Sustainability Almanac for December 13-20



Leaf Bullet Letter from the Editor

ScarecrowHormones and antibiotics in factory farm and processed foods is a global concern. It’s an area of the food industry that has become unregulated with few displays of enforcement from agencies purposed to do so, such as the Food and Drug Administration. While conflicting reports exist examining their effects on the public, the rise in bacteria and illnesses resistant to antibiotics is definite. Recent news depicts the FDA as an underfunded, weak-willed agency that does little to monitor and enforce standards of quality and safety in today’s food industry. Its reputation as the last word in safe food is tarnished by its declaration of voluntary regulations for reducing these drugs’ usage, arguing the soft hand approach is better than bans. Almost no progress has been made since this ‘promise-and-handshake’ tactic was deployed earlier this year. Antibiotics and hormones continue to increase in food production. Food and drug companies turn their noses at the FDA because they know they’re fearful of lawsuits, lengthy, expensive appeals, and other means for invoking delays. President Obama needs to restore the FDA’s power and self-esteem through the passing of new acts.

Under Communist rule and state-controlled economy and communications, Cuba remains closed off from most of the world. People remain impoverished, disillusioned, and trapped by their government-designated positions in society. Since Raul Castro assumed power, some restrictions have been loosened. In an effort to increase agriculture and provide incentives for farmers to produce more, the state has allowed wholesale produce to be offered at a Farmers’ Market, the first one in at least 50 years. It’s small and is only allowed to be open at night, but it’s a big step forward in the quest to embrace a free market and reduce imports, which is currently 70% of Cuba’s food. Millions of acres of state land have been turned over to private farmers and cooperatives. They still have to give percentages of crops back to the state, but more ownership of land and market control allows these farmers to better provide for their families.

Mandates in California require the state to be powered 33% with renewable energy by 2020. The national renewables market watches California closely for new trends and issues that can affect the industry’s progression. One urgent issue raising flags is the reserve power capacity of energy grids. With the increase in renewable energy comes the need to increase backup power storage. Wind and solar power are intermittent sources; cloudy and windless days adversely affect energy output. Right now, backup power comes from fossil fuel plants that activate when energy output from renewable sources falls a certain level. Sometimes these plants don’t activate on time, and outages occur. If reserve power capacity doesn’t increase with the industry, it could spell increased outages. Proponents for renewables argue that as more solar and wind farms are built and sprawl further across the state, they will provide their own reserve cushion and feed one another when one part of the state loses minimum output levels. Opponents say fossil fuels need to remain a necessary energy source for the state. Either way, increased reserve power capacity will cost billions of dollars for the state.

Leaf Bullet Global News

UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar Despair after climate conference, but U.N. still offers hope

At the end of another lavishly-funded U.N. conference that yielded no progress on curbing greenhouse emissions, many of those most concerned about climate change are close to despair. Supporters say the U.N. process is still the only framework for global action. The United Nations also plays an essential role as the “central bank” for carbon trading schemes, such as the one set up by the European Union. But unless rich and poor countries can inject urgency into their negotiations, they are heading for a diplomatic fiasco in 2015 – their next deadline for a new global deal.

The conference held in Qatar – the country that produces the largest per-capita volume of greenhouse gases in the world – agreed to extend the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol, which would have run out within weeks. But Canada, Russia and Japan – where the protocol was signed 15 years ago – all abandoned the agreement. The United States never ratified it in the first place, and it excludes developing countries where emissions are growing most quickly. Read more here.

The General Sherman Tree found in Sequoia National Park Big, Old Trees in Decline Worldwide

Big, old trees are in decline throughout the world, which spells trouble for the forests in which they play such an important role, a new study finds. These elders of the forest do many things that smaller, younger trees cannot; for example, providing homes for many types of animals, providing space for other plants to grow in tropical rainforests and producing large amounts of seeds that serve as food for other animals and replenish tree populations.

Old trees also store an enormous amount of carbon and continue to sequester it as they grow, even in their old age. Read more here.

