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  • Van Jones

    Reclaiming the Future

    October 18, 2007 at 8:43 am

    “Try this experiment. Go knock on someone’s door in West Oakland, Watts or Newark and say: ‘We gotta really big problem!’ They say: ‘We do? We do?’ ‘Yeah, we gotta really big problem!’ ‘We do? We do?’ ‘Yeah, we gotta save the polar bears! You may not make it out of this neighborhood alive, but we gotta save the polar bears!’ ”

    If this key communication disconnect continues, Jones, a visionary Oakland-based activist, explains, we will never find solutions to either social inequality or environmental destruction. Instead, we need a “green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.” Green For All, based out of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, seeks to bring “green collar” jobs to urban areas. If young people of color start installing solar panels now, explains, Jones, they’ll become managers in five years, owners in ten, and eventually inventors.

    The publicity this initiative has been enjoying the past week (New York Times and The Nation) speaks to the revolutionary nature of the program, and a revolution people have been waiting for. Van Jones believes these two movements have been separated for too long, and his passion is contagious. The fight to curb climate change has literally been a fight to maintain the environmental status quo, a conservative approach that turns off many people who do not benefit from the way things are. Van Jones’ environmental revolution provides hope for both sides of the double helix—-hope for a more inclusive, diverse environmental movement, and hope to lift people of color out of poverty.

  • Lamppa Leads Web Conference on Financing Renewable Energy

    October 17, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Rob Lamppa, Director of Energy Management & Senior Project Manager for Facilities, recently led a web conference sponsored by Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and Academic Impressions. The online presentation, titled "Financing Renewable Energy and Interconnection with the Utility," was presented in two parts on Oct. 9 and 11, 2007. Lamppa presented with Michael Philips from Energy Ventures International, a Maryland-based energy consultant and co-author of The Business Case for Renewable Energy: A guide for Colleges and Universities.

  • Iceberg

    What’s Happening to the Arctic Sea Ice?

    October 17, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Though the most recent data concerning Arctic sea ice melting has received attention in the media, it is hard for most to grasp what “record melting” means. “Record melting” is difficult to show in one simple figure and to understand in a historical context. In the New York Times, two weeks ago, the Science section put up a great interactive graphic which really demonstrates how quickly the ice is melting. I strongly recommend that you check this feature out.

    Continue by clicking the "read more" link below

  • Al Gore

    Gore, IPCC win Nobel Peace Prize

    October 12, 2007 at 11:13 am

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced today that Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in spreading awareness of global warming and in laying the groundwork for solutions to be developed. In a statement released by the former Vice President, Gore said he was "deeply honored" to have received the prize. "We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level." Gore became the country's most prominent figure on the issue of global warming following his Academy Award winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." For the Panel's part, chairman Rajendra Pachauri said he was "overwhelmed" by the award and that he hoped it would bring a "greater awareness and a sense of urgency" to the fight against global warming.

    Source: BBC

  • Hurricane Dean

    Hurricane Expert to Speak at Carleton

    October 11, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    On Wednesday, October 17, Kerry Emanuel will deliver a lecture entitled “Global Warming and Hurricanes.” Dr. Emanuel, a meteorologist at MIT, has written a number of books on the subjects of hurricanes and climate change, the most recent of which is What We Know about Climate Change (Boston Review Books). In his research, Dr. Emanuel has found connections between climate change and increased hurricane intensity. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Emanuel was named to Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people. The talk continues a yearlong public lecture series on the topic of climate change hosted by Carleton’s Environmental and Technology Studies program.

    Dr. Emanuel will lead an informal discussion at 4:00pm in Olin 103. His lecture will begin at 7:30pm in Boliou Hall, room 104. Refreshments will be served afterwards. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Adam Smith.

    Read a recent review of What We Know about Climate Change, written by Bill McKibben.

  • Apple Orchard

    Rotten to the Core?

    October 10, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    It's fall in Minnesota. The leaves are turning colors, and it's time to go apple picking, right?

    Daniel Gross in an article available at argues that the Fall apple-picking tradition is more idiotic than idyllic and represents American tendencies to esteem overconsumption and balk at nature that's a little too natural.

    In my opinion, that may be a little harsh and condemning. It may be true that when we go out to buy a half-bushel for our house or floor, we may not eat it all, but of all battles to choose, why apple-picking? What do you think?

