Move over Lance Armstrong, and forget the Tour de France. Prepare instead for the Tour de… Amsterdam? Well, not quite, but it is the hope of a small firm from Amsterdam, Bikedispenser, to help facilitate bike rentals in urban areas by installing bicycle dispensing machines. These machines would be located in various urban transportation hubs, such as train stations and parking garages, where people could quickly and safely rent a bicycle from the fully automated dispensing system. This would thus assist in integrating the use of bicycles into people’s daily commute. Along with the obvious physical benefits of cycling (exercise), this green, “G” idea would help cut down the carbon signature we so readily sign across the environment on a daily basis as we head to and from work.
Intrigued? Well, here’s the straight skinny (like we’ll be, once we start biking to work every day):
With the use of a chip card, the fully automated Bikedispenser rental station will give commuters access to new, state of the art bikes quickly. Within 15 seconds, the bike rental process will be underway and the commuter will be off to his or her destination. When the bicycle is returned, the system will once again recognize the commuter and finish the transaction. The bicycles will be placed in the clearly indicated depository and stored in a safe, indoor location.
Is the city famous for its smog and its blockbusters ready to take the “LEED” in an industry other than entertainment?
Judging by the November approval of a new “green building program” by the Los Angeles Planning Commission, Los Angeles will become one of the most ambitiously green cities in the nation. The commission approved a policy that will require large new developments to be 15% more energy efficient and aims to significantly cut the city’s green house gas emissions. New construction with more than 50 units or 50,000 square feet would be required to meet the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards set out by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The result would reduce the amount of energy used in new developments below those under California’s current building codes, which are already the strictest in the nation.
In Los Angeles, vehicle emissions are regulated by the federal government, as are power plants another major source of greenhouses gases because Los Angeles, unlike other cities, owns its own utilities. So, for LA, it’s even more important for the local government to regulate emissions whenever possible. In a city where new construction seems to be on every corner, that means regulating new development.
Just in case you thought it was okay to buy non-organic cotton, here’s a wakeup call: the workers sowing, picking, weeding, hoeing, cross-pollinating and carrying the heavy bundles of cotton are often… children. And I’m not talking about kids working their way through college. A report published by the Environmental Justice Foundation estimates that one million children are working 12-hour days earning $2 per day, if anything, to satiate demand for a global industry worth $40 billion.
“China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan and Turkey – six of world’s top seven producers – have been reported to use child labor in cotton fields,” stated a recent press release. These children forgo their education and health to carry out the backbreaking work in extremes of temperature, many suffering physical, verbal and sexual abuse.
As someone who’s lived in Hell’s Kitchen, worked in the fashion district and spent every Sunday in Central Park, I understand the need to see grass whenever possible… but in New York’s lower Westside or on top of some rundown railroad tracks? No way. I’ve walked to the Piers a million times, but never in a million years would I have believed there was a field of grass growing 20 feet above my head that will soon be turned into a luscious green park. Then again, I’d walked all over the Meat Packing District as it transitioned from loading docks to the latest NYC hot spot for art, fashion, and food, so anything’s possible.
For decades, the grass and wildflowers have been collecting dust while sucking carbon dioxide out of the dirty air and spewing out oxygen as a waste product. The idea of developing a park in the lower Westside is much needed, perfectly located and environmentally viable. Planting more trees and adding more plants will only help convert more carbon dioxide to oxygen, not to mention bring friends and families together to see a little bit of history on the tracks.
Q’orianka sat down with us a while back and told us how much she loved her Honda Fuel Cell (video below). Now it looks like she has scored an upgrade. The new Honda FCX Clarity, which is another million dollar car Honda leases at a major loss, to a few selected individuals. The lucky few all live in California and they serve as beta testers for the technology, as well as sales tools. Seeing them drive around excites a future customer base for Honda.
Here is what Q’orianka said when she picked up the car: “Since my first car was the Honda FCX, I am proud to say that I have never pumped a gallon of gasoline,” said Kilcher. “As a young person, I feel it is my responsibility to always try my best to think about the consequences of my actions and choices as a consumer, and the impact they have on our planet.”
Kilcher, winner of numerous environmental youth awards, is the world’s youngest FCX Clarity owner at 19 years old. The zero-emissions vehicle can be refueled at a Shell hydrogen station in West Los Angeles, which is the first retail hydrogen station to produce hydrogen from water via a roof-mounted electrolysis unit.
There are many heroes behind the fight against global warming. Many of these heroes have a happy story to tell. Unfortunately not all of those who fight tooth and nail against government agencies and international organizations find themselves in the winner’s circle.