A street in China China’s economy to outgrow America’s by 2030 as world faces ‘tectonic shift’

A US intelligence portrait of the world in 2030 predicts that China will be the largest economic power, climate change will create instability by contributing to water and food shortages, and there will be a “tectonic shift” with the rise of a global middle class. The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends Report, published every five years, says the world is “at a critical juncture in human history”.

The report offers a series of potential scenarios for 2030. It says the best outcome would be one in which “China and the US collaborate on a range of issues, leading to broader global co-operation”. It says the worst is a world in which “the US draws inward and globalisation stalls.” With prosperity spreading across the globe will come shifts in influence and power. “The diffusion of power among countries will have a dramatic impact by 2030. Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending, and technological investment. China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030,” the report says. Read more here.

Cuba is allowing street vendors to sell produce and run a wholesale market In Farmers’ Market, A Free Market Rises In Cuba

Cuba has no shortage of fertile farmland, but the country spends $1.5 billion a year importing about 70 percent of its food. The communist government’s chronic struggle to get farmers to produce more is forcing authorities to grudgingly accept a greater role for market principles and the profit motive. Now authorities seem willing to go another step further, tolerating the rise of what might be described as Cuba’s “free-est” market. This market, on the edge of Havana, only exists at night, appearing after sundown every day in a muddy vacant lot. Scores of battered, sputtering Chevy farm trucks and ancient Ford tractors arrive loaded with onions, squash, papayas and cabbage. It must be the largest gathering of 50-year-old American farm equipment anywhere on the planet.

Castro has turned over millions of acres of state land to private farmers and cooperatives, enough to lure Cubans back into farming. But even as Castro complains in speeches about costly imports and urges Cubans to produce more, his government still hasn’t taken basic steps like letting farmers buy new trucks and tractors. Read more here.

Elephants in Tanzania Vanishing Corridors: Trying to Keep Big Animals on the Move

In order to keep big animal populations healthy, movement across habitat must be as fluid as possible. One of the biggest challenges for big African wildlife like lions, elephants, and buffalo is movement across native habitat that is increasingly being encroached on by humans. Animals find their movement restricted by roads, fences, and property boundaries which fragment the landscape. Without safe, smart, and well-maintained corridors between designated wildlife areas, animals can get cut off from resources needed for survival and from potential mates (putting genetic health at risk), even while conflicts with humans become more frequent.

A new study in Tropical Conversation Science reviews the importance of functional wildlife corridors, examines the causes of consequences of two failing corridors in Tanzania, and recommends actions needed to secure endangered safe passages for animals. Read more here.

Other Global Headlines of Interest

Leaf Bullet National News

Crew work on a drilling platform near Mead, Colorado. U.S. Gas Drilling Experts Say Technology Exists To Control Leaks And Pollution, But Problems Remain

PITTSBURGH – In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. A thousand miles away on the plains of north Texas, there’s a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it’s dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe. The answer appears to be that drilling can be safe or it can be dangerous. Industry practices, enforcement, geography and even snow cover can minimize or magnify air pollution problems.

The good news, nearly all sides agree, is that the technology exists to control methane gas leaks and other air pollution associated with drilling. The bad news is that the industry is booming so rapidly that some companies and some regulators can’t seem to get ahead of the problems, which could ultimately cost billions of dollars to remedy. The worries about what drilling does to the air are both global and local, with scientists concerned about the effects on climate change as well as the possible health consequences from breathing smog, soot and other pollutants. Read more here.

Thirsty for contaminated water? Conservatives Care More About Environmental Issues When Couched in Terms of Fending Off Threats to ‘Purity’

When it comes to climate change, deforestation and toxic waste, the assumption has been that conservative views on these topics are intractable. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that such viewpoints can be changed after all, when the messages about the need to be better stewards of the land are couched in terms of fending off threats to the “purity” and “sanctity” of Earth and our bodies.

The findings indicate that reframing pro-environmental rhetoric according to values that resonate strongly with conservatives can reduce partisan polarization on ecological matters. “These findings offer the prospect of pro-environmental persuasion across party lines,” said Robb Willer, a UC Berkeley social psychologist and coauthor of the study. “Reaching out to conservatives in a respectful and persuasive way is critical, because large numbers of Americans will need to support significant environment reforms if we are going to deal effectively with climate change, in particular.” Read more here.

