Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review

ISBN: 978-971-561-788-8
Publication Date: April 2009
In stock

This report provides a review of the economics of climate change in the Southeast Asian region. It confirms that the region is highly vulnerable to climate change and demonstrates that a wide range of adaptation measures are already being applied. The report also shows that the region has a great potential to contribute to greenhouse gas emission reduction, and that the costs to the region and globally of taking no early action against climate change could be very high. The basic policy message is that efforts must be made to apply all feasible and economically viable adaptation and mitigation measures as key elements of a sustainable development strategy for Southeast Asia. It also argues that the current global economic crisis offers Southeast Asia an opportunity to start a transition towards a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy by introducing green stimulus programs that can simultaneously shore up economies, create jobs, reduce poverty, lower carbon emissions, and prepare for the worst effects of climate change.

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Cover [PDF: 3,252 kb]

Highlights [PDF: 1,242 kb | 38 pages]

Preface, Foreword, Acknowledgments, Abbreviations and Acronyms, Symbols, Summary of Conclusions [PDF: 341 kb | 28 pages]

Part I Introduction
Chapter 1 Background [PDF: 942 kb | 8 pages]

A. Climate Change—A Global Problem
B. Climate Change in Southeast Asia
C. About This Study
D. Organization of the Report

Chapter 2 Regional Circumstances [PDF: 3,127 kb | 12 pages]

A. Introduction
B. Economic and Social Development
C. Land Use and Natural Resources
D. Summary

Part II Climate Change, Its Impact and Adaptation
Chapter 3 Climate Change and Its Impact: A Review of Existing Studies [PDF: 832 kb | 41 pages]

A. Introduction
B. Observed and Projected Climate Change in Southeast Asia
C. Observed and Projected Climate Change Impact

Water Resources
Coastal and Marine Resources
Human Health

D. Conclusion

Chapter 4 Modeling Climate Change and Its Impact [PDF: 1,019 kb | 20 pages]

A. Introduction
B. Projected Global Climate Change
C. Projected Climate Change in Southeast Asia
D. Projected Climate Change Impact in Southeast Asia

Water Resources
Forestry (Ecosystems)

E. Conclusions

Chapter 5 Modeling the Economy-wide Impact of Climate Change [PDF: 435 kb | 8 pages]

A. Introduction
B. Model and Scenario Assumptions
C. Modeling Results
D. Conclusions

Chapter 6 Climate Change Adaptation Options and Practices [PDF: 1,296 kb | 31 pages]

A. Introduction
B. Building Adaptive Capacity
C. Adaptation Options and Practices in the Water Resources Sector
D. Adaptation Options and Practices in the Agriculture Sector
E. Adaptation Options and Practices in the Forestry Sector
F. Adaptation Options and Practices in the Coastal and Marine Resources Sector
G. Adaptation Options and Practices in the Health Sector
H. Conclusions

Part III Climate Change Mitigation
Chapter 7 Climate Change Mitigation Options and Practices [PDF: 546 kb | 32 pages]

A. Introduction
B. Southeast Asia’s GHG Emissions
C. Mitigation Options and Practices

Land Use Change and Forestry
The Energy Sector
The Agriculture Sector

Agroforestry, Set-Aside, and Land Use Change
Grassland Management
Peatland Management and Restoration of Organic Soils
Restoration of Degraded Lands
Livestock Management and Manure Management

D. Conclusions

Chapter 8 Energy Sector Mitigation Options [PDF: 951 kb | 25 pages]

A. Introduction
B. Mitigation Options in the Energy Sector
C. Marginal Abatement Cost Curves
D. Conclusions
Appendix 1: Results by Country

Country-specific Projections under Different Scenarios
The Philippines
Viet Nam

Appendix 2

Country-specific Marginal Abatement Cost Curves in 2020
The Philippines
Viet Nam


Part IV Policy Responses
Chapter 9 Climate Change Policy: A Review [PDF: 328 kb | 27 pages]

A. Introduction
B. National Policy and Actions in Southeast Asia
C. Global and Regional Initiatives
D. Financing Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Activities
E. Conclusions

Chapter 10 Conclusions and Policy Recommendations [PDF: 316 kb | 14 pages]

A. Climate Change and Its Impact in Southeast Asia
B. The Need for a Global Solution
C. What Should Southeast Asia Do?

(i) Adaptation toward enhanced climate resilience
(ii) Mitigation toward a low-carbon economy
(iii) Funding, Technology Transfer, and International/Regional Cooperation
(v) Strengthening Government Policy Coordination
(vi) Undertaking more research on climate change-related issues
(vii) Turning the economic crisis into an opportunity


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 technologies on the ‘green’ frontier


Technology helped humans blast off from Earth and circle the moon in the 1968, giving astronauts the chance to make this iconic image of planet Earth. Scientists and environmentalists are now hoping technology will help humans grounded on terra firma find harmony at home. Click the "Next" arrow above to learn about 10 technologies on the green frontier.

Electric vehicles rise from the grave

The EV-1, a first-generation electric vehicle introduced by GM in 1997, was killed in 2003, as chronicled in the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" Today, there's a "whole new wave" of electric vehicles on the horizon, says Brian Fan, a senior director at the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco-based market research firm. For example, Tesla Motors offers an all-electric Roadster, shown here. The company also recently unveiled plans for a sedan. The five-door car with room for seven people will get up to 300 miles on a single charge. Other cars are creating a buzz, ranging from the Chevrolet Volt to the offerings from Miles Electric Vehicles and Aptera Motors.

Electric bicycles gaining traction

Several companies sell electric bicycles, which give the old-fashioned, pedal-powered transport a battery-powered assist. But Fan says none of the electric bikes has yet hit a home run in the marketplace. Battery technology, he says, remains the roadblock. Lightweight batteries such as lithium ion models, akin to those found in laptop computers, are expensive. Cheaper lead-acid batteries are heavy. Nevertheless, sales are growing steadily as consumers look for environmentally friendly forms of transportation, according to research conducted for the National Bicycle Dealers Association. In this image, Ed Poor, who works at a New York-based electric bike and scooter dealership, rides an eZee Quando II electric bike.

