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[1THING] Blog: Archive for October, 2015

[ Show Polar Bears Some Love During National Polar Bear Week ]

It’s early November. It’s cold. It’s snowy. And polar bears are waiting for the sea ice to form. It’s Polar Bear Week!

Polar Bear Week provides polar bear enthusiasts with seven full days of celebrating their favorite arctic animal. polar2The event coincides with the fall polar bear migration to Churchill, Manitoba, where polar bears gather to wait for freeze-up on Hudson Bay so they can return to hunting seals. During Polar Bear Week, the focus is on how longer ice-free seasons are straining the limits of the bears’ fat reserves, threatening their survival.

The 2015 event is November 1-7. Here’s your day-by-day invite:

Sunday, November 1: Tune in to the live Polar Bear Cam—watch the polar bear migration and get tundrified.

Monday, November 2: Speak up for meaningful action on climate change. Sign the Petition for Polar Bears—and help people, too!

Tuesday, November 3: Take the next step for polar bears by tweaking your transportation habits. Learn how small changes scale up to make a big difference.

Wednesday, November 4: Take another step for polar bears by reducing your home energy consumption. From light bulbs to Energy Star appliances, Learn how.

Thursday, November 5: Keep taking steps for polar bears through small changes to the way you heat and cool your home—changes with a big impact when scaled up!

Friday, November 7: Kick back and watch a series of short, fun Take the Next Step videos made by polar bear lovers like you.

Saturday, November 8: Wrap up Polar Bear Week by making a Take the Next Step video of your own. Share it on social media with #saveourseaice!

And don’t forget:

Did you know?  According to the EPA, in 2012 the greenhouse gas reductions in the U.S. alone from people switching to Energy Star certified light bulbs was equal to planting 9.8 million acres of trees or taking two million cars off the road. That’s huge! Or put another way, if every American changed at least ONE bulb to an Energy Star bulb, we would save enough energy to light three million homes for a year.

The Take the Next Step Challenge is part of Polar Bears International’s Save Our Sea Ice (SOS) campaign, a series of celebrations centered around action on climate change. It begins each year on International Polar Bear Day, February 27th, and continues through Polar Bear Week in the fall—although you can take the challenges at any time.

Source:  Polar Bears International


[ The 6 Absolute Best Things About Climate Change ]

Put down those protest signs and turn the frown upside down! Ben & Jerry’s has come up with 6 reasons to enjoy climate change:

Vacation in the Arctic!

We’ve always loved going to new places on holiday. But the Northwest Passage through the Arctic has been too clogged up with ice for big boats to pass. Finally, that frosty mess has been cleared up by climate change, and Arctic cruises are on offer! In recent years, Arctic sea ice has been setting new records for the speed and extent that it’s melting. So much that this past winter, ice coverage was the lowest since records of it were first taken. Baked Alaska, anyone? And if Greenland completely melts, we’ll see around 23 feet of sea level rise. Then there’s the permafrost, frozen soil with 1,500 gigatons of ancient carbon locked into it. Maybe we’re better off keeping the ice frozen after all.

Cheap Winter Sports Equipment!

We all love winter recreation, but the cost of all that gear is just out of hand. Now, with climate change’s impact on the $12.2 billion U.S. ski and snowmobile winter sports industry, those prices are going to drop faster than you can say “powder”. Nationally, our winters warmed .16 degrees Fahrenheit each decade between 1895 and 1970, and that warming has tripled to .55 degrees Fahrenheit per decade ever since. If we don’t curb carbon emissions, half of the ski areas in the Northeast will likely close in the next 30 years, and, the West Coast could be totally snowless. Bargains will abound! But, if you’re living in one of those states where 75% of the economy relies on winter tourism, you may not have any dough to spend. Wait, you’re not too into crazy forest fires and record-breaking droughts, either? Maybe we should have left the snow up in the mountains so it could hydrate the West Coast like usual.

Expanded Oceanfront Properties!

