Eco Buzz

El Niño could raise meteorological hell this year

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 19:05

It’s more likely than not that El Niño will rise from the Pacific Ocean this year — and some scientists are warning that it could grow into a bona fide monster.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center put out a bulletin Thursday saying there’s a greater than 50 percent chance that El Niño will develop later this year. Australian government meteorologists are even more confident — they said earlier this week that there’s a greater than 70 percent chance that El Niño will develop this summer.

Not totally clear on what this El Niño thing even is? Andrew Freedman explains at Mashable:

El Niño and La Niña events refer to fluctuations in air and ocean conditions in the tropical Pacific. El Niño events are characterized by warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, and they add heat to the atmosphere, thereby warming global average temperatures. They typically occur once every three to seven years and can also alter weather patterns around the world, causing droughts and floods from the West Coast of the U.S. to Papua New Guinea.

There was a particularly brutal El Niño from 1997 to 1998, which killed an estimated 23,000 people and caused tens of billions of dollars worth of damage. The looming El Niño could match the intensity of that outburst. More from Mashable:

Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, said conditions are changing rapidly in the Pacific, going from 50/50 odds of an El Niño, to a setup that eerily resembles the circumstances that preceded the monster El Niño of ‘97-’98.

“It’s something we haven’t really seen since the ’97 El Niño,” Blake said of the westerly wind bursts and ocean observations.

El Niño events aren’t our fault — they’re just a fact of life on planet Earth, caused by inherent instability in Pacific Ocean weather patterns. But we may be making things worse for ourselves. Scientists reported in July that El Niño is arriving more frequently now than had been the case before we started heavily polluting the skies with greenhouse gases. And in January, a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change forecast that more El Niños will be of the extreme variety as we continue to warm the globe.


Filed under: Climate & Energy
Categories: Eco Buzz

These stylish fair-trade clothes support at-risk women

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 18:41
Raven + Lily

Think of Raven + Lily as the anti–Forever 21. Rather than making new gewgaws outta plastic, the sustainable clothing company upcycles materials like bullet casings (!) and silver coins. Plus, it pays a fair wage to HIV-positive women and victims of sex trafficking, abuse, and other trauma. (Its prices also set it apart from Forever 21, although they’re far from Prada-high.)

And unlike Forever 21, you can actually feel good about wearing things from Raven + Lily, instead of slightly nauseated and wondering if those burned-smelling jeans are making you sick. Raven + Lily offers healthcare along with a safe job so women in Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and the U.S. can get a leg up out of poverty. Its Kenya Collection, for instance:

Features hand-carved wooden and beaded jewelry that empower women from the Esiteti community to eradicate female genital mutation, as well as to be the first generation to send girls to school.

Awesome, right? The company is careful to make the best use of local resources, investigating what fabrics and materials local women have access to and where their design skills lie. This video explains more about the bullets-to-beads story and turning conflict into art:

Raven + Lily also gives its workers a voice by telling their stories on its site. Srey Keo, a seamstress in a Phnom Penh workshop, says it’s better than other local work she’s had:

I like this job much better than the garment factory. The work environment is good, and I can talk with the other women here … Also, the pay is better here and now I am able to live near my family and see them more. Now I have my own skills and am being trained in how to improve and grow.

Read more of their stories and take 20 percent off any Raven + Lily purchase on Earth Day with the code EARTH14.


Filed under: Living
Categories: Eco Buzz

These stylish fair-trade clothes support at-risk women

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 18:41
Raven + Lily

Think of Raven + Lily as the anti–Forever 21. Rather than making new gewgaws outta plastic, the sustainable clothing company upcycles materials like bullet casings (!) and silver coins. Plus, it pays a fair wage to HIV-positive women and victims of sex trafficking, abuse, and other trauma. (Its prices also set it apart from Forever 21, although they’re far from Prada-high.)

And unlike Forever 21, you can actually feel good about wearing things from Raven + Lily, instead of slightly nauseated and wondering if those burned-smelling jeans are making you sick. Raven + Lily offers healthcare along with a safe job so women in Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and the U.S. can get a leg up out of poverty. Its Kenya Collection, for instance:

Features hand-carved wooden and beaded jewelry that empower women from the Esiteti community to eradicate female genital mutation, as well as to be the first generation to send girls to school.