Energy storage poised for a breakthrough

The quest for efficient and inexpensive methods to store generated electricity is finally getting serious research and development attention, according to Daniel Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. A few companies, for example, are considering a material called lithium ion phosphate, shown here in a lab dish, for use in batteries that charge up in minutes instead of hours. Better batteries could make recharging electric vehicles away from home as quick as filling up a gas tank. Such batteries also could provide a place to store electricity generated by wind at night for use during the day.

Not-so-mighty wind ready to storm cities

A batch of companies has recently sprouted a full crop of so-called small-scale wind turbines designed for rooftops and backyards. These turbines can fill a good portion of city-dwellers' electricity needs, Fan says. For example, this Dutch-made egg beater lookalike, known as the Energy Ball, can produce about 500 kilowatt-hours per year in winds that blow 15 mph on average. However, zoning ordinances and local utilities are generally ill-equipped to deal with intermittent excess capacity, and that's preventing a widespread urban rollout of the technology.

Low-cost solar ready for prime time

When you combine breakthroughs in materials science, such as the ability to mass-produce thin film solar panels, with political support from Japan to California to Germany and beyond, you come up with a formula for "low-cost (solar) technology made in great scale," says Kammen. He's watching the California companies Miasolé, Nanosolar and Solyndra, any of which could soon capture more than 5 percent of the market within a year. "It's like three different Apple computers all running full blast to see if they can break into the market in a big way," he says. This image shows Solyndra's rooftop photovoltaic cells on a cinema building in Livermore, Calif.

Algae: A slimy source of energy?

Move over, ethanol. Here comes something sexier: algae. "It is always great to show a pond of green muck and think that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, a lot of our fuel will be grown in these ponds," Fan says. The green plants produce oil that several companies are beginning to harvest for industrial use or convert into biodiesel. However, the technology will take at least a decade to scale up to commercial quantities at a price point competitive with petroleum, Fan says. In the meantime, other technologies may become a market success, Kammen notes.

Lighting set for a makeover?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting makes up 22 percent of U.S. energy consumption, hence the push for more efficient forms of lighting. Widespread use of technologies such as light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, could cut energy consumption in half. The chips have been around for decades, but primarily to make consumer electronics flash green and red. Now that scientists have learned to make LEDs glow in white, the rush is on for mass production. Fan has his eyes on startup Luminus Devices, which makes an LED (shown here) that is as big as 20 small LEDs and useful for applications such as street lamps and theater stages.

'Green' retrofits can save millions

The Empire State Building, one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, is going green. The facelift includes an insulation upgrade to the building's 6,500 windows that reduces summer heat load and winter heat loss. Former President Bill Clinton's foundation is helping with the $20 million project, which is expected to save the building's owners $4.4 million a year in energy costs. Clinton told reporters he hopes the attention-getting project will convince owners around the world to upgrade their buildings. "We have to prove it's good economics, and we have to prove we know how to do it," he said.

Researchers aim to smarten up the electricity grid

Electricity grids are colossal tangles of transmission and distribution lines that ship energy from power plants to homes and offices. Engineers say the infrastructure is antiquated, imperfect and unable to handle excessive demand, such as when everyone cranks up their air conditioners on a sweltering summer day. But now they are talking about – and beginning to implement – a range of ideas and technologies meant to give the grid some 21st century smarts. For example, Ontario resident George Tsapoitis is part of an experiment that uses Internet-connected boxes to shut down certain appliances during a power surge. According to Kammen, these technologies are behind the development curve but represent a critical ingredient in the future energy mix.

Energy financing to usher in the new technologies

The biggest story on the green frontier, Kammen says, is the rise of novel methods for doing green energy financing. For example, U.S. politicians are gearing up to implement either a tax or cap-and-trade scheme that puts a price on emissions of heat-trapping gases from old power plants such as the one shown here, resulting in a new pile of money to invest in clean energy technology. "If we can suddenly break the logjam where clean energy investment can get prioritized ahead of dirty investment, that obviously is transformative," Kammen says. The influx of funds, he notes, would ramp up development of these technologies and "change the world."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

5 Things You Didn't Know: Garbage

By Ross Bonander from

Trash - Credit:

Today is Earth Day, and the environmental movement is turning 39 years old. What began as a grassroots campaign to put the interests of planet Earth on the national agenda in America has grown into a global cause with deep, sprawling roots in ecology, advocacy, sustainability, and of course, politics. But at its most fundamental, today is about a wholly unavoidable aspect of life on Earth: waste.

Every biological organism has a pressing need to consume in order to stay alive, but conservation laws require a balanced equation: Consumption will result in waste. Or trash, litter or garbage -- what you call it isn't as important as where you put it: in streets, streams, habitats, the atmosphere, and sometimes in places it might even belong, such as landfills.

But landfills aren't merely incidental and oversize trash heaps; just the opposite. Landfills are complex engineering projects that require a number of years and a few million dollars to see to fruition. Even when they get that far, they're not the most environmentally friendly solution to the problem.

On that cheerful note, let's celebrate Earth Day by looking at five things you didn't know about garbage.

1- Garbage has its own patch in the Pacific Ocean

The first thing you didn't know about garbage is a nasty thing to think about: In one region of the Pacific, the discarded plastic garbage bobbing around is so prevalent that it outweighs the surface zooplankton population by a factor of 6 to 1, according to a study by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF). This region is foully referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which happens to sound like the title of the most cynical Charlie Brown special of all time.

At any rate, the AMRF believes that the whole world's oceans may contain as much as 100 million tons of plastic debris.

