Bottled water is a terrible idea. Plain and simple. I’m not a big fan of plastic bottles in general, as they cost natural resources to produce, people usually don’t recycle them and they all-too-often end up on the side of the road along with other litter. But I especially hate plastic water bottles because there is a cheaper, more environmentally conscious alternative; just use the water comes out of the faucet. Crazy concept, I know. I can’t think of a time in my life when I felt the need to spend money on something that uses finite resources that I could get for pennies at my house or FREE anywhere else, can you?
When someone purchases a bottle of water, they are basically purchasing a plastic bottle of nothing. I can understand purchasing a sports drink or pop, as these liquids do not come out of the facet for free, but water in fact, does. By purchasing bottled water, people are supporting an industry that wastes and does not care about it’s environmental impacts. I have seen first hand the way bottled water comes packaged and shipped. Think about the resources consumed for the following; each bottle of water is in a plastic container with a plastic cap, each case is wrapped in plastic, each of the cases on the pallet are wrapped in shrink wrap plastic, then these pallets are transported by truck and stocked by workers in distribution centers and finally the store where the consumer purchases it. How unnecessary is all of this consumption if people just simply fill their reusable water bottles at home instead?
• Every hour, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles, 90% of which will finish their short lives in a landfill. Simply stop purchasing bottled water and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will drop.
• Every single piece of plastic that has ever been produced in history still exists. A lot of it ends up in our oceans, disrupting and harming wildlife and eco-systems alike. Crazy right?!?
• Of the $2.6 million spent by the U.S. House of Representatives on food during a nine-month period from 2009 to 2010, more than 20 percent — $604,000 — was spent on bottled water. Sickening.
• These three facts brought to you by “Good”. Below is the link for more information from them as well as a video; http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/infographic-americans-throw-away-25-million-plastic-bottles-every-hour/
Three years ago the Province released a report estimating it would cost $9.5 billion to prepare the Lower Mainland for rising sea levels by 2100. The report focused on “hard” solutions: dikes, sea gates, flood walls. But before we, say, wrap the region in expensive (and ugly and habitat destroying), concrete “super-dikes”, like post-tsunami Japan, we could follow the lead of other jurisdictions that are thinking more creatively about coastal resilience and rising sea levels.
A new study prepared by researchers from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tells us that:
There is substantial evidence that natural infrastructure (i.e., healthy ecosystems) and combinations of natural and built infrastructure (“hybrid” approaches) enhance coastal resilience by providing important storm and coastal flooding protection, while also providing other benefits. There is growing interest in the U.S., as well as around the world, to use natural infrastructure to help coastal communities become more resilient to extreme events and reduce the risk of coastal flooding.
… Built infrastructure…is limited in that it only provides coastal protection value and only during storm events…Indeed, many of the co-benefits associated with natural infrastructure are precisely what make coastal areas so valuable and what draws people to live and work in these oft-vulnerable regions.
So beaches, reefs, salt marshes, and different types of marine vegetation can all play a role in protecting our communities. If that’s the case, then why aren’t we looking more closely at these types of solutions? As we explore below, our legal framework is putting up some hard barriers of its own.
Sea level rise – slow but sure
Provincial guidelines for BC suggest that by 2100 sea levels in most coastal areas in BC will be about 1 m higher than at present, and that we should prepare for 0.5 m by 2050. What’s more, sea level rise won’t suddenly increase by 0.5 m in 2050, and it won’t stop at 1 m in 2100. Sea level is going to be gradually increasing every year, from now on, thanks to a changing climate. There are two main reasons: a warming ocean is expanding, and melting glaciers and polar ice sheets will eventually add significant amounts of water.
Until very recently, nobody in BC (or elsewhere in the world) was planning for sea level rise in coastal or island communities, and in many places we have substantial levels of development at or near sea level. While we still have some time to react, we need to use this time wisely. How long will it take to prepare, or re-locate, a house, a road, a skyscraper, or a sewage treatment plant? How should we be designing new developments in vulnerable areas so we don’t create further, expensive problems for ourselves? What are we doing to protect precious remaining foreshore habitat, which will be submerged if there’s no space to migrate landward? What are the impacts on marine species? Some advisors have called sea level rise a “slow-moving emergency”, and it’s not hard to see why.
