issue of all. The glaring omission of climate disruption from the presidential campaign represents an escape from reality (anyone else think it’s telling that the final debate was scheduled to coincide with Monday Night Football and the MLB playoffs?) and a lost opportunity that history will judge harshly. We need presidential leadership on the issue, and I think it’s worth considering not just what the candidates would have said if a debate moderator had found time to ask a climate question, but what they could and should have said. I offer the following as an escape to reality:

“Thank you, Jim/Candy/Bob, very much for asking about where we stand on the issue of climate change. How we answer this question will have a great deal to do with how we will fare with the other challenges raised in these debates…” Read more here.

Also read Climate Change, Hurricanes and the Fate of America’s Coastal Cities

Leaf Bullet Local News

A satellite image shows Hurricane Sandy as it battered the East Coast on Monday Effects of climate change increase risk of storms’ impacts

Climate change is probably part of Sandy’s story, scientists and environmentalists say, but there are also short-term weather forces conspiring to create the sprawling, powerful storm. The interwoven ways climate and weather operate make it difficult to say any one storm is attributable to climate change – or that it is not. “It will always be a combination of both climate change and natural variability,” said Todd Sanford, climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Cambridge-based research and advocacy group. While researchers are studying how climate change is causing types of extreme weather to increase, he said, more important “is knowing how a changing climate is affecting the risk of impacts with these storms.”

For example, rising sea levels in the Northeast, which are increasing three to four times faster than global rates, according to federal statistics, will bring more flooding and damaging storm surges that ride atop high seas. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, meaning storms could drop more precipitation. Read more here.

The University of Rhode Island is removing about 15 acres of farmland URI Rips Up Fine Farmland to Build Parking Lot

Construction on the University of Rhode Island campus, at Flagg Road and Plains Road, has forever removed a significant portion of agricultural land from the state’s supply. The building of a 330-vehicle parking lot and a new road began about a month before Rhode Island voters are asked to approve $20 million in bond money (Question 6 on the Nov. 6 state ballot) for Narragansett Bay restoration, open space protection, state park improvements and, yes, farmland preservation. This ironic twist wasn’t lost on Michael Sullivan, a professor of agronomy at the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences. “This is an exceptionally poor example of environmental advocacy,” the former director of the state Department of Environmental Management said. “The state will soon be asking voters to fund $4.5 million for farmland preservation while a land-grant university is paving over 15 acres.” Read more here.

Taunton Landfill Taunton landfill waste-to-energy project takes big step forward

TAUNTON – After nearly a decade of trying to find an alternative to the city’s current solid waste landfill, the city council voted to approve a hybrid agreement with WeCare Organics LLC and Interstate Waste Technologies

IWT proposes to build a trash-to-energy facility where waste would be processed into gasoline through a unique heating process called gasification. IWT’s model does not exist in operation yet, but its promise to the city is to deliver millions of dollars in tipping fees while eliminating waste in a single process. WeCare proposes a traditional waste removal model, including a transfer station and recycling center. Read more here.

This rendering provided by William Stark Architects in Fall River shows the proposal to use 1.1 acres Fall River pressing ahead with two park projects totaling $875,000

FALL RIVER – Local groups are contributing more than $100,000 to help build an “inclusion playground” at Kennedy Park, while beautification for a parklike setting around Highland Elementary School could also begin soon, Mayor Will Flanagan announced. The two projects would cost about $875,000, and Flanagan plans to ask the City Council to bond them over 15 years.

First inclusion park. For the first time, children and adults with disabilities would be able to access a playground and use the playground equipment, Flanagan and Community Maintenance Director Kenneth Pacheco said. Read more here.

Urbanica Project Giving back to the electric grid

The proposition sounds far-fetched: Build a home in Boston so efficient that it produces more energy than it consumes, and price it for less than $400,000. Urbanica is one of three companies selected by the city to design and construct 10 energy-positive homes – those that produce more energy than they consume annually – on city-owned land in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. Eleven teams submitted proposals in a city design competition for the development rights, and city officials said the high level of interest will lead to additional projects in coming years.

The Urbanica Projectachieves its energy-positive goals largely through the use of rooftop solar panels, although the homes have numerous other energy-efficient features. City officials said homeowners should be able to sell excess power to their electric company and use the proceeds to further lower their utility costs. Read more here.

Plymouth area residents cry foul over industry moving into their back yards

Pick a wind turbine, any turbine at all, and chances are the project is under attack. The one at Camelot Park is the exception. But this 364-foot turbine is located nowhere near residential properties, unlike the majority that have been proposed in America’s Hometown. “We have nine wind turbine proposals in the town of Plymouth,” Director of Planning and Development Lee Hartmann said. Wind turbines have been pitched as green possibilities at Plymouth North and South High Schools, but the projects fizzled when pushback from the neighborhood intensified.

