Home energy audits are an excellent way to ensure that homes are saving as much energy as possible. Poor insulation is often a major cause of energy leakage and high energy bills.
Photo courtesy of the Better Business Bureau – Flicker.
The energy industry is simultaneously one of the most environmentally damaging and economically costly sectors in the United States. That being said, great potential exists to improve the industry by investing properly in efficient technologies while reducing energy demand, which all begins in the home.
Residential activities play a tremendous role in national energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, the 128 million residential buildings in the United States are responsible for 21 percent of national carbon dioxide emissions. These buildings account for 20 percent of total energy consumption in the nation, as well as nearly 50 percent of total electricity consumption. Americans together spend $230 billion each year on energy in the home; the average household spends at least $2,000 a year on energy bills, over half of which goes to heating and cooling costs.
If the United States hopes to significantly mitigate its electricity and energy usage, thereby decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, a great deal of attention must be paid towards residential homes. As an added incentive, when homeowners choose to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, they not only are they doing something good for the environment, but they are also creating great monetary savings for themselves. A combination of public policy and individual household action is needed to successfully reduce the amount of energy that is currently being inefficiently used by America’s homeowners. Continue reading
Travelers take cruises to exotic places where they don’t necessarily get an authentic experience. Photo courtesy of Colin Delaney/ Flickr Creative Commons
With the arrival of spring comes the exodus of college students from their stressful, dreary campuses to the soft, sandy beaches of the tropics. Most travel to places like Mexico and the Dominican Republic where they can lounge in the sun and forget about their schoolwork. However, though they are traveling to exotic places with interesting cultures, they are not necessarily authentically interacting with the people they meet and the places they see.
A group of students from Barnard College in Manhattan went on a cruise for their spring break which stopped in Mexico and Jamaica. After their trip, they found their experiences to be very inauthentic. Emily Kawai, a senior at Barnard, said that while in Jamaica, her tour guide and the locals “hyped up the stereotypes for the tourists.” She observed that many people were wearing the Rastafarian colors and saying quotes from Bob Marley. “They wanted to give the tourists what they expected,” she says. Gaby Ittah, also a senior at Barnard, agreed with Emily, saying that “the ports milk the tourism industry.”
Ecotourism, on the other hand, strives to create a cohesive travel experience that includes the community in an authentic way. Ecotourism encourages sustainable tourism and as a result, businesses involved in ecotourism put a lot of emphasis on community building and outreach within the communities that they are operating.
Garbage at an Incinerator in Oslo, Norway / Photo Courtesy of the New York Times
Norway and Sweden have a major trash problem.
They do not have enough.
While this may seem as victory to those of us in the U.S., both countries burn their garbage to heat and provide electricity to the vast majority of its cities. They incinerate household, industrial and even toxic waste.
A brief history of a complex movement and what two programs can show us about its future.
Community members paddling at the 2008 Bronx River Festival. 2000 people, including 800 students, participated in canoe tours in 2013. Photo courtesy of Bronx River Alliance.
Before Damian Griffin became Chief Educator at the Bronx River Alliance, he taught elementary and middle school students in the Bronx as a bilingual teacher.
“In all of my classes,” Griffin said, “I’ve always wanted to connect my students to the community outside the building.”
Last year, the Bronx River Alliance Education Program worked with 200 teachers and 2500 students. The program trains teachers in water quality monitoring and provides lesson plans and resources to get students involved in stewardship of the river. Continue reading
The Cuyahoga River Courtesy of Noah Wilson/ Flicker Creative Commens. The Cuyahoga River fire of 1969 helped to ignite the environmental movement of the late 20th century.
For many people, the financial bottom line is the only bottom line that counts. Today, more so than ever before, political figures, industry leaders, business owners, and individuals are beginning to understand that without a healthy and sustainable environment, economic prosperity is impossible.
Jack Oswald, CEO of SynGest, member of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and a self-proclaimed, “clean energy entrepreneur and a staunch capitalist,” declared in 2011, “I’m going to say what you don’t hear nearly enough – advancing new clean energy technologies while cutting global warming emissions will be very good for business.” Oswald’s company, SynGest Inc., has revolutionized the way that nitrogen fertilizer, used by American farmers and made from dirty fossil fuels, is produced. SynGest uses homegrown renewable materials such as crop waste to make the fertilizer at a lower cost, while simultaneously removing carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere. His company also creates jobs. Building his first operating plant will cost about $130 million and provide work for 350 highly paid construction workers. Furthermore, 200 permanent jobs will be created to operate and support the facility. OnEarth Magazine notes, “over 20 years, one SynGest biorefinery would generate a positive economic impact of $300 million, much of that in the local economy.”
Green action and sustainable decisions have the potential to promote great economic prosperity, if only given the opportunity.