One of the saddest cases I’ve heard was profiled in a recent New York Times article. Mr. Wu Lihong., a former factory salesman from the Lake Tai area of China, is an eco-warrior. He dedicated 16 years of his life to trying to get the factories that were polluting the once beautiful lake to clean up the water and surrounding lands.
Lake Tai, China’s third largest lake, was once known for its crystal clear waters, whitefish, white shrimp and a famous Chinese delicacy, the hairy crab. The waters from the lake were used to irrigate rice patties as well as — through natural and man-made canals — provide a means of shipping out produce from the area. The Chinese also valued this area for its beauty.
Giant jellyfish have invaded the northern coasts of the Japanese islands and they’re causing problems. Frustrated local fishermen are hauling in little else. So one company, RIKEN, is trying to make marketable products from these gelatinous monsters. They’re exploring everything from artificial gastric fluids made from jellyfish mucin to a jellyfish-based ice cream topping. If they succeed, they’ll turn a costly problem into gooey gold. An original GOOD video.
We’ve heard all about the annual Japanese dolphin slaughter. We have even seen NBC Hero’s Star Hayden Panettiere’s attempts to stop (or at least draw attention to) it. With all the media attention that was on Hayden and the dolphins these past couple years, what we still haven’t heard much about is the annual Japanese whale slaughter or about the whales themselves.
Which is a shame, because whales are fascinating creatures.
The humpback whale is a baleen whale which is usually between 40-50 feet in length and weighs an average of almost 80,000 pounds. The humpback has a distinct body shape with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head and is known for its acrobatic ability often breaching and slapping the water. Male humpbacks are also known for their amazing “songs” or sounds they produce, which is believed to play a crucial role in communication and mating.
Humbacks come in four different colors schemes ranging from white to gray to black to mottled. They also have distinctive patches of white on the underside of their flukes (tail), which are unique to the individual like a fingerprint is to a human. Humpbacks are known for having two blowholes and for sticking their tales out of the water and slapping them against the surface (known as “lobtailing”).
Sometimes sitting here at my desk, in Venice Ca, I forget how amazing the planet really is. Images like these from Africa, put the planets beauty back into perspective for me and inspire me to do more for the planet.
A report from the Internal Investigations Panel for World Bank found that the organization had been encouraging destructive logging of the world’s second largest forest. According to The Nation, “the Congo’s forests act as the planet’s second lung, counterpart to the rapidly dwindling Amazon.”
The Congo forest locks around 8% of the world’s carbon. Close to 40 million people depend on the Congo forest for medicine, food and shelter. Controlling the affect of rainfall over the North Atlantic, the Congo forest plays a huge part in the biodiversity of our planet. Over the past few years, with encouragement from the World Bank, timber firms have taken around one quarter of the forest, which is equal in size to the state of California.
In 2002, the World Bank entered the Democratic Republic of Congo with the thoughts of aiding in the country’s economic recovery after years of war. New forestry laws were created. However, the Internal Investigations Panel found that the new policies set in place by the bank were having an opposite effect – not just socially, but economically.
We are all aware of the humanitarian crisis taking place in Darfur. We know it began in back 2003 after Africans rebel groups The Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked the Arab dominated government after years of marginalization and oppression. We also know that the government responded by backing an Arab militia, the Janjaweed, to burn down entire villages and commit atrocities on its African inhabitants. And we know the horrifying statistics: 2.5 million plus displaced; over 450,000 killed.
But what we may not know why this genocide is taking place.
Is it religious?
No. Of Sudan’s 40 million people, 70% are Sunni Muslim, 25% are Animist and 5% are Christian. However, both groups in the current conflict are black, indigenous and largely Muslim.
Is it political?
Yes. The factors behind the conflict are complex but political marginalization was a trigger. The Arab dominated government in Khartoum has long neglected its ethnic African population, which resulted in a lack of infrastructure such as schools, health services and roads.
Is there conflict over resources?
Yes. There has been a long tradition of rivalry between the African farmers to the South and Arab herders to the North. Environmental factors like drought and desertification has intensified this rivalry by placing more pressure on its inhabitants for land and water.
Recently I have been reading a lot about Carl Sagan and the things he spent his life on. He was an amazing man driven to waken all of us to the world we actually live in. Carl Sagan gave his last interview with Charlie rose on May 27th 1996. He discussed pseudo-science, religion, unfounded claims, his personal love affair with science and his struggle with myelodysplasia as well as other elements of his last book: The Demon-Haunted World. Carl lost his fight with myelodysplasia shortly after this interview on December 20, 1996.
Carl Sagan “Better the hard truth, I say, than the comforting fantasy. And in the final tolling it often turns out that the facts are more comforting than the fantasy.”
via wikipedia.org / Carl Edward Sagan, Ph.D. (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrochemist, author, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).