While private property owners continue to propose wind turbines on their property, Plymouth County land is exempt from local zoning restrictions, Hartmann said, leading one to wonder if this land will become a prime target for industrial turbines. Meanwhile, smaller projects don’t make headlines – like the ones aligned with the town’s Wind Energy Conversion bylaw for wind turbines less than 100-feet tall that don’t connect to the grid. Read more here.

New trash carts are being moved into the old incinerator building at the DPW headquarters. Fall River aims to have last trash, recycling carts out to homes by Election Day

FALL RIVER – Barring a hurricane, the last 13,400 trash and recycling carts could be delivered to city homes by Election Day. Whether delivery crews can meet that deadline with Hurricane Sandy looming is probably as difficult to predict as who will be elected president or Massachusetts senator.

But Community Maintenance Director Kenneth Pacheco said that – after a week of delivering the last round of green trash carts and blue single-stream recycling carts – this last rollout is in line to complete the program for all residents. This program that began as a pilot under former Mayor Robert Correia in the summer of 2009, should see the full 55,000 65- and 95-gallon carts delivered to about 34,000 homes by Nov. 5, Pacheco said. Read more here.

White pine saplings Crews taking down red pines in Wareham’s Minot Forest

A project to rid Minot Forest of a legion of dead red pine trees is now underway. “It’s going to look devastated, but the new growth is coming up already,” said Minot Forest Committee Chair Angela Dunham. The project began about a year ago after Tropical Storm Irene hit Wareham and knocked over a number of red pines, many of which are extremely tall and extremely brittle. They’re not native to the area, and actually thrive in colder climates further north.

The red pines prevent the native white pines from getting the sunlight they need to thrive. This project will clear away the remains of the non-native red pine and allow native plants to flourish. Read more here.

Mario Marini, owner of Marini Farms Massachusetts farms receive sustainability grants

The governor’s office announced 27 grants totaling $325,000 to Massachusetts farmers to implement renewable energy systems and improve energy efficiency on farms. With funds from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Agricultural Energy Grant Program, Topsfield’s Valley View Farm will receive $20,000 to help build a cheese cave, and Ipswich’s Marini Farm will receive $5,000 for a biomass incinerator.

“These grants will give our farmers the resources for economic success and drive our clean energy future,” Governor Deval Patrick said in a prepared statement. “They are a step in delivering on our goal to make Massachusetts a leader in the clean energy revolution that is sweeping the world.” Read more here.

Lisa Raiola Nonproft Working to Bring Hope to Local Food

WARREN – In 2005, when she was diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer, Lisa Raiola, a Bristol resident who currently works as an administrator at Roger Williams University, told herself that “if I ever got better I would do something with nutrition.” Eventually, she did get better, and when she did, she decided to start her own health-focused food business.

Local residents turned out in droves to a town financial meeting to support Raiola’s purchase of the school building, a purchase that is critical to the release of a $3 million low-interest loan to Raiola’s nonprofit, Hope & Main, which aims to provide aspiring chefs and food growers with access to affordable licensed commercial kitchens. In the nearly 100-year-old, 17,500-square-foot building she saw the potential to create a new kind of school, one that would help aspiring food professionals bring their ideas for new products to market, a place that would provide job training to inexperienced chefs, a place where food growers could work with vocational students to flash-freeze their harvest. Read more here.

Skinny Dip Farm Westport’s Skinny Dip Farm offers an abundance of cut flowers

Fall River – The days are growing shorter and colder, and while most people will be sad to see the summer end, for Ben and Hannah Wolbach, colder weather means a small respite from their hard work. Using organic methods, the Wolbachs grow herbs like basil, dill, cilantro, and parsley, baby salad greens like arugula, spinach, lettuce, and baby kale, and many vegetables, including sugar snap peas, okra, broccoli, beets, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and pumpkins. The couple has also garnered a significant following for their incredible organic flowers. Skinny Dip Farm grows more than 70 varieties of flowers. Read more here.

North turbine off while Fairhaven Wind, NStar search for problem

FAIRHAVEN – The north turbine remains offline as Fairhaven Wind worked with NStar to locate the part of the turbine’s electrical equipment that was keeping the turbine off. Fairhaven Wind Developer Sumul Shah said the turbine automatically shut down Sunday night when sensors in electrical equipment detected an inconsistent current flowing through the electric grid. Shah attributed the electrical inconsistency to outer bands of wind from Hurricane Sandy that arrived in SouthCoast Sunday night. Read more here.

Leaf Bullet This Week in Sustainability

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.