Awesome, right? The company is careful to make the best use of local resources, investigating what fabrics and materials local women have access to and where their design skills lie. This video explains more about the bullets-to-beads story and turning conflict into art:

Raven + Lily also gives its workers a voice by telling their stories on its site. Srey Keo, a seamstress in a Phnom Penh workshop, says it’s better than other local work she’s had:

I like this job much better than the garment factory. The work environment is good, and I can talk with the other women here … Also, the pay is better here and now I am able to live near my family and see them more. Now I have my own skills and am being trained in how to improve and grow.

Read more of their stories and take 20 percent off any Raven + Lily purchase on Earth Day with the code EARTH14.


Filed under: Living
Categories: Eco Buzz

IKEA Invests In 98 Megawatt Wind Farm In Illinois

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 18:06

IKEA US announced its investment in a 98 megawatt wind farm in Hoopeston, Illinois.

The post IKEA Invests In 98 Megawatt Wind Farm In Illinois appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

IKEA Invests In 98 Megawatt Wind Farm In Illinois

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 18:06

IKEA US announced its investment in a 98 megawatt wind farm in Hoopeston, Illinois.

The post IKEA Invests In 98 Megawatt Wind Farm In Illinois appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

Weather-related blackouts in U.S. doubled in 10 years

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 16:42

The current U.S. electrical grid is a far cry from smart. Climate change and aging infrastructure are leading to an increasing number of blackouts across the country.

A new analysis by the nonprofit Climate Central found that the number of outages affecting 50,000 or more people for at least an hour doubled during the decade up to 2012.  Most of the blackouts were triggered when extreme weather damaged large transmission lines and substations. Michigan had the most outages, followed by Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Climate CentralClick to embiggen.

Severe rainstorms, which are growing more tempestuous as the globe warms, were blamed for the majority of the weather-related outages.

Climate CentralClick to embiggen.

The researchers listed two main drivers of the trend:

Climate change is, at most, partially responsible for this recent increase in major power outages, which is a product of an aging grid serving greater electricity demand, and an increase in storms and extreme weather events that damage this system. But a warming planet provides more fuel for increasingly intense and violent storms, heat waves, and wildfires, which in turn will continue to strain, and too often breach, our highly vulnerable electrical infrastructure. …

Since 1990, heavy downpours and flooding have increased in most parts of the country, and the trend is most dramatic in the Northeast and Midwest. Some of this heavy rain is likely to be associated with high winds and thunderstorm activity. Researchers have found that these regions have already seen a 30 percent increase in heavy downpours compared to the 1901-1960 average.

Climate CentralClick to embiggen.

Solutions to the problem include more small wind and solar power installations built close to where the electricity is needed — and an overhaul of the country’s overburdened and outmoded grid system.

This research won’t come as a surprise inside the White House. The Obama administration put out a call for more spending on grid infrastructure last year when it published similar findings in its own report.


Filed under: Climate & Energy
Categories: Eco Buzz

Weather-related blackouts in U.S. doubled in 10 years

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 16:42

The current U.S. electrical grid is a far cry from smart. Climate change and aging infrastructure are leading to an increasing number of blackouts across the country.

A new analysis by the nonprofit Climate Central found that the number of outages affecting 50,000 or more people for at least an hour doubled during the decade up to 2012.  Most of the blackouts were triggered when extreme weather damaged large transmission lines and substations. Michigan had the most outages, followed by Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Climate CentralClick to embiggen.

Severe rainstorms, which are growing more tempestuous as the globe warms, were blamed for the majority of the weather-related outages.

Climate CentralClick to embiggen.

The researchers listed two main drivers of the trend:

Climate change is, at most, partially responsible for this recent increase in major power outages, which is a product of an aging grid serving greater electricity demand, and an increase in storms and extreme weather events that damage this system. But a warming planet provides more fuel for increasingly intense and violent storms, heat waves, and wildfires, which in turn will continue to strain, and too often breach, our highly vulnerable electrical infrastructure. …

Since 1990, heavy downpours and flooding have increased in most parts of the country, and the trend is most dramatic in the Northeast and Midwest. Some of this heavy rain is likely to be associated with high winds and thunderstorm activity. Researchers have found that these regions have already seen a 30 percent increase in heavy downpours compared to the 1901-1960 average.

