Enhanced Energy Efficiency

photo by Craig Smith

Solving global warming isn't only about installing majestic wind turbines and glistening solar energy systems in the desert. One of the cheapest, most effective, and safest ways to reduce global warming pollution is to increase our energy efficiency. In fact, by using energy efficiency technologies and today's know-how, we could cut our global warming pollution by a third. So why aren't we? In the United States, we're off to a good start - innovation and improvements over the past 30 years have allowed our economy to grow faster than our energy consumption. Unfortunately, in the next 22 years our electricity consumption is expected to grow by 25%. That'll mean an extra 550 million tons of CO2 each year that we'll have to reduce to stop global warming. The good news is that by aggressively improving our energy efficiency now, we can nearly eliminate this increase. It'll take leadership, but there are plenty of examples of how energy efficiency has worked. For example, people using energy-efficient appliances in 2007 avoided global warming pollution equivalent to nearly 27 million cars. If everyone did likewise -- and we similarly improved America's buildings, industry, and transportation -- we could reduce annual emissions equivalent to nearly 400 million cars. That's 2 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide (more than 6,000 times the weight of the Empire State Building!). Building for energy-efficiency: In the United States alone, buildings are responsible for 25-35% of greenhouse gas emissions. By making simple changes, like using the proper amount of insulation, we can save half of the energy it takes to heat, cool, light, and otherwise provide power to buildings. And, with buildings lasting for 40-50 years or more, efficiency choices we make now will last at least a generation. Cutting fuel costs on the road: CO2 emissions from cars and trucks account for about one-third of all energy-related global warming pollution in the United States. Cars bought in the United States last year averaged only 20 miles per gallon (mpg), which is less than half the gas mileage available on the most efficient cars today and about the same as a 1908 Model T. We can do better than a car introduced 100 years ago. With American innovation and technology, we can offer all cars with much better fuel economy and the same level of safety and features we expect. And the opportunities are not just available for cars: heavy-duty trucks, which transport about 60% of the goods we buy and use 39 billion gallons of fuel every year, can also become more efficient. Effective gas mileage standards and support for innovative technologies will keep our transportation system moving while greatly decreasing our environmental impact. Making new appliances more energy-efficient: By using energy-efficient products at home and at work, we can significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing function, style, or features. For the home and at work, we already have excellent federally rated EnergyStar appliances that are designed to use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than other appliances. In a nutshell -- buy the most efficient technologies available. Stop wasting energy at home, at work, and on the road. And importantly - ask your leaders to set new standards for efficiency for all sectors, so that from now on 'best practice' in energy efficiency becomes normal practice for everyone.

from CI ~Reconcile With Nature

A March 19, 2008 article from Conservation International (CI):
Reconcile with Nature
By Carolina Hoyos, Staff Writer
A Partnership of Science, Faith, and Media
During this year’s Holy Week, Father Alirio Lopez will bring his tried-and-true environmental message to more than 5,000 parishioners of La Veracruz, a colonial church in downtown Bogotá, Colombia. Asking them to change their traditions to save a plant and a parrot has become much easier over time.
"At the beginning people were very resistant to stop using the threatened wax palm. For many years it has been used to reenact the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and the blessing of the fronds is a key part of the celebration," recalls Alirio, a Catholic priest for more than 30 years.
In 2002, Alirio began using his sermons to teach the public about the science behind the religious Palm Sunday ceremony. Following tradition, hundreds of wax palms – Colombia’s national tree – are cut down every year for their fronds.
Decades of cutting has produced an unfortunate domino effect. Scientists now consider this symbolic tree to be highly threatened, impacting the yellow-eared parrot – a unique bird that depends on wax palms for food and nesting. The crisis reached a climax when the parrot was categorized as Critically Endangered by IUCN, the highest possible category of threat for a species before it becomes extinct forever. Time was running out.
Alirio's campaign slogan, "Because Life is Sacred, Reconcile with Nature," is touching hearts. The campaign has reached more than 20 million people, and Catholics in many regions of the country have stopped using threatened palms in their ceremonies.
In Colombia, Palm Sunday has become a religious day with an environmental twist.
Success from the Ground Up Seven years ago, a diverse group of leaders – scientists, conservationists, priests, and government officials – understood the critical link between wax palm conservation and religion. Together, they launched a national campaign to protect long-held beliefs without further endangering wildlife.
In 2008, with the continuous leadership of ProAves, a nongovernmental organization that protects birds, and Conservation International, the campaign attracted additional partners and now has support from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, the Botanical Garden Jose Celestino Mutis and government authorities.
The campaign has been all-inclusive from the start, with a focus on on-the-ground conservation. In 1998, Dr. Paul Salaman, International Program Director with American Bird Conservancy began working with communities living near precious parrot habitat, relying on their knowledge and involvement to protect the bird. The program’s initial success eventually spawned the creation of Fundación ProAves.
"Today, local people play a major role in saving the species by providing crucial data about its location, migration, and habitat protection," says Jose Castaño, ProAves conservation tools coordinator.
Other campaign initiatives include creating artificial nesting boxes for parrots in places where habitat degradation is increasing, training farmers and cattle ranchers in restoration techniques, establishing wax palm tree nurseries, and donating trees that are key to the yellow-eared parrot's survival.
With support from many partners, environmental educators travel around the country by bus bringing stories about the parrot to remote areas. The Loro-Bus, or Parrot-Bus, took its first tour in 2005. Since then, it has reached 1,620 rural schools, classrooms, and universities in 105 municipalities. More than 40,000 children and 5,000 adults have boarded the Loro-Bus to receive information about protection of the species and learn more about conservation in general.
These collective efforts show that community-based conservation and research can work. Today, about 850 parrots survive in the wild in the Colombian Andes. In 2002, there were only 82.
"It's important that all the citizens of Colombia support this campaign," says Fabio Arjona, executive director of CI-Colombia. "Protecting and conserving biodiversity is everyone’s responsibility because of the important role it plays in the balance of diverse ecosystems, but also for its role in our own survival as humans."
As another Palm Sunday passes, thousands of Colombians are striving to live in peace and harmony with nature.

