Posts tagged ‘emissions’

131 years of global warming in 26 seconds

Have 26 seconds? Watch how global temperatures have changed between 1880 and 2011.

From the August 6, 2012 blog posting on Climate Central

While temperatures have been blistering this summer, this video takes the longer historical view. It comes to us from our friends at NASA and is an amazing 26-second animation depicting how temperatures around the globe have warmed since 1880. That year is what scientists call the beginning of the “modern record.” You’ll note an acceleration of those temperatures in the late 1970s as greenhouse gas emissions from energy production increased worldwide and clean air laws reduced emissions of pollutants that had a cooling effect on the climate, and thus were masking some of the global warming signal. The data come from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures. As NASA notes, “in this animation, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.”

Is asking Facebook to unfriend coal too much?

Sign on. Share a witty status update. Poke a friend. Pollute the air?

A new Greenpeace campaign is committed to drawing awareness to Facebook’s reliance on non-renewable sources.  The campaign is centered around the idea that the company’s data center in Prineville, Oregon will depend partially on energy derived from coal. The center has not yet been completed, but Facebook has already reacted to the Greenpeace campaign.

The company states that the location for their new facility was carefully chosen so that they could rely on the climate to keep the center cool, and not be forced to install energy-guzzling mechanical chillers. They claim the building will be LEED Gold certified, and will rely on recycled water to power an evaporative cooling system. In addressing the issue of coal, Facebook claims to be at the mercy of their power provider. They say that: “electrons powering that data center are produced by the various sources (e.g. hydro, natural gas, coal, geothermal, nuclear, etc.) the provider uses in proportions similar to the mix of sources used.”

The power provider for the Oregon facility,Pacific Power, has an energy mix that is weighted slightly more toward coal than the national average,” according to their official Greenpeace response. Facebook claims that Pacific Power’s long-term plan will move away from coal.

The company has long claimed to be a proud supporter of sustainability, but many are still not impressed with the measures they plan to take in Prineville.

The Greenpeace initiative is just one of many drawing attention to the energy usage of major companies, and is a good example of consumer awareness playing an important role in how businesses power up.  Increasingly, citizens are asking companies to consider the triple bottom line: people, profit, and the planet. By calling out to companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, we can ensure that they do their part to limit their negative impact on the environment.

Join the Greenpeace Facebook group.

Read the list of the Enivornmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Top 50 Green Power Partnership Businesses.


Eco- Friendly Barbecues

With Labor Day just around the corner and summer coming to a close, backyard barbecues and other get-togethers abound. However,  entertaining doesn’t have to mean mountains of waste and cheap disposable party favors. Recyclable materials you have lying around your house can be transformed into easy decorations. I made these simple paper fans (easy tutorial here) out of old newspapers and magazines to hang from trees in the backyard. Just make sure they are tied securely so that they don’t fly away, and recycle them after the party!

Simple steps such as sending out e-vites instead of paper invitations can help make sure that friends and family stay informed, without the waste. When it comes to convenience, some of the biggest environmental offenders are unrecyclable paper plates, cups, and utensils. Reusable items are the best way to go, especially multipurpose items like Mason jars which make great drinking cups and vases. But if you can’t bring yourself to do any dishes, invest in biodegradable or compostable plates. After your guests leave you can simply toss them in your compost heap. Worldcentric offers a great array of everything from cutlery to trash bags, and they donate a quarter of their profits to grass roots social and environmental organizations.

When it comes to choosing meats to grill, remember to keep in mind the carbon footprint of your diet. Processing meats creates emissions, but not all proteins stack up the same. Red meats like lamb and beef release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so consider chicken or turkey burgers.

New technologies are emerging in order to make the act of grilling itself less harmful for the environment. The  gas vs. charcoal vs. electric grill debate is a complicated one. Gas uses non-renewable fuels, charcoal emits double the carbon dioxide of gas, and electric can have the highest greenhouse gas emissions of all if the energy that powers your house isn’t green. New recyclable items like the FlameDisk use ethanol to heat and cook food, and they eliminate the time that used to be spent waiting for grills to heat up.

Enjoy your Labor Day!

– GN

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