Climate CentralClick to embiggen.

Solutions to the problem include more small wind and solar power installations built close to where the electricity is needed — and an overhaul of the country’s overburdened and outmoded grid system.

This research won’t come as a surprise inside the White House. The Obama administration put out a call for more spending on grid infrastructure last year when it published similar findings in its own report.


Filed under: Climate & Energy
Categories: Eco Buzz

The week in GIFs: Raising our eyebrows

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 16:20

The week’s green news has us skeptical, judgmental, and just plain confused. (Last week: genies, junk, and Mary Jane.)

Only 28 percent of Fox’s climate segments are accurate:

Tumblr

Ohio cracked down on pollution from fracking:

Reaction Gifs

Oil companies would rather let trains explode than work with regulators:

Reaction Gifs

EVs are so quiet, they’re sneaking up on cyclists and pedestrians:

Gif Garage

Droughts are pushing beef prices to record highs:

Giphy

People are tipping Smart cars over for fun:

Tumblr

Teaching kids to cook is better than … well, whatever THIS is:

Blogspot
Filed under: Living
Categories: Eco Buzz

The week in GIFs: Raising our eyebrows

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 16:20

The week’s green news has us skeptical, judgmental, and just plain confused. (Last week: genies, junk, and Mary Jane.)

Only 28 percent of Fox’s climate segments are accurate:

Tumblr

Ohio cracked down on pollution from fracking:

Reaction Gifs

Oil companies would rather let trains explode than work with regulators:

Reaction Gifs

EVs are so quiet, they’re sneaking up on cyclists and pedestrians:

Gif Garage

Droughts are pushing beef prices to record highs:

Giphy

People are tipping Smart cars over for fun:

Tumblr

Teaching kids to cook is better than … well, whatever THIS is:

Blogspot
Filed under: Living
Categories: Eco Buzz

Salamanders are doing their best to stave off climate change

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 15:52

If we can’t get through to Republicans, at least we have one slimy little crawler* that’s helping to mitigate climate change. A new study indicates that woodland salamanders help keep carbon out of the atmosphere, thanks to their diet of insects that feed on dead leaves.

Here’s how it works: Salamanders eat mostly “shredding invertebrates,” bugs that survive by ripping leaves to pieces and eating them. Shredding the leaves releases their carbon into the atmosphere — but when there are fewer shredding invertebrates, leaves stay on the ground and decompose, with their carbon eventually being absorbed safely into the soil. By eating the shredders, salamanders help carbon be directed into the ground and not into the air.

Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and the College of the Redwoods investigated this phenomenon by setting up a series of enclosures, some with salamanders and some without, says the New York Times:

The presence of salamanders resulted in a significant decrease in shredders: fly and beetle larvae, adult beetles and springtails. In the plots with no salamanders there were more shredders, and they consumed about 13 percent more of the leaf litter. Almost half of that lost weight was carbon, released into the atmosphere.

These enclosures were only 16 square feet, so it remains to be seen whether this effect persists when you’re looking at a whole forest. But if it does, the tiny salamander is actually doing a lot to help the climate:

The authors calculate that woodland salamanders at the density in their study would send 179 pounds of carbon per acre of forest down into the soil, rather than up into the atmosphere. Extrapolated to the huge numbers of woodland salamanders and other predators working in the leaf litter of forests around the world, that is enough to affect global climate.

It’s not going to have a major effect like, say, unhitching ourselves from the oil economy — especially since scientists still disagree on details (like whether the reduction in shredders would still have an effect in dry conditions, when it’s harder for the soil to absorb carbon). But it’s a nice illustration of how important it is to preserve the food chain and protect even the tiniest creatures.

Now let’s set up a cow vs. salamander death match, for the fate of the planet!

Correction: It has been pointed out to the author that salamanders aren’t reptiles, they’re amphibians, which SHE TOTALLY KNEW. Whoops. Climate-denying Republicans, however, remain reptiles.


Filed under: Climate & Energy
Categories: Eco Buzz

Salamanders are doing their best to stave off climate change

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 15:52

If we can’t get through to Republicans, at least we have one slimy little crawler* that’s helping to mitigate climate change. A new study indicates that woodland salamanders help keep carbon out of the atmosphere, thanks to their diet of insects that feed on dead leaves.