Everyone loves a holiday on the seashore, but who can afford one of those fancy timeshares? With climate change, the oceans will just come to you! Depending on how much fossil fuel we keep burning, we could see anywhere from 1.3 to 3.9 feet more water on the coasts. How can you plan on gaining waterfront property? This cool map shows sea level rise and flooding potential across the US. Yes, flooding is just part of that melting arctic deal— we can’t control where all that water goes! In fact, up to 217 million people will have their homes submerged or regularly flooded by 2100. Maybe it’s not such a good deal after all…in fact, it’s going to cost around a trillion dollars a year if coastal cities can’t adapt. Really, it would just be cheaper to stop climate change.

Check out more of the absolute best things about climate change by visiting Ben & Jerry’s website here.


[ Dryer Balls? ]

Dryer balls? Really?

Yes, really. And they aren’t as weird or dirty as they sound. If you are unfamiliar with dryer balls, they are simply balls made of various material that are quickly becoming a popular commodity in eco-friendly homes.

The benefits are many:

▪ Non-toxic and hypoallergenic

▪ Energy-saving (big time)

▪ Very affordable, even DIY

▪ And most of them are sustainably made

This article goes into WHY you should really considering making this switch from toxic fabric softeners or dryer sheets, as well as some FAQs to help you learn more about them.

Click here to read more from sustainable baby steps about dryer balls.


[ Renewable energy advocates call for guidelines to spur clean energy and avoid conflict on public lands ]

The wind and solar leasing rule would improve how wind and solar energy projects are approved on public lands – and ultimately establish a framework for a stable and long lasting program for clean energy.



[ Progress toward Budget Agreement Can Help Our Public Lands ]

Michael Reinemer

“Today’s announcement of a bipartisan budget agreement is a welcome development after a long partisan standoff over how to fund federal programs in the coming year,” said Alan Rowsome of The Wilderness Society.



[ Environmental Groups Challenge Toxic Ash Permit ]

Environmentalists are challenging a permit that would allow more coal ash to be shipped to a toxic waste dump in western Pennsylvania.

The Department of Environmental Protection has granted the permit allowing 48-hundred tons of ash a day to be shipped to a closed landfill in Green County.

Charles McPhedran, an attorney with Earthjustice, says the ash would travel 113 miles by barge on the Ohio and Monongahela rivers.

“And the dangers of the transport are that there will be some spill of the toxic material into the river that will endanger the river and endanger people that live along the river,” he points out.

The landfill where the ash would be dumped already is contaminated, and monitoring wells around the site have detected arsenic at levels 342 times the legal limit.

More than 50 people who live near the landfill spoke in opposition to the proposed permit at a public hearing last spring. According to McPhedran there are several private wells and one public water intake at risk from site contamination already.

“We’re asking the Environmental Hearing Board to send this permit back to the Department of Environmental Protection so they can improve it so it will be more protective of the public health,” he says.

The environmentalists say the ultimate solution would be to stop producing toxic coal ash waste by switching to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection


[ President calls for renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Fund ]

President Obama used his weekly radio address to call on Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.


[ Local and National Parks Lose Millions Each Day that Congress Neglects the Land and Water Conservation Fund ]

Michael Reinemer

The Wilderness Society issued the following statement in about President Obama’s radio address



[ PA Revives Its Office of Environmental Justice ]

The state Office of Environmental Justice finally is getting a new director, and fracking for natural gas will be on the agenda.

The office reviews the environmental impact of projects set for poor and minority communities, but it’s been without a director for three months. Now, the Department of Environmental Protection says gas-drilling permit applications once again will trigger extra notification and community involvement in areas with few of the resources needed to say no.

That’s good news to Larry Schweiger, president of the environmental group PennFuture.

“So now, putting that on the trigger list gives us an opportunity to know what’s going on in advance,” he said, “and hopefully those who are involved in agency decisions can step up and challenge bad choices.”

Close to 500 wells have been drilled in environmental-justice communities – areas where 20 percent or more live in poverty, or 30 percent are people of color.

