Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • Bee-ware: Bayer is Back With a New Neonic

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    Filed in Agriculture & Food , Ecosystems, Wildlife & Biodiversity , on by Sierra Club Canada

    Flupyradifurone is a new neonicotinoid pesticide from Bayer. That’s right, another one!

    Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) explained that:

    “Flupyradifurone may pose a risk to bees, non-target beneficial arthropods, and freshwater and saltwater invertebrates when used for foliar application. Flupyradifurone may pose a risk to birds and small wild mammals when used for soybean seed treatment.”

    The neonicotinoid pesticide can enter the environment through a number of different insecticide applications and covers a large number of ‘pests’ in a variety of crops. It can also enter groundwater and aquatic environments through surface run-off.

    Health Canada’s PMRA is accepting comments on Flupyradifurone until this Saturday, November 1st. Do you think Flupyradifurone should be allowed on the market? Share your thoughts today by visiting the Sierra Club website.

    Read more on John Bennett’s blog, Sierra Club Canada’s Executive Director, originally published on the Sierra Club Canada website (www.sierraclub.ca):

    http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/bayer-bee-ware

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  • Green Life: Mr Green, Should I Replace My Water Heater?

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    Filed in Energy , Environment & Climate , on by Sierra Club

    Hey Mr. Green,

    My 10-year-old electric water heater uses about 5,000 kilowatt-hours a year. Should I wait until it dies or replace it now? If the latter, what’s the most energy-efficient water heater on the market?

    —Randi, in Putnam Valley, New York

    Holy starry dynamo of night! Your water heater alone uses almost twice as much electricity as my entire house. At New York’s average residential rate of 19.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, you could be spending $1,000 a year to feed that energy hog. I’d rather take cold showers with Dick Cheney and Mitch McConnell than shell out that much.

    Depending on where your energy comes from, conventional electric water heaters can suck up even more fossil fuel energy than gas heaters since two-thirds or more of the fossil energy that makes electricity gets used up as heat and in transmission.

    So, to replace or not to replace your electric water heater?

    Read the entire story in Sierra Magazine, originally published on the Sierra Club website (www.sierraclub.org): http://sierraclub.org/sierra/2014-6-november-december/green-life/mr-green-should-i-replace-my-water-heater

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  • Global Economy Inches Upward as Environmental and Social Concerns Mount

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    Filed in Fair Trade, Finance & The Social Economy on by Worldwatch Institute

    New Worldwatch Institute analysis examines global economic trends and associated challenges

    Washington, D.C. — National progress is often measured almost exclusively by growth in the gross domestic product, or GDP. Yet as the global economy inches upward, actual social and environmental well-being lags. Alternative measures for gauging progress are needed to determine true prosperity, write Worldwatch’s Mark Konold and Climate and Jacqueline Espinal in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs analysis (bit.ly/VSOEcon).

    Growing economy. The global economy grew moderately (at 4.49 percent) in 2013, resulting in a total combined GDP of $87 trillion for all countries in the world. Emerging markets accounted for a large part of the growth (representing 50 percent of the total), as an affluent middle class formed and young workers migrated into cities, encouraging business investment in developing countries.

    Growing inequality. Even as the global economy picks up, however, social challenges continue to mount. According to the United Nations Development Programme, average household income inequality in recent decades has risen in both industrial and developing countries. One billion out of 7 billion people live below poverty levels and experience most acutely the dark side of development, such as global climate change, water depletion, food shortages, and biodiversity destruction.

    There also continued to be labor shortages, increased globalization, ... Read More

  • Warming Trends in the Pacific Northwest Are Not Due to Natural Variability

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    Filed in Environment & Climate on by Union of Concerned Scientists

    The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Kendall Science Fellow and Scientist Roberto Mera discusses how today’s changing climate and recent record-setting wildfires this year in the Pacific Northwest is compelling scientists to search for ways to determine the cause behind the observed trends.

    The Pacific Northwest has experienced a statistically significant warming trend of 0.7°C (1.3°F) in an annual mean temperature from 1901-2012, as indicated in a recent study by Abatzoglou and co-authors in the Journal of Climate. This trend has been attributed to heat trapping emissions as the leading contributor to long-term warming.

