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Planetary policies in action:
Missouri breathes easy with new Clean Air Initiative

by The Green A-Team

President-elect Obama wasn’t the only one to receive overwhelming support from voters on Election Day.  It seems the planet proved just as popular.

The Clean Air Initiative made the ballot in Missouri and was firmly approved 66% to 34%.  It has created a renewable electricity standard that requires utility companies to gradually increase their usage of renewable energy to 15% state-wide and requires that energy rates not increase by more than one percent annually.

Hans Detweiler of the American Wind Energy Association:

The requirement in renewable energy standards around the country has been demonstrated to be significantly more successful.  When you look at the states that have renewable energy standards, all of those states are the leading states for renewable energy development and wind energy development.

With 86% of Missouri’s electricity coming from costly and dirty coal-fired plants, this is a breath of much needed fresh air.

For more on this and other planetary policies, click here for the results of the winning and losing policies from the 2008 Presidential Election.

Photo by prettywar-stl.

For more insights from Hans Detweiler on wind energy, green jobs, and AWEA’s work with President-Elect Obama, click below.

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Life on the Green Carpet:
Exclusive Interview with Ryan Leslie

by The Green A-Team

Going green on the red carpet.

Rising stars in the worlds of music and entertainment have the voice and popularity to shape a generation.

Ryan Leslie is no stranger to the spotlight.  His recent signing to Universal by way of Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, has thrust him into into a fast-paced world of private jets, tour busses, and a lifestyle surrounded by excess.

I think that my voice will be chiming in with the voices that everyone’s been hearing over the past few years, especially with the work of someone like an Al Gore, who’s really brought to the forefront in a very cool way the importance of taking stock in the environment and the smart use of our natural resources.

Ryan’s talents both as a singer and forward thinking entrepreneur give even more depth to his powerful voice and message.

For more of our exclusive interview with Ryan Leslie, click below.

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Green skyscrapers:
Exclusive interview with Jeff Brodsky of Related Companies

by The Green A-Team

Will the crushing economy derail the big Green development plans for our cities and towns?

As cities continue to grow, large developers are incorporating sustainable technologies into their buildings. Reusing existing materials and installing roof mounted solar panels are two simple ways skyscrapers are going green.

Related Companies, is one of the biggest developers in the country and is responsible for some of New York City’s most aggressive skyscraper builds.

Jeff Brodsky, President of the Management Division of Related Companies.

Our expectation is that we’re going to be building green buildings, sustainable buildings, across our portfolio. Our commitment is over 30 billion dollars not only built but also in the planning stages and development. It’s an expectation of us that the client is expecting a sustainable and an environmentally sensitive product and if you don’t build it green now, three years from now it’s gonna be an obsolete building anyway.

And Related Companies is just one of many developers following through with their commitment to Green building despite the current economic landscape.

For more on building Green, click on the following links.

The Urban Project: A Green Development Company

Chipolte Restaurants Seek LEED for All Chains (Market Watch)

Green Tech for Cities (World Changing)

The New Green Building (New York Times)

Photo by Neil101.

For more of our exclusive interview with Jeff Brodsky, click below.

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Evironment waits as economy woes

by The Green A-Team

While the economy hits the skids, environmental issues are taking the back burner.

Is it possible for America to save money and save the planet?

A recent Gallup poll found that 66% of Americans said the economic crisis was hurting their personal finances.  Further, people are more willing to save the environment over economic growth, but not by much.

It’s misrepresented in the main stream media that the problems with the environment and the US economy are inversely related. There’s is no proof that sacrifices of one actually hurt the other.

Anne Thompson, Chief Environmental Correspondent for NBC-Universal,

How do we become less dependent on foreign oil, that is first and foremost in everyone’s mind.  I think that is what’s driving people’s interests to find more environmentally friendly ways to do all sorts of things today.

While there’s panic on Wall Street, the message is that the protection of the environment is directly related to a stabilization of our economy.

For more on the environment’s role in the economy, click here.

Photo by the USDA.

Click below for more of our interview with Anne Thompson.

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Logging Land Trusts:
Exclusive interview with Dan Tishman of the NRDC

by The Green A-Team

How safe is protected land and are logging, oil, and mining companies using our national parks for profit?

A land trust is a purchase of a large piece of real estate that in theory, remains protected from development.  But it’s known that some of the biggest corporations and investment groups use the land for profit through logging, drilling, and mining.