Schweiger pointed to studies showing that fracking can affect unborn children in communities close to drilling sites, and added that that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We have the evidence now that fracking is a threat to residents,” he said, “and it needs to be regulated to prevent those kinds of harm.”

Just how effective the office will be remains a question. Under state law, environmental-justice concerns cannot be used as grounds to deny a gas drilling permit.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection


[ EPA Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct. 25-31). Learn How to Protect Your Home and Family. ]

Lead poisoning is the number one environmental health threat in the U.S. for children ages 6 and younger.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared Oct. 25-31 Lead Poisoning Prevention Week to make families more aware of the hazards of lead and lead-based paint in the home and in childcare facilities.  This year’s theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” will focus on ways to reduce a child’s exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.

You may have lead around your home without knowing it because you can’t see, taste, or smell lead.  Because it does not break down naturally, lead can remain a problem until it is removed.  Before we knew how harmful it could be, lead was used in paint, gasoline, water pipes, and many other products.  Now that we know the dangers of lead, house paint is almost lead-free, leaded gasoline has been phased out, and household plumbing is no longer made with lead materials.

EPA has taken regulatory steps aimed at preventing lead poisoning.  Under the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), contractors, landlords, window replacement firms and other trades performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, schools and other child-occupied facilities built before 1978 must be certified and must follow Lead Safe work practices, and provide the EPA informational booklet “Protecting Your Home from the Hazards of Lead-based Paint” prior to the start of work practices to prevent lead contamination.

The RRP does not apply to individuals doing work on their own home.  However, EPA recommends that Lead-Safe work-practices be followed for these projects, as well.

Currently, owners of residential rental properties built before 1978 must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect.  Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.

Sellers of properties built before 1978 must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house.  Sales contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.  Buyers have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.

How does lead affect a child’s health?  The long-term effects of lead in a child can be severe. They include learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and even brain damage.  If caught early, these effects can be limited by reducing exposure to lead or by medical treatment.  Pregnant women should avoid exposure to lead because lead can pass through a woman’s body into the unborn baby.

The good news is there are simple things you can do to help protect your families.

  1. Get your child tested.  Even children who appear healthy may have high levels of lead. You can’t tell if a child has lead poisoning unless you have him or her tested.  A blood test takes only 10 minutes, and results should be ready within a week.  Blood tests are usually recommended for children at ages one and two.  To find out where to have your child tested, call your doctor or local health clinic.  They can explain what the test results mean, and if more testing will be needed.
  2. Keep it clean.  Ordinary dust and dirt may contain lead.  Children can swallow lead or breathe lead contaminated dust if they play in dust or dirt and then put their fingers or toys in their mouths, or if they eat without washing their hands first.  Keep the areas where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible.  Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor.  Keep extras handy.  Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly.  Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead.  Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.  Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly.  Make sure your children wash their hands before meals, nap time, and bedtime.
  3. Reduce the risk from lead paint. Most homes built before 1978 contain leaded paint. This paint could be on window frames, walls, the outside of your house, or other surfaces.  Tiny pieces of peeling or chipping paint are dangerous if eaten.  Lead paint in good condition is not usually a problem except in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust. (For example, when you open a window, the painted surfaces rub against each other.)  Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills, cribs, or playpens.  Don’t burn painted wood, it may contain lead.
  4. Don’t remove lead paint yourself. Lead dust from repairs or renovations of older buildings can remain in the building long after the work is completed. Hire a person with special training for correcting lead paint problems to remove lead paint from your home, someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly.
  5. Eat right. A child who gets enough iron and calcium will absorb less lead.  Foods rich in iron include eggs, lean red meat, and beans.  Dairy products are high in calcium.  Don’t store food or liquid in lead crystal glassware or imported or old pottery.  If you reuse plastic bags to store or carry food, keep the printing on the outside of the bag.

For more information, please go to: www.epa.gov/lead  or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD, that’s 1-800-424-5323.

To find Lead-Safe Certified firms near you go to: http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm