Go Green

Recent Articles

Mobile phone apps that keep users connected to their impact on the environment

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

Not surprisingly, there are thousands of “green” apps out there that make it easier for people to find and share information to help us all become better stewards of the natural environment. The American Lung Association’s State of the Air app (www.lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/state-of-the-air/app.html) shows live color-coded air quality maps for any U.S. location and includes both ozone and particulate pollution counts. The app also provides air quality alerts, short-term forecasts, opportunities to learn more about air quality risks and how to contact lawmakers to push for more stringent pollution regulations. Another way to find out who’s emitting what nearby is via A Mobile Future’s (www.amobilefuture.com), a free app that compiles information from various pollution databases around the world and then shows users which big polluters are emitting what near them. Coverage includes 1,380 cities, mostly in Europe and the U.S.

Ethical shoppers will appreciate the GoodGuide (www.goodguide.com), a free app that shows how any of 120,000 food, personal care and household products stack up in terms of sustainability, fair wages and even health risks. Continue Reading →

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Earth Day is April 22: Time to walk the environmental talk

 

Earth Day celebrates the modern environmental movement and is a great chance to walk the environmental talk. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, it has contributed to several important environmental protection actions in the United States and around the world. Today, it’s when we educate and encourage people to take environmental action. There are many things you can do to honor Earth Day this spring: attend an Earth Day event, plant a garden, or clean up your neighborhood. Take for instance, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM). Continue Reading →

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Can a high-tech thermostat save money and energy?

By Roddy Scheer 

and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

 

Spending $200 or more to replace that older, still functioning thermostat with a new whiz-bang “smart” variety might seem like a waste of money, but it can be one of the best small investments a homeowner can make, given the potential for energy and cost savings down the line. The coolest of the bunch of new smart thermostats, the Nest, was created by former Apple employees who had been instrumental in designing the original iPod and iPhone years earlier. This simple looking round thermostat is reminiscent of old-school thermostats that one would manually adjust by turning the temperature dial. But the auto-awake feature that turns on the bright blue digital display when someone walks nearby gives the Nest away as an ultra-modern piece of high-tech gadgetry. The Nest’s software “learns” the habits in a given space by logging when inhabitants tend to be home and awake and noting when they tend to turn up or down the heat — and then sets a heating/cooling schedule accordingly. Continue Reading →

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Metro Blooms presents…Rain gardens and beyond: Healthy yards, clean water

You can help keep our lakes, rivers and streams clean by the simple changes you make in your yard care choices. Metro Blooms landscape designers and Hennepin County Master Gardeners are partnering to offer workshops that explore the latest in healthy yard care practices, including proper use of fertilizers, disposal and reuse of yard waste, keeping sidewalks ice free and managing runoff onsite. The workshops are designed to move participants quickly from an overview of healthy yard care practices to a completed rain garden design for their property with one-on-one assistance from Metro Blooms landscape designers and Hennepin County Master Gardeners. Register now. Some locations fill up fast. Continue Reading →

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Energy coop uses lantern workshops to bring families, communities together

By Raymond Jackson Contributing Writer   Communities of Light Cooperative is a self-sufficiency, training and assessment organization whose first product is solar energy-related. In 2009 an organization named Communities of Light was formed by several Phillips Neighborhood residents, and in 2010 they began their Solar Lanterns and Solar Generators project/workshops due to great interest in helping to build healthier neighborhoods. The workshops and training began and continue with a mission of building strong and trusting neighborhoods. The organization’s goal is to positively enhance the mental and physical health of those in the neighborhood by providing services that would help them meet some of their daily life challenges. As a result of several earthquakes and other catastrophes, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake that destroyed entire towns and villages, taking approximately 22,000 lives, member of Communities of Light felt that a community group could grow strong while assisting others to heal and restore themselves to healthy living. Continue Reading →

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Wind energy commands a larger piece of the renewable energy pie

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

Hydroelectric sources of power dwarf other forms of renewable energy, but wind power has been a dominant second for years, and continues to show “hockey stick” growth moving forward. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), global cumulative installed wind capacity — the total amount of wind power available — has grown fifty-fold in less than two decades, from just 6,100 megawatts (MW) in 1996 to 318,137 MW in 2013. And the future looks brighter still. Analysts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predict that wind will account for the largest share — 30 percent — of new renewables added to the global power grid by 2030. That new renewables are expected to account for as much as 70 percent of all new power sources over the next 20 years means that wind is poised to become a major player on the global energy scene. Continue Reading →

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Does bitter cold and heavy snowfall mean no global warming?

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

 

It’s tempting to think that the cold air and snow outside augur the end of global warming, but don’t rejoice yet. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), weather and climate are two very different beasts: “Weather is what’s happening outside the door right now; today a snowstorm or a thunderstorm is approaching. Climate, on the other hand, is the pattern of weather measured over decades.”

Isolated weather events and even seasonal trends are not an indication of global warming’s existence one way or another, and most climatologists agree that the car born pollution we have been spewing into the atmosphere for the past century is leading to more frequent and intense storms of every kind and causing greater temperature swings all around the planet. In short, the harsh winter we are having shouldn’t be viewed as a refutation of global warming, but rather as further evidence of a growing problem. “There is a clear long-term global warming trend, while each individual year does not always show a temperature increase relative to the previous year, and some years show greater changes than others,” reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Continue Reading →

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America’s Great Outdoors initiative connects kids and vets to environmental jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum in April 2010 establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The memorandum calls for collaboration among the Departments of Interior and Agriculture as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House’s own Council on Environmental Quality in leading the initiative. Eight other federal agencies play a supporting role, and literally thousands of other partners from state, local and tribal governments, nonprofits and the private sector are involved as well. Getting young people, especially city kids, into the outdoors to experience our country’s unique natural heritage is a top priority of America’s Great Outdoors. Before pursuing any specific strategies, initiative leaders solicited feedback from everyday Americans as to what mattered most to them regarding conservation and access to the outdoors. Continue Reading →

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Resources that help kids understand environmental problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

Kids today may be more eco-savvy than we were at their age, but complex topics like global warming may still mystify them. Luckily there are many resources available to help parents teach their kids how to understand the issues and become better stewards for the planet. A great place to start is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” website. The site is divided into sections (Learn the Basics, See the Impacts, Think like a Scientist and Be Part of the Solution) so kids can get just the right amount of detail without feeling overwhelmed. One feature of the site is a virtual trip around the world to see the effects of climate change in different regions. Continue Reading →

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Submit your proposals now for 2014 grant funding

$2.37 million available for bioenergy projects next year

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is ready to fuel innovative bioenergy projects to the tune of $2.37 million in 2014. The enrollment period for the Bioenergy and Biochemical Grant program Request for Proposals is up, running and ready for applicants. Examples of qualifying projects include current or future producers of biobased energy and organizations providing onsite research of how these systems impact our environment and our economy. Continue Reading →

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