A wolf from the Lamar Valley pack ‘Most famous wolf in the world’ killed outside Yellowstone

A world-famous wolf that had been seen by as many as a million visitors to Yellowstone National Park has been killed after she strayed outside the park’s protected boundaries. She was shot in Wyoming, where wolf hunting recently became legal. Known as 832F, the female alpha wolf was a member of the Lamar Canyon pack. She had been called “a rock star” and “the most famous wolf in the world.”

Scientists who have been tracking the Lamar Canyon pack for years know that pack members rarely leave the confines of the park. 832F, like many wolves in the park, carried a $4,000 GPS radio collar that helps scientists understand the wolves’ movements, habitat usage habits and hunting patterns. Over the past few months, eight wolves bearing radio collars have been killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Until this year, gray wolves were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Those protections were lifted in the northern Rockies after many years of lawsuits by conservation groups, who were trying to keep the animals on the endangered species list. Read more here.

Wind turbines near Rio Vista, California Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels

One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power – and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet – is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California’s electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants. Wind and solar energy are called intermittent sources, because the power they produce can suddenly disappear when a cloud bank moves across the Mojave Desert or wind stops blowing through the Tehachapi Mountains. In just half an hour, a thousand megawatts of electricity – the output of a nuclear reactor – can disappear and threaten stability of the grid.

To avoid that calamity, fossil fuel plants have to be ready to generate electricity in mere seconds. That requires turbines to be hot and spinning, but not producing much electricity until complex data networks detect a sudden drop in the output of renewables. Then, computerized switches are thrown and the turbines roar to life, delivering power just in time to avoid potential blackouts. The state’s electricity system can handle the fluctuations from existing renewable output, but by 2020 vast wind and solar complexes will sprawl across the state, and the problem will become more severe. Read more here.

A rare and endangered blue whale offshore near Long Beach, California A Rising Tide of Underwater Noise Is Now Easy to See

The causes are human: the sonar blasts of military exercises, the booms from air guns used in oil and gas exploration, and the whine from fleets of commercial ships that relentlessly crisscross the global seas. Nature has its own undersea noises. But the new ones are loud and ubiquitous. Marine experts say the rising clamor is particularly dangerous to whales, which depend on their acute hearing to locate food and one another. To fight the din, the federal government is completing the first phase of what could become one of the world’s largest efforts to curb the noise pollution and return the sprawling ecosystem to a quieter state.

The project, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeks to document human-made noises in the ocean and transform the results into the world’s first large sound maps. The ocean visualizations use bright colors to symbolize the sounds radiating out through the oceanic depths, frequently over distances of hundreds of miles. The project’s goal is to better understand the cacophony’s nature and its impact on sea mammals as a way to build the case for reductions. Read more here.

Other National Headlines of Interest

Leaf BulletVoices

Caution sign States Need to Stop Giving Subsidies to Corporations

Corporations are playing states for fools. Across the nation, states are now pouring more than $80 billion in subsidies and tax breaks annually to corporations in a futile and counter-productive effort to retain and attract corporate investments in the name of job creation. This flow of subsidies is failing to generate family-supporting jobs and badly distorting the role of state government in a democracy.

First, the subsidies are superfluous. Corporate decisions are rarely based on subsidies. But corporations have learned that there is no reason to pass up special “incentives,” as subsidies can invariably be easily extorted if they just pit the states against each other in a bidding war. Second, the ever-growing flood of subsidies is failing to generate jobs, especially those paying family-sustaining wages, with almost 60% of new jobs paying under $13.83 an hour. From 2000 to 2010, major US corporations increased employment by 2.4 million jobs in their overseas subsidiaries, even as they wiped out 2.9 million jobs in America Third, the interstate competition for jobs, by reducing the tax revenues coming from corporations, drains every state of funds needed to make higher education affordable for all, provide good K-12 education, make quality health care available, and hold down taxes for working families. Read more here.

