Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category
Posted by gansie on September 10, 2010
Posted by gansie on September 2, 2010
Posted by gansie on July 23, 2010
Yesterday I attended Center for American Progress’ event, Why the World Needs US Climate Action.
While there I ate a complimentary sandwich that contained avocado (which meant the sandwich had a mighty carbon footprint, trekking from the warm weather climates of California or Mexico to land in between sunflower encrusted multi-grain bread in DC).
I also drank water out of a cup made from corn (the constant growing of corn–and nothing else–on our farms is killing land diversity and making America fat).
While there I tried to ignore those two sins and followed the conversation of international climate change experts and how world leaders, especially the US, needs to get its act together and start enacting policies to combat climate change.
This event took place while Senate Democrats internally debated, counted votes and ultimately bailed out, of putting forth a comprehensive energy bill before the August recess. And before the mid-term elections.
They are now planning on using the lame duck Congress of post November to get anything done. Although maybe without the pressure of elections some Members will have the guts to do what’s needed for the world’s citizens and not just what’s needed for vote getting.
Before this news was released, the room was hopeful. The room was energized. We need people to rally around climate change by any means necessary. Whether people want to tackle climate change because it’s an opportunity to create new jobs (for women or other disadvantaged populations) or simply because it’s the right thing to do, there needs to be action, well, yesterday.
Because as so many have said (and I’m looking at you, candidate Obama), it is our moral obligation to give the future a livable planet.
Posted by gansie on July 21, 2010
Business and Professional Women Foundation’s “Moving from Red to Green: Working Women in the Green Economy” initiative connects women to the emerging green economy by providing green job training. With generous support from the Walmart Foundation, BPW Foundation‘s four pilot programs have been awarded $60,000 grants to expand their capacity to train women for green jobs.
Vermont Works for women is one of the pilot sites.
Here is how BPW Foundation is supporting women’s involvment in sustainability work.
Vermont Works for Women helps women and girls explore and pursue their full potential through education and training programs that lead to financial independence. Here is just one story about a woman who made the change to a non traditional job.
Although HD (her initials) had graduated with high honors from a high school Cosmetology program at the local Technical Education Center in 2005, the jobs she had found since then were in housekeeping, food service and working at the post office processing center during the holiday rush. Her average rate of pay was under $10/hour.
She had plenty of informal experience doing standard farm and “country” chores – throwing bales, clearing brush, cutting firewood, and the like. When she started to help an acquaintance on a tree project – working with chainsaws – she realized she was skilled, tough and a quick study in the hands-on learning required for new, tough tasks.
A friend of hers applying for Vermont Works for Women’s (VWW) Law Enforcement training program learned about the FRESH Energy crew and suggested HD apply.
FRESH ENERGY is on the job program that seeks to train and employ women in the fields of construction, efficiency and renewable energy.
Since she was currently working at a bagel store, she figured she had nothing to lose and everything to gain. She called to investigate and soon submitted an application for the crew.
She wrote in her cover letter,
One thing my resume doesn’t show is the work I have done with family and friends – handling hay bales, fire wood, home clean outs, clearing brush, chain saw and tree work. I think these demonstrate that I am a hard-working woman who is not afraid to try new things and be hands-on in my work. I am excited at the idea of having the opportunity to get valuable training in a career field that I will enjoy and take pride in doing.”
HD was hired for the crew and started to wear a tool belt to work for the first time in her life. During her first 2 months on the job, HD has received on-the-job training in residential weatherization in apartment style housing units as well as mobile homes. She received EPA Lead Renovator Training and Certification, training in dense-pack cellulose installation and a thorough introduction to blower door testing. In her third month on the job, she will receive introductory building science training, complete national certifications in both construction safety and hand tool use, and continue on-the-job training in residential weatherization.
Recently asked to reflect on her first two months with the FRESH Energy crew, she had this to say…
“It’s been great for me. I love doing the manual work rather than being in an office. I love the training and the work experience. We talk about everything, learn as we go, and then do it. I benefit from this a lot more than if I was just thrown into a job. I’ve also learned that doing this kind of work is saving more than you might think. I used to think about energy efficiency as saving money on your bills, but I realize you’re saving a lot more than that now. It helps to save the environment. I’m not sure where I’m going with it yet. But I like what I’m doing and I want to keep doing it.
Posted in Environment, Financial Security, green, Non Traditional Jobs, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged: FRESH Energy, Vermont Works for Women, weatherization, Working Women in the Green Economy | 1 Comment »
Posted by egehl on July 9, 2010
Sadly earlier this week the oil spill hit even closer to home. On Monday, reports came out that tar balls were found in Lake Ponchartrain, the body of water directly adjacent to New Orleans. It’s also the same lake that flooded thousands of homes after Hurricane Katrina because the levees breached. As the oil makes its way closer to New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana this ongoing catastrophe is becoming more dire and bigger by the day.
