Sustainability Almanac for December 20-27



Leaf Bullet Global News

Farmland “Peak farmland” is here, food crop area to fall: study

The amount of land needed to grow crops worldwide is at a peak and an area more than twice the size of France can return to nature by 2060 due to rising yields and slower population growth, a group of experts say. The report, conflicting with U.N. studies that say more cropland will be needed in coming decades to avert hunger and price spikes as the world population rises beyond 7 billion, said humanity had reached what it called “Peak Farmland”.

More crops for use as biofuels and a shift towards more meat consumption in emerging economies such as China or India – demanding more cropland to feed livestock – would not offset a fall from the peak driven by improved yields, it calculated. If correct, the land freed up from crop farming would be some 10 percent of what is currently in use – equivalent to 2.5 times the total area of France, Europe’s biggest country bar Russia, or more than all the arable land now farmed in China. “We believe that humanity has reached Peak Farmland, and that a large net global restoration of land to nature is ready to begin,” said Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at the Rockefeller University in New York. Read more here.

A deforested area burns in the Amazon Brazilian Forest Protection Goes Digital

RIO DE JANEIRO – Landowners who broke Brazil’s environmental laws by clearing their farms of native forest used to have just one way to make right with government inspectors: plant trees. Now, they can clear their names by just pointing and clicking. After decades trying to protect rapidly shrinking forest, Brazil has turned to the digital world and launched a new platform called BVRio that allows growers with more untouched forest on their land than is legally required to sell “quotas” to farmers who fall short, one hectare at a time, for a price that will be determined by supply and demand.

From environmentalists to landowners, all sides agree the privately developed tool could revolutionize Brazil’s ability to protect the world’s biggest rainforest while enforcing the country’s just-enacted environmental law. Under the rule, growers have to keep a “legal reserve,” or a minimum amount of native growth on their properties ranging from 20 percent to 80 percent of their land, depending on the type of vegetation. The trading platform launched this week allows farmers to find and negotiate directly with each other. Read more here.

The India Gate monument in New Delhi, enveloped by a blanket of smog. Pollution from car emissions killing millions in China and India

An explosion of car use has made fast-growing Asian cities the epicentre of global air pollution and become, along with obesity, the world’s fastest growing cause of death according to a major study of global diseases. In 2010, more than 2.1m people in Asia died prematurely from air pollution, mostly from the minute particles of diesel soot and gasses emitted from cars and lorries. Other causes of air pollution include construction and industry. Of these deaths, says the study published in The Lancet, 1.2 million were in east Asia and China, and 712,000 in south Asia, including India.

Worldwide, a record 3.2m people a year died from air pollution in 2010, compared with 800,000 in 2000. It now ranks for the first time in the world’s top 10 list of killer diseases, says the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. Read more here.

Solar Development in Mexico Clear Horizon for Mexican Solar

Northern Mexico is considered to have the world’s third greatest solar insolation potential, with areas estimated to have about 5 kWh/m2 per day. With resources 60% greater than those of Germany, less than 1% of Mexico’s land area would need to be developed to power the entire nation, according to the Secretaria de Energia de Mexico (SENER), Mexico’s energy ministry. Meanwhile, growth in the nation’s electricity needs is expected to average 6%-7% year-on-year, with even higher growth rates in more populated areas. With such promising potential and a steadily growing need for power, why isn’t the nation a solar front-runner?

This year, Mexico passed one of the world’s strongest climate change laws, which includes legally binding emissions goals. Provisions include a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions below 2000 levels by 2020 and a 50% reduction by 2050. By 2024, 35% of Mexico’s electricity is set to come from renewables, and government agencies are legally bound to adopt them. There are significant obstacles to solar development, such as Mexico’s utility monopoly. Another challenge for the Mexican solar market is a lack of expertise in project development and financing. It is difficult to find bankable PPAs and projects. Read more here.