Woman working in a field Slavery by Any Other Name Is Still a Global Scourge

As described by Anti-Slavery International, the family of Leelu’s husband had been bonded to the same landlord for three generations. They were indebted to the landlord for loans taken out to pay for marriages, illnesses, education and necessities of survival. The family’s landlord forbade them from working for any other landlords, and beatings were an ever-present threat. Bonded labor, according to Anti-Slavery International, is the modern world’s most widely used method of enslaving people. A $30 debt can result in four years of bonded labor.

Some 11.7 million of those in forced labor are in the Asia-Pacific region (which includes India, Pakistan and China), followed by Africa at 3.7 million (18 percent) and Latin America with 1.8 million victims (9 percent). The prevalence of slavery in countries such as India stems from “a complete lack of the rule of law in certain sectors of the economy among certain communities,” Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International. Read more here

Scarecrow Reviving the Tattered, Spineless FDA

In On Earth Magazine-and reprinted in Mother Jones-Barry Estabrook has a searing article establishing the FDA as woefully underfunded and reluctant to stand up to Big Food to protect the public from food poisoning. The FDA has actively avoided taking decisive action on farm antibiotic use since it first expressed concern about it in 1977. Remember the voluntary new rules FDA proposed in April to curtail antibiotic use on factory farms-you know, the practice that drives the rising tide of antibiotic-resistant illnesses? The FDA insisted that voluntary rules would end massive overuse of antibiotics. But in October, the agency had to cough up a trove of internal documents on the matter after a successful lawsuit by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The documents showed that top agency officials found serious “limitations” in the voluntary approach and expressed concern it might be “unlawful” for certain antibiotics.

So the FDA ends 2012 with its reputation in tatters, its failures documented, its regulatory power steamrolled by Big Meat, and its timidity exposed by a federal court. Only one person can save it, and that’s President Obama. He can either stand aside as the FDA slinks deeper into its role as industry lapdog-or revive it as a force for the public good. Read more here.

Homeless We Could End Homelessness With The Money Americans Spend On Christmas Decorations

Progress is being made within the veteran community, with homeless rates falling by 17 percent since 2009, and among the chronically homeless, with 17 percent fewer people living on the streets as in 2007. But in the fight to end homelessness by the year 2020 – the stated mission of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness in their 2010 plan – progress isn’t happening fast enough. What is needed is a ten-fold increase in HUD’s $1.9 billion budget to address the crisis. By any measure $20 billion is a lot of money, but the figure is far less daunting when placed in context: Read more here.

Leaf Bullet Local News

UMass Dartmouth report shows Fall River making ‘sustainability’ gains

FALL RIVER – A sustainability and efficiency report for the city of Fall River shows positive progress in the areas of economic, environmental and societal impacts. The report, fashioned by standards of the Global Reporting Initiative and authored by a group of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth MBA candidates, is the first conducted by a municipality in the country, according to Adam Sulkowski, a UMass Dartmouth professor. GRI standards are used by companies and organizations around the world, including 250 of the largest companies internationally.

Some of the highlights include the fact that during the past few years, the city has reduced its annual carbon emissions equal to removing 2,300 cars from the roadways. Initiatives in the city have also reduced solid waste by more than 40 percent and water use by 13.3 percent. Read more here.

The broad area in red is where turbines of any size or type would be prohibited by the proposed Newport Planning Board ordinance. Newport Proposes Turbine Ban Across 80% of City

NEWPORT – Less than a week after the Department of the Interior opened the Rhode Island coast to offshore wind energy development, local officials held a public workshop on a smaller-scale wind energy ordinance the city’s own Energy & Environment Commission found highly restrictive. The proposed ordinance would implement an outright ban on turbines, regardless of design or size, across about 80 percent of the city. Drafted by the Planning Board during the past year, the ordinance details requirements for property owners planning installation of small-scale wind turbines that cover height, decibel limits and safety.

Currently, Rhode Island derives about 90 percent of its energy from natural gas, with a total of 12 fossil-fueled energy plants operating statewide, according to a recently released report from Environment Rhode Island. The draft ordinance bans outright wind turbines of any size or type in the city’s historic districts, the most contentious issue addressed during the recent workshop. This prompted concerns put on record by the Energy & Environment Commission after the workshop opened for public comment. Read more here.