Here’s how it works: Salamanders eat mostly “shredding invertebrates,” bugs that survive by ripping leaves to pieces and eating them. Shredding the leaves releases their carbon into the atmosphere — but when there are fewer shredding invertebrates, leaves stay on the ground and decompose, with their carbon eventually being absorbed safely into the soil. By eating the shredders, salamanders help carbon be directed into the ground and not into the air.

Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and the College of the Redwoods investigated this phenomenon by setting up a series of enclosures, some with salamanders and some without, says the New York Times:

The presence of salamanders resulted in a significant decrease in shredders: fly and beetle larvae, adult beetles and springtails. In the plots with no salamanders there were more shredders, and they consumed about 13 percent more of the leaf litter. Almost half of that lost weight was carbon, released into the atmosphere.

These enclosures were only 16 square feet, so it remains to be seen whether this effect persists when you’re looking at a whole forest. But if it does, the tiny salamander is actually doing a lot to help the climate:

The authors calculate that woodland salamanders at the density in their study would send 179 pounds of carbon per acre of forest down into the soil, rather than up into the atmosphere. Extrapolated to the huge numbers of woodland salamanders and other predators working in the leaf litter of forests around the world, that is enough to affect global climate.

It’s not going to have a major effect like, say, unhitching ourselves from the oil economy — especially since scientists still disagree on details (like whether the reduction in shredders would still have an effect in dry conditions, when it’s harder for the soil to absorb carbon). But it’s a nice illustration of how important it is to preserve the food chain and protect even the tiniest creatures.

Now let’s set up a cow vs. salamander death match, for the fate of the planet!

Correction: It has been pointed out to the author that salamanders aren’t reptiles, they’re amphibians, which SHE TOTALLY KNEW. Whoops. Climate-denying Republicans, however, remain reptiles.


Filed under: Climate & Energy
Categories: Eco Buzz

GMO labeling would be outlawed by new bill in Congress

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 15:34

State-led efforts to mandate GMO labels are blossoming like a field of organic tulips, but members of Congress are trying to mow them down with legislative herbicide.

Maine and Connecticut recently passed laws that will require foods containing GMO ingredients to be clearly marked as such — after enough other states follow suit. And lawmakers in other states are considering doing the same thing. The trend makes large food producers nervous — nervous enough to spend millions defeating ballot initiatives in California and Washington that also would have mandated such labels. They worry that the labels might scare people off, eating into companies’ sales and profits.

So a band of corporate-friendly members of Congress has come riding in to try to save the day for their donors. A bipartisan group led by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) has signed onto legislation introduced Wednesday that would run roughshod over states’ rules on GMO labels. Reuters reports:

The bill, dubbed the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” was drafted by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, and is aimed at overriding bills in roughly two dozen states that would require foods made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled as such.

The bill specifically prohibits any mandatory labeling of foods developed using bioengineering.

Large business groups cheered the legislation, which could receive its first hearings in the summer. “The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislative efforts that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are geared toward making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children,” said the American Farm Bureau Federation’s president.

But groups that believe Americans have a right to know what they’re eating and which farming technologies they’re supporting are of course opposed, characterizing the bill as a desperate salvo by Big Food in the face of overwhelming support for GMO labels. The opponents have dubbed the bill the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act.

“If the DARK Act becomes law, a veil of secrecy will cloak ingredients, leaving consumers with no way to know what’s in their food,” said the Environmental Working Group’s Scott Faber. “Consumers in 64 countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, have the right to know if their food contains GMOs. Why shouldn’t Americans have the same right?”

Whatever you choose to call it, the bill is unlikely to have success beyond the GOP-controlled House.


Filed under: Business & Technology, Food, Politics
Categories: Eco Buzz

GMO labeling would be outlawed by new bill in Congress

Gristmill - Fri, 2014-04-11 15:34

State-led efforts to mandate GMO labels are blossoming like a field of organic tulips, but members of Congress are trying to mow them down with legislative herbicide.

Maine and Connecticut recently passed laws that will require foods containing GMO ingredients to be clearly marked as such — after enough other states follow suit. And lawmakers in other states are considering doing the same thing. The trend makes large food producers nervous — nervous enough to spend millions defeating ballot initiatives in California and Washington that also would have mandated such labels. They worry that the labels might scare people off, eating into companies’ sales and profits.