Dan Tishman, Chairman of the Board for the Natural Resource Defense Council.

One has to define what logging is.  There is good logging and there is bad logging.  You can’t just tie up land as an eleemosynary thing forever.  You have to understand that land is a valuable asset, it’s valuable for a whole host of reasons.  And if in order to preserve land you need to figure out how to have some economic stream to preserve land, good sustainable certified logging practices might be the right sense.

One thing we can trust regarding our land is that not everyone has it’s best interests in mind regardless of what they say.

For more on American land trusts, visit some of the following links:

Creating Your Own Land Trust (

Photo by Куртис Перри

Click below for more of our exclusive conversation with Dan Tishman, Chairman of the Board of the NRDC.

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Urban Farmers Almanac:
Predictions of Plenty in Times of Need

by The Green A-Team

One of the hottest topics in food is to go from farm to table.  But what if you live in the middle of a city?

Urban farming is not as strange as it may sound.  All over the world, city dwellers with roots in agricultural communities have taken to the rooftops and vacant lots to harvest they’re own crops, raise bees, and even livestock.

The East New York Farm United Community Center is one such urban agricultural oasis that thrives in one of the most economically depressed areas in the country.

Sarita Daftary, Youth Program Coordinator and Project Director.

“Before we even started our project, East New York had over 140 registered gardens. So what we really started to do was to support those gardens and use them as a resource for food production.  And we also added in the youth training component and leadership development.”

Success stories like 12 year old interns going on to start their own farms to senior citizens organizing farmers markets and helping to feed those in need are just two examples of the power of organized urban farming.

For more on East New York Farms and urban farming, visit the links below.

East New York Farms! Blog

Urban Agriculture Notes (

Urban Agricluture News

An Abbreviated List of References and Resource Guides (USDA)

Heavy Petal (Gardening: From a West Coast Urban Organic Perspective)

See below for the full slideshow of our trip to the East New York Farms.

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Birds killed by windmills: Fact or foul?

by The Green A-Team

Birds killed by windmills.

Should construction on new wind farms be stopped?

As we race to live the dream of clean energy we are confronted with obstacles on every front, whether it be inefficient technology, flawed design, or in the case of wind energy, bird life.

James Castle is a Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Studies at San Jose State University and an expert in a bird kill study at Altamont Pass, known to be one of the most notorious sites for avian mortality.

The industry itself is actually helping out.  They are shutting down wind turbines in the winter when the largest amount of birds are passing through.  They also have improved some of the new designs so that they reduced the impact on birds.

As windmill design has improved with larger, slower moving blades easily dodged by flying birds, the hazard to these animals has begun to diminish.  Wind energy remains one of our greatest hopes of achieving clean energy independence and the risk to wildlife has certainly been taken into consideration as we progress.

For more on wind energy and the birds at risk, try out some of the following links:

Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group

Altamont Pass, California (The Encyclopedia of the Earth)

The Deadly Toll of Wind Power (San Francisco Chronicle)

Putting Wind Power’s Effect on Birds in Perspective (AWEA)

Photo by Charlene Burge.

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As the economy impolodes, green collar jobs explode

by The Green A-Team

Wall Street’s bailout has heads spinning but Green collar jobs are exploding!

In the weeks following the unanimous Congressional decision to extend tax credits for the production of solar and wind energy, jobs in clean energy have increased exponentially.

Here are just some of the American cities taking the Government’s help to the bank:

Little Rock, Arkansas: General Wesley Clark’s Polymarin Composites and Wind Water Technologies (WWT) announced that it will invest $20 million on an expansion creating 830 new jobs with an average wage of $15/hour.

Muncie, Indiana: Brevini USA, a wind turbine manufacturer announced plans for a new $60 million facility that will create about 450 permanent local jobs with annual pay averaging more than $46,000.

Newton, Iowa: TPI Composites newly-built plant replaces a former Maytag facility returning jobs to upwards of 500 Iowans.

For more on Green collar jobs in your area, check out the following links.

Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference (February 4th-6th, 2009 Washington D.C.)

Green Collar Jobs in American Cities (

What is a Green Collar Job, exactly? (

Photo by mgleiss.

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What’s your carbon FOOD print?

by The Green A-Team

By now you’ve identified your carbon footprint but what about your carbon food print?