2- Garbage is all over Mount Everest

You would never know it by looking at the majestic, snow-white contours of the world's highest peak, but the people who spend time there are colossal slobs.

The well-trodden but challenging paths up the mountain are notoriously filthy; the most frequently encountered bit of garbage is a discarded oxygen tank, but over the years climbers have been known to discard plenty of other gear on the mountain as well.

If garbage-strewn paths weren't bad enough to spoil your leisurely hike 29,000 feet up, another frequent site will: dead people. A handful of climbers have reluctantly defied the old maxim about what goes up must come down, dying in a deep freeze at elevations too high to be retrieved safely.

3- Some garbage can live a million years or more

Another thing you didn't know about garbage is just how determined some of it is to stay garbage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that glass bottles require a million years to fully break down in a landfill; that plastic foam cups require over 500 years; aluminum cans between 200 and 500 years; plastic bags as many as 20 years, and cigarette butts as many as five years.

We're not sure how the EPA arrived at the figure for glass, but here's a plausible theory: In 1939, archeologists found some Homo Erectus fossils in Indonesia that dated back one million years. Is it possible that among the bones they found an empty with an expiration date?

4- Landfill garbage pollutes the air worse than carbon dioxide

Here's a sensible tip: Don't ever live near a landfill. You would be better off camping out around Chernobyl and eating the soil. Landfills have a tendency to emit a host of toxic gases into the air, and by toxic gases we actually mean cytotoxic or carcinogenic gases, like benzene and vinyl chloride. They also leak into the surrounding soils and water sources.

Furthermore, landfills produce methane -- rather, microbes produce it as they devour anything they can and emit methane as a waste product. Being lighter than air, methane works its way out of the air and into the soils or the atmosphere. Methane has a very high global warming potential (GWP), about 12 times as high as carbon dioxide.

5- Garbage and plasma could feed the grid

The last thing you didn't know about garbage is something Dr. Louis J. Circeo at the Georgia Tech Research Institute knows everything about: using plasma to obliterate garbage.

Plasma is a set of charged particles interacting with a magnetic field, and it is hotter than the surface of the sun. At a plasma arc gasification plant, plasma is put into contact with organic material, and -- poof! -- burns it into synthetic gas that's much cleaner than other burning processes. Inorganic material melts into useful construction materials.

Plasma gasification is extremely efficient; according to Dr. Circeo, incinerating your run-of-the-mill ton of landfill garbage could provide the power grid with over 800 kilowatt-hours of electricity -- several times the power needed to carry out the plasma gasification in the first place.


10 Big, Really Hard Things We Can Do to Save the Planet

By World Changing Team

Article Photo

Traditionally, this is a day devoted to making green accessible to all. It's a day when each of us is invited to take small, individual steps toward reducing our carbon footprints, limiting our waste, or restoring the environment. See how easy it is – and how fun – to do your part to save the planet? Whether Earth Day does any good is a subject of some real debate around here.

Admittedly, this year's goals from the Earth Day Network (EDN) show that the holiday might be heading in the right direction. The EDN calls for action and civic engagement toward renewable energy, sustainable consumption and green jobs … and nods to the approaching COP15.

But in general, Earth Day is still being used primarily to sell crap that won't make a difference. Our inboxes were still flooded with press announcements touting Earth Day solar bikinis; Earth Day buy-this-thing-and-we'll-plant-a-tree promotions; Earth Day specials on a greener SUV.

There are no simple steps worth caring about. We'll only head off disaster by taking steps -- together -- that are massive, societal and thorough. Most of what needs to be done involves political engagement, systems redesign, and cultural change. It can't be done in an afternoon and then forgotten about.

So screw the little things. Here are 10 big, difficult, world-changing concepts we can get behind.

Czech crowds cheered for U.S. President Barack Obama's recent announcement that America must lead the charge to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. But no matter which nation or alliance takes the helm, reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction is a critical part of sustainability. Simply put, nuclear weapons have no place in a bright green future.

Problems This Helps Solve: Nuclear warheads are like the anti-resilience. They don't make us safer; they actually make us brittle. And pouring enormous amounts of money and natural resources into mutually-assured destruction seems like an outdated model for peacekeeping on a finite planet.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
A New Military Mission: Clean Energy
The Future of the U.S. Military: An Interview with Thomas P.M. Barnett
The Unexpected Nature of Peace
Nuclear Energy: Not a Climate Change Solution?

In order to have a resilient and peaceful planet, we must first meet the basic needs of all the people who live here. Each person deserves clean water, adequate sanitation, and access to health care. But building this basic foundation will also require stability of a more intangible kind, including giving every person access to education, protecting civil rights around the globe, and putting an end to human servitude. As a society, we've outlined the plan in various ways, most notably in the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals. And we have the means to do it in this century, through advances in community empowerment, sustainable development and microlending programs.

Problems This Helps Solve: The difficulties the bottom billion people face don't just waste their human potential; they also undermine global public health, accelerate habitat destruction, worsen the destabilizing effects of violence, and drag down failing states. In a very real sense, the problems of the bottom billion are problems for us all, and tied into every other problem we want to solve.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Principle 9: Social Entrepreneurship/Base Of the Pyramid
Principle 17: Environmental Justice
Sustainable Development and Social Well-Being
Ending Poverty

We write often about transparency, which is part of the foundation for a just, equitable, sustainable and democratic future. This involves transparency and accountability in both business and government. It also includes tools that let us easily see and understand the backstory of the products in our lives, from the homes we live in to the food on our plates. Open-source approaches are excellent tools for promoting transparency, since these collaborative problem-solving systems increasingly eradicate hidden agendas and exclusivity.

