Sunday, October 28, 2007

How Climate Change Will Affect the World

An article published Sept 19 in The Guardian called How Climate Change Will Affect the World by David Adam noted that we are no longer talking about global warming affecting our children and grandchildren, let alone "the seventh generation." Those of you in Boston have likely enjoyed having a fall season with 70-80 degree days, but balmy days for us spell disaster in Africa, the Arctic, and the Indian sub-continent. Personally, I think there will come a time (in the not too distant future) when we can't believe we actually wasted potable fresh water on outdoor watering. Heard the drought news out of Atlanta recently? Read on for David Adam's full article:

"The effects of climate change will be felt sooner than scientists realised and the world must learn to live with the effects, experts said yesterday.

Martin Parry, a climate scientist with the Met Office, said destructive changes in temperature, rainfall and agriculture were now forecast to occur several decades earlier than thought. He said vulnerable people such as the old and poor would be the worst affected, and that world leaders had not yet accepted their countries would have to adapt to the likely consequences.

Speaking at a meeting to launch the full report on the impacts of global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Parry, co-chairman of the IPCC working group that wrote the report, said: "We are all used to talking about these impacts coming in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Now we know that it's us."

He added politicians had wasted a decade by focusing only on ways to cut emissions, and had only recently woken up to the need to adapt. "Mitigation has got all the attention, but we cannot mitigate out of this problem. We now have a choice between a future with a damaged world or a severely damaged world."

The international response to the problem has failed to grasp that serious consequences such as reduced crop yields and water shortages are now inevitable, he said. Countries such as Britain need to focus on helping nations in the developing world cope with the predicted impacts, by helping them to introduce irrigation and water management technology, drought resistant crops and new building techniques.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said: "Wheat production in India is already in decline, for no other reason than climate change. Everyone thought we didn't have to worry about Indian agriculture for several decades. Now we know it's being affected now." There are signs a similar shift is under way in China, he added.

The summary chapter of yesterday's report was published in April, after arguments between scientists and political officials over its contents. Prof Parry said: "Governments don't like numbers, so some numbers were brushed out of it."

The report warns that Africa and the Arctic will bear the brunt of climate impacts, along with small islands such as Fiji, and Asian river megadeltas including the Mekong.

It says extreme weather events are likely to become more intense and more frequent, and the effect on ecosystems could be severe, with up to 30% of plant and animal species at risk of extinction if the average rise in global temperatures exceeds 1.5C-2.5C. The consequences of rising temperatures are already being felt on every continent, it adds.

Prof Parry said it was "very unlikely" that average temperature rise could be limited to 2C, as sought by European governments. That would place 2 billion more people at risk of water shortages, and hundreds of millions more will face hunger, the report says."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Youth inspired by our MySpace to stop watching television.

We just received this comment over on our MySpace(

"Thanks for inspriring me to give up on t.v. I havent watched it in a week now. One night i was gazing up at the sky watching the clouds pass and the stars come out and shine. I then realized how much of the world im missing out on. I never want to watch t.v again , its also helping me in school. :)~~Thanks, Tori.

It says so much that there's not really a need for me to add any comments on it! I love that she touches on appreciating nature, having missed out on so much and that it helped important parts of her life when she stopped watching.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

CNN features 100-mile diet

A recent CNN article, "estimated sales at farmers markets rose from $888 million in 2000 to $1 billion in 2005, according to a 2006 USDA survey. There are now more than 4,300 markets nationwide -- an 18 percent increase from 1994 through 2006 -- where local farmers sell directly to the public the fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy and baked goods they have grown, raised, caught and made." The article goes on to say that September was the month to pledge the 100-mile diet.

This news makes me really miss my CSA. Since I relocated this summer from Boston to Boulder, CO, I didn't join my favorite (oh, OK, only) Boston area CSA, Brookwood Community Farm. The farmer at Brookwood, Farmer Judy, grew the most fabulous varieties of tomatoes, beans, and greens, and even prepared a washed field greens mix weekly for her customers. Last year, as a CSA member, I found myself trying new recipes and freezing a lot of food just to keep up with the weekly harvest box. This ensured that I was eating locally not just during the harvest season, but also during the winter when some of those meals made their way onto my family's table.

I am fortunate that Boulder also has an excellent farmer's market, but I think it falls into the "more expensive than Whole Foods" category. Luckily the Whole Foods in Boulder has done a fantastic job featuring local foods, so that shoppers can easily buy locally made products if they want to. I guess the difference is that at the grocery store I buy for the week, rather than buying extra while local foods are in season (and cheaper). I look forward to joining a new CSA next year, and planting a garden of my own, so that I am forced to "put food by" for another day. I can freeze, pickle, and can my way into local foods all year long.

Biofuels: Dream Turned Nightmare?

This blog post about biofuels from Grassroots International tells the reality they're seeing on the ground about the actual production of all that sugarcane that's being hailed as the new fuel of the future.

Can we have less environmentally-harmful emissions without jeopardizing the health, safety, and livelihoods of workers around the world? Will we ever find a solution to our energy-gobbling addiction without building it on the backs of poorer nations?

This issue is timely and deserves more discussion.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Days of Action

Jake Miller of Grassroots International posted the following today on the Grassroots site. Thought it was relevant and worth sharing.

Today is Blog Action Day and more than 15,000 bloggers with a combined reach of more than 12 million subscribers are joining forces to blog about the environment.

Tomorrow is World Food Day, a day created by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, a day that's dedicated to bringing awareness to the struggles of the 800 million people who go hungry every day. Thousands of people around the world will take action to fight hunger.