According to Michael Pollan’s most recent open letter to the President-Elect, issues like food prices and antiquated agricultural standards are being ignored.

He says, “After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy - 19 percent.” Clearing land for crops, chemical fertilizers made from natural gas, pesticides made from petroleum, farm machinery emissions, modern food processing and packaging and transportation all add up to a food industry that takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce one calorie of modern supermarket food.

The good news is that because of the two-headed crisis of food and energy in our country, Americans are more mindful of the food they’re purchasing, it’s safety, and healthfulness than ever before.  Support for reform from both sides of the aisle suggests the current agricultural machine is decidedly broken and the market for organic, local, and humane practices is thriving as never before.

For more on Michal Pollan and ways to combat the food energy crisis, click here.

Photo by ms4jah(still in indonesia)

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Clean Coal’s Dirty Truth

by The Green A-Team

Jumbo shrimp, a parkway, pretty ugly, and now clean coal.

Do they think we’re oxymorons?

Talk of clean coal is polluting the air around the climate debate and stifling the discussion of alternative energy solutions.  The fact of the matter is that coal extraction and incineration is a downright dirty process.

Additionally, this buzzword charade is being used by the two Presidential nominees as both a mudslinging tactic and vote generating accelerator.  So what are they really talking about?

It’s basic shorthand for a technology that does not exist.  The idea of carbon dioxide being separated from the exhaust of US coal plants is as likely to succeed as drilling for oil in ANWR will reduce gas prices significantly in 2009.

So while new coal technologies are experimental, the Politically infused notion of clean coal is nothing more than hot air.

For more on clean coal, check out some of the links below.

Clean Coal Technology (Wikipedia)

Presidential Race Runs through the Heart of Coal Country (Market Watch)

Managing Wastes From Coal (World Nuclear Association)

Photo by rtokunaga.

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Palin’s Pusillanimous Pontifications:
How Indecision is Corrupting the Climate Debate

by The Green A-Team

Energy solutions from the Right revealed: Drill baby drill.

Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin said in the recent debate, regarding climate change, “I don’t want to argue about the causes.”  She went on later to say, “drill baby drill,” referring to her advocacy for drilling in the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) region of Alaska where she serves as Governor.

According to her opponent Senator Joe Biden, “The United States has 3% of the world’s oil reserves and consumes 25% of it… We know what the cause is, the cause is man made, that’s the cause.” Further, he made clear that it will take 10 years for one drop of oil to come out of any of the new wells proposed to be drilled.

So while irreverent disrespect for the environment in the form of domestic drilling is still on the table and long term sustainable solutions are years away from reality, we’d better take a close look at our role in this crisis to limit the damage done.

For things you can do that don’t involve drilling, click here.

Read the full transcript of the Vice Presidential debate here.

Photo by Getty Images.

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Come to garbage island:
Where your plastic is their food

by The Green A-Team

What mutating mass lurks 1000 miles off the coast of Hawaii and is reported to be the size of Texas?

More frightening than Captain Ahab’s worst nightmare, it’s garbage island.

The floating island of garbage, or Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is a freak occurrence caused by tidal flows converging in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.  Buoys, plastic debris, and styrafoam spend years faring the high seas from as far off as the coast of Asia, tens of thousands of miles away.

The island of garbage is a highly concentrated whirlpool of plastic particles easily mistaken as food by fish and other organisms.  For every one piece of sea life in this region, there are 60 pieces of plastic.

The damage done by this mat of floating trash is even more significant as it’s disrupts the base of the ocean food chain, genetically interrupting generations upon generations of life underwater and on land.

For video footage of the floating island of garbage, click here.

Photo by Megan.

Special thanks to the newsmakers and researchers who risked life and limb filming their voyage:

Thomas Morton (VBS)

Joe Goodman (volunteer researcher)

Meredith Danluck (VBS)

Dr. Lorena M. Rios-Mendoza (Dept. of Chemistry at University of the Pacific)

Jake Burghart (VBS)

Captain Charlie Moore (Captain of the ORV Alguita)

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Senatorial Sea Change:
How the Feds Are Voting for the Earth First

by The Green A-Team

As our economy free falls toward a recession and possible depression, what can the government really do?

