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Posts Tagged ‘trees’

I am usually fairly casual about my finances. Barely a glance at my Mastercard statement. I pay, no questions asked. Until today, when I noticed a monthly charge of $50.32, from New York Times Sales. That struck me as a lot of money, all of a sudden. The representative at the end of the line confirmed that I had been paying that amount for twenty months in a row. One thousand dollars, I could have saved.

Before, – that is when the economy was not such a scary word – I would not have bothered. Fleeting pangs of guilt from my budding green conscience, and thoughts of all the trees downed because of my indulgence, did not make a difference. I continued to read, and then quickly dispose of the daily paver that made its way to my door every morning. Promising myself that one day, I would switch to an online subscription. 

This morning, I resisted the advances of the New York Times representative to cut me a deal. Half price for sixteen weeks. Or maybe just the Sunday paper. Or would I prefer the weekday edition? No, I told him, I had made up my mind. With the economy, I could no longer afford the superfluous expense of $50.32, or any other amount. Plus, it’s bad for the trees anyway.

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Today, four stories displayed next to each other, in the National section of the New York Times:

Boise Region Grapples With Smog, a Growing Threat

After years of growth and suburban development, the region that includes Boise and its suburbs, known as the Treasure Valley, is on the brink of violating federal clean air standards, and experts say the only real solution is one that might seem awfully un-Idahoan: persuading people to drive less.

List of Tainted Peanut Butter Items points to Complexity of Food Production

Tracking how the paste travels through the food supply can be challenging, because several companies can be involved in making the final food. For example, one manufacturer might coat the paste in chocolate and make a peanut butter cup, which is then sold to another company that mixes it into ice cream that may or may not also contain peanut butter. A grocery chain might buy that ice cream and sell it under a private label.

Environment Issues Slide In Poll of Public Concern

In the poll, released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, global warming came in last among 20 voter concerns; it trailed issues like addressing moral decline and decreasing the influence of lobbyists. Only 30 percent of the voters deemed global warming to be “a top priority,” compared with 35 percent in 2008. “Protecting the environment,” which had surged in the rankings from 2006 to 2008, dropped even more precipitously in the poll: only 41 percent of voters called it a top priority, compared with 56 percent last year.

Environment Blamed in Western Tree Deaths

Rising temperatures and the resulting drought are causing trees in the West to die at more than twice the pace they did a few decades ago, a new study has found. The combination of temperature and drought has also reduced the ability of the forests to absorb carbon dioxide, which traps heat and thus contributes to global warming, the authors of the study said, and has made forests sparser and more susceptible to fires and pests. 

A bit much to take, all at once . . . if you are at all concerned with what sustains us. Of course the one bright spot in this otherwise dire picture, is our new Commander-in-Chief, President Obama. I can feel his sense of urgency, and that gives me hope. 

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It’s that time of the month again, and I am due for the Green Moms Blogging Carnival, this time over at Best of Mother Earth. I am supposed to write about gratitude, specifically three green things I am thankful for.

We behave with nature, the same way we might with a faithful lover, when we are forgetting how much we are being given, and how much our lives depends on such constant love. That’s the irony, we take nature for granted, because it’s so good to us, most of the time.

Take a few minutes and . . .

imagine a world without trees, and birds chirping in the trees, imagine the silence, and the scorching sun, and the absence of shade and coolness,

imagine a world without water, as in here:

imagine the air so polluted that you could no longer breathe freely, and would have to wear a mask 24/7, or stay indoors,

imagine . . .

While we may never know such extremes in our lifetime, we may get dangerously close, sooner than we think, if we don’t all change our ways.

Today, I am thankful for the trees, and the water, and the air.

How about you? What do you appreciate the most in nature?