Group launches campaign: Slow down, save a whale

NEW BEDFORD – The shipping speed limits many experts credit with preserving what’s left of the dwindling North Atlantic right whale population are set to expire next year and a group of experts called on the public to rally and give the massive sea mammals a fighting chance. “The story of vessel strikes is a passionate one,” said Stormy Mayo, a senior biologist at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, during a panel discussion at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. “This is an animal that fueled the New England economy…Now it’s going extinct.”

The environmental charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation called together the panel of five experts Sunday to discuss the organization’s new campaign to raise public awareness for the animals and the North Atlantic right whale’s future, if it has one. Read more here.

Christoph Demers and Bob Bailey talk about the Southeastern Massachusetts Time Exchange program Fall River area program aimed at sharing time and talents is launched

FALL RIVER – Wendy Garf-Lipp is willing to baby-sit, cook and can food in exchange for someone fixing her roof. “If we can make an exchange like that, everybody benefits,” Garf-Lipp, the executive director of United Neighbors of Fall River, said Thursday at the launch of the Southeastern Massachusetts Time Exchange. Called “time banks” in other communities, the exchange is a program in which members volunteer one hour of service, and then receive an hour “time credit” that they can redeem to receive a service from another member, with no cash involved.

The exchange is a way for people – and member organizations – to receive something they need in exchange for something they can do, whether that skill is offering legal advice, repairing a car, mowing a lawn, cooking a meal or reading to senior citizens. “It’s about getting people to connect with each other,” said Bob Bailey, a retired science teacher and AmeriCorps Vista volunteer who is helping to coordinate the Southeastern Massachusetts Time Exchange. Read more here.

Boats Study shows Cape Cod Bay in decline

Researchers have completed a five-year monitoring program for Cape Cod Bay that shows ongoing changes to the bay’s ecosystem, many caused by human activities. The information gathered during the program, however, is only the start of a long-term plan to keep an eye on the 600-square-mile bay, according to officials at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

The major threats to water quality in the bay are increases in population, development, the flow of nutrient-laden wastewater from septic systems into the bay through groundwater and the flow of pollution over impervious surfaces into the bay, according to the report. Towns across the Cape have been debating how to better manage wastewater over the past several years with cost estimates ranging from $3 billion to $8 billion for sewers and other fixes to the problem. Excess nutrients can lead to the degradation of water quality, including algae blooms and fish kills. Read more here.

State conducting final test on UMass Dartmouth wind turbine

DARTMOUTH – A year after contractors broke ground, the UMass Dartmouth wind turbine’s final 30-day test is under way, and officials hope to commission the machine in the coming weeks. Engineers will run the turbine under normal conditions for 30 days to make sure its systems work properly. If an issue pops up during the test, the problem will need to be corrected and the test started over.

The university and state Division of Capital Asset Management broke ground on the 600-kilowatt turbine last December and erected it in April but found issues requiring repairs shortly thereafter. Read more here.

Waterway in Wareham Wareham Board of Health proposes nitrogen-reducing regulation

In an effort to reduce nitrogen pollution in Wareham’s waterways, the Board of Health is proposing a regulation that would require “denitrification” septic systems for any new construction that is 500 feet from wetlands or water bodies.

The proposal would update an existing Board of Health regulation, which requires the same for new construction within 150 feet of bodies of water. A second part of the proposal would require that residents with failed septic systems who live 500 feet from a waterway also install a denitrification system. The proposal affects properties with on-site wastewater treatment systems – not users of the town’s sewer system. Read more here.

Neil Leifer, with a bowl made by a Mexican artisan. Nonprofit helps artisans in Mexico get the lead out

Neil Leifer left his Boston law firm two years ago after spending 20 years litigating cases involving children’s lead poisoning. He sued lead and lead paint companies and property owners and managers on behalf of children with lead poisoning. In 2008, Leifer cofounded a nonprofit that helps ceramic artisans from rural Mexico convert from lead-based to lead-free glazes. Read more here.