Problems This Helps Solve: Lack of knowledge and lack of access are two of the biggest factors keeping today's communities locked in repetitive, destructive cycles. In politics, opacity makes it easy for leaders to deceive citizens and serve special interests. In the business world, opacity lets corporations participate actively in corruption and ecological destruction, while greenwashing the effects of their actions. Exposing political and business practices to the sunlight of pubic scrutiny can transform the possible.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Corporate Political Transparency: The Green Business Rating We Really Need
The Wall Street Crowd and the Transparency Revolution
Tools for Open Government
Principle 1: The Backstory
Principle 6: Transparency

Although no one wants to live in fear of uncontrollable, unforeseen disasters, it's hard to argue against having a well thought out emergency preparedness plan. These plans help people know what do to when a disaster strikes, decreasing the level of panic and improving the probability that more people will escape unharmed. On a small scale, families and neighbors can communicate and coordinate with each other to create plans that provide food and shelter for their communities. And on a larger scale, states and nations can create response plans that effectively deliver aid, as well as short- and long-term shelter solutions.

Problems This Helps Solve: Living in the age of climate change means that natural disasters will happen more frequently and with more ferocity than ever before. Applying climate foresight (and anticipating other potential problems) gives us the capacity to build resilience into the systems we're building, maximizing the chances that our sustainability is rugged.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Applying Climate Foresight
Learning From The Earthquake
Worldchanging Interview: Thomas Homer-Dixon
Environmental Refugees

Equality for women is more than a justice issue. By giving women equal rights we also help create a more sustainable world. Research shows that women who have access to education and rights over their own bodies choose to have fewer children, who they can give more to. Overpopulation is a serious issue, with huge implications for problems like climate change. By giving women rights we are investing in what Kim Stanley Robinson calls the some of the best climate change technology available today.

Problems This Helps Solve: Empowering women through education, health care and economic opportunity is the number one way to stabilize and eventually decrease overpopulation, a “driving force behind some of today's most serious problems, including climate change and rising food prices," according to Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin. Having the human numbers stop growing -- reaching peak population -- at the earliest humanely possible moment will make nearly every other problem we face easier to solve.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
More Choice for Women Means More Sustainability
Peak Population and Generation X
Interview: Kavita Ramdas, Global Fund for Women

One of the most readily available solutions for creating a more sustainable world is also one that we might have the most personal control over: our diets. We can greatly decrease our environmental and social footprints by eating locally, organically and mostly meat and dairy free (according to the U.N. report Livestock’s Long Shadow, livestock produce more greenhouse gases than all of the world's transport combined). But in order for more people to be able to choose better options, we also need to transform the food system. That means not only transparency innovations, such as labels and codes that tell you where your food came from and how it was produced, but also economic and regulatory support for a transformed relationship between farmers, food sellers and eaters.

Problems This Helps Solve: Better diets are critical to increasing global food security. But better farming and herding practices are also vital to preserving natural habitats, ecosystem services, clean water and healthy topsoil. Agriculture is one of the largest drivers of planetary destruction, and better diets can drive forward the search for more sustainable agricultural systems.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Cows Aren't Part of a Climate-Healthy Diet, Study Says
The Food Less Traveled
Eating Really Local
Food Carbon, Corporate Farming and Transnational Community-Supported Agriculture
Agricultural Sustainability = Agricultural Productivity

Scientists estimate that our planet is home to somewhere between 10 and 100 million species. We've described only 1.8 million: the rest are yet to be discovered. Today, scientists are using new techniques and tools to discover and name more new species than at any other time in taxonomic history. Ironically this “Age of Discovery” is simultaneously the Sixth Extinction, the largest mass-extinction since the Death of the Dinosaurs.

Problems This Helps Solve: The diversity of life offers dividends that are almost impossible to reckon. Discovering and documenting the planet's biodiversity now is essential, both because discovery sometimes leads to protection and because once species are gone, they're gone forever. By documenting all life now, we can better understand the web of life around us, and by making it open and accessible, we can help to cultivate an appreciation for its existence and leave a priceless legacy for future generations.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Biodiversity Triage and Frozen Zooz The Culture of Extinction
What the Yeti Crab Has to Teach Us
Understanding Extinction
Discovering to Recover: The Age of Species Discovery and the Sixth Extinction

We need a global treaty that holds all players accountable to decreasing their carbon emissions. This treaty must decrease global carbon levels to 350 parts per million by 2080, if we are to avoid a series of global tipping points that will push us over the edge and make life on this planet unbearable for the majority of life on Earth.

Problems This Helps Solve: An effective climate treaty will help create global accountability for decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions to a level that allows humans to remain on the Earth. As we've said before carbon-neutral prosperity is possible. We can design and build a sustainable society within the time we have remaining. The matter hinges entirely on having the will to build it. And that's what's going to be tested now, and big time: our will.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Breaking the Climate Deadlock
350 ppm
Yes, really, 350 ppm
Zero, Now.

We are now an urban planet. In general, urbanization offers many benefits. But we need to design cities that allow people access to their greatest potential within a framework of sustainable prosperity. Bright green cities are designed so that residents have access to public parks, basic goods, entertainment, services and jobs within walking distance. Bright green cities include transit systems and mobility options to allow people to get from one place to another comfortably and on time without the use of a private vehicle. Bright green cities feature carbon-neutral buildings that are healthy for the people who live and work inside them. They use strategies like zero-waste plans and producer takeback laws to channel materials in closed loops.

Problems This Helps Solve: Because people who live close together use infrastructure and space much more efficiently, cities may just be our most powerful weapon against global warming. As the human population continues to grow on a planet that remains the same, our urban centers will continue to grow to accommodate those people's needs for shelter and employment. If we design our cities well, they will become places where people can live in bright green prosperity, enjoying access to a larger number of goods and services. And with people concentrated in comfortable, happy, healthy cities, these urban centers will become incubators for the best ideas and innovations of the centuries to come.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Does City Living Trim Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
The Next Slum and the New Green City
Dongtan and Greening China
Architecture 2030: An Interview with Ed Mazria
Principle 3: Cradle to Cradle and Closing the Loop
The Post-Oil Megacity
Urban Sustainability, Megacity Leapfrogging

It's time to stop building highways, and stop developing the disconnected, suburban sprawl they support. Instead, local and national governments in the Global North need to focus their resources on improving the streets and infrastructure that's already in place, making those streets work for all forms of mobility, from transit to cycling, to walking, to driving and cargo transport. This solution must go hand-in-hand with building comfortable, attractive, bright green cities where people can live densely while living well. If we redefine the model for growth, density and transportation in the industrialized world, we will help rapidly growing nations avoid the problems associated with auto-dependent development.

Problems This Helps Solve: We're stuck on the outdated idea that highways equal mobility. But although most of North America continues to pave new lanes in the hopes of reducing choking congestion, we're actually making the problem worse. According to this study from the Sightline Institute, adding even one mile of new highway lane will increase C02 emissions by more than 100,000 tons over 50 years. But the problem of highways goes beyond traffic, and beyond North America. Highways feed development that sprawls further and further out from urban centers, destroying green space and farmland, and locking residents into patterns of car-dependency. Not only does sprawl exacerbate the problem of emissions – it also fosters social problems, including increased cost of living and heightened risk of health problems.

Read More in the Worldchanging Archive:
Ray LaHood and Changing Our Thinking About Transportation
Worldchanging Interview: Peter Newman and Timothy Beatley
My Other Car is a Bright Green City
The Housing & Transportation Affordability Index
Toward a New American Infrastructure

Now go out there and take some gigantic leaps!

Image credits (left to right): angela7dreams, iChaz and angela7dreams. All shared under the Creative Commons license. Image editing: Sean Conroe.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

8 Ways to Make Every Day Earth Day

by Kasen Seaver

We’re just as excited about Earth Day 2009 as you are, and we couldn’t ask for a better holiday. In fact, we thought the name should be changed to “Everyone Drop What You’re Doing, and Go Do Something Good for the Planet Day,” but that’s a little on the long side.

But when all the fun, games and tree plantings have come to an end after April 22, where does that leave you? What about the other 364 days of the year?

Simply put, Earth Day is essentially a reminder of what you should be doing year-round to reduce your environmental footprint. Recycling, reducing your consumption of goods, composting, using sustainable energy sources and taking public transportation are just a few of the actions you can take to, literally, make every day Earth Day.

We’re not the only ones who support the concept of Making Every Day Earth Day™. The Earth Day Network recently created a Green Generation Campaign with three core principles:

  1. Live carbon-free with renewable energy sources that decrease dependence on fossil fuels
  2. Consume responsibly and sustainably
  3. Create green jobs and a global green education system

We couldn’t agree more. So, in support of what others are doing to help spread this holiday out to a daily duty, here are our favorite eight ways to live a little more lightly on the planet:

1. Energy Vampires

In households across the U.S., phantom energy (energy used when items are plugged in but not in use) not only adds an additional 87 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, but also costs homeowners $5.8 billion per year. Unplugging chargers and other electronics when the charge is complete, or when you’re simply done using them, can create up to 10 percent in energy savings. If devices are plugged into a power strip, just flip the switch and you’re done!

Using less water saves both energy and money. Photo:

Using less water saves both energy and money. Photo:

2. Every Drop Counts

Global climate change affects our water supply, and right now billions of people don’t have access to clean water. To conserve water here in the U.S., there are some easy steps you can take to reduce your consumption:

  • Using one drinking glass or reusable bottle per day, rather than disposable plastic bottles
  • Dumping ice or leftover water on plants instead of down the drain
  • Turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth, shaving and soaping dishes
  • Changing a washer’s settings to reflect the appropriate size load

3. Hazards of Outer Beauty

Each year people put on five pounds of personal care products, and they’re all absorbed by your skin. It’s important to know what you’re putting on your body and the environmental footprint of the products you purchase. Educate yourself on contents such as parabens and sulfates through the Cosmetic Safety Database and opt for greener products, such as those that use organic ingredients and recycled packaging.

Carpooling saves money on gas and reduces carbon emissions. Photo:

Carpooling saves money on gas and reduces carbon emissions. Photo:

4. Transportation: It’s All About Options

With enough cars on the road for every eligible American driver, there are numerous ways to help the environment when it comes to daily transportation. Cut back on vehicle emissions by carpooling, car sharing, riding public transportation and biking or walking to errands near home or the office.

If you must drive, increase fuel efficiency by consolidating trips, avoiding sudden starts or stops and removing unnecessary weight from your car. Not only will you save on carbon emissions, but you’ll save on the cost of operating your vehicle as well.

5. Choosy Consumers Choose Sustainable

Going to the store involves responsible choices: How food is grown, processed and transported is as equally important as picking the foods you eat.

  • With organically grown food, herbicides and pesticides don’t enter the body or the soil
  • Try not to eat red meat for a few days each week. Cows are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. emissions of methane, which traps 20 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide
  • Purchasing locally grown goods cuts down on environmental costs of transportation and helps your local economy
  • If you have leftover produce, compost it to ensure that nothing goes to waste (jump to tip #8 for more info on composting)
    Flip and Tumble bags are an easy way to reduce your usage of plastic bags. Photo:

    Flip and Tumble bags are an easy way to reduce your usage of plastic bags. Photo:

6. It’s in the Bag

The average American uses an estimated 1,200 plastic bags per year. Bid single-use bags adieu and their negative environmental consequences. You may run into the “whoops, I left my bag in the car” a few times until you get into the habit of using them. In the meantime, we stumbled across Flip and Tumble bags that fit easily into your purse to help you remember. They roll up in seconds, and their bright colors make it hard to get lost at the bottom of your bag.

7. Paper Trail

Paper consumes more than one-third of landfill space, which in turn is detrimental to the environment because of methane creation. When it comes to paper, the three R’s are your key to success:

  • Reduce: Request bills, statements, newsletters etc. to be sent electronically
  • Reuse: Shred paper for packing materials or compost. Use old envelopes for scratch paper or notes, or save scraps for craft projects around the house.
  • Recycle: Even those items like glossy junk mail, newspapers, cardboard boxes, magazines, phone books, etc. can be recycled.

8. Everyone Can Compost

According to the U.S. EPA, each American throws away an average of 1.3 pounds of food scraps daily. In addition to this, yard trimmings and food waste, combined, make up 24 percent of our nation’s municipal solid waste stream. If even half of this can be diverted and recycled through composting, our daily trash levels could start to decrease.

Composting increases gardening yields due to additional nutrient content in the soil. It also keeps moisture in the soil so you water less, and it binds to soil contaminants to keep them from spreading.

Whether you are in an urban environment or composting with worms, this home recycling option comes in many forms and can be easier than you may think.

Now Get Moving!

Even though these steps may seem simple enough, sometimes actually employing them in your everyday life can be more challenging than you think. But your small efforts really do add up to something bigger, such as increasing demand for green products and services, which also creates more green jobs.

In terms of global green education, spread the word to your friends or get involved in community events and organizations with a mission to live eco-responsibly.

Kasen Seaver

Kasen Seaver

Kasen Seaver is a freelance writer for Earth911, and enjoys putting her knowledge of eco-conscious living into practice.

More articles by Kasen

Wealth is a State of Mind

There’s enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it’ll show up for you. That’s the truth.rainbow-fractal ~Michael Beckwith

I want to talk about one of the hottest topics…money and wealth. Because money is one of those ways you touch physical reality every day, it’s worth your time to “get clean & clear” with yourself about the nature of your relationship with it. And, because most of you want to experience wealth, it’s not not only worth your time, it’s imperative.

Let’s get back to what I said about touching physical reality every day.

See, everything is created twice. Once in your mind, and once in reality. BEFORE money comes to the physical dimension of your reality, it exists as some sort of reality in your mind.

SOOOO, you can see why I say it is worth your time to “get clean & clear” with it. Because if you are not, you are living in default with it. That means your inherited stories and beliefs are running the show for you!

I want you to get clear about what that “some sort of reality” in your mind is about money!

Do you know what your money and wealth reality is in your mind? Here are a couple questions you need to answer in service to this:

  • What are your beliefs about wealth?
  • What does money mean to you? What does it represent?
  • What service does money provide?
  • What will you do with your wealth?

I did a little “survey” on Facebook and Twitter about what wealth meant to peeps and I got a great response. Some examples:

  1. Freedom
  2. Gratitude
  3. Being in the flow
  4. Having influence
  5. Having enough to share

What’s your answer?

Listen, in my work, one of the biggest “stuck” points that people have is in their “hidden” realities in their mind, and the lack of time they take to really get clear. They assume they know what they believe and that doing exercises such as identifying what their relationship with money is is a silly waste of time.



Successful people define their reality.


This does require you carve out time to do it.

Sooooo, from here, I want you to declare what you want money and wealth to mean to you in an expansive and alive way. Look at the above questions, and answer them through the lens of infinite possibilities.

Here are a couple statements that reinforce an expansive, alive belief system.

  • “Money is a form of energy. Because everything is energy, including my thoughts, as I embrace my power to influence and choose energy, I am able to allow the energy of money into my life as I desire.”
  • “There is enough for everyone.”
  • “Prosperity is natural.”
  • “The nature of life is abundant.”
  • “When I am in the flow & natural rhythm of life, money flows freely.”
  • “Money comes from a life-giving source.”
  • “Wealth is a state of mind.”


If you want to learn more about clearing blocks and taking a leap in your wealth, you will want to be on this FREE seminar April 22 with the “Magical Morelli’s”. These spiritually-oriented millionaires are teaching their tools to thousands of people.

Focus Earth Special Episode: Six People Saving Our Planet

ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff hosts Planet Green's Focus Earth featuring green news and events.

In this special hour-long edition of Focus Earth, the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning anchor takes you across the globe to meet six courageous heroes fighting on the frontlines for our planet's environmental survival.

From the villages of Kenya where lives are being saved "one seed" at a time the cities of China where one American boy hopes to change a American "Main Street", where a corporate maverick is helping usher in new sustainable ways of doing business. These six innovators are harnessing the wind, and exploring the depths of our oceans...each with a brave mission of change, a unique message of hope, and a vision of how we can protect our planet. You'll meet them, and, at the end, find out which of these inspirational people has the most powerful impact of all on our planet.

Six People Saving Our Planet

Dr. Wangari Maathai
A recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Maathai is a former member of parliament and founder of the Green Belt Movement. Her organization has planted more than 40 million trees in Kenya, earning her the name "Tree woman of Africa."

Find out more in this online clip from Focus Earth.

Philippe Cousteau
Phillipe Cousteau is working to carry on his families legacy of dedicated ocean conservation. His organization, Earth Eco International, works to build awareness and direct action to protect the ocean's most threatened species.

Learn more about this ambassador of the oceans in this online clip.

Adam Werbach
At one time, Adam Werbach was the youngest-ever president of the Sierra Club. Then, in front of more than 250 people, he announced "I'm done calling myself an environmentalist." The crowd was shocked until they learned that Werbach was not forsaking the movement, but offering a new approach. One that lets go of politics and embraces the personal.

Get the full story on this corporate renegade in this online clip.

Taylor Francis
Taylor Francis may only be 16 years old, but that has not stopped him from presenting his Al Gore-inspired presentation on climate change to more than 10,000 people around the country. Recently, he visited China to help high school students there get the word out about their country's role in the climate change dilemma.