From: the Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute

"Whatever Happened to Peace On Earth"

Click on the headline "above" Willie's picture.....to see the video and hear his song "Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth". Below is extra information, written and posted by Jay that accompanied the video post on the Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute website on April 1,2008:

The never ending quest for new sources to replace depleted resources creates conflicts with traditional communities that do not wish to give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based.
Usually traditional communities must be destroyed before their land can be ravaged for resources such as gold, oil or hydroelectric power.
In either case, any way of life based upon the accelerating consumption of nonrenewable resources demands widespread violence.
Violence appears everywhere to perpetuate a life style that must inevitably end.
This violence has been rationalized when necessary but more often it is ignored. Silent permission is favored over any requirement to furnish an excuse. Uncounted millions of indigenous people and their traditional communities have been sacrificed upon the altars of production.
Any threat to this production, any resistance to the exploitation of resources and the destruction of traditional communities of indigenous people is met with unrelenting ruthless violence. This is called justice, the spreading of democracy and the manifest destiny of our culture.
If a halt is not put to culture, to this system of violence and exploitation, then civilization as we have come to know it will relentlessly grind on needlessly creating pain and suffering while degrading the planet until the system collapses.
Peace On Earth would halt this process.
The longer the destruction goes on the worse things will get for those living through it and those who will come after us.
We depend upon the natural world.
We depend upon the aid and good intentions of our neighbors.
We destroy the natural world and alienate our neighbors at our peril.
Perhaps those who survive the collapse will have learned their lesson and live together in peace with each other and their environment. Sooner or later, the human race will need to live in balance with the rest of the world.
Sooner would be better that later.


from: Conservation International

Shhhh. Did you hear that?
That was the sound of another species doomed with extinction.
And that's the problem. There was no sound. No loud explosion. No sonic boom. No tremor that shakes the world when another beautiful creature goes extinct. Instead magnificent creatures like the leatherback turtle slip nearer to the edge in utter silence every 20 minutes.
That's about 3 species every hour. 72 of Mother Nature's precious creatures each day. A devastating 500 a week and a world-changing 26,000 a year.
In fact, right now the world's largest turtle and the second largest reptile on the planet, the leatherback, may be nothing more than a memory in a few decades if current rates of loss continue.
So, we're talking about an incredible creature that has survived on this planet for more than 100,000,000 years. Yet populations of these sweethearts of the sea have declined by more than 80% in many areas thanks to pollution, poaching and commercial development, not to mention the potential for climate change to cause havoc, such as raising water levels and swallowing up their nesting areas beach by beach.
But you can give a voice to these helpless creatures and help stop the extinction clock for the leatherback turtles and all species right now, simply by
signing our petition and encouraging 5 friends to do the same.
Toad photo by Craig Smith