Gray Reef Sharks French Polynesia and Cook Islands create sanctuaries to protect sharks

French Polynesia and the Cook Islands this month created adjacent shark sanctuaries spanning 2.5 million square miles of ocean, a move that reflects a growing trend to protect sharks worldwide and more than doubles the area now off-limits to any shark fishing. As many as a third of all shark species face some threat of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in part because their fins are coveted for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup. In the last few months, American Samoa and the Micronesian state of Kosrae have barred shark fishing off their shores, and the European Union and Venezuela have both prohibited the practice of cutting off a shark’s fins while discarding the body at sea.

French Polynesia – a group of five major archipelagoes with more than 100 islands, including Tahiti – created the world’s largest shark sanctuary of 1.5 million square miles of sea. The Cook Islands designated its own equal to the size of Mexico at 756,000 square miles. Read more here.

Other Global Headlines of Interest

Leaf Bullet National News

Barge on the Mississippi River Climate Change Pits Sioux Tribe Against Barges for Scarce Water

For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose lands straddle the North and South Dakota border, river water means drinking supplies. Standing Rock lost more than 55,000 acres of land when the Army Corps created the Lake Oahe reservoir in the late 1950s. For Illinois farmers, it’s irrigation for their crops. Rivers also power hydro-electric plants, provide recreation for boaters and give coal companies inexpensive access to export markets with barges to New Orleans. Balancing these competing demands on the nation’s water resources has never been easy. Global warming, linked to near-record low water levels on the Mississippi River this year as well as last year’s severe floods along the Missouri River, is making the task even harder.

The pressure on waterways is a nationwide problem. In the Colorado River basin serving cities including Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix, strains of meeting a growing population will persist for at least the next 50 years, the Interior Department said. The waterway’s seven-state region provides water to some 40 million people, a number that may nearly double by 2060. Read more here.

Doug Alcorn, who has worked for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service since 1985, cleaning out his office in Anchorage as he prepared to retire. New Retirement Rules Hit Alaska’s Parks and Reserves Hard

ANCHORAGE – A quietly profound generational change is about to sweep through federal agencies here in the nation’s biggest and wildest state – but also by many measures, its most government-dependent – where hundreds of millions of acres of public land are set aside for national parks and preserves. The change is being driven by new rules in the federal retirement system that, by dint of various schedules and formulas, are hitting home between now and Jan 1. The new rules are focused specifically on equalizing retirement benefits among workers.

The turnover comes at a time of intense focus and pressure for agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service. Years of frozen budgets that started during the recession have already reduced staff and operations. The changes also come against a backdrop of sometimes heated discussion over the service’s shifting mission – how to protect wildlife as giant debates about climate change and energy exploration grip the Arctic. The driving force pushing people out is that if they stay into next year, they will have to work a year or more to get the full retirement benefits under the new law. At the Fish and Wildlife Service, for example, retirees will take with them more than 1,000 years of cumulative institutional wisdom and conservation experience. Read more here.

Beached squid Mystery of Mass Squid ‘Suicides’ Possibly Solved

For decades, beach lovers have reported bizarre mass strandings where throngs of Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas), also called jumbo squid, fling themselves ashore, committing mass “suicide.” But despite decades of study into the phenomenon, the cause of these mass beachings have been a mystery. But a few intriguing clues suggest poisonous algae that form so-called red tides may be intoxicating the Humboldt squid and causing the disoriented animals to swim ashore in Monterey Bay.

Each of the strandings has corresponded to a red tide, in which algae bloom and release an extremely potent brain toxin. This fall, the red tides have occurred every three weeks, around the same time as the squid beachings. (The squid have been stranding in large numbers for years, with no known cause.) Read more here.

Michigan growers harvest 'Colossal' chestnuts Sowing The Seeds For A Great American Chestnut Comeback

Though we hear about them every holiday season in that famous song, chestnuts – whether roasting on an open fire or otherwise – have been noticeably absent from many American tables for decades, thanks to a deadly fungus that decimated the species near half a century ago. But a small army of determined growers have been on a seemingly quixotic quest to put chestnuts back on the American table, and they’re just starting to see results. “There’s a steady and consistent growth, in the number of growers, the number of acres, and the number of people who are buying chestnuts,” says Michael Gold, a forestry professor at the University of Missouri’s Center for Agroforestry. That’s a little bit to do with America’s bustling foodie culture. Growers are branding the chestnut as a health food, and are more poised to handle the ecological pitfalls of the past.

