U.N. releases plan to help world’s largest economies avoid climate catastrophe

Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute

effrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said talking in the abstract was failing to produce the deep changes needed to move to a low-carbon global economy. Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

There is general agreement that the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 was a failure and that since then little to no concrete action has been taken by the world’s major powers to alleviate the causes of climate change. But perhaps now there is at least a glimmer of hope.

On Tuesday, the United Nations was presented with a roadmap to avoid a climate catastrophe, prescribing specific actions for the world’s biggest economies to keep warming below 2C.

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Self-driving cars waiting for legislation to lead the way

Google's  driverless car

Google’s driverless car – a daydream that is moving (slowly) our way

Recently I met a car dealership owner and, during our brief conversation, I asked what he thought about self-driving cars and if he thought they’d take off here in the U..S.

Surprisingly, his response was “they’ll need to get the legislation passed first.”

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Celebrate International Day of Forests today

International Day of the Forest poster

A view of the Amazon rainforest, photo by Violeta Villacorta

What better way to celebrate the magnificence of trees! They help protect the earth, clean its air and give homes to so many of Nature’s creatures.  International Day of Forests, a global celebration designated by  the United Nations General Assembly, is meant to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.

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Darden – a green leader in the restaurant industry

News reports tout Walmart’s apparent focus on sustainability. In the food service industry, however, Darden Restaurants Inc. is taking giant strides to be in the forefront of sustainability. And they’re leaving companies like Walmart in the dust.

Darden is the parent company of popular restaurants Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse, as well as The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s, Bahama Breeze and Yard House restaurants. Five years ago, spurred on by requests from many of its over 185,000 employees, Darden Restaurants launched widespread sustainability efforts.

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Graffiti helps break down air pollution in Manilla

Street artists have created giant murals along Manila’s most congested highway that help deal with air pollution

Graffiti and pollution. Who would think one could be beneficial to help with the other?

The Filipino city of Manila is rated by the United Nations as one of the five most polluted cities in the world. Now street artists are creating massive-sized street murals that are literally helping clear the air.

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Solar Day – celebrate the opportunities of renewable energy

Solar Day takes place on June 19th at events across the country

Solar Day 2010 events takes place June 19th across the country

After thirty years, the importance of Earth Day is recognized globally. But another environmentally-related celebration is fast on its heels.

June 19th is the second annual celebration of Solar Day, an event honoring solar as an alternative way of providing electricity and light to an estimated more than 1.6 billion people with no direct access to it.

Solar Day will focus on aspects of green living and climate change, with events throughout the U.S. to educate consumers about renewable energy programs, rebates and incentives that are available at city, state and federal levels.

Last year was a sort of virtual event, said Addison Huegel, Executive Director of Solar Day 2010, with one physical event that took place in San Francisco.

RenewablesThis year Huegel anticipates events in 25 to 30 cities. These include one in New Orleans put on by the Louisiana Green Corps, an open house at a solar home in Ft. Bragg, California and booths at farmers markets across the country. A number of fairs will run in conjunction with Solar day, including renewable energy fairs in cities like Sacramento, California, Huntsville, Alabama and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

“We’ve also talked with the United Nations Energy and Sustainability Council,” said Huegel, “to have more of a global outreach.”

This year Cairo, Egypt will also be celebrate Solar Day.

“We have a huge push for renewable energy these days,” said Huegel. “We’ll have an even larger push with this environmental disaster that’s going on,” he said, referring to the increasingly disastrous Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill.

“It’s sort of a backdrop to highlight all the programs available and incentives for people,” he said.

Solar Day is larger than one day or any single event. It’s founded on a mission that energy independence is a fundamental right of citizen and business sustainability and a way to improve the lives of people without access to electricity.

solar 2Solar Day’s Light the Night and Solar Villages programs are meant to use low-cost solar energy as a tool for change in the developing nations who need electricity for basic functions including:

  • electricity to pump clean water and to process crops
  • enabling telephone and internet communication
  • enabling solar-generated lighting in villages all over the world to let residents learn or read at night
  • to allow residents of those countries to conduct commerce and improve their lives

“Globally, the idea is that (solar) is an energy source that’s portable,” Huegel said. “For countries that don’t have electrical transmission, this is a solution.”

Huegel hopes to have Solar Day be officially recognized as an annual event by the US and other governments.

Solar Day’s website shows where events will be held. People can also enter a National Solar Sweepstakes there to win a $5,000 credit off a residential or commercial solar installation for homeowners in the U.S. Existing government rebates make that worth close to $10,000 off the cost of an installation.

Visit the Solar Day website for more on Solar Day events and updates

From e-waste to street signs

e-wasteAn important study released on February 22nd by the United Nations reports that the growing amount of e-waste could increase by as much as 500% over the coming decade!

Image Microsystems is facing this challenge head-on.

For more on this story, see Green Gadget Spotlight at http://3.ly/dl3.