Sea level rise and BC flood regulations – not a perfect fit
From a legal perspective, who is responsible for preparing our communities? Sea level rise is generally being managed as a flood hazard, and since 2003 local governments are largely responsible for managing flood hazards in coastal towns and cities, and designating flood plain areas, taking into consideration provincial guidance documents (see s. 910, Local Government Act). While it makes sense to characterize sea level rise as a flood hazard, because it’s about things getting wet, this existing regulatory framework has some gaps and shortcomings that, we argue, make it less than certain that we are going to be adequately prepared for rising sea levels.
The idea behind flood plain mapping and designation, for example, is to discourage development in flood-prone areas or to ensure that it is flood protected. The tools are setbacks and requirements for elevating the ground floor of buildings (flood construction levels, or FCLs). So far, so good, but for many coastal areas facing sea level rise, it’s too late–the development is already there. Where redevelopment or new development is occurring, the response has been mixed. Some local governments are mulling over what to do, reluctant to designate new floodplains because of a perceived impact on property values (research on this point is inconclusive).
Adding to the indecisiveness is uncertainty around the application of the Compensation and Disaster Financial Assistance Regulation. This regulation helps to compensate for the lack of overland flood insurance in BC, and provides funding to homeowners and small businesses to clean up and repair buildings after a flood occurs. However, in order to qualify, buildings and structures in a designated must be “properly flood protected”, as interpreted by the Province. According to a 2006 policy document, the Province takes this to mean in accordance with provincial guidelines, the same ones that local governments have to “consider.” This seems to limit local government flexibility to regulate developent in designated flood plains. Local governments can sidestep this tricky relationship between s.910 and the compensation regulation by using other tools to require flood protection, such as development permit areas, but there still won’t be any guarantee that compensation from the Province will be forthcoming in the event of damage from flooding. Several Lower Mainland municipalities (Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, Squamish) have moved forward with significantly increased FCLs in areas exposed to sea level rise, using various approaches and sometimes characterized as an “interim” measure. However, while this approach has to be regarded as proactive and prudent, it is not without practical challenges. New development will be higher (e.g. raised on fill), but existing development, e.g. both adjacent properties and infrastructure, such as roads and sidewalks, will be lower, and in some cases much lower.
As well, the type of flooding that our flood management regime contemplates is a rare, temporary occurrence, where waters rise rapidly for a short period of time and then recede. Disaster financial assistance doesn’t provide funding to prepare for flooding before it happens. Sea level is going to rise slowly, but it won’t recede. Commercial property owners may have insurance, and it is possible that increased insurance rates could trigger adaptation of commercial buildings and properties, where feasible, but this still won’t address larger issues around infrastructure and coordinated neighbourhood or larger-scale responses. In the United States, for example, the National Flood Insurance Program has already instituted progressive increases in insurance premiums, but other than cost recovery it remains to be seen whether this will result in affected communities being more prepared.
Designing with nature for coastal resilience
It is evident that from the perspective of sea level rise there are some gaps in regulating how our built environment will evolve to adequately protect our communities. Missing altogether is explicit reference to integrating living, green infrastructure into our responses, though the multiple benefits and long term resilience associated with these approaches have even been recognized by organizations like the US Army Corps of Engineers, not previously known for championing environmental causes. In January 2015 President Obama issued an Executive Order, which proposed that “natural systems, ecosystems processes, and nature based approaches” should be considered as flood management strategies in all federally funded projects.
Studies in BC and elsewhere have demonstrated that beaches, mudflats, offshore reefs, eelgrass and other natural and eco-engineered features can provide an effective buffer from sea level rise and associated storm surge, in addition to habitat and aesthetic values. Not only can coastal habitat provide a protective buffer, it can also support an approach that accommodates sea level rise in coastal communities, where roads become waterways and wetlands are created or expanded. To work, this needs to be accompanied by a move towards buildings with designs that allow them to be resilient to to a certain amount of flooding, or, perhaps, amphibious.
In BC we have significant experience and capacity using green infrastructure solutions at the local government level to manage stormwater, improve water quality and protect fish habitat. Riparian buffers, tree canopies, healthy topsoil and reducing impervious surfaces all help reduce the demand on our grey infrastructure of pipes and drains during extreme precipitation events. Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan is an example of a framework for implementation at a regional scale. What can we learn from this experience, sometimes called “designing with nature”, to make our communities more resilient to sea level rise?
