CB’s Green Report: Stop Crying Detroit & Build Greener Cars

gmc_yukon_denalifront_left_view2007 Toyota Prius Touring Edition

GMC Yukon Denali vs. Toyota Prius Hybrid

Waaah Waaah Waaah Detroit
. Automobile makers are crying the blues at President Obama’s interest in imposing stricter emission standards on their vehicles. The president recently “ordered the government to reconsider whether California and other states could regulate vehicle emissions to help control greenhouse gas emissions, a reversal of a position taken by the Bush administration.” (At the moment, automakers say only the Toyota Prius hybrid and similar vehicles would meet those standards.)

In true Obama form, he emphasized his willingness to work with the carmakers to meet his administration’s goals: energy independence and stopping global warming.

“Let me be clear: Our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry,” Obama said at the White House according to MSNBC. “It is to help America’s automakers prepare for the future.”

American automakers claim the emission modifications could potentially put them out of business because they would have to stop producing the larger, gas-guzzlers (read: more profitable vehicles). Although GM and Chrysler just borrowed billions of dollars from the federal government, it appears they were counting on the fat price tags of their less fuel-efficient and not low greenhouse gas emission vehicles like Cadillac Escalade (MSRP mid $60,000′s), Hummer truck (MSRP $60,000-70,000′s), and even the Saab 9-5 (MSRP $40,000′s).

“I think this is the pathway to their survival,” David Doniger of the National Resources Defense Council said to the New York Times. “If carmakers are going to survive in a world of volatile oil prices and global warming, they have to be making more efficient vehicles. When the economy comes back and people start buying cars again, they’re going to expect that gas prices are going to go up, and they’re not going to want the gas hogs that they used to want. Consumers’ tastes have changed in terms of what’s cool.”

Hey Detroit, you proved that you could make a hybrid Escalade. Surely, you can get to work on updating the technology for the rest of the cars, which gives options for larger families and is better for the environment. After all, Americans are paying for it – to the tune of $17.4 billion.

In other news…

Former Vice President Al Gore is urging Congress to support legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions. In his recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gore warned the government to not get so blindsided by the economic crisis that they forget to work on international global warming initiatives. In fact, he reminds them that “the economy, terrorism and the Iraq and Afghan wars are linked by a common thread – our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.” In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions cap, there is another solution that both Obama and Gore agree on: the President’s economic stimulus plan. Obama’s proposal includes investments in clean energy and green jobs that Gore and others think will help the U.S. economy. Green thinking could add up to more green..dollars that is.

Check out Gore’s recent testimony before Congress on greenhouse gases.

CB’s Green Report: Penguins & Protest

Protection for some penguins but not “Happy Feet.” According to a recent AP story, the Bush Administration is proposing to add six penguin species to the endangered species list and one species, the African penguin, to the threatened species list. Yet, the stars of “Happy Feet” and “March of Penguins”, which are northern rockhopper and emperor penguins, have been denied protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These poor penguins  will not be listed under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Although grateful for the seven penguin protections, environmentalists are unhappy with the decision to not protect more penguin species. The government claims there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant protections for certain penguins. “‘Penguin populations are in jeopardy, and we can’t afford to further delay protections,’ said Brendan Cummings, the oceans program director for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, which requested in November 2006 that the administration protect a dozen penguin species.”

More greenies step up to Obama’s environmental challenge. President-elect Barack Obama is continuing to build his pro-environment team. He recently selected John Holdren, a Harvard University physicist, as his presidential science adviser. And Obama chose Jane Lubchenco, an Oregon State University marine biologist, as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Both selections will be announced formally December 20. Political and environmental analysts think Obama’s recent choices, Holdren and Lubchenco, means he is likely to reverse Bush’s energy and global warming policies.

Let the protest begin. In Utah, the Bureau of Labor Management (BLM) has put up 132 parcels totaling about 164,000 acres for the auction of oil and gas drill leases. Environmentalists and concerned citizens are protesting the sale because “it threatens the state’s wild lands and will bring drilling rigs within view of some national parks.” These groups and even actor Robert Redford are also upset about the so-called “fire sale” because they claim the details were announced only two months ago and the process is too hasty. The auction is occurring only a month before Bush leaves the presidency. More than 100 protesters stood outside the auction with signs reading “Protect Wild Utah” and “Our Home Is Not for Sale.”

Are you still holiday shopping? Treehugger has a great list of gifts for greenies who are also health nuts. Some of the suggestions include Eco Mats, which are “free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the unhealthy petroleum product linked to cancer and birth defects.” Or there is the green tea set for the friend or family member that’s into the health benefits of green tea or reducing their coffee intake. The site also features gift suggestions for almost anyone on your list. So, there’s still time to purchase gifts that are good for you and the environment.