Find out more in this online clip.

Soren Hermansen
Soren Hermansen, a teacher at the Samso Energy Academy in Denmark, helped his small town ween itself off of fossil fuels. Just over a decade later he has led his country to become the largest producer of wind turbines in the world.

Learn more about this wind-energy pioneer in this online clip.

When it comes to stopping global warming, slowing climate change, or taking charge on any eco-initiative, there is no one more important than you. Changing our individual habits is the first step to solving global problems.

See what people just like you are doing to help save the planet in this online clip.

Check the Planet Green Schedule to find this special Earth Week episode of Focus Earth.

Visual Learning: Self Portrait in Waste

by Barry Hoonan

Images, photos, and pictures stimulate the mind. For the viewer, they offer a chance to connect and question. They also offer potential for play and imagination, and pulling the observer into purposeful messages.

Most often, newspaper and magazine readers quickly scan photos and their captions. With this YES! lesson plan, you and your students can luxuriate—and pause—to truly understand an image, its message, and why it’s interesting (or not).

pdf icon
Download this lesson plan as a pdf. 2MB

Photo by Chris Jordan © 2008
ZOOMspacerPhoto by Chris Jordan © 2008

Step One: What do you notice? (before the facts)
Ask your students to make sense of the photograph by trusting their instincts of observation and inference. In doing so, the photograph offers possibilities and interpretations beyond a typical reading where the reader glances at the picture to reinforce their interpretation of the picture’s title or caption. Do not introduce any facts, captions, or other written words outside of the image. You may hear: plastic water bottles, a huge pile of plastic bottles, Coke and Pepsi plastic bottles, sports drink bottles, a lot of plastic.

Step Two: What are you wondering? (thinking about the facts)
After you’ve heard what your students are noticing, you’ll probably hear the peppering of questions (Where did these bottles come from? Where is that giant pile of bottles right now? Do we really drink that much bottled water?). That’s curiosity or wonder—the intermixing of observations and questions. This is a good time to reveal the photo’s caption, accompanying quote, and facts about the actual situation. Watch how the conversation shifts from what they believe to be true to discerning the facts about the photo.

  • Photo caption:
    Plastic Bottles, 2007, 60x120” from Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait. Photo by Chris Jordan
    Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the U.S. every five minutes.

  • Photo facts:
    The U.S. is the largest consumer market for bottled water in the world, followed by Mexico, China, and Brazil. In 2008, U.S. bottled water sales topped 8.6 billion gallons, comprising 28.9% of the U.S. liquid refreshment beverage market, exceeding sales of all other beverages except carbonated soft drinks. Fruit juices and sports drinks were the next most popular.

    Water bottling is a very water-intensive endeavor. According to the Pacific Institute, it takes three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water.

    40% of bottled water is tap water, not spring water.

    In 2006, the production of 31.2 billion liters of water for the U.S. bottled water market took roughly 17.6 million barrels of oil (energy to produce the water bottle, cap, and packaging), enough oil to run 1.5 million cars on U.S. roadways for an entire year.

    Plastic bottles made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) can be recycled into many products, including beverage bottles, plastic strapping, fleece jackets, sleeping bags, and carpets. However, less than a fifth of all plastic beverage bottles in the U.S. are recycled.

    Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting.

    Instead of being recycled domestically, plastic bottles collected near the West Coast often wind up in China, because it is cheaper for US companies. Bottles travel to China on container ships that have delivered imports to West Coast ports.

  • Other resources around the image:

    Chris Jordan's Artists Statement

    PHOTO ESSAY Chris Jordan Photo Essay
    Thumbnails from the series Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait by Chris Jordan

    Logo of the Water Pledge campaign, Center for a New American Dream
    :: Break the Bottled Water Habit
    :: Top Five Reasons to Give Up Bottled Water

Step Three: What next? (jumping off the facts)
Learning more about a photo leads to bigger questions and an opportunity to discuss broader issues and perspectives.

What do you do with a plastic bottle when you’ve finished drinking from it?

Where do you think your plastic bottle goes after you put it in the recycling bin or trash can?

Do you need to drink your water or soda from a disposable plastic bottle? What are alternatives to bottled water?

Do you think it’s more effective to recycle or to cut down on what we consume?

Is bottled water better for you than your local tap water?

How willing are you to use a reusable water bottle?

The Omnivore's Next Dilemma

Michael Pollan, Alla Malley
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. (Photo by Alla Malley)

Are humans just pawns in plants’ clever strategy to rule the Earth? At this 2007 TEDTalk in Monterey, California, author Michael Pollan asks us to see the world from plants' perspective.

Listen to Michael Pollan on KUOW's Weekday

4 Ways to Fix the Farm Bill
Michael Pollan says the bill still “preserves more or less intact the whole structure of subsidies responsible for so much that is wrong in the American food system.”

TransFARM the White House Lawn
Two Peace Corps volunteers, inspired by Michael Pollan's vision, wrote a letter to then President-Elect Obama to establish an organic "Hope Garden" at the White House.

YES! Earth Charter Curricular Module

As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile,
the future at once holds great peril and great promise.
~ Preamble to The Earth Charter


The Earth Charter calls for shared responsibility for all humanity and all living things in a declaration of principles for a just, sustainable, and peaceful world. Created in a 10-year grassroots process with thousands of people in countries from Argentina to Zambia it was approved by the Earth Charter Commission at the UNESCO Headquarters in 2000.

To learn about the Charter’s vision and help you bring it alive in class, this module offers inspiring YES! stories of people and communities that are thriving by choosing to live with compassion and respect for all people and the planet.

YES! Curricular Online Module ~ Structure
The Earth Charter's sixteen principles are organized into four major principle categories:
(1) Respect and Care for the Community of Life
(2) Ecological Integrity
(3) Social and Economic Justice
(4) Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace

YES! stories are paired with the four major principles of the Earth Charter, and include supplemental curricular materials. To view the YES! story online, click the title. To download for free the formatted YES! story with photos, discussion questions, and a glossary, click the "Download PDF" text link. Below you will also find resources to help students get informed, inspired, and take action!