It's too bad these two days didn't coincide, because so many of the problems related to hunger are environmental, and so many of the solutions are ecological.
Read more

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Slow Down and Green Up Newsletter--October

Well, October holds a lot for Conscious Consumers to think about: it's Fair Trade Month, World Vegetarian month, and Oct 23rd is Take Back Your Time Day! I don't know about you, but I've been feeling more and more optimistic about the growing awareness of buying (and not buying) in line with your values. The message is spreading, and the audience is growing. Even Newsweek recently covered the topic, which you can see in the last post.

Dare I say it? We're almost not even fringe anymore!!! Of course, any trip to the mall could dash my hopes and confirm otherwise. Mental note: avoid the mall, unless it’s to celebrate Buy Nothing Day.

For information on Fair Trade month, visit Co-Op America. If someone would please design some fair trade goodies I could buy at a reasonable price in bulk to distribute to the kiddoes on Halloween it would be fabulous. I love the idea of Fair Trade chocolate (and eat it myself) but my simple living sensibilities prevent me from spending $2 a serving for kid candy.

For World Vegetarian Month, why not try a meat-free week? Challenge your household! If eating meat-free for a whole week sounds impossible, commit to limiting your meat intake, both for the environment (livestock production is the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind transportation and energy production) and for animal welfare/compassion. If you’re in the Boston area, come to the 12th annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, on October 20th from 10am-6pm. Click here for event details, including directions and the speaker and demonstration schedules.

Take Back Your Time Day is October 24th, to signify the nine weeks of vacation scarcity in the US compared with European nations. While we won’t be hosting an event in Boston this year, you can visit Take Back Your Time Day to see if there is an event in your area, or to find out more about Take Back Your Time’s legislative campaigns.

Finally, save the date for Gift it Up! On Saturday, December 1st, Conscious Consuming will host Boston’s 5th annual alternative gift fair at the River of Life Church in Jamaica Plain. We gather 14 or so local and international non-profits and participants have the chance to give gifts that change the world. If you’re in the Boston area and would like to volunteer, we need you! Please email Marty if you might be available to help serve refreshments or hand out flyers on the day of the event.

Have a great time Slowing Down and Greening Up in October! If you got to attend the DC Green Festival this month we are jealous!

The Team at Conscious Consuming

Psssttt...if you like our monthly emails, pass them along to your friends! While we hate viral marketing, for all-volunteer non-profits we make an exception. We hope you will too!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Freegans get Newsweek press!

Read about how the Newsweek author Rania Kelley became a freegan for a month in this Newsweek article. I share her sensibility that dumpster diving is not for me, and she seems, in the end, to have chosen the sensible path of moderation. Most importantly, she has become aware that her consumption patterns are out of whack:

"I am determined to limit my buying. So one pair of fall shoes won't break my budget or make me feel guilty but 12 pairs would—a distinction that I would not have been able to make four weeks ago. There's too much waste, and I'd like to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And with the twelve hundred dollars I saved, I can now retire two weeks earlier than I planned."

Even though I have no idea who actually buys 12 pairs of fall shoes (I hope no one but Imelda Marcos and Carrie Bradshaw), I'm glad that she's chosen to be part of the solution. Luckily she has a really public forum to introduce mainstream readers to the concept of freeganism, and maybe a few of her readers will second-guess their consumption patterns, too.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Biking in Boston

Originally posted by Eileen on EcoSpace.

Boston’s Mayor Thomas M. Menino is vowing to reverse Boston’s reputation as one of the worst cycling cities in the United States. Last year, Bicycling magazine put Boston on its list of worst cycling cities for "lousy roads, scarce and unconnected bike lanes, and bike-friendly gestures from city hall that go nowhere." Mayor Menino has just picked up biking himself and has hired a “bike czar”, former Olympic cyclist Nicole Freedman.

“We need to get more people to take the bike around. It’s good for the health, it’s good for the environment, and there’s less congestion on the streets,” Menino said. “It’s time for the issue to come to the forefront.” He now bikes every morning around his neighborhood.

The plan is to install 250 bike racks across Boston, and implement an online map system. First of course, more bike lanes need to be installed, but lane plans are still in brainwashing stages. Current bike commuters of Boston are being surveyed for their most frequently traveled roads. The city will soon hold a summit for local bikers and national experts.

Now only about one percent of Bostonians bike to work, according to a 2000 US census. And a recent poll revealed that more local residents would bike to work if their workplaces had showers. So the city will try to encourage offices to install shower facilities, convince gyms to let non-members use showers, or even install citywide coin-operated showers.

Another idea is to put bike terminals around the city so residents and tourists could rent a bike, ride it an return it to any other terminal in the city. The concept is similar to Zipcars, and is in place in Paris.

Boston has unbelievable potential," the newly appointed bike czar Nicole Freedman said. "We're a compact city, we're flat, we have a young population and lots of tourists. If we do this correctly, we have the potential to be one of the best bike cities in the country. In three years, I think we will see some very dramatic changes."

Boston loves a parade

SUNDAY OCT. 7 @ NOON -- JOIN THE PARADE! Honk Festival parade: Reclaim the Streets for Horns, Bikes, Feet

Join the Livable Streets Alliance this Sunday at the Honkfest parade. The route is Davis Square (Somerville) to Harvard Square (via Elm, Beech, Mass Ave). Walkers, strollers, bicyclists, rollers, wheelchairs, pedicabs, skateboarders, dancers, kids, adults, teenagers, and geezers will honk, roll, strut, and stroll with 20 marching bands from around the world, led by CarTalk's Click & Clack and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. For more information visit Honkfest.