So a band of corporate-friendly members of Congress has come riding in to try to save the day for their donors. A bipartisan group led by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) has signed onto legislation introduced Wednesday that would run roughshod over states’ rules on GMO labels. Reuters reports:

The bill, dubbed the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” was drafted by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, and is aimed at overriding bills in roughly two dozen states that would require foods made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled as such.

The bill specifically prohibits any mandatory labeling of foods developed using bioengineering.

Large business groups cheered the legislation, which could receive its first hearings in the summer. “The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislative efforts that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are geared toward making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children,” said the American Farm Bureau Federation’s president.

But groups that believe Americans have a right to know what they’re eating and which farming technologies they’re supporting are of course opposed, characterizing the bill as a desperate salvo by Big Food in the face of overwhelming support for GMO labels. The opponents have dubbed the bill the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act.

“If the DARK Act becomes law, a veil of secrecy will cloak ingredients, leaving consumers with no way to know what’s in their food,” said the Environmental Working Group’s Scott Faber. “Consumers in 64 countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, have the right to know if their food contains GMOs. Why shouldn’t Americans have the same right?”

Whatever you choose to call it, the bill is unlikely to have success beyond the GOP-controlled House.


Filed under: Business & Technology, Food, Politics
Categories: Eco Buzz

Climate Change Getting You Down? Just Follow the Butterfly

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 15:02

Last year's predictions of catastrophic losses due to climate change are still around, and still real. But the world's smallest species are teaching us nonetheless, that there are still amazing examples of adaptation to learn from.

The post Climate Change Getting You Down? Just Follow the Butterfly appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

Climate Change Getting You Down? Just Follow the Butterfly

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 15:02

Last year's predictions of catastrophic losses due to climate change are still around, and still real. But the world's smallest species are teaching us nonetheless, that there are still amazing examples of adaptation to learn from.

The post Climate Change Getting You Down? Just Follow the Butterfly appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

Today: Can Corporate Sustainability & Economic Growth Coexist? A Twitter Chat With SAP, BSR and CDP

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 14:39

Join TriplePundit and CSRWire for a live Twitter Chat about sustainability and technology with SAP, BSR, and CDP at #SustyBiz on April 11, 2014 at 8am PT/11am ET.

The post Today: Can Corporate Sustainability & Economic Growth Coexist? A Twitter Chat With SAP, BSR and CDP appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

3p Weekend: 10 Clever (and Conscious) Ad Campaigns That Won the Internet

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 02:25

It's tough to deliver a truly great ad campaign these days. In an ever-expanding sea of competition, ads that appeal to social consciousness are cutting through the crowd more than ever. With that in mind, this week we're featuring 10 clever and socially conscious ad campaigns that won the Internet.

The post 3p Weekend: 10 Clever (and Conscious) Ad Campaigns That Won the Internet appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

Clean Solar Initiative II To Add 100 MW of Solar Power on Long Island

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 02:20

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and PSEG Long Island increasingly see solar and other forms of renewable energy as a flexible, reliable and cost-effective means of electricity generation and sustaining the grid. Bids to install 100 MW of additional solar power on Long Island came in 25 percent below LIPA's first Clean Solar Initiative (CSI) feed-in tariff (FiT) auction.

The post Clean Solar Initiative II To Add 100 MW of Solar Power on Long Island appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

Clean Solar Initiative II To Add 100 MW of Solar Power on Long Island

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 02:20

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and PSEG Long Island increasingly see solar and other forms of renewable energy as a flexible, reliable and cost-effective means of electricity generation and sustaining the grid. Bids to install 100 MW of additional solar power on Long Island came in 25 percent below LIPA's first Clean Solar Initiative (CSI) feed-in tariff (FiT) auction.

The post Clean Solar Initiative II To Add 100 MW of Solar Power on Long Island appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz

The Return of the Pink-Mustached Jedi: Lyft Raises $250 Million

Triple Pundit - Fri, 2014-04-11 02:12

Lyft closed a $250 million Series D round last week, bringing its total funding up to $332 million – several million above Uber’s $307 million.

The post The Return of the Pink-Mustached Jedi: Lyft Raises $250 Million appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

Categories: Eco Buzz
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