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I just came back from trip to Honolulu. For those of you who have been there, you probably noticed the spectacular old trees that stand tall all over the Hawaii capital. I certainly did. I also noticed the absence of new trees, and the long stretches of cement, with no shade to protect people from the scorching sun. Planting a tree is so simple, and such a great investment. So, how come the city officials in Honolulu, do not make the trees more of a priority? The big talk is about building a mass transit system, that would cost 3.7 billion dollars. The mayor has made it the main theme for his reelection campaign. That’s all good. And that’s no excuse for forgetting the trees. 

In my own city of Palo Alto, I have been remarking on the same problem, although to a lesser extent. Trees missing here and there, along tree lined streets, and no replacement in sight. Across the freeway, in East Palo Alto, the situation is even more blight. Hardly any trees. Its residents have other worries than planting trees, too busy they are to survive, and stay safe. 

I have been wondering for a while, what is it with the trees that makes them the forgotten child of environmental policies? Part of it is taking for granted what gives us so much, and asks so little in return. If tomorrow, the trees were removed from our urban landscapes, we would instantly notice, and plead to get the green giants back. 

Just when I thought I was done thinking about the trees, I get this mail from Glenn Pricket, the head of Conservation International:

“The CO2 emissions from deforestation are greater than the emissions from the world’s entire transportation sector-all the cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships combined. Less forest cover means fewer acres of habitat for species, so they must move or adapt. Those that can survive; those that cannot, go extinct. … There have to be limits to how much and where we encroach on the natural world.” 

Call me clueless, but that is news to me. I had no idea trees in faraway places were this critical to our survival. And that is a problem. Our collective ignorance is doing a number on us.

I take issue with the clever tagline used in the Conservation International campaign. “Lost there, felt here” fails to capture the whole issue. I am not, you are not feeling it “here”. The challenge is how to translate this remote tragedy, into one that’s personally relevant to all the world citizens. More accurate would be “Lost there, problem for you”

Let’s face it, we are squandering away one of our most important natural capital. Today, I am asking you to take a few minutes, and claim your one acre of the tropical forest

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Birds Moment

Out to get the Sunday papers, I am welcomed by the sound of birds singing high up in the bare trees across the street. Soon I hear a symphony, of birds far and near, competing for my attention. And the thought, what would happen if, one day, all the birds vanished?

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Four days. It took me four days into the Daily Footprint Project to become aware of toilet paper.

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The first three days, this most useful commodity did not make it into my list. Again, I am struck by my lack of consciousness. I so much take toilet paper for granted, that it did not even occur to me, to count it. Toilet paper, it’s a small thing.

For more discussion about toilet paper, go to No Impact Man. Collin wrote a great post on the subject, earlier this year. I particularly enjoyed the flurry of comments that ensued . . .

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #4

Water

personal:
toilet flush 11(oops)
wash hands 4
shower  at gym 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash apple 2
mom:
communal:
rinse dishes for dishwasher
rinse veggies

Electricity/gas

personal:
computer on all day
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
electric toothbrush 4’
mom:
cook cream of wheat breakfast on stove
communal:
lights
stir fry veggies on stove

Food

personal:
tea
local organic apples
chocolate
2 slices pizza
organic milk
mom:
cream of wheat w / organic milk
communal:
veggie stir fry
wild halibut from Costco

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
mom:
communal:
vegetable scraps

Transportation

personal:
drive to doctor’s appointment 1mile
drive to gym 6 miles
mom:
communal:

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
communal:
Note:
Prad took all the non recyclable plastics to the city recycling center special plastics bin.

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Sorting through the mess on my desk. I come across paper with old to-do-list, no longer relevant. Thought: ‘Look on the other side, see if it can be used.’ Back of paper is blank. Thought: ‘I should save paper to write on.’ I crumple the paper, and throw it into garbage can. There is something about starting fresh with a 100% virgin sheet of paper. I have toned down my habit quite a bit, and am usually pretty good at saving half used sheets. But in this case, Prad got these super thin sheets made out of recycled paper. They feel as if they can only handle one sided writing.

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