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!!!

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)

Leaf Fuel

For the past two weeks, I had a science project on biochemistry!

Discussing with my dad, he stated anything “bio” he knew. He mentioned biofuel, which interested me, so I Googled it. I searched to find out that there are actually scientists who research and try to create healthier environment since the current one is not that safe to live in.

One assignment that dragged me was the Leaf fuel. Of course, when one hears it, the first thing that comes to mind is: “THEY ARE CREATING FUEL OUT OF LEAVES?” So let me rephrase that. The scientists are working on a leaf that is actually genetically engineered to capture much as photosynthesis as possible to create energy which later turns into fuel.

Cool, isn’t it? Although, there are a few questions I wonder, what will be the price? Will there be consequences behind this? How long will it take?

For more info: http://www.planet-science.com/categories/over-11s/natural-world/2012/03/leaf-fuel-could-help-save-planet.aspx

[Image source]

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

Garbage for Fuel, and What Happens When You Run Out

©Pavel Trebukov

Did you know that the city of Oslo, Norway is powered by garbage? Yes, guys. Garbage.

Okay, before anyone gets nauseous, let’s put this into context, shall we? Here’s Oslo’s reasoning: All garbage really does is fill landfills. Right? Plus, not everyone recycles (unfortunately). Right? So we just have a bunch of useless stuff that takes up a lot of space. So why don’t we put all that stuff into a giant incinerator and make some energy? It makes a whole lot of sense, right? The entire city of Oslo is occupied by over 650,000 residents, and they are all happy campers. What a sustainable way to have energy.

Just one problem though. They don’t have any more garbage.

Apparently this is because Europeans are so good at recycling and they tend not to waste so much. Alas, Oslo has created the seed to its own destruction. So what is Oslo doing now? Asking around for imported garbage. And the most valuable country for this is…

The United States of ‘Murica.

Sweden already imports garbage from us for their energy. So…should we be embarrassed that we have so much garbage or proud that we are helping out another country? Gosh, so much irony here. What are your thoughts and opinions? Let us know in a comment below!

Read more here.

Good, Green, Music

Have any of you guys wondered about the stance your favorite bands and artists are taking on the environment? Do your favorite rock bands do more than just write lyrics about trees and the evils of pollution? Does your favorite singer travel exclusively in biofuel tour buses, and release her albums in biodegradable materials only?

Well just in case you’ve been wondering, the music industry has been increasing its efforts to be more environmentally friendly, an example being Warner Music Group. One of the “Big Four” of record companies, Warner Music Group has been releasing its work with DVD liner notes made of 30% recycled paper that was taken from carefully selected wood chosen by the Forest Stewardship Council. It also runs a nationwide recycling program that has found success in decreasing waste, with a total of almost 4,000,000 pounds of waste removed.

In addition to the record companies themselves going green, the artists themselves have also been increasing efforts. Reverb, a non-profit, environmentally focused Portland, Maine organization has played a huge part in this. Reverb focuses on partnering with artists and fans to make concerts and tours more eco-friendly, and to inspire people to become more invested in the environment.

Green Music Group, a project of Reverb, is made up of some very high-profile artists from The Roots to Willie Nelson that, according to their website, are aiming towards:

1. Creating an engaging online community of musicians, music industry leaders, and music fans all committed to addressing our greatest environmental concerns.
2. Facilitating large-scale greening of the music community through touring, venue, and label standards, resource development, green grants mentoring, and viral video and public service campaigns.
3. Providing environmental nonprofits with a megaphone for their cause, allowing them to expand their reach and support base.
4. Creating a sustainable green music guild to support and inform the efforts of the music community and position leaders in the music industry as voices for change, working to shine a light on the most pressing environmental issues of our time.”

From human pedal-powered concerts (!) to musicians bringing representatives from environmental organizations to their concerts to educate fans, environmental awareness is very present in the music world. Here’s a Rolling Stone article on some of the most eco-friendly bands and artists; you may be surprised by a few of them.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/the-15-most-eco-friendly-rockers-20101216

http://blog.wegowise.com/blog2/bid/122506/Greening-the-Music-Industry-Eco-friendly-bands
http://greenmusicgroup.org/who-is-gmg/all_members/

Fair Trade – Is it Greener?

OK, let’s talk about Fair Trade products. If you’re unfamiliar with the term Fair Trade, it is a label given to products that are responsibly produced. Typically these products are produced outside the United States, and have to comply with specific labor and environmental regulations in order to qualify.