Now, of course one can still find chestnut vendors selling funnels of roasted nuts in cities like New York. But they are largely imported. “You can still find them in Europe and Asia because they never left those places,” says Dennis Fulbright, a plant pathologist at Michigan State University who advises a Michigan grower cooperative called Chestnut Growers, Inc. Read more here.

Electric Car Indianapolis to replace entire fleet with electric, hybrid cars

Indianapolis is aiming to become the first major U.S. city to replace its entire fleet with environmentally friendly vehicles, in a move the mayor said is aimed at reducing the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. Mayor Greg Ballard signed an executive order Wednesday requiring the city to replace its nearly 500 non-police sedans with electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The city also will work with the private sector to phase in snow plows, fire trucks and other heavy vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, and will ask automakers to develop a plug-in hybrid police car.

New vehicles would be purchased as older ones are retired, and the city hopes to completely swap out its current 3,100-vehicle fleet by 2025. City officials didn’t specify how much the conversion would cost, but Ballard said taxpayers could save $12,000 over the 10-year lifespan of each new electric and plug-in hybrid, even though those vehicles currently cost more than the gasoline-powered sedans they’ll replace. Read more here.

Other National Headlines of Interest

Leaf BulletVoices

Driving How I Survived Breaking Up with My Car

Erin McCoy tells the story of how she gave up driving, despite her love for cars, and examines the challenges facing drivers who don’t live in cities.

A kid that grows up in New York City can hop on the subway anytime she wants. But I grew up in Kentucky, and by fifth grade I was living in a rural county about half an hour outside Louisville. To go to any friend’s house I needed a ride. In fact, I needed a ride to do more or less anything: to buy a snack, a shirt, even a pack of gum. Every morning in central Kentucky, well over 100,000 vehicles pour onto Interstate 65, which runs north to south, bisecting the state between Franklin and Louisville. They drive 45 minutes, an hour, even two hours to work, crossing county and state lines and filing en masse through the fast food drive-throughs at outposts in Shepherdsville or Elizabethtown. They need their cars to go where the work is, where the grocery is, where the stores are. I commuted like this for two years-back and forth several days a week between Louisville and Bardstown, more than 70 miles round-trip. Driving wasn’t a choice for me or my fellow travelers. Eating and working are not choices. Read more here

Op-ed writer Robert Bryce fails to mention that he works for the fossil-fuel-backed Manhattan Institute. Major News Outlets Give Fossil-Fuel-Funded Think Tanks a Free Platform

The fossil fuel industry has long been a source of talking points and “studies” aimed at spreading doubt about climate change, and over the past few years, it has broadened its scope to undermine support for clean energy, as well. Often, this criticism is published in the form of articles in major media outlets-penned by employees of think tanks who don’t disclose their groups’ industry funding, a new study finds.

The Checks and Balances Project, a pro-clean-energy watchdog group, surveyed stories published over the past five years in 60 news outlets, including national and regional newspapers, the Associated Press, and Politico. Researchers found that only 6 percent of the stories disclosed the funding when they cited “experts” from those think tanks. Typically, the stories referred to the groups as “free-market” or “libertarian,” without mentioning the dirty-energy support. Read more here.

Illustration of distributed solar potential in the U.S. Get Ready, Utilities: Solar Is Coming

By 2016, over 100,000 MW of unsubsidized rooftop solar will able to match grid electricity on price. Within 10 years, it will be 300,000 MW, enough to provide 10% of the nation’s electricity. This affordable solar future presents a stark challenge to traditional utility planning and a clarion call for better electricity policy.