CB’s Green Report: Post Turkey Day News

Free veggies anyone? More than 40,000 people showed up to pick free vegetables left over from the harvest at a Colorado farm about 37 miles north of Denver. The farm owners expected about 5,000 to 10,000 people to pick a few carrots and potatoes last Saturday. Instead, more than 11,000 cars showed up and the people picked the fields clean. Owner, Ms. Miller, told the Denver Post, “Overwhelmed is putting it mildly. People obviously need food.”

And in Los Angeles recently, Mayor Villaraigosa revealed his long-range plan to generate “enough solar power to meet one-tenth of the city’s energy needs by 2020.” His goal could be achieved if solar panels are installed on public and private energy generating facilities as well as on residents’ homes. This initiative will also help the city’s Department of Water and Power reduce its use of fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal, and benefit global warming reduction efforts. If the Mayor’s plan were successful, Los Angeles would become the “hub of the solar-energy industry.”

The White House may become a “green” house. In the recent Barbara Walters interview with President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, Obama said that he wants to make the White House green. He plans to work with the chief usher for house and evaluate his new home’s energy efficiency. When asked why the focus on greening the house, Obama said, “Part of what I want to do is to show the American people that it’s not that hard.”

Global warming is a global concern. Although the global economy is in the pits right now, HSBC bank’s second annual global poll found that 43 percent think climate change is a bigger problem than the financial crisis. And 78 percent of those polled want their countries to do their “fair share” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although the global citizens polled want their governments to fight global warming, invest in renewable energy (55 percent), and participate in climate talks (27 percent), as individuals, these people are less willing to change their own lifestyle than last year (47 percent in 2008 vs. 58 percent in 2007). Have they ever heard the expression that change begins with YOU?

So if you are a big greenie, where can you meet like-minded individuals? Funny you should ask. There is a new social networking site called Greenwala. The site is designed to help people learn more about being green, brag about their green works with family and friends.

CB’s Green Report: Beetles & Bills

Our western forests are under attack. All across the west, a bark beetle, which is the size of a piece of rice, is turning grown trees into red dust. The New York Times reported recently that “Montana has lost a million acres of trees to the beetles, and in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming the situation is worse.” Forest consultants are worried that the beetle, whose Latin name means “tree killer”, could end up in the Great Lakes. Several landowners are actually cutting down trees to prevent the infestation.

Obama means business with global warming initiatives. During a climate change conference in California on Tuesday, President-elect Obama (via video) “repeated his campaign vow to reduce climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and invest $150 billion in new energy-saving technologies.” And it appears Congress is listening….

Global warming bills on the horizon. Democratic Senators are already planning to introduce global warming legislation at the beginning of the year. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, is planning to create legislation that will directly address Obama’s promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking of emissions. And the 2009 Green Car award goes to the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The announcement was made Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Although there has been a lot talk about hybrids and plug-in vehicles, the 2009 Jetta TDI is “clean diesel” powered. The Green Journal wrote: “The 2009 Jetta TDI breaks new ground in the field of clean diesels, achieving emissions certification in all 50 states without the use of special additives or extraordinary measures.” And for those of us that are fuel conscious, the Jetta gets an amazing 41-mpg on the highway!

CB’s Green Report: America Recycles on Nov. 15th & Other Green News

Don’t forget to recycle and buy recycled products. Saturday, Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day created by the National Recycling Coalition. The “Recycling” holiday (as I like to call it) is designed to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling. The National Recycling Coalition is seeking to encourage more people to join the recycling movement to create a better environment. Some of the ways people can get involved by (1) recycling, (2) taking a national pledge and encouraging others to do so, (3) finding out about local events, and (4) learning more about recycling and caring for the environment. Surely, we can all do our part on Saturday and the rest of the days of the year.

Al Gore as Obama’s Climate Czar? Hmmm.. Although it would be a great job if President-elect Obama and his team actually created one (rumor is they are toying around with the idea), Former Vice President Al Gore said he isn’t interested. That’s surprising considering all of his work on global warming such as The Inconvenient Truth movie and the Nobel Peace prize. And who doesn’t think he would be the perfect person to fill that position?

Will it be the power of positive thinking? President-elect Barack Obama has called for the review of the Bush administration’s executive orders, but has not decided to reverse the ones related to stem cell research or environmental issues like offshore oil drilling. However, U.S. conservation groups on Thursday already see victory for reversals on Bush Administration decisions that they say did a lot of damage to the nation’s environmental protections in the past eight years.