Letdown after failure after empty promise has more than discouraged American voters and investors.  But there is one bright spot in the government’s plan to rescue us and it begins with the environment.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) have unveiled a $56.2 billion “economic recovery package” which includes funding for things like public transit, home weatherization, and environmental cleanup.

But that’s not all, by an overwhelming 93 to 2 vote, the full Senate approved the Baucus-Grassley tax extender bill, which includes a one-year extension of the production tax credit given out to producers of clean energy specific to solar and wind.

In this day and age of the politics of fear and the inability of large government bureaucracies to get anything done, this recent development seems to be an exception to the rule.

For more on our government going Green, the bailout, and other shreds of hope, check out some of the links below.

How the US Government Engineered the Current Economic Crisis (

Government IT Goes Green (

Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty

Photo by Cubadad.

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Eating Your Way Back to Nature

by The Green A-Team

What’s the simplest and most enjoyable way for city dwellers to  get back to nature?

The answer… eating.

If there’s one thing that makes the cramped conditions and lack of open spaces of city life worth the high cost of living, it surely must be the food.  International merchants, master restauranteurs, and local producers all converge in American cities to connect, and conduct business with a cultured and diverse consumer base.

Anna Lappe, bestselling author and co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, shares her thoughts on the future of food at a recent Sustainability Roundtable Discussion at the Mini Rooftop series in New York City.

As agriculture begins to turn back it’s clock to methods more conducive to sustainability, city dwellers will have more opportunities to dig into the freshest of what urban markets can bring.  So while there may not be much dirt to farm in the concrete jungle, know where your food is coming from and how it can transport you back to nature.

For more on sustainable agriculture and the full interview with Anna Lappe, click here.

Photo by Patrick Boland.

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Scrap Your Car for a Bike at the Tour de Fat

by The Green A-Team

Forget about trading in your SUV for a Prius, how about scrapping it altogether in place of a bike?

Gas, as we know, is virtually a luxury item these days, and even still the reality of ditching ones car is more achievable for some than for others.  But excuses won’t be stopping the Tour de Fat.  The Tour de Fat is a rambling carnival of two-wheel toting cyclers advocating bike-for-car swap outs accross the country this Fall.

What you’re likely to find at one of these peaceful demonstrations are bicycles of all shapes, colors, and configurations, live local bands, and hordes of cyclers who fearlessly gather by the thousands in the name of pedal power.

You can burn at least 300 calories an hour or about 25 per mile which requires a good amount of fuel in the form of food, or in this case, beer.  The New Belgium Brewing Company is the primary sponsor of the Tour de Fat pumping a steady stream of fermented hops and good spirits throughout this multi-city tour.

For some essential commuter cycling tips and more on the Tour de Fat, read on.

Photo by fastboy.

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Word of the Day: Fair Trade

by The Green A-Team

Word of the day - fair trade.  How is this organized social movement promoting sustainability?

Fair trade is a market based approach to empowering developing countries to produce a wide variety of goods in an environmentally friendly manner.

Notable goods include coffee, sugar, bananas, wine, and honey.  Much like labels that carry with them a trusted slogan like “made in the USA,” products that are certified as “fair trade” have concrete and relevant value with exceptional quality.

Mainstream agricultural producers have formed a virtual monopoly.  Their goods can be mass produced, sold, and shipped at the lowest cost possible undercutting smaller farmers that operate more sustainable practices.

Fair trade organizations are responsible for getting the little guy in the big game and raising awareness to promote change in international trade.

Buy fair trade and visit the following websites for more information:

Fair Trade Federation

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International

CRS Fair Trade Resources

Co-op America: Economic Action for a Just Planet

Photo by crsfairtrade.

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Drugged Drinking Water

by The Green A-Team

Are we being drugged by our drinking water?

According to the latest results from an investigation conducted by the Associated Press, 24 major metropolitan ares from Southern California to Northern New Jersey have tested positive for traces of prescription drugs in the drinking water.

This is being caused by drugs entering the watershed through sewers and landfills. Samples taken from reservoirs serving at least 41 million Americans are showing everything from anti-pshychotics to sex hormones streaming right from our tap.

While short term effects may go unnoticed, what’s troubling scientists are the long term human health consequences.   As aquatic life adapts, genetic mutations travel up the food chain and ultimately effect us.

While studies are ongoing it would be wise to think twice before flushing expired prescription drugs down the toilet.

For more on drugs and the environment, click here.

Photo by Carly & Art.