What About Pollution

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Living Sustainably’

The Year in Sustainable Food: Much Progress, and More Work to Be Done

Peter Lehner, Executive Director, New York City The movement for a clean, sustainable food supply built up quite a head of steam in 2014. Many of this year’s happenings had me and my colleagues at NRDC cheering; some had us shaking our heads—and rolling up our sleeves. Here’s our look back at the year in food. 1.  Nation’s Largest School Districts to Serve Antibiotic-Free Chicken The Urban School Food Alliance, a group that represents six of the nation’s largest public school districts, announced in December that it would seek antibiotic-free chicken from its suppliers. The decision affects more than the food of the 2.9 million school children these districts serve—it’s a move that will encourage a shift toward more… Read More

New Electronics Gifts for the Holidays? Make Simple Fixes So They Don’t Cost You Year-Round

Pierre Delforge, Director, High Tech Sector Energy Efficiency, San Francisco If you’re the lucky recipient of the latest electronic gadgets this holiday season—or live in the same household—you may soon discover that gift comes with a price  because today’s TVs, computers, video game consoles, and other devices can generate Santa-sized drains on  electricity all year long. Fortunately, a few simple changes can help trim your energy costs. Not only will you save money on your utility bill, you’ll also prevent the generation of unnecessary electricity and the millions of tons of pollution when power plants make it. Here are some easy tips on how to minimize the electricity use of your devices. The right settings for your TV: Although… Read More

What might the future look like if we took climate change seriously?

Merrian Borgeson, Senior Scientist, Energy and Transportation, San Francisco A new analysis lays out several detailed “pathways” to a low-carbon future for the United States, and offers practical guidance for policy makers. The bottom line finding is that there are multiple ways we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with known technologies and with an incremental cost equivalent to less than 1 percent of gross domestic product. But the choices we make in the short term matter a lot if we want to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. This work is important because the negotiations in Lima last week set a positive direction for the international climate agreement planned for next December in Paris. As the… Read More

Six Products in Your Holiday Shopping Cart that Drive Deforestation in Latin America

Amanda Maxwell, Latin America Advocate, Washington, DC Approximately 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions originate from deforestation and forest degradation, which are no longer problems that can be discounted as local or rural issues. Whether burned, processed, or discarded, trees release immense amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, feeding global climate change. Nowhere is it more important to halt deforestation than in Latin America, whose forests store 49 percent of the carbon in the world’s tropical forests. In recent years, increasing urbanization, especially in Latin America, has separated the demand for the commodities driving this deforestation and degradation—beef, soy, palm oil, paper products, fuels, and precious metals—from the local farmers, ranchers, loggers, and miners who produce… Read More

Our Forests Aren’t Fuel

Peter Lehner, Executive Director, New York City As an admitted arborophile, I’m happy to see that tree-planting crews from the New York City Parks Department are kicking their efforts into high gear as winter approaches, planting saplings that can turn barren urban streets into cool, leafy corridors. Intuitively, we all know that trees are transformative. A single tree can change a neighborhood. But when we walk along a treeless city street, it’s easy to forget what we don’t see. So much of what trees do is invisible. I recently saw an inspiring visualization of the Amazon rainforest that helped bring it home to me. Trees and forests are the lungs that soak up carbon, the heart that pumps out… Read More

A landmark plan for conservation and renewable energy

Helen O’Shea, Director, Western Renewable Energy Project, San Francisco Today, when the Department of Interior and the California Department of Natural Resources released a draft of the long-awaited Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), the agencies set the stage for a first-of-its-kind project … in more ways than one. Not only does the DRECP have the potential to serve as a blueprint for conservation and clean energy development in the California desert, it could become a model for how federal, state, and local agencies can work together … and how those collaborations are better overall for everyone involved. ‘Smart from the Start’ Planning The DRECP is the result of an unprecedented collaboration between the Bureau of Land Management, the… Read More

Tell the Forest Service they have an obligation to protect your public groundwater resources

Marcus Griswold, Water Resources Scientist, San Francisco Recently, the US Forest Service released a “Directive” which would guide how groundwater is managed by the agency.  They are currently accepting comments from the public on that Directive and now is the time to weigh in to ensure public groundwater resources are protected. In a previous blog, I highlighted the importance of high quality, abundant groundwater from National Forests and the threats it faces. Proper groundwater management on our National Forests would help maintain a clean source of drinking water and a sustainable supply of water to keep forests healthy, wetlands wet, and streams flowing. The Directive is the first comprehensive set of guidance from the Forest Service on groundwater resources… Read More