    This past week we saw a highly provocative alternative to Abatzoglou et al’s findings: the main cause of the century-long warming trend is due to natural changes in atmospheric circulation over the northeast Pacific, according to a new study by Johnstone and Mantua in the PNAS journal. The publication by Johnstone and Mantua has received a great deal of attention in the media, including an article in the New York Times. But how could such different conclusions be reached?

    Read more on the Union of Concerned Scientists blog: http://blog.ucsusa.org/warming-trends-in-the-pacific-northwest-are-not-due-to-natural-variability-668

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  • Hershey Bars, Global Warming and Deforestation: a Sweet New Policy

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    Filed in Agriculture & Food , Environment & Climate , on by Union of Concerned Scientists

    Good news for earth and chocolate lovers: the Hershey Company has recently significantly strengthened its commitment to zero deforestation for all the palm oil it uses. The Union of Concerned Scientists – particularly Palm Oil Outreach Coordinator Miriam Swaffer – has been talking with The Hershey Company for nearly a full year about this policy.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Senior Scientist and Director of Climate Research and Analysis Doug Boucher writes on how the organization urged the Hershey Company to follow the science and the lead of the most advanced consumer goods companies, including competitors of theirs such as Nestle and Unilever. And they have.

    Hershey’s stronger commitment to zero deforestation is significant for several reasons; because it is a strong policy by almost every criterion; because UCS has been working with the Hershey Company for nearly a year, urging energetic and scientifically rigorous action; and because I’ve liked their chocolate bars for an awfully long time.

    Now, that’s a sweet deal. Read more on the Union of Concerned Scientists blog: http://blog.ucsusa.org/hershey-bars-global-warming-and-deforestation-a-sweet-new-policy-666

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  • Green Life: Mr. Green Tells Us How Bad Plane Travel Is

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    Filed in Environment & Climate on by Sierra Club

    Hey Mr. Green,

    It seems hypocritical for the Sierra Club to voice concern about the environment while promoting air travel to distant destinations. How bad is plane travel? Would traveling by blimp help? Is it ethical?

    –Robert in Rochester, New York

    Commercial flights make up 9 percent of U.S. transportation-based fuel consumption. But given air travel’s effects on the upper atmosphere, its global-warming effects may be far greater. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aviation’s share of U.S. transportation’s global-warming effects could be 20 percent, or even 5.5 percent of total U.S. emissions. (Air travel can be very efficient, however. Domestic flights move a passenger 50 miles on a gallon of fuel, compared with 30 miles per person for cars. International flights do even better.)

    Read the entire story in Sierra Magazine, originally published on the Sierra Club website (www.sierraclub.org): http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2014-4-july-august/green-life/mr-green-tells-us-how-bad-plane-travel

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  • For Business Policy Change, You’re in Charge

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    Filed in Fair Trade, Finance & The Social Economy on by GreenMoney Journal

    Policy makers truly listen and care when businesses move past status-quo statements to show and tell how profit, sustainability and broad prosperity can be achieved simultaneously.

    Public policy is a critical strategy to transform the economy from the sometimes-damaging system it can be today. But if passionate, sustainably minded business leaders are not at the table, only the voices of legacy, profit-at all costs business lobbies will be heard. And our economy and society will suffer.

    Yes, the policy process can be frustrating and time-consuming, but so can business. Good leaders don’t let that stop them. They understand that public policy action takes the same skills business management does: Drive to improve, big-picture thinking, the ability to sell an idea, a long-term planning horizon, intelligent compromise and an accurate assessment of the cost vs. benefit of every decision.

    The business perspective matters – especially to policymakers. Get your voice heard by policymakers – it’s worth it. Tell your sustainable business success story, and advocate for the policies that will move our economy onto a sustainable footing. A lot of American business leaders will be doing the same thing, so you’ll be in good company.

    Read more from David Levine, Co-founder/CEO and Richard Eidlin, Public ... Read More