Regardless of their predisposition toward solar power, utilities, regulators, and policy makers need to recognize that there’s a revolution in electricity systems coming soon. Solar will become so affordable in the next 5-10 years that as many as 38 million homes and businesses will elect to produce their own power more cheaply from unsubsidized solar rather than buy it from their utility. That means policies that limit distributed generation will have to change: net metering limits must rise, permitting must be simplified, archaic “15% rules” will have to be driven by data not speculation. Read more here.

Also read Coal museum installs solar panels to save money (obviously)

NYPD officers NYPD for Hire: How Uniformed New York Cops Moonlight for Banks

After the violent crackdown on Occupy Wall Street in November of 2011, when that group was having some of its most significant successes in protests and actions that challenged private banks and Wall Street institutions, many wondered what had motivated the unexpected aggression against protesters by local police officers tasked, at least overtly by municipal law, with upholding their first amendment rights. The NYPD became, at the time, coordinated in its crackdown once Occupy had started to target banks. Was there a relationship behind the scenes of which we were unaware?

A nontransparent program called “Paid Detail Unit” has been set up so that private corporations are actually employing NYPD officers, who are in uniform and armed. The difference is that when these “public servants” are on the payroll of the banks, they are no longer serving you and the impartial rule of law in your city – despite what their uniform and badge imply. No one begrudges an officer doing security work in his own time, but the Paid Detail Unit creates worrying conflicts of interest. Read more here.

Leaf Bullet Local News

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rhode Island to Get Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Rhode Island plans to install at least 30 public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations next year. The state Office of Energy Resources (OER) is directing the project to expand EV use across the state. Building EV charging stations, the OER says, will create jobs, reduce pollution and “accelerate Rhode Island’s transition to electrified transportation.” The charging stations are also part of a larger push to reduce petroleum consumption.

Currently, Rhode Island has six charging stations. Eighty percent of the planned charging stations are required to be in public locations. At least three must be on state property. Read more here.

The EPA is considering a CAD cell for Upper New Bedford Harbor Silence shrouds EPA plans for Upper Harbor CAD cell in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD – The Environmental Protection Agency has taken significant steps toward developing an Upper Harbor CAD cell to be located above Coggeshall Street near Riverside Park. The CAD cell, an alternative to sending contaminated sediments off-site, would hold some of the most contaminated sediment in the harbor, according to EPA documents obtained by the Buzzards Bay Coalition through a Freedom of Information Act request that were given to The Standard-Times.

The documents include emails dating as far back as 2006 between EPA and Army Corps of Engineers officials and a 2011 Army Corps of Engineers assessment detailing the dimensions of an Upper Harbor CAD cell that Buzzards Bay Coalition President Mark Rasmussen contended is “just short of an actual contract to build it.” Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cells are specially engineered holes to contain contaminated sediment, which have been opposed by local environmental groups who question their safety. So far, the EPA has almost exclusively publicly discussed using the technology for Superfund cleanup in the Lower Harbor. These documents outline internal planning for an Upper Harbor CAD cell by the EPA. Read more here.

Also read Response from Hands Across the River

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth NUKE MATTERS: Radioactive waste storage at Pilgrim and why it is a concern

PLYMOUTH – Nuclear energy’s long-term legacy is well known: radioactive waste that needs to be safely stored for thousands of years. At Entergy’s Pilgrim nuclear reactor in Plymouth, operating since 1972, spent nuclear fuel is being stored on site – a solution that is not what was intended when the reactor was built and that is potentially dangerous.

Pilgrim’s irradiated fuel pool was originally designed to hold 880 fuel assemblies but now holds 3,279, about four times as much. The assemblies must be covered with water to prevent a fire that would release huge amounts of radioactivity – enough to contaminate an area more than 100 miles downwind, according to the National Academies of Sciences. Water loss in the pool can occur from mechanical failure, human error, acts of malice or the migration of a reactor accident to a pool accident. The Massachusetts attorney general’s expert estimates a fuel pool fire at Pilgrim would result in $488 billion dollars in damages and 24,000 latent human cancers. Read more here.