We know from green infrastructure and rainwater management that for greatest effectiveness we need to combine work at all scales, from the watershed down to the site. To manage sea level rise at the site and neighbourhood scale we need a more nuanced approach to flood construction levels. At a larger scale in the coastal context we need to look at coastal reaches, and at the interface between coastal waters and upland drainage. For local governments, this is challenging. In some areas, much of the coastline is under the jurisdiction of federal port authorities. Outside of these areas, the foreshore, the land from the high water mark to the sea, is Provincial Crown land, and local government authority is limited. In more densely populated areas, the coastline is also highly affected by development, meaning that restoration will need to be undertaken. A 2009 assessment showed that approximately 65% of the shoreline of the Burrard Inlet (190 km) has been hardened with riprap or a retaining wall.
Local governments alone do not have adequate authority, capacity or funding to realize the benefits of coastal resilience through coastal management. Greater regional cooperation will clearly be necessary. Yet the response to the recent spill of bunker fuel in the Burrard Inlet demonstrated the fragmentation of responsibility for different aspects of coastal management and protection among various levels of government and government agencies, and the lack of any clear coordination or mandate. Still, there is hope. We may not be able to expect federal action, but the MaPP process recently completed on the North and Central Coast suggests that provincial and First Nations governments working together may be able to provide leadership, and create a regional scale plan that could be incorporated into local government planning and regulation.
By Deborah Carlson, Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law]]>
The donation will be used to support MOm’s research and conservation activities with regards to the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal, the rarest marine mammal in Europe and the only seal species in the Mediterranean!
You may find MOm at:
- fb page
- YouTube chanel
- 1% For The Planet blog
In the first ever return of the Western Quoll to part of its original range across 70% of the Australian mainland, 41 animals were translocated from Western Australia to South Australia in 2014 and established in the Flinders Ranges on a trial basis. The majority of these quolls survived, more than 60 young quolls were born, and most of those babies were safely raised by their brave mothers and have established their own territories.
Based on these great results the trial release was deemed a success and approval given for the official translocation project to begin. On 6 May 2015 a second group of 37 adult quolls was brought in to swell the numbers of the new colony to over 100 animals, and the formal return of the Western Quoll to South Australia was celebrated.
Both the Western Quoll (Idnya) and Brush-tailed Possum (Virlda) are totems of the local Adnyamathanha people, and part of their dreaming. Returning these animals to the region is an important step towards restoring the unique environment of the beautiful Flinders Ranges.
The Western Quoll once had an important place at the top of the food chain across arid Australia from Western Australia to Queensland was until our project began found only in the south west of Western Australia. International studies show that restoring a dominant predator to its original range results in more healthy, balanced natural systems and we know that our quolls have already begun to have an impact on feral rabbits and house mice in the Flinders Ranges.
The Western Quoll – a roughly cat-sized mammal with greyish red fur and white spots – is the largest known central Australian native predator. The re-establishment of the Western Quoll in the Flinders Ranges will reduce the impact of foxes, cats, rabbits and mice and facilitate the recovery of native vegetation.
The first stage of this ambitious project began with Quolls being released into Wilpena Pound in April 2014. The first baby Western Quolls to be born in the area in over 100 years are now fully grown and ready for the 2015 breeding season. Quolls can have up to six young, and if this year goes as well as last we could have many hundreds of new quolls making their appearance in the near future.
If you have not already given please consider the benefit your donation will bring to the future of this important species and make you donation here.
The Well Aware team returned from Kenya last week. It was the most enlightening and inspiring trip I have been on yet- rivaling only the trip on which I witnessed our first water well being drilled five years ago.
Each time we back to review our completed water projects and scout new work is thrilling. Every day is an adventure, an education and a challenge. We see communities with Well Aware water systems that have experienced a metamorphosis- resulting from clean water- that makes them now almost unrecognizable. Schoolhouses are packed with healthy children, acres of crops are growing, women have started businesses, clinics have been built, and even peace is taking the place of conflict. It’s difficult to put into word the myriad of emotions we feel when walking through a prosperous community that was a barren and disease-ridden village only a couple of years before. Needless to say, it makes all of our hard work seem so meaningful.