Obama’s environmental efforts as president may be slow. Despite President-elect’s statement that he will move quickly to address global warming, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee predicted Wednesday no Congressional action on a climate change bill until 2010. “Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said that while every effort should be made to cap greenhouse gases, the economic crisis, the transition to a new administration and the complexity of setting up a nationwide market for carbon pollution permits preclude acting in 2009.”

Score: Navy 1, Whales & Environment 0. Well, no one is exactly keeping score but the Supreme Court definitely sided with the U.S. Navy in its case against the National Resources Defense Council (check out Navy v. Whales post for more info). The environmental group had successfully gotten the California Supreme Court to place judicial restrictions on submarine training exercises off the coast of Southern California because of potential harm to marine animals like whales and dolphins. According to the environmentalists, the submarines give off harmful sonar waves that could change marine animals breeding and migration patterns or cause them physical trauma. The possible lesson learned here is potential animal harm doesn’t quite measure up to possible human harm through jeopardizing national security.

Does smog kill? Yes. According to a recent study, Southern California and San Joaquin Valley’s air causes more deaths than all of the fatal car crashes in the last year. Whoa! And the study shows the region could save more than “$28 billion annually in health care costs, school absences, missed work and lost income potential from premature deaths.” California State University – Fullerton researchers were trying to figure out the potential economic benefits of reducing air pollution to federal standard levels. California needs to clean up its act, I mean air, literally!

Caramel Bella’s The Green Report: Oh No, Not the Kangaroos Too….

Last week it was the penguins, now it’s the kangaroos. According to research by Australian scientists, kangaroos could also become extinct this century if temperatures rise only two degrees Celsius. Researchers at James Cook University issue yet another warning about global warming’s effect on animals.

Speaking of global warming, let’s follow the Brits. British energy and climate minister Ed Miliband said Thursday he endorsed proposals to reduce Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This legally-binding pledge makes the UK the “the first country to commit to severe cuts in the production of carbon dioxide and other gases responsible for global warming.

Coming off the final presidential debate, we all heard Sen. Obama’s and Sen. McCain’s views on their proposed energy policies. To most people’s surprise, both candidates endorse nuclear power, at varying degrees, to gain oil independence from the Middle East. A recent New York Times article lays out their nuclear ideas.

On the presidential front, good news for bikers from avid cyclist: George W. Bush. Before the president leaves office, the Bush administration plans to give mountain bikers more access to national parks and other public lands. On Tuesday, the National Park Service confirmed that it is “preparing a rule that will allow decisions about some mountain bike trails to be made by park managers instead of federal regulators in Washington, a process that can take years.”

Before you eat your next bite of sushi, do you know if it’s “sustainable?” According to the sustainability guides published by three conservation groups, mackerel (aji or sawara) is fine but best-selling, fatty bluefin tuna (toro) are out. The “ocean-friendly” books produced by the Blue Ocean Institute, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Environmental Defense Fund lists whether the seafood is caught by sustainable methods. The guides list the fish by their English and Japanese names. “The three new cards will be officially unveiled Oct. 22 at Tataki Sushi and Sake Bar, which the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Ken Peterson described “as the only fully sustainable sushi restaurant in the United States.” Now, you can be eco-conscious to the last sushi bite.

Now about those oceans…. Does less ice lead to more water? University of Edinburgh scientists announced a plan Thursday to survey a fragile part of an Antarctic ice shelf this year to determine if it will crack off in coming decades and have an impact on global sea levels. Other portions of this ice shelf have already broken off in 1995 and 2002. The U.N. Climate Plan said that rising world sea levels, fueled by global warming, could cause more powerful storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts.

Caramel Bella’s: The Green Report

The dangers of global warming strike the penguins. According to a recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report, if the earth’s climate increases by only two degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) half to three-quarters of Antarctic penguin colonies could be wiped out or severely harmed. Sadly, a United Nation report predicts the climate change will occur by the end of the century if greenhouse gases aren’t decreased. Poor, poor penguins.

Could greener fuels cause world hunger? A United Nations food agency is asking the same question in its call for a review of biofuel (cleaner, plant-based fuel) subsidies and policies. The examination will look at biofuel’s role in higher food prices and hunger in poor countries. With the biofuel subsidies in place, many farmers plant more crops for fuel than food because it brings in more dough.

Speaking of dough, green technology is where it’s at. Venture capital is pouring into the clean tech industry that focuses on alternative energy, pollution reduction, recycling and conservation. Biotechies and biopharma workers are headed over to the green side. According to VentureSource, venture funding in clean technologies increased from $216 million in 2002 to $2.5 billion last year.

Financial crisis threatens climate change. A lack of credit and limited capital may result in fewer developed countries investing in green initiatives to help poorer countries upgrade to clean energy technology. In an AP interview, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. climate secretariat summed it up best when he said, “You can’t pick an empty pocket.”




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.



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