The Global Learning Charter Public School in the north end of New Bedford Global Learning Charter School plans for the future

More than a decade ago, a group of educators came up with a plan to start New Bedford’s first charter school. As with many new ventures, the school’s beginnings didn’t go entirely smoothly, but 10 years later, having overcome those bumps, the Global Learning Charter Public School is still thriving, adapting and – having recently received a five-year extension of its charter – planning for the future. “We’re fortunate that the state has recognized that we’ve done a good job and that we have another five years ahead of us,” said Dr. Stephen Furtado, the school’s executive director.

Over the past five years, Global Learning’s students have performed better on the state’s standardized test, the MCAS, than students in the New Bedford Public Schools – differences that are statistically significant at every grade level and in both English and math, according to an analysis conducted by the state. Read more here.

Massive PV solar field Big Solar Projects Planned for Rhode Island

A flurry of solar energy projects are underway across Rhode Island. East Providence, Westerly, West Greenwich and the Quonset Business Park have substantial solar fields planned or underway. Here is a look at the two largest:

A solar photovoltaic (PV) system covering 400,000 square feet atop two adjoining industrial warehouses is on track to be the largest of its type in New England. The solar field has a 2.34-megawatt-rated capacity, meaning its optimal power produces electricity to power 500 homes. The project is about the size of three and a half football fields. East Providence aims to build a 3.7-megawatt solar array atop a former landfill by this summer. The project is the first of three phases planned for the 227-acre Forbes Street landfill. Read more here.

Framingham State receives over 322k in energy rebates from NSTAR

After making several energy conservation efforts on campus, Framingham State University has received rebate checks totaling $322,012 from utility provider NStar as part of the company’s energy efficient incentive program. The university anticipates saving nearly $700,000 annually on its utility bill from energy conservation efforts in addition to the rebate checks it has received from NStar. “Not only have our efforts to ‘Go Green’ resulted in the university becoming a more environmentally responsible campus, they are saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, which can be directed toward more critical needs,” Framingham State President Timothy Flanagan said.

This past year, the university undertook several energy conservation measures, ranging from campus-wide light replacement to new heating, ventilation and cooling systems. The school also began converting its power plant from fuel oil to natural gas, part of a contract that cost $6.3 million and was funded in part by the state’s Department of Capital Asset Management. Read more here.

Scarring on the underside of an endangered Kemp's ridley turtle, one of 150 stranded on Cape beaches Sea turtles get a lift from Coast Guard

The crew members of the gigantic Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules landed at Air Station Cape Cod for a different kind of rescue – they were saving 35 endangered sea turtles. A record 150 endangered sea turtles stranded on Cape beaches in the past month, and they packed the pools at the New England Aquarium rehabilitation facility in Quincy.

Turtles are often near death, immobilized by the cold winter water and wracked with opportunistic infections and diseases, when they wash ashore. With more arriving every day, aquarium staff had to start farming out the healthiest to other facilities. Small planes flown by volunteers usually ferry turtles south to spots where they can be released into warm waters. This volume of ailing turtles required heavy lifting, and a call from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for help brought the Coast Guard’s largest plane from Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina. Read more here.

Being square with long-time city businesses who were dealt a tough hand

Eight months. That’s how long the mom-and-pop businesses on the block of Acushnet Avenue between Coggeshall and Beetle streets have suffered. Imagine you run a small business that depends on customers being able to see you, drive by your sign, and park across the street. And now imagine that your restaurant or hair salon or replacement window business couldn’t be seen from the street for eight months. A reconstruction of their neighborhood’s underground infrastructure was supposed to take six to eight weeks and it ended up taking eight months.

Traffic cones that diverted every single vehicle away from the intersection of Route 18 and Coggeshall Street were supposed to be a short-term inconvenience. Instead they became an impediment to the entire spring, summer and fall seasons as April bled into June, June bled all the way through the busy summer season, and then August bled through the entire fall. Though lots of North End merchants suffered from the long closure, these folks on this block, whose businesses literally went invisible, suffered the most. Read more here.