Fracking Rig Western Mass. viewed as territory for fracking

The possibility that Western Massachusetts may hold limited deposits of shale gas is catapulting the contentious issue of hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, into the state. While the state probably does not have expansive reserves, American Ground Water Trust executive director Andrew Stone said that small-scale gas development could begin in several years, and landowners need to be given “calm, objective facts.”

“The facts are, [a study] drew a circle around the middle of Massachusetts” where shale gas could be found, said Stone, whose New Hampshire group includes representatives from engineering and chemical companies on its board. “We want landowners, individuals, and the community to understand there could be drilling, and they need to be ready for it,” Stone said. No companies have expressed interest in exploring for shale gas, state officials say, and the type of wells needed to get to the gas is prohibited in the state. Read more here.

Latest turbine bylaw draft increases setbacks in Fairhaven

FAIRHAVEN – The Planning Board is one step closer to bringing a new bylaw regarding wind turbines to the public for comment. The latest draft of the turbine bylaw is stricter than previous versions, this time increasing the setback for an industrial-sized turbine to four times the height of the turbine. Previous drafts of the bylaw have included provisions to restrict both blade-tip of new turbines to a maximum of 265 feet and turbine wattage to a maximum of 600 kilowatts.

The latest draft more than doubles that amount, something Planning Board member Francis Budryk said was done to provide “further protection for the town from the health effects, which we don’t really have all the information about at this time.” Read more here.

Gray seals on the Cape Cape sport fishing gutted by seals

Fishermen and business owners blame the resurgence of the gray seal population on the Cape and Islands over the past decade – 5,611 in 1999 compared with an estimated 15,756 in 2011 – for killing off a traditional fall fishery that brought in money in the off-season and helped the Cape gain a measure of fame in the recreational fishing world for catching big bass. “I have heard the same things,” said Owen Nichols, director of marine fisheries research at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. Nichols is researching the interaction among seals, fishermen and their prey. He is also a member of the newly formed Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium, based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which brings scientists, fishery managers and fishermen together to tackle some of these problems.

The abundance of seals is just one of many possible reasons given for a 74 percent drop in the recreational landing of striped bass between 2006 and 2011. In recent years, bad weather and environmental conditions have led to poor survival rates for larval and juvenile bass in the Chesapeake Bay, where many of our fish originate. Mycobacteriosis, an opportunistic, widespread and potentially fatal bacterial disease, may also be affecting Chesapeake populations. Read more here.

Tough Road for Transportation in Massachusetts

Massachusetts leaders have some bad news, but they don’t know how to tell us. The bad news is that the state’s transportation is broke. Worse than broke, really. It has to borrow money to pay its current bills. It has no money and no plan for billions in current and projected maintenance costs. And solving those problems will just restore the state’s 20th century roads, rails and bridges. Then we’ve got to build the 21st century transportation system the state must have if it’s going to thrive

Hundreds of roads and bridges in the state need work. More than 200 bridges are being repaired through the $3 billion Accelerated Bridge Program, which has been getting good reviews. But that’s money borrowed against future gas tax revenue and federal highway aid, which digs the Department of Transportation’s budget hole deeper. For years, it has been borrowing money for operating expenses, even salaries, and nobody thinks that makes sense. Read more here.

Fields in Little Compton, including those at Wishing Stone Farm, are still yielding crops in mid-December. Warm Fall Yields Endless Broccoli

Standing inside one of the five hoop houses at Wishing Stone Farm, where he has already started his indoor winter crop, Skip Paul says that because of the mild fall he’s actually still harvesting vegetables from his fields outdoors. “Usually you see temperatures dropping significantly, so by this time during normal years, we would have had all our carrots and beets in,” he says. “This year has been so mild, we’ve postponed harvest. We’re pulling in a half-acre of broccoli. That is unbelievable. It’s clearly a sign of global warming or something to be able to harvest broccoli almost until Christmastime.”