For the majority of people, purchasing fair trade products is a matter of social justice. When purchasing, you can be certain that the product was produced by workers earning a fair wage, in a favorable working environment. This means that whatever you buy was NOT produced in a Malaysian sweatshop, or assembled by young children earning $1 a day, or any of the other abysmal conditions facing so many foreign workers.

So obviously, purchasing certified Fair Trade products is good for the world. However, just because something is Fair Trade does not mean that it is necessarily greener.

Yes, products do have to pass environmental regulations set by the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International, but those regulations can be vague. Often times, the production of fair trade products is greener than the production of other products (thanks to the regulations). But because Fair Trade products by nature are imported, there is often a hefty environmental cost associated with the transportation of those goods.

So while, yes, your Fair Trade Colombian coffee is great for the workers who picked and roasted the coffee beans, it’s not necessarily a boost for the environment.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t buy them? Of course not. It’s important to support human labor rights but buying fair trade goods. But when you do, keep in mind that the work of saving the planet is still left to do.

For example, all of the things that have to be shipped great distance anyway (like coffee, chocolate, etc.) should be bought under the Fair Trade Label – that way you aren’t adding any environmental impact, but still get the benefits. For all other goods (like produce, meats, and cheeses) you should buy organic and local. The odds are that your smaller, local vendor has pretty good labor standards, and reduces environmental impact by reducing the amount of transportation needed. In case you need a reminder on why to buy local, check out our previous post.

 

Runnin’, Runnin’ and Runnin’, Runnin’

Over the past few months we’ve been doing our best to spread the clean air message. For all of you who have ditched your gas-guzzling cars for a chance to ride your bike, walk, skate, or carpool – we applaud you.

But we want to take things way back, to a time before the wheel. Before Fred Flinstone’s eco-friendly bedrock cruiser. What’s the healthiest, most eco-friendly way to get around? Foot power. We humans have been running for thousands of years.

Check out some of our favorite bi-pedal movie scenes.

Run, Forrest, Run – The iconic phrase that haunts all middle school track athletes. In this classic, Forrest Gump runs back and forth across the country in 3 years.

Rocky – He’s got the eye of the tiger, and he’s training hard for his big fight. In this scene, Rocky isn’t just running to get from Point A to Point B. He’s running to get to victory.

Chariots of Fire – These boys are going for a good old fashioned beach run in the opening credits of this movie. Nothing like a workout in slow motion.

Casino Royale –James Bond chases down a bomb-maker, parkour style, through a village in Madagascar. Epic

Indiana Jones – Sometimes we have to clean-commute ourselves right out of the path of those gargantuan boulders.

The Matrix – Trinity makes leaps and bounds, over buildings and through windows, in her escape from the evil agents.

Men in Black – NYPD all-star (played by Will Smith) chases down a super-speedy alien criminal.

Run Lola Run – It’s pretty much a whole movie about running…

Terminator 2 – Why are the bad guys always so fast? And persistent!

The Bourne Supremacy – Jason Bourne hits the beach for a morning workout, meanwhile his girlfriend finds out his secrets:

What are your favorites? Share them in the comments (and earn aircreds).

What Hurricane Sandy Could Say About Global Warming

Hey everyone, so as you guys know, Hurricane Sandy has been all over the news, and for good reason. It’s been wreaking havoc in the New York and New Jersey areas, and has really established itself as one of the worst storms the U.S has faced in recent times.

One of the issues that has been raised in Sandy’s aftermath has been whether the storm was closely related to climate change, or global warming. One research scientist at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Radley Horton has been studying the potential causes and conditions that resulted in Hurricane Sandy. In an interview with NPR Horton told them that while it couldn’t be stated that global warming was a direct cause of the powerful storm, connections between the two could be made.

The rising sea levels and temperatures of the world’s oceans were said to be connected to the storm. As the planet warms up, the oceans heat up as well, and warmer water strengthens the power of storms like Sandy. Increased flooding could be the result of higher sea levels in the future.
In a separate article, researchers at Beijing Normal University in China found that the frequency of large storm surges has increased since 1923, and that in warmer temperatures large storms are more likely.

With these recent studies and with America dealing with Sandy’s aftermath, I think we should all look for climate change discussion to increase and hopefully gain a more important place in government policy. While we can’t know for sure that global warming is putting us at bigger risk of large storms, we can’t look past the connections. The articles are below if you guys want to read them, they give more examples of possible causes of storms such as Sandy and how climate change plays in.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=hurricane-sandy-spins-up-climate-discussion

http://www.npr.org/2012/10/31/164043372/sandy-raises-questions-about-climate-and-the-future