Fall River native and longtime educator Bill Molloy talks to teachers in Kenya Longtime Fall River educator Molloy helps train teachers in Africa

During an adventure vacation seven years ago in Kenya, longtime Fall River educator Bill Molloy found himself with some time to kill and volunteered to go on a “feeding.” Instead the 64-year-old Portsmouth, R.I., resident found himself in the Huruma slum just outside Nairobi to help feed local residents from the back of a truck. Molloy was curious when he spied a nearby school, and he went inside. What he saw would change his life.

On the plane ride home, Molloy was haunted by the images of the impoverished children and said he knew he’d have to do something. “That’s when the foundation was born. I said to myself, ‘I have to do this,’” Molloy said. As soon as Molloy got home, he started the nonprofit Africa Teacher Foundation. Its mission is to help teachers in east African countries improve their skills, which would, in turn, improve the education and, ultimately, the lives of the poor children. Read more here.

Shellfishing area closed since 2003 oil spill expected to open this month

FAIRHAVEN – Almost a decade after the Bouchard oil spill of 2003 fouled more than 100 miles of Buzzards Bay coastline, the last shellfishing area affected by the spill is poised to open. The area of Fairhaven coastline from the east side of Sconticut Neck to the western side of West Island up to Causeway Road has been closed to quahoggers and scallopers alike for one reason or another since the spill’s oil reached it in April 2003.

The area, known to the Division of Marine Fisheries as “West Island South,” has been a complicated case for the state agency to sort out, according to DMF analyst Michael Hickey. As soon as oil contamination was cleaned, Hickey said, the area was hit with a bacterial infection that did not clear up for years. Read more here.

Leaf Bullet This Week in Sustainability

Capture the Geminids Meteor Shower with your Camera!

Thursday, December 13, 9:30 pm – 4:30 am Stone Barn Farm, 786 Horseneck Road, Dartmouth MA
Get ready for an amazing nighttime photography workshop! The Geminid meteor shower is approaching and you won’t want to miss the chance to take some amazing shots! Be sure to take a late afternoon nap as the start time for the program is 11:30pm! We’ll start with a hot cup of coffee/tea/chocolate in the Stone Barn as we discuss the shower and how to best photograph it and then will head out into the field. There will be time afterwards to review shots and discuss best practices and the experience.
Instructor: Myer Bornstein – Photographer & Naturalist Audience: Adult Fee: $24.00 member/ $30.00 non-member
Registration is required Read more and Register here.

Winter Tree Identification

Wednesday, December 19, 1:30PM – 3:00PM Lloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
Are you curious about tree identification during winter? In this 90-minute program, we introduce methods to distinguish one tree from another. Then we’ll put your new identification skills to the test out on the Lloyd Center’s trails.
Pre-registration required by Noon, Tuesday, December 18. 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.

Leaf Bullet Save The Date

Winter Animal Signs

Saturday, December 29, 11:00am – 12:30PM Lloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
Though you may not see animals during winter they are still all around us. Become a nature detective on this 90-minute family-friendly program and learn to recognize the different clues animals leave behind. Get a chance to discover some of the amazing adaptations that allow these animals to survive in the woods.
Pre-registration required by 4:00 p.m., Thursday, December 27th 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.

22nd Annual New Year’s Day Beach Walk

Tuesday, January 1, 10:00am – 12:30PM Gooseberry Neck Beach Parking Lot in Westport, MA
Join Research Director Mark Mello for this Lloyd Center tradition of celebrating the start of the New Year with a relaxing walk on Gooseberry Neck beach! With a focus on coastal ecology and bird identification, Mark will identify winter waterfowl and ‘washed up’ marine life. January is a wonderful time of year to walk the coast and observe the effects of wave action on the slope and shape of the beach. This is a very informal outing, and those that simply want to walk are more than welcome. Participants should dress warmly and wear hiking boots; binoculars and cameras are recommended as well.
This Event is FREE and no registration is required. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Mark at 508-990-0505 ext.22, or email Learn more here.