A shift in average temperatures and warmer-than-normal falls has meant a longer growing season for Rhode Island farmers. In fact, a drive along Route 77 in Little Compton reveals a few still-green fields shrugging up kale and other crops not typically seen outside in mid-December. While the winter markets do provide an outlet for late harvest and year-round growing, Paul says they can only absorb so much. “Winter markets…are flat or slightly down because of the economy or the fact that there’s an explosion of new winter markets sprouting up everywhere,” Paul says. Read more here.

City could see ‘lush oasis’ in downtown by summer 2013

NEW BEDFORD – A home-grown, award-winning urban designer presented preliminary plans for a new park in Custom House Square Tuesday night that he said would transform the existing parking lot into a “lush oasis” with opportunities for farmers markets and an ice skating rink. The plans call for a paved open area in one corner of the lot with tables and chairs. In the rest of the space, which is less than 1 acre, designs show about six gently sloped grass lawns, some with flower plantings and others shaded by trees.

Chris Reed of Boston-based Stoss design and planning studio said his goal was to create a place “that becomes a year-round, round-the-clock kind of open place” while providing room for the city’s festivals. Read more here.

New ‘carbon-friendly’ waste removal facility proposed in Rochester

A new, expanded waste disposal facility could be in the works for Rochester. Representatives from the New Bedford-based ABC Disposal Service Inc., proposed replacing its facility located on Cranberry Highway, by the Rochester Environmental Park on Route 28. If approved, the 30,000 square-foot facility would be rebuilt to 89,000 square feet. New machinery would also be purchased that would be able to separate waste from recyclables on site. Read more here.

Wendy Stone, a pilates instructor in Walpole, has been doing a juice cleanse once a month since August. Juice ‘cleansing’ is going mainstream

Fasting is as old as the oldest religion and home juicing has been in and out of vogue for decades, but the recent trend of juice fasting, which typically involves subsisting on nothing but cold-pressed juice for three to seven days, has surged as companies have sprung up to make and ship the fresh juices, saving customers the time, effort, and mess usually expended when juicing at home. These packaged juices are ordered online and in most cases delivered to the customer’s door. The idea is that when juice is extracted from the fruits and vegetables, leaving behind the pulp, the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes of the nutrient-dense liquid are more speedily absorbed. The companies’ websites claim that the benefits of a juice cleanse include weight loss, elimination of toxins, mental clarity, an immune system boost, and improved skin and overall health.

But some health experts are dubious. “There is no good science that a juice fast can prevent, treat, or cure a medical condition, and it can be a complicating factor,” said Jennifer Nelson, director of clinical nutrition at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, adding that for diabetics or pre-diabetics a juice fast can be dangerous. Read more here.

SEED names Fairfield Inn Small Business of the Year

The South Eastern Economic Development (SEED) Corporation presented Fairfield Inn & Suites New Bedford with its Small Business of the Year” award for 2012. SEED’s Nominating Committee selected Fairfield Inn & Suites from a pool of 350 candidates. SEED’s criteria included enhancement of the region’s economy through creation of jobs, and financial performance. In 2010, SEED provided the hotel with a $2 million loan under the SBA 504 Program in conjunction with Bristol County Savings Bank for total financing of $9.3 million.

This past year under all its loan programs, SEED made 134 loans totaling $40.2 million, leveraging $73 million in bank loans and private funds and assisting in the creation of 692 new jobs. At the end of the year, SEED’s active loan portfolio totaled $105 million. Read more here.

Leaf Bullet Save The Date

Family Beach Walk

Friday, December 28, 10:00am West Island Town Beach parking lot
Join the Buzzards Bay Coalition on a Family Beach Walk along West Island Beach in Fairhaven. Get out and stretch your legs while seeing if Santa left any treasures on the beach. Meet in the West Island town beach parking lot at 10am. Learn more here.

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.

Exploring the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve (SMB) Walks

Saturday, December 29, 8PM Copicut Woods, Fall River, MA
Our next Exploring the SMB Walk will be December 29, Saturday. It will be another night hike illuminated by December’s Cold Moon. We will meet at the Trustees of Reservations’ parking lot, located at the intersection of Indian Town Road and Yellow Hill Road, Fall River, at 8 p.m. Approximate length of walk is 2 miles. It’s FREE to attend. Bring a small flashlight in case mischievous clouds act up. 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.

