Friday, June 19, 2009

Green Machines

I'm a bit wary of "buy green" campaigns. The best way to buy green is not to buy at all! Given that most of us buys things, though, here's a couple of resources to help decide which of the many examples of each product is the most environmentally-friendly.

Greener One rates products' environmental impacts using a formula created by a group of technology veterans. Contributors answer questions about each product's materials, manufacturing, use, and disposal. The formula uses these answers to calculate a Green Index for each product. As on Wikipedia, anyone can contribute to the site, and contributors monitor each other's entries. Greener One is up and running, but still being tested, so welcomes comments and contributors.

Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics rates the practices of the top 17 electronics companies in toxic chemicals, recycling, and climate change. The top 5 ranked companies from 1-5 are: Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Philips, and Sony.

An interesting single product to consider is Motorola's W233 Renew cell phone, carbon-neutral and made of 100% recycled plastic. Motorola uses offsets to neutralize the greenhouse gas emissions caused by its manufacture, distribution, and use. Maybe this was a reaction to their ranking as #8 on Greenpeace's list, or Nokia's 50%-recycled 3110.

What's your favorite green product?

Stay cool,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Forests: Big Carbon Sponges

Forests absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide and therefore reduce climate change. The Nature Conservancy has called destruction of forests "the largest overlooked contributor to climate change." Loss and degradation of forests causes 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A recent article in the LA Times describes how some forests in California are being managed to maximize their ability to absorb and store carbon. A foundation overseeing one of these, the 2,200 acre Van Eck forest, calculated the amount of extra carbon absorbed due to reduced logging there. The approximately 185,000 metric tons of extra carbon being sequestered in this way were sold to individuals and companies for $2 million to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Bank launched the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in December 2007 to provide incentives to countries with large tracts of forest to keep them standing. These countries now make more money from cutting them down. Industrialized countries, forest communities, the Nature Conservancy, and the private sector will join the partnership to find a way to properly value the carbon-sequestering abilities of forests. Otherwise, the money to be made from cutting down forests for biofuels and palm oil might outweigh the financial gain to poorer countries from keeping their forests, and these vast carbon-absorbing ecosystems, home to great biodiversity, might be further reduced, greatly contributing to climate change.
Send me your carbon-footprint-reducing ideas and news!
Stay cool,

Friday, June 5, 2009

Help pass historic global warming legislation!

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed Waxman-Markey, which I wrote about in my April 10 post, on May 21st. Waxman-Markey, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, proposes the first ever cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the US. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would reportedly like a vote on the bill in the full House before the July 4th recess. This means we all need to email our Congressional representatives now by clicking here, reading more about the bill, and then clicking on Send an Email to Congress under What You Can Do on the left side of the page. Of course, you can call or write your rep, too, but do it now.

The bill is controversial. Most environmental groups support it, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, and the Alliance for Climate Protection, which was founded by Al Gore. Greenpeace does not support the bill, stating that it doesn't go far enough and gives too much away to industry. On the other hand, the president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association issued a statement calling the Waxman-Markey bill an "abject policy failure." The bill, imperfect as it is, faces a tough fight in Congress. I think it holds out the best hope we have for serious climate action this year. I also believe that the longer we wait, the stronger the opposition will grow. Please support this bill now! You can certainly ask for stronger provisions in your email. Go here to read Greenpeace's objections. And let us know what you think!
Stay cool,