Eating with the Ecosystem 6: Georges Bank at Tallulah on Thames

Monday, November 5, 6 pm – 8 pm 464 Thames Street, Newport, RI
Charting a course for sustainable seafood in the City by the Sea… Georges Bank is the shallow offshore plateau that lured Europeans to America with its wealth of cod and other bottom fish. Today’s fishing boats have come a long way from those of yesteryear, but Georges Bank still fills their holds with groundfish and scallops. Join Chef Jake Rojas for a culinary tour of this legendary ecosystem. Featuring fish and shellfish caught by local fishermen and landed in New Bedford, MA and Point Judith, RI, the dinner will be narrated by a guest scientist and a guest fisherman intimately acquainted with this rich yet changing ecosystem.
Tickets are available by calling the restaurant at (401) 849-2433 Hosted by Eating with the Ecosystem and Tallulah on Thames. Email Sarah Schumann or call (401) 297-6273 for more information. Read more here.

Trail Walk

Wednesday, November 7, 10:30am – NoonLloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
Be inspired by nature, exercise and discover the Lloyd Center trails. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature as the seasons change. Each walk is different and highlights various plants, animals or the history of the Lloyd Center’s property. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and bring non-alcoholic hydration.
Pre-registration required by Noon on Tuesday, November 6th Price: Members: FREE Non-members: $2 Pre-register online, or call the Center’s Event line at 508-558-2918. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Jen at 508-990-0505 x 14, or email Register 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

Public Lecture at New England Aquarium: Underwater Eden

Thursday, November 8, 2012, 6:30PMNew England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Attendance is FREE. The Aquarium will feature its new book Underwater Eden: Saving the Last Coral Wilderness on Earth. This book is about the Aquarium’s work over the last decade to set up one of the world’s largest marine protected area in the Phoenix Islands (Kiribati) in the central Pacific Ocean. Most of Phoenix Islands’ fabled coral reefs have begun to recover despite recent bleaching incidents. In 2010, the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Several Aquarium employees, some who contributed to the book will speak about their expeditions to te isolated archipelago including Steve Bailey, Curator of Fishes, Dr. Randi Rotjan, coral reef research scientist, and Heather Tausig, Vice President of Conservation. Peter Shelley, an environmental lawyer who helped create the marine protected area, will also participate. The book’s author, Dr. Greg S. Stone, will also be part of the discussion. A book signing will follow. Learn more and register here. Contact (617) 973-5200 for more information.

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

Buzzards Bay Film Festival

Friday, November 9 to Sunday, November 11, Evenings Various Locations
The Buzzards Bay Film Festival is a celebration of Buzzards Bay, a 233-square mile estuary in Southeastern Massachusetts nestled between the mainland shore, western Cape Cod, and the Elizabeth Islands. The Buzzards Bay Film Festival will focus on the Bay, its watershed, and the 360,000 people who live in its surrounding towns and cities. The Buzzards Bay Film Festival welcomes films whose subjects are as rich and diverse as the life in and around the Bay. We’d like films on almost any subject, as long as, in some way, Buzzards Bay or its watershed is in it. The Festival is open to all. Whether you’re a student, a seasoned professional or an inspired amateur, if you’ve made a documentary, narrative film, or animation – send it along.
It will take place on the evening of November 9, 2012 at the First Congregational Church, Falmouth, Massachusetts; the evening of November 10, at Gallery X, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and November 11 at the Zeiterion Theater in New Bedford. The Festival will then travel to other venues in Buzzards Bay towns for mini-galas and screenings. Learn more 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.

Tax Seminar on Health Care Costs

Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 6:00PMUMass Dartmouth, Foster Administration Building, Room 333
Do you have medical expenses for yourself or a dependant? Do you wonder where best to deduct these costs on your tax return to save the most money? Ed Sylvia, CPA, will help cut through the difficult language of the tax code. This session will discuss costs like home expenses for the care of aging parents, home improvements for the disabled, medical insurance, long-term healthcare insurance, assisted living facilities, and nursing home expenses. If you have questions about tax deductibility of medical costs, this session is for you. FREE, please RSVP online or by calling 508.999.8031 before November 12, 2012. Directions and parking information will be provided in your confirmation email. Learn more and register here. This event is sponsored by the UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association and is open to all UMass Dartmouth alumni and friends.

Lecture Series at New England Aquarium: Double Exposure: Photographing Environmental Change

Thursday, November 15, 2012, 6:30PMNew England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Attendance is FREE. David Arnold, former Boston Globe reporter, has documented the dramatic changes that have taken place in coral reefs and glaciers around the world. By revisiting locations photographed decades earlier by the late Bradford Washburn and various underwater photography pioneers, Arnold illustrates the effects of climate change and other human activities. Joining Arnold for this presentation is New England Aquarium president and CEO Bud Ris. He will preface Arnold’s presentation with a brief overview of the latest scientific information about how climate change has begun to affect the oceans.
Learn more and register here. Contact (617) 973-5200 for more information.