Global Voice Science on a Sphere Evening Series

Wednesday, January 9, 6pm Ocean Explorium, 174 Union Street, Downtown New Bedford
This month, Global Voice Science on a Sphere Evening Series features James T. Griffith, Ph.D., CLS(NCA), Chancellor Professor and Chairperson, Dept. of Medical Laboratory Science, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, speaking on “Infectious Disease and Climate Change.” Watch the spread of deadly diseases across the globe on Science on a Sphere, then listen as Dr. Griffith explains how climate change can contribute to this phenomenon.
Price: $5/Members, $10/Non-members, $8/Students, $3/Child Pre-register online or call 508-994-5400 for more information. For any questions, please email Ocean Explorium. Learn more here.

SEMAP’s 2013 Annual Winter Networking Meeting

Wednesday, January 9, 6:00pm – 7:30pm Urban Acres Farm 187 Plymouth Ave., Building 8, Fall River, MA 02721
Calling all Farms, Chefs, Schools, Caterers and Businesses looking for local…Join SEMAP at our Annual Winter Networking Meeting!
SEMAP is teaming up with The Carrot Project to share new ideas on farm financing and loan programs, specifically for Southeastern MA farms. Our host, Urban Acres Farm is a new hydroponics operation in the heart of Fall River’s historic mill district. Utilizing and revamping old mill space, the entrepreneurial farmers at Urban Acres are growing traditional crops (with some surprises) in an untraditional setting. Using dutch buckets, lights, and climate controlled settings the farm is able to grow product year round, offering CSA members with fresh tomatoes in the short days of December.
There will be plenty of time for NETWORKING with new faces and old friends with plenty of local food! BRING A SAMPLE / SMALL DISH! If you have a local product available, please bring a sample to share with prospective buyers/suppliers.
Any questions, please contact Sarah Cogswell here. 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.

Taste, Memory | Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors, and Why They Matter

Friday, January 11, 6pm Westport Grange, 931 Main Rd, Westport
The Trustees of Reservations proudly invite David Buchanan to the Westport Town Grange to talk about his new book, Taste, Memory: Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors, and Why They Matter. David is the author of Taste, Memory, which describes the importance and pleasures of biodiversity and its essential role in sustainable food systems.

Listen to David explore with us the fundamental questions to the future of food and farming. How can we strike a balance between preserving the past, maintaining valuable agricultural and culinary traditions, and looking ahead to breed new plants? What place does a cantankerous old pear or too-delicate strawberry deserve in our gardens, farms, and markets? To what extent should growers value efficiency and uniformity over matters of taste, ecology, or regional identity? Call 774.488.9604 for more information. Read more here.

Star Gazing Walk

Saturdays, January 12 – February 2, 7am Manny Rose Perry Agricultural Reserve, Barney’s Joy Road, Dartmouth, MA
Join Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) and guest leader Gerald P. Dyck for a free “Star Gazing Walk” at DNRT’s Manny Rose Perry Agricultural Reserve at 5:30 pm on Friday, January 18, 2013 (rain date: Saturday, January 19 at 5:30 pm). Mr. Dyck, former music teacher in the Dartmouth Public Schools and life-long active amateur astronomer, will lead participants in orientating themselves to the night sky and identifying major winter constellations and other points of interest. Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the evening’s weather and to bring binoculars if they have them. Call (508)991-2289, or email DNRT Read more here.

New Bedford Bicycle Committee Meeting

Wednesday, January 16, 6:00pm – 7:00pm New Bedford City Hall, Room 314
Steve Miller, Executive Director, New England Healthy Weight Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health, LivableStreets Alliance Board Member and avid cyclist, will discuss biking in New Bedford! The committee meets to advocate for safe bicycling and pedestrian paths and lanes for transit and recreational purposes, raise awareness of the need for improved connectivity throughout the city, and represents the City of New Bedford as part of the regional South Coast Bikeway initiative. All those who are passionate about making New Bedford a safer place to ride and getting more people involved in riding are welcomed to attend. Read more and Register here.