Municipal Solar Energy Seminar

Thursday, January 10, 8:30am – 1:00pm Woodland Commons Building at UMass Dartmouth
Solar energy projects are being developed everywhere throughout Massachusetts – and for a reason. At the end of the energy pipeline, Massachusetts imports from other states, regions and countries about 80 percent of the approximately $22 billion the state spends on energy to run homes, vehicles, and businesses each year. Currently, 340 of the state’s 351 cities and towns have at least one solar photovoltaic project. Massachusetts is now more than halfway to Governor Deval Patrick’s goal of 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017.

Keynoted by Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia, this seminar will feature workshops on how to write and adopt municipal solar energy zoning/siting by-laws, renewable energy requirements for becoming a Green Community, information about the state’s Solarize Mass pilot project currently underway in 17 cities and towns, issues relating to utility interconnection of solar power, the growth of solar installations on closed municipal landfills, and more. Come to hear from state, regional, and local officials and also to share your own stories and concerns.
Sponsored by NORESCO, The Southeastern Massachusetts Council on Sustainability, SRPEDD, The Southcoast Energy Challenge, and UMass Dartmouth’s Office of Campus and Community Sustainability. Contact the Sustainability Office for more information. Register here.

DNRT Trail Running Series

Saturdays, January 12 – February 2, 7am Destruction Brook Woods Reserve, Dartmouth, MA
Have you ever wanted to try trail running, but didn’t know how or where to go? Are you tired of your same old running route? Do you have a New Year’s resolution that you need to fulfill? We have just the solution! Come down to Destruction Brook Woods starting Saturday January 12 at 7:00 am and give it a try. A group of trail runners (from beginner to experienced) will be meeting at the main lot on Slades Corner Road. The great thing about Destruction Brook Woods is the route you take can depend on your skill level. So, come on and give it a try! As always there is no charge to join the group, but registration is required, space is limited. Call (508)991-2289, or email DNRT Dress to run, wear layers and bring your own water. Read more and Register here.

Leaf Bullet Announcements

Spring Courses at Bristol Community College offer Organic Agriculture and Natural Beekeeping

Organic Farming Practices
Topics include sustainable farm management and economics, season extension techniques, spring propagation from seeds and transplanting, organic insect & disease controls, and cultivation of specific perennials for New England. This course is designed for home gardeners and small-scale organic farmers. Classes run from January 23 to May 13 and will meet on Mondays (9:30 am – 12:50 pm) and Wednesdays (9:30 am – 10:45 am).

Natural Beekeeping
Aspiring and new beekeepers will learn the essential skills to begin a hobby or small business as a beekeeper including purchasing and establishing a hive, caring for your bees, disease and pest management, and harvesting the honey. The 6-week course emphasizes organic methods of beekeeping. Participants will have the opportunity to purchase their own bees, hives and equipment. The course will be held on Mondays, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, starting February 25. It may be taken as a noncredit course or for one college credit.

Tuition waivers may be available for senior citizens (60+), veterans, members of the military, and state employees. Register online for spring courses here For questions, contact Dr. Jim Corven here or 508-678-2811, ext. 3047.

Spring Courses Announced for Sustainability Studies at UMass Dartmouth

Spring 2013 courses for our Graduate Certificate Program are being offered. Courses include:

  • SUS 500: Introduction to Sustainable Development, Theory, and Practice
  • SUS 520: Strategic Sustainability Leadership
  • SUS 562: Survey of Renewables
  • MGT 600: Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Law
  • POL 661: Environmental Law

You can read course and credit descriptions at Professional & Continuing Education’s listings page. Register through the Center for Professional and Continuing Education.

Leaf Bullet Green Tip

Deck the Halls with Super Efficient LED Christmas Lights

In the past, LEDs have been relatively expensive, but prices have been steadily coming down. Today, a strand of LED holiday lights typically goes for between $20 and $30 Learn more here.

Leaf Bullet Preparedness Tip

Why Gadget Repairability Is So Damn Important

One of the arguments associated with repairability of electronics is that the average person could make worse any problem they might be trying to repair if they were encouraged to do it themselves. Repairability is important because a person other than the one that manufactures and sells the device should be able to open up and fix an item if they have the proper tools and know-how. 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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