BayCycle: Bike by Land or Sea

Want to bike to school, but there’s a river in the way? Fear not: meet BayCycle. This bike features a raft, which means you can pedal by from land to water and back.

Learn more about BayCycle here.  Would you paddle/pedal on one of these bad boys? Let us know in a comment below!

 

Powershift2013

Powershift is an event where people from all over the WORLD with like minds come together to learn, hear stories, go to different workshops on the aspects of the environmental issues you want to solve and learn how to “SHIFT THE POWER” to a green economy, and climate justice in your community

This year I was able to attend w/ a free scholarship thanks to Alliance of Climate Education (ACE), and it changed my life. There was so many inspiring keynote speakers and even just individuals my age that told their story in a rap,poem, essay, dance, are, literally anything.

I learned that kids my age CAN make a difference in the world, and you can save the world while having fun!! I came back to Georgia not wanting to go back of course and with more knowledge and wanting to get out to my community and demand environmental justice! Cant wait to attend again in 2015 as a college student!!!

The Government and The Environment… The Breakup

Hello OnAir readers!

After a long hiatus, I am so excited to be back! Hopefully you’ve all had a good start to the school year and you’re settling into your environmentally-conscious routines.

For this week I’d like to focus on something that I’m sure you’ve all read and heard about this week: the government shutdown. Now, you may be wondering how this coincides with the environment. The answer is simple: the government has basically everything to do with the environment, and this is the second major hit to the environment by the Federal Government this year alone (March 1st- EPA Budget was cut significantly). The EPA, which is of course a government agency, has also been shutdown; only 7% of EPA employees will continue to work as normal, at least until their contingency money runs out.

Due to this massive reduction, there will be no monitoring of water or air quality. This lack of monitoring will more than likely give many corporations a free pass when it comes to pollution production; after all, who’s to stop them now?

The other most obvious and instantaneous effect of this shutdown was the closure of every single national park and zoo. States’ local economies will lose $76 million per day in tourism revenue that would normally come from lodging and the sale/rental of recreational gear and services according to the National Park Service. This is doubly a shame since it was the anniversary of Yosemite this week.

The final major effect of this shutdown is that all those who have been working diligently on creating and passing laws and clean up efforts for the benefit of all necessary green sectors have been stopped short. Thus, the shutdown may not initially affect you, but the impact of reduced environmental protection and regulation definitely will in the not so distant future. We will reap the effects of our nation’s leaders choices.

 

OnAir says: What gets you fired up about the environment? What do you think the adults in your life–school, town, state–could do better? Let us know in the comments!

Ecological Footsteps

Here’s a small biology lesson that tied in with helping to reduce air pollution. While reading my biology textbook, I came across a peculiar term – ecological footsteps. Now what in the name is that and how does it involve us?

Ecological footstep is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It represents the amount of biological productive land and sea area needed to supply resources for humans to consume. This includes areas that food is produced, land for buildings and roads and ecosystems for absorbing its waste emissions such as carbon dioxide.

Wait, did I read that right? Carbon dioxide? Yep! Carbon dioxide. Since the 1970s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot with annual demand on resources exceeding what Earth can regenerate each year. Overshoot is a vastly underestimated threat to human well-being and the health of the planet, and it not very adequately addressed.

We have to take care of what we exploit from the lands – because our ecological footsteps are on overdrive. So cut down on your consumption for needing energy and other resources – let’s make a a goal to slowly reduced our ecological footsteps!

(image from footprintnetwork.org)

Cleaner Cooking

Hello OnAir Readers!

This week I’d like to talk about something that I think is very important for our collective future, and is also very interesting.

Each and every one of us uses energy every single day, and I’m not just talking about physical energy which we have all learned about in biology. No, in this instance I am talking about the energy used in cooking and stoves. In a new study, universal access to modern energy (that is, modern sources of energy for everyone on the planet) can only be achieved if we invest between $65-86 billion a year, every single year until 2030. These estimates are much higher than those that came before this study found in “Environmental Research Letters.”

This amount may seem drastic, but readily available access to things like electricity, etc. seems to combat for approximately 4 million deaths annually from poor household air pollution, which is generally caused by traditional cooking practices. International research has shown that with more access to clean cooking fuels, we could easily avoid up to 1.8 million premature deaths as well as simply enhancing people’s well being. In order to do this, we would need to add between 21 and 28 gigawatts of energy in order to create the most modest amount of electricity for the average rural household.

In addition to the costs, there is a need for a new set of dedicated policies to help households ease into cooking in better and cleaner ways. However, this is no small project, and would involve over 40% of the entire world’s population.The estimated cost of this would be approximately $750-1000 billion within the next 20 years.

There are so many details and so much money involved, that even the head researcher Dr. Shonali Pachauri doesn’t fully believe that universal access to clean and modern energy is possible. In fact, she states in another interview that the scale of the investment is so enormous that it would probably require additional sources of finances from private companies. However, the benefits are equally enormous and thus we must all begin to consider whether or not these benefits out-weigh the bad.

In addition to this study with its program, the UN also declared 2012 as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All,” and has made their own promises for 2030. Even without the establishment of a full program, even the barest framework would bring cleaner energy to up to 810 million people around the world in rural or impoverished areas by 2030. However, millions more in rural Asia and sub-Saharan Africa would remain without access to these modern energy sources. So, the next time that you’re cooking a meal in your more-than-likely modern kitchen, be thankful!

For more information you can visit here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502225855.htm

Action Tips to Influence Public Policy

Our lifestyle choices are a huge part of living sustainably and contributing our part to improving the environment, but public policy also holds great potential for improving our cities as a whole.