YES! Curricular Module ~ The Earth Charter

EARTH CHARTER Major Principle 1 - Respect and Care for the Community of Life

YES!: Wild, Abundant America
An Indian immigrant extoles the beauty of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 15.84MB)

YES!: When Youth Lead
Teens in a small town discover dangers that others denied and ignored. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 560KB)

YES!: Tree People
Youth volunteers tear up a parking lot outside of L.A. and plant 8,000 trees. (*For an up-date on this story scroll to the bottom) Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 2.58MB)

Find more stories like these in our YES! issues, Art and Community, Reclaiming the Commons, and What Is the Good Life?

Major Principle 2 - Ecological Integrity

YES!: Taking Stock
How are you contributing to global warming? Take the test and become Kyoto cool. Download article, with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 727KB)

YES!: Bringing Biodiesel from Colorado to Colombia
University students and a community in Colombia develop a new source of energy and local jobs.
Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 905KB)

YES!: Curitiba: The Story of A City
Citizen planners transform Curitiba, Brazil into one of the most sustainable and livable cities in the world. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 1.4MB)

YES!: The Lake and the ‘Hood
A desert lake captured the hearts of East L.A. youth who worked with business folks and environmentalists to save it. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 1.47MB)

Find more stories like these in our YES! issues Our Planet, Ourselves, and Whose Water?

Major Principle 3 - Social & Economic Justice

YES!: The Apollo Project
Labor and environmental activists advocate an energy plan that protects both jobs and the environment. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 247KB)

YES!: Tomato Days
Residents of rural Missouri protect their farming lifestyle and build the local economy by canning tomatoes in a church basement. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 2.56MB)

YES!: Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope
"The Seed Lady of Watts" gets youth cultivating fresh, organic foods and new lives in neighborhoods better known for drug abuse, violence, and poverty. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 956KB) Articulo en Espanol: Las semillas de esperanza (PDF 883KB)

YES!: Going Forward Full Circle
The Suquamish Tribe nearly lost the ancient art of canoe carving, but native youth are bringing back the craft. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 4.76MB)

Find more stories like these in our YES! issues, Living Economies and Economics as if Life Matters.

Major Principle 4 - Democracy, Nonviolence, & Peace

YES!: Story of the Earth Charter
Thousands of citizens worldwide were part of a democratic process to create the Earth Charter--a unique declaration of global responsibility and interdependency. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 1.18MB)

YES!: Redefining Peace
African Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, brings the planting of trees, the empowerment of women, and the need for democracy to the center of local and global discussions of peace. Download article with photos, questions, glossary (PDF 4.6MB)

Find more stories like these in our YES! issues, What Would Democracy Look Like and The Peace Makers.

Learn more, do more ~ ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Earth Charter:
Download the full text: Earth Charter PDF (33KB)

The Earth Charter USA Communities Initiatives is the facilitator for grassroots
efforts to implement the vision and principles of the Earth Charter in local communities.

The Earth Charter Initiative seeks to promote the implementation of the Earth Charter by civil society, business, and government and to get United Nations ratification.

Earth Charter USA provides support for using the Earth Charter as an educational tool, as a guide to sustainable community development, and as a framework for policies and practices and the U.S.

YES! Earth Charter Education Partner:

Facing the Future develops young people’s capacity and commitment to create thriving, sustainable, and peaceful local and global communities, and offer workshops and inserve education, standards-based curricula, teachers guides, lesson plans, and access to a service learning project database.

Youth Organizations:

Earth Scouts, a national program developed by Earth Charter Communities USA, inspires boys and girls from 3 to 15 years to appreciate differences, care for nature, value independence and cooperation, seek peaceful solutions, and welcome new knowledge and experiences.

Earthforce is a nationwide organization that helps educate young people about how to preserve the environment and better their communities. They also motivate young people to think critically and develop long-term sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Earthforce offers teacher trainings, curriculum guides and other resources.

Youth for Environmental Sanity connects and empowers young changemakers to join forces for a thriving, just, and sustainable way of life, holds week-long events for young leaders from around the world, and offers books, action guides, and videos. Alumni have started more than 400 non-profit groups working for positive change.

More Great YES! Materials:

YES! Earth Charter Resource Guide
Learn about organizations that can help you and your students shape a more sustainable future.

YES! Earth Charter Page That Counts (72 KB)

YES! Earth Charter Table of Stories & Principles PDF (76KB) Lists the YES! articles in this module with the corresponding Earth Charter principles.

YES! magazine Board Chair, David Korten, says the Earth Charter's principles offer a new model for human civilization, read The Great Turning: "From Empire to Earth Community."

YES! interview: Earth Democracy—a compelling and informative YES! interview with renowned physicist, farmer, and environmental activist, Vandana Shiva.

YES! story: Resurrecting Democracy is possible through global governance and civil society—a fascinating YES! interview with Ernst Ulrich von Weizsaecker.

YES! story: Beyond Ecophobia
David Sobel advocates engaging youth in the beauty and thrill of nature, not just sharing tales of eco-destruction.

Environmental & Ecological Organizations:

The Center for Ecoliteracy is dedicated to education for sustainable living.

The Bioneers annual conference is a prime gathering of leading scientific and social innovators -- young and old -- who have demonstrated visionary and practical models for restoring the Earth and communities.

Action For Nature encourages young people to take personal action to better their environment, and to foster love and respect for nature, and sponsors the Action For Nature International Young Eco-Heroes Awards Program.

The Edible Schoolyard has been recognized around the world for its organic garden, landscape, and kitchen, which are grounded in ecological principles and wholly integrated into the school's curriculum.