DNRT Trail Running Series

Friday, January 18, 5:30PM 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.


Saturday, January 19, 10:00am – 1:00pm Lloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA
The Lloyd Center is seeking volunteers to join the SEANET (Seabird Ecological Assessment Network) program which involves using patterns of beached bird deposition along coastal shorelines to help detect the impact to our shores, seabird life, and the offshore marine environment. If you are a casual environmentalist, avid birder, and/or simply enjoy walking the beach and want to use your time to help provide important information for use in various marine initiatives, then this project could be for you.
The workshop will feature an indoor session and weather permitting, a beach walk where attendees will put their knowledge to use. Volunteers will leave the workshop with a site location, materials and the background information needed to start surveying. Volunteers will conduct monthly surveys for both beached and live birds at their site of choice and collect basic environment conditions data during their walks. When volunteers find beached birds, they will take measurements and photographs, mark the specimens, and document other findings from the walk.
Pre-registration required by 4:00 p.m., Friday, January 18th This is FREE to the public Pre-register online, or call the Center’s Event line at 508-558-2918. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Jamie Bogart at 508-990-0505 x 23, or email Learn more here.

Beyond the Barway

Friday, January 25, 1pm – 3pm Westport Field Office, 1100 Main Rd., Westport
Barways are those inviting openings in stone walls and fences that lure us to the fields and paths ahead. Join the Trustees and Westport Land Conservation Trust for a guided walk. Learn about land protection for the experts and get a rare glimpse of open space preserved for Westport’;s future. Be prepared for uneven ground and grand surprises. Meet at 1100 Main Road.
Members: FREE. Nonmembers: $5. Call 508.636.4693 x13 for more information. Learn more here.

Animal Tracking

Saturday, January 26, 9am Freetown/Fall River State Forest HQ, Slab Bridge Rd, Assonet
Although the forests of the 13,600 acre Bioreserve might at first appear unhabitated in winter, they are, in fact full of life. While a few animals do head south to hibernate away the winter months, most remain in New England and are active all year. At the Bioreserve, mammals are out and about, foraging for food and leaving their tracks in the snow. Rabbit, deer, fox, coyote, turkey, and fisher are just some of the animals whose tracks may be found. Join Bill Sampson, senior keeper at Buttonwood Park, to learn the art of tracking animals in winter. Cost is FREE to attend. Call 508.636.4693 x13 for more information. Learn more here.

Leaf Bullet Announcements

Roger Williams University Announces Aquaculture Course Program

The Roger Williams University Center for Economic and Environmental Development today announced it is presently enrolling students to its non-credit course in Practical Shellfish Farming for the winter 2013 semester. This course will provide interested individuals the technical information needed to confidently undertake a small shellfish farming enterprise in Rhode Island and nearby areas of Southern New England. All In this semester-long course, students will learn the basic principles of hatchery, nursery and grow-out operations; as well as risk management, siting and permitting, and business management.
The course starts January 8, 2013 and will consist of a minimum of 12 classes, which will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The fee for the entire 12 + week course, including all handout materials, is $125 per student. Students may attend classes on a drop-in basis at a rate of $10 per evening session. More information and Pre-registration can be done by contacting Cheryl Francis at (401) 254-3110 or email, or Dale Leavitt.

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

How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh Longer

If you’re getting a real Christmas tree this season, as nearly 29 million households are (according to the National Christmas Tree Association), you’ll want it to last through all the ho-ho-hos and tidings of comfort and joy. Here’s what you should do to make sure your tannenbaum doesn’t become a tannen-bummer. Learn more here.

Leaf Bullet Preparedness Tip

12 Ways to Adopt the Sharing Economy This Holiday!

The sharing economy has spawned hundreds of websites all offering new methods for trading, bartering, renting, teaching, learning, riding, biking — you name it. This holiday season try out some alternatives to the usual. Some of these also make great alternatives to traditional gift ideas! 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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