  • Carleton's wind turbine

    Wind Energy Production Temporarily Stopped

    October 10, 2007 at 9:20 am

    For over a week now, wind has been blowing, but the wind turbine has unfortunately been unable to spin. On October 2nd, the gear box (which is essential in allowing the blades to rotate and in generating mechanical power) malfunctioned. Facilities will have to find a crane to come in and make the appropriate repairs. There is a strong possibility that the repairs will involve at least partially deconstructing the turbine. This means that the blades may have to be temporarily removed—it will certainly be odd to look out at the horizon and see the turbine without its three blades. Hopefully, the gear box can be repaired or replaced within a month so that we can take advantage of Minnesota’s fall breezes and start producing energy as soon as possible.

    To learn about how wind turbines produce power, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program website.

  • Break Through

    Thinking Positively....

    October 9, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger have excerpts from their new book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility on They first rip the way that prominent environmentalists have framed the issues over the past fifty years:

    “Eco-tragedies are premised on the notion that humankind's survival depends on understanding that ecological crises are a consequence of human intrusions on Nature, and that humans must let go of their consumer, religious, and ideological fantasies and recognize where their true self-interest lies.

    Grounded in a tradition of eco-tragedy begun by Carson and motivated by the lack of progress on the ecological crisis, environmental writers have produced a flood of high-profile books that take the tragic narrative of humankind's fall from Nature to new heights: Sir Martin Rees's 2003 Our Final Hour, Richard Posner's 2004 Catastrophe, Paul and Anne Ehrlich's 2004 One with Nineveh, James Kunstler's 2005 The Long Emergency, James Lovelock's 2006 The Revenge of Gaia, and Al Gore's 2006 An Inconvenient Truth, to name just a few.

    Continue by clicking the "read more" link below

  • James Hansen

    What James Hansen Had To Tell Us At Gustavus

    October 8, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    An impressive congregation of academics descended on Southeastern Minnesota last week at Gustavus Adolphus’s Nobel Conference to speak about energy and global warming. In addition to Nobel laureate Steven Chu , the list of panelists included James Hansen, Paul Joscow, Kenneth Dreffeyes, Joan Ogden, and Will Steger.

    Even though Steven Chu has won the Nobel prize in physics, arguably, the most recognized person on this panel was James Hansen. Hansen, for those who know little about him, is most famous for his testimony before the US Senate in 1988 on the danger of anthropocentric global warming and published this paper, where his model’s predictions have closely matched observed temperature trends (see graph below). He serves as the director for the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. More recently, Hansen has received attention for claiming that the Bush White House has been censoring science. He has said that NASA officials tried to influence his public statements on climate change, and the White House has edited press releases to make the impacts of global warming seem less severe. 60 minutes had a great piece with Hansen where he discussed these issues.

    Continue by clicking the "read more" link below

  • Kale & Squash

    Heavens to Betsy, There Are Veggies in the Planter Boxes!

    October 8, 2007 at 10:36 am

    There you are, scarfing down your Snack Bar sandwich as you run out of Sayles, when suddenly a Dinosaur Kale plant attacks you. “Where the goodness did THAT come from?” you exclaim.

    Farm Club and Grounds, that’s where.

    Last spring, a friendly coalition formed between Farm Club members and Dennis Easley, Superintendent of Grounds, to plan the vegetal invasion of the previously floral-centric planter boxes outside of Sayles. They discussed aesthetically pleasing plants and decided that the best contenders would be Dinosaur and Red Russian Kale, Genovese and Purple Basil, Broccoli and several types of squash. The little plantlings entered the ground in the spring, and were mulched with cocoa bean hulls that created a delicious brownie aroma around the building, confusing drooling students for days. Despite the devastating drought this summer, the plants went wild.

    This fall, students have been observed transplanting basil plants from the planter boxes for personal consumption, and the remaining plants were stripped of their leaves for Farm House’s wildly successful Pesto Fest. It is uncertain whether any of the gargantuan kale or any of the less plentiful squash have been hijacked by hungry Carls. Farm Club will soon ravage the beds for compost-making.

    In planning for next year’s vegetable onslaught, Dennis Easley has recommended the planting of dwarf vegetable varieties.
  • Teton National Park

    Bringing "City Kids" to National Parks

    October 8, 2007 at 10:04 am

    An initiative in California to bring inner city kids from Oakland and LA to the Yosemite backcountry illuminates a growing concern within the environmental movement: lack of racial diversity. 92.7% of visitors to national parks in 2004 were white, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Shifting demographic trends indicate that, if this disparity continues, future generations of voters may not care about protecting open spaces.

    Why are visitors to national parks so disproportionately white? It's a complex question with a long history. In a survey by the National Park Service in 2003, African-Americans were much more likely to say they received poor service from park employees and felt uncomfortable visiting parks. Latinos were more concerned than other groups about making reservations far in advance and personal safety.

    That's a problem.

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