But, our trips into the field are not without heartbreak. We receive countless requests to review projects for our attention these days, and we are forced to choose which areas we are able to apply our limited resources. Even the projects we have prequalified often cannot be approved for various reasons. Most of what we see now, when evaluating new work, are broken water wells. I feel angry and discouraged by the number of water systems that are installed in communities by other groups that fail within months, never worked to start with, or that are abandoned by the implementers. This leaves communities in worse condition than before, the villagers having invested time, labor and funds in the promise of a new source of water.
We assessed a borehole in Samburu on this last trip that was only drilled and capped and then left untouched with no communication with the stakeholders in the community. Despite our efforts to reach the installer, we weren’t able to find any clues as to why this project (that was supposed to also serve a school that will have to shut down without water) was so recklessly disregarded after several thousand dollars were invested there. We can only guess that they ran out of funds or simply walked away after a contract ended for them. Either way, this is tragic- a horrible blow to the community and a shameful waste of resources. The good news is we think we can help them.
But, back to the great stuff from Well Aware. When we visited Daaba just a couple of weeks ago (this is the location of our first rehabilitation project in 2011), we were told that the local officials proclaimed this community the most developed in the whole county. When we first visited Daaba four years ago, there were just two dilapidated classrooms that were barely attended, and there was no other infrastructure. Now, there are six classroom blocks, a medical clinic, dorms for the teachers, health and wellness classes, and at least quadruple the number of animals for agriculture. And, possibly the best part, the girls are going to the 8th grade here- for the first time ever in the whole area. (Statistically, in sub-Saharan Africa, every additional year of education can increase a woman’s future income by an average of 10%; women who are more educated have, on average 1.7 children, compared to those less educated having, on average 2.5 children, over the course of their lifetimes.)
When we traveled back to Alamach, where we installed a water well just last summer- a once dry and fallow area with only a nursery school and a desperate community of 4,000 members- is now, just ten months later, a thriving village of 7,000 people. This community already has two acres of thriving crops, a primary school underway (thanks to the Nobelity Project), and very active village committees that are generating income from the crops and have detailed plans for a clinic, additional roads, more schools, many more crops and programs to empower the young girls. This community wants to be a model for all of Kenya for how to create a abundance, peace and prosperity. With clean water as their foundation, we believe they will, they are already on the path.
These success stories are just some highlights of the work you- our supporters- help us accomplish. I hope I have illustrated how meaningful your support is, and that we, together, are not just poking holes in the ground. We are seeing entire communities through to successful development, and we are and transforming regions of this beautiful country.
As I wrote above, this trip was the most inspirational for me so far. But, I believe that every journey back to our work from now on will be better than the last. We will continue to see this cumulative progress and witness the results of our perpetual self-improvements. I am already so excited to write again after the next journey.
Thank you, form the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all of our communities, for being a part of this movement with us.
Happy Earth Tea was proud to join 1% for the Planet on Earth Day because it aligns with our philosophy and it was a purposeful way to mark the occasion. We had planned to submit our blog piece about our commitment in April, but then the devastating earthquake in Nepal happened. Although based in Rochester, NY we have strong personal and business ties to Nepal and the adjoining mountainous region of Darjeeling, India where Niraj Lama, founder of Happy Earth Tea hails from. Niraj moved to the USA only 5 years ago but frequently returns home to see family and buy tea.
The news was shocking and we feared for the safety and wellbeing of our friends and family in the region. The ground was still shaking when we called our family in Darjeeling who were terrified and weeping. The ground had shaken so violently, and for so long, that people were in an utter state of shock and anxiety. Calls would not go through to Nepal; all the lines were jammed because of people frenetically calling. Thankfully, people began to report via Facebook about their condition.
Although the Nepal earthquake was not caused by humans, it should remind us of the fragility of our earth. That even in the seemingly immutable mountains of the Himalayas, nature cannot be taken for granted.
The mountains demand respect. Having lived in the mountains most of his life, Niraj knows first hand how quickly the depredations of man can show. Garbage strewn hillsides, water springs drying up due to deforestation, rampant constructions triggering off landslides… the list is long and heartbreaking.
Urgently, we must band together to take a stand, change behavior and fight to preserve our fragile planet which is why Happy Earth Tea has become a member of 1% for the Planet. For the same reason we source our teas only from organic tea farms and other certified-organic distributors from around the world.
Happy Earth Tea began in 2011, inspired by the idea of sharing the profound simplicity, art, health and wisdom contained in a cup of tea. We are a family run business