For New Orleans and surrounding areas, having the oil reach our shores is a sucker punch after being through enough change and turmoil over the past 5 years. Louisiana communities are still reeling from the 2005 and 2008 hurricanes that ravaged our communities, culture, way of life, jobs, homes, and businesses. This oil spill has been like throwing salt on a wound that’s barely healing. And many are saying the damage will be worse than Katrina.
I think many of us feel almost desensitized to yet another catastrophe and the inevitable social, economic, environmental and health repercussions. However while there will be many outcomes due to the spill one in particular that is very troubling is the mounting toll on mental health.
Already we are seeing a rise in mental health related problems among people and children along the Gulf Coast, and it’s only the beginning. Undoubtedly this latest disaster will rip apart the fragile fabric of our communities, as families feel the impact through division, frustration and helplessness.
Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals wants BP to pay 10 million dollars for mental health services such as outreach and counseling for people impacted by the spill. BP says it’s reviewing the request to offer mental health services however unfortunately as of right now they are unwilling to pay for it. If they decide not to pay for these services, there should be an outcry because mental health should not be ignored.
As the spill rages on anger, anxiety and uncertainty among families and communities continues to mount and will eventually manifest into addiction, divorce, depression, bitterness, friction within the community, and in the worst case scenario, suicide. Unfortunately already we have seen how the spill has brought people to the brink when an Alabama fisherman hired by BP to help clean Gulf waterways committed suicide on board one of his own boats.
People are facing overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and a permanent dislocation from a lifestyle they love. There is so much confusion and conflicting reports about what’s safe and where people should go for help. And many feel like they have no place to turn to get reliable information.
A colleague of mine has been speaking with community leaders from Alaska who experienced the Exxon Valdez firsthand. Their stories and accounts are deeply worrisome and have given me chills.
They say that Alaskans are still struggling over 20 years later, and the mental health challenges felt by families in and around Prince William Sound has been enormous. They have relayed how “social capital” and community trust broke down in hard-hit Cordova, Alaska, as people isolated themselves, grew depressed and watched relationships fall apart. If the mental health toll was bad and ongoing in Alaska, I can’t imagine what it will be here with a disaster 20 times its size.
Economically Louisiana engages in an odd, too close for comfort dance between the oil and gas and seafood industries. My state prides itself as a place that produces oil and seafood, no matter how strange these bed fellows are. And it’s not uncommon for one family to have members that are fishermen and oil rig workers. Therefore families will be torn apart as they are pitted against each other for jobs and the fight over which industry should be more protected.
Louisiana has been impacted by the two worst man-made disasters in our nation’s history. And that has a different mental impact on people than natural disasters. A therapeutic community emerges after a natural disaster after people quite blaming Mother Nature and God for what’s happened. However in cases of “technological disasters” like the levees breaching after Katrina and this oil spill, where steps like rescue, recovery and rehabilitation remain elusive and blame comes easy, it’s a different and longer healing process.
Fortunately because the state went through Katrina not long ago, we have community resources, nonprofit services, assistance agencies and trained professionals in place to deal with post-disaster therapy. However it’s not enough.
The resources and professionals that will be needed to deal with the thousands of people suffering in silence will far outweigh what BP is most likely willing to pay for, and the capacity of what organizations can offer. Thus far Catholic Charities is overseeing much of the direct assistance and case management services associated with the spill however what they can do will be a drop in the bucket unless we can get numerous organizations involved and on board. But that can’t happen without funding and right now the federal and state governments won’t fund this work unless BP is willing to reimburse them.
I am worried that my fellow citizens are on the brink. They have dealt with 4 hurricanes and now their way of life is being turned upside down, what more can they take?
However what gives me hope is the amazing people I have met over the past three years who through thick and thin continue to love their homes and communities, culture and way of life and will do anything to rebuild and protect it. Louisiana is worth preserving and fighting for because there’s no other place like it, and people here know that. There are few people as strong and resilient as Louisianans and I know with the right help they can get through this latest hurdle.
Posted by joyinhome on June 11, 2010
Take action in your community with Green the Block and Drake, who hopes to ‘green’ a new generation of hip-hop fans…
Green The Block is Green For All’s campaign in partnership with the Hip Hop Caucus.
Posted by egehl on June 1, 2010
While the rest of the country barbequed, relaxed, vacationed and hung out with family and friends over the long weekend, the Gulf Coast received disappointing news that the top kill BP used to stop the oil spill didn’t work. So now what!?