Turkey Trot

Saturday, November 17, 10:30am – NoonLloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
Just in time for Thanksgiving – search for turkeys on a guided walk at the Lloyd Center! During this two-hour program participants make turkey callers and head out on the trails to search for signs of these large birds. Adults will make a beautiful Thanksgiving centerpiece while children use their own turkey feathers to make a craft to take home. Please be advised that an adult must accompany their children during the program.
Pre-registration required by 4:00 p.m., Thursday, November 15th Price: Adult individual: Members: $16 Non-members: $20 Pre-register online, or call the Center’s Event line at 508-558-2918. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Jen at 508-990-0505 x 14, or email Learn more here.


Wednesday, November 21, 9:00am – NoonLloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
Stretch your legs and prepare yourself for Thanksgiving during this three-hour stroll around the Lloyd Center property. During this hike we highlight the natural history of the area and give participants a chance to speculate how certain areas of the Lloyd Center were used in the past. This walk utilizes all of the Lloyd Center’s trails and is a great opportunity to tour the property. Dress for the weather and bring non-alcoholic hydration.
Pre-registration required 4:00 p.m., Monday, November 19th Price: Members: $8 Non-members: $10 Pre-register online, or call the Center’s Event line at 508-558-2918. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Jen at 508-990-0505 x 14, or email Learn more 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.

Lecture Series at New England Aquarium: Rise Above Plastics

Thursday, November 29, 2012, 6:30PMNew England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Attendance is FREE. Plastic-it’s all around us. Water bottles, toothbrushes, cell phones, food containers-we can’t seem to go even a few minutes without touching something made of plastic. While greatly advancing convenience in the modern world, the extreme increase in production of single-use plastics has begun to wreak havoc on the marine environment. Join Sarah Lecus as she discusses the effects of plastic on humans and the environment, and how we can all make small changes to rise above plastics. Learn more and register here. Contact (617) 973-5200 for more information.

Where Has Everyone Gone? A Hike and Scavenger Hunt

Saturday, December 1, 10:00am – 11:30amLloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
Bring the whole family to the Lloyd Center and learn ways that animals survive the cold. During this program we set out on a scavenger hunt to discover where animals are spending the winter. Enjoy fun games and learn how animals survive during the coldest time of the year. After hiking we take an up-close look at some critters that live in the nature center and learn how they differ from their wild counterparts.
Pre-registration required by 4:00 p.m., Thursday, November 29th Price: Members: $4 Non-members: $5 All ages welcome Pre-register online, or call the Center’s Event line at 508-558-2918. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Jen at 508-990-0505 x 14, or email Learn more here.

Trail Walk

Wednesday, December 5, 8:30am – 10:00amLloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
Be inspired by nature, exercise and discover the Lloyd Center trails. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature as the seasons change. Each walk is different and highlights various plants, animals or the history of the Lloyd Center’s property. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and bring non-alcoholic hydration.
Pre-registration required by Noon on Tuesday, December 4th Price: Members: FREE Non-members: $2 Pre-register online, or call the Center’s Event line at 508-558-2918. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Jen at 508-990-0505 x 14, or email Register here.

Lecture Series at New England Aquarium: Adventures in Sustainable Seafood

Thursday, December 6, 2012, 6:30PMNew England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Attendance is FREE. Bun Lai is the chef and owner of the highly acclaimed Connecticut restaurant Miya’s, one of the first sustainable sushi restaurants in the world. At Miya’s, he has rethought the cuisine of sushi using unconventional ingredients that are farmed or caught in a way that is restorative and regenerative of the planet. In addition to receiving the key to the City of New Haven and the Seafood Ambassador Award from Monterey Bay Aquarium, he has been named Greatest Person of the Day by The Huffington Post and one of Ecosalon’s 11 Eco-Chefs Who Are Changing the Way We Think About Food. The New York Times recently described Bun as “the mad scientist of the sustainable sushi movement.” For fun, Bun likes to go diving for clams and seaweed off of the restaurant’s fishing boat on their 100-acre ocean farm. Learn more and register here. Contact (617) 973-5200 for more information.

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

Leaf It for Compost

Instead of bagging up all those pretty fall leaves and stacking them out at the curb, turn them into compost, and save energy and landfill space. Learn more here.

Leaf Bullet Preparedness Tip

Deconstructing the Emergency Bag: Packing a Kit Is Tougher Than It Looks

The time you spend packing your bag can be the best way to make it have the lowest impact, now and during a disaster. Search out products and supplies that are organic, made of natural materials where appropriate and practical, and other steps to make it as low-footprint as possible. After all, in a disaster there are already enough eco-problems to deal with — why let our emergency kits be part of the problem? 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.

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events.