Whether you can vote or not, elected officials at the local, state, and federal level are still responsible for representing your interests. So let them hear from you if you are concerned about a local issue or want more progress by communicating your knowledge and opinions to them!

There are multiple ways to contact and influence your delegates. First, go online and find out who your representatives or school board members are. Many politicians also have social networking pages which can be powerful tools for staying active. A letter or call with a brief, polite, and personal message brief can also definitely get your point across effectively.

State how an issue will affect you using personal examples of how similar proposals have impacted your community in the past. The more genuine and passionate you are, the more effective your message will be. By using facts and citing credible sources, you can be more persuasive. Also attempt to offer alternatives solutions to the problem at hand. Finally, include your name and address so they can respond accordingly.

Another option is to serve as volunteer representatives of your city or on the youth council as an advocate. One of the best experiences I’ve had in high school was being in the Model Atlanta Regional Commission. It helped me realize just how significant citizens’ voices were in determining how final results were carried out.

Putting in your two cents can help politicians get valuable and novel suggestions on what the city can do to improve its youth oriented efforts. School board members especially would appreciate finding out how their policies are affecting the students they represent.

 

OnAir says: What issues do you really care about? How do you think teens should reach out to local leaders and officials with concerns? Let us know your ideas in the comments!

Flashmob Instant Crosswalk

We all know how bad Atlanta traffic is, but the truth is that it’s even worse in Europe. Traffic is so bad, and gas is so expensive, that most Europeans rely on an awesome subway system or their bicycles to get around.

In the ATL, our subway system is less than stellar, and we don’t have many bike lanes, so clean commuting can be a challenge. It only gets harder if you live in the suburbs – with a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks, pedestrians have a tough go of it most of the time.

Getting across the street is no easy feat – it seems more like a real-life version of Frogger on super-hard mode.

In most of the world’s big cities, pedestrians are supposed to have the right-of way—but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Especially in Paris. So this French theatre action group, XTNT, decided to take a stand (or a walk) for their pedestrian rights.

The stunt baffled motorists unaccustomed to stopping for pedestrians, and led tons of foot-traffic to cross one of Paris’ busiest intersections without harm.

16 year-old makes big changes on a global scale…

…$78 million worth of big changes, to be exact.

16 year-old Azza Abdel Hamid Faias, an Egyptian student, has found a relatively cheap catalyst to help break down plastic waste and turn it into bio-fuel feedstock.

Azza at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists

Azza’s discovery was made when brainstorming on how to reduce Egypt’s trash consumption, nearly 100 million tons per year. The idea of breaking down plastic garbage to be used as a bio-fuel starter has been around for several years, however it’s Azza’s catalyst discovery that is the real breakthrough here. All other methods have been regarded as too costly to be efficient, but this newly discovered catalyst, aluminosicilate, has been proved to break down waste and simultaneously produce methane, propane, and ethane, which can be used to create ethanol.

According to Azza, the technology could “provide an economically efficient method for production of hydrocarbon fuel,” including 40,000 tons per year of cracked naptha and 138,000 tons of hydrocarbon gasses – the equivalent of $78 million in bio-fuel.

Azza’s proposal is already attracting loads of attention, including that of the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute, as well as interest from major energy companies worldwide.

At only 16 years old, this teenager has made a discovery that could change the world. We know she has a bright future ahead. We also know that she is not the only young mind working towards a better planet.

Even ideas that seem small-scale at first can turn out to have a big impact. So we want to know, what things do you do make your part of the world better? Let us know in the comments!

The Earth is Your Gym: Green Workouts for All

School’s almost here. Which means you might be focused on looking your best in your back-to-school gear.

We all know that some of the best clean-air choices—walking and biking—are great workout choices too. But how else can a tree hugger like yourself get fit? By thinking outside of the box. (Or, to put a finer point on it, “by thinking outside of the compostable recycled cardboard packing crate.”)

So, aspiring environmentalists, try these on for size. Go green or go home!

Recycling
News flash: You don’t need expensive weights to tone up. That recycling bin will do just fine. Lugging a heavy crate is a great calorie-burner. And if you’re not satisfied with low intensity of just carrying it to the end of the driveway, you could always dead-lift it over your head a few reps to really feel the burn. Maybe even throw in some lunges on your way down to the curb.

And just think: The more you recycle, the heavier the bin—and the better the workout!

CALORIES BURNED: 136/hr

 

Tree Planting
What’s better for the air than trees? Nothing, that’s what. Trees are nature’s air purifiers, and we’ll take as many of them as we can get. And, wouldn’t you know, planting a tree is a great way to work up a sweat.

CALORIES BURNED: 245/hr

 

Tree Hugging
Yes, we eco-hippies love nothing better  than hugging a good tree. But who knew that you could burn calories doing it? The bigger the hug, the better the workout. Go on. Show those trees some love.

CALORIES BURNED: 54/hr

 

Changing Light Bulbs
How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? Jury’s still out. But YOU can burn a few bonus calories by going around your house and switching out all the old light bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs).

Compact fluorescent light bulbs use two-thirds less energy than standard bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and they last up to 10 times longer. According to EnergyStar, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a CFL, we could prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.

Yeah, that’s a pretty worthwhile workout.

CALORIES BURNED: 109/hr

 

So, clearly, going green offers a LOT of hidden potential for getting fit. Don’t burn gas driving to the gym. Walk, bike or run (or hug trees, or change light bulbs) at home! Just remember to hydrate with a reusable water bottle.

Got a favorite workout? Got ideas for making it green? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to log your air-friendly workouts into the AirCreds tool for points and prizes!

[Source: caloriesperhour.com]