On Saturday, BP engineers said that the “top kill” technique had failed and, after consultation with government officials, they had decided to move on to another strategy. The top kill was the latest of many failed attempts to stop the spill. A technician who had been working on the project to stem the oil leak said that neither the top kill nor the “junk shot” came close to succeeding because the pressure of oil and gas escaping from the well was simply too powerful to overcome. He added that engineers never had a complete enough understanding of the inner workings of drill pipe casing or blowout preventer mechanisms to make the efforts work.
Engineers will now try once again to solve the problem with a containment cap and it could take four to seven days for the device to be in place.
The whole thing feels so completely unpredictable and out of our control, and it’s difficult to be a helpless bystander.
BP has started work on two relief wells but officials have said that they will not be completed until August, which is a very scary thought. It’s incomprehensible to think about the damage that could be done if this oil continues to gush into the Gulf for 3 more months.
The latest failure will undoubtedly put more pressure on the federal government to take more control over the repair effort because the public is quickly losing faith in BP.
The Gulf Coast will be holding its breath in the days and weeks ahead. And we hope to have the nation’s continued support, patience and prayers.
Oh and did I mention that today marks the beginning of hurricane season… yeah, let’s not go there.
Posted by egehl on May 27, 2010
Today citizens of Louisiana stood in collective prayer and hope that the top kill BP is using to stop the oil spill will work. Regardless of what happens, thousands of gallons of oil has already gushed from the sea floor and enormous damage has occurred. This man-made catastrophe will have long lasting environmental, ecological, health and social impacts on Louisiana and the rest of the nation. We are in the midst of an environmental Katrina.
Do you like seafood? Annually commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico produces over 1.29 billion pounds of fish and shellfish with a dockside value of over $659 million. Additionally, 3.2 million individuals travel to the Gulf Coast each year to participate in recreational fishing. All of this is at risk of being severely compromised, and aspects of it extinguished for good.
Do you live in Florida or along the Atlantic Coast? Scientists are increasingly worried that spilled oil from the Gulf of Mexico may get sucked into the Gulf Stream and make its way up the Atlantic coast. It is unlikely that any oil would reach shore and spoil beaches, however offshore fishing and sea turtle migration off the coast of Atlantic states would likely suffer.
Do you drive a car? Well, thanks to the Gulf Coast you can put gas in your car. My state is bearing the brunt of having the oil and gas industry dredge near our coastline and pipelines built through our marshes so that we can provide energy to the rest of the country. No doubt as a nation we are overly reliant on oil and that will not stop anytime soon. We will continue drilling off shore but at what cost to our environment and people living along the coast? This disaster will change how we think about energy and our dependency on oil. And spur more thinking and demand around the exploration and use of renewable energy alternatives.
Do you care about animals? We will never know the extent of damage this oil spill has had on our wildlife and thousands of animals both big and small that are vital to our fragile food chain. Already sea turtles, pelicans, dolphins, crabs and many other types of animals have been killed or hurt, and there will be no way to fully know the extent of this disaster because many animals that die will sink to the bottom of the ocean floor.
Do you live in the path of a hurricane? Louisiana marshes and wetlands are vital to stopping continued land loss and protecting the region from increasingly deadly climate related hazards like hurricanes and flooding. The marshes and the ecosystems they support are dying and that will have far reaching impacts. Wetlands serve as an important barrier to hurricanes and weaken storms so they cause less damage in areas of the country north of the Gulf Coast.
Do you appreciate food safety? Communities along the Gulf of Mexico are deeply concerned about the toxicity of dispersants and the potential impacts of both oil and dispersants on families, communities and fisheries. The potential impacts of chronic and acute exposure to seafood and humans remain unknown, while data available to communities is insufficient. Compromised seafood will impact restaurants nationwide.
Do you appreciate culture? Louisiana has an important and unique culture that must be protected. It’s important to our nation’s heritage. Millions travel to the Gulf Coast each year investing more than $100 billion across the region. Visitors come for the pristine beaches, fresh seafood and unique coastal culture that are now all at risk as a result of the oil spill. Across the region, the economic well-being of communities reliant on providing services to maritime and tourism industries are under immediate threat.
Pay attention. Speak up. Donate to one of the many nonprofits doing good work. Volunteer. Share information. Don’t be complacent and think this is some disaster happening far away.
If you would like to get involved please visit one of these resources:
To volunteer: http://www.volunteerlouisiana.gov/
To see citizen accounts of what’s happening check out this oil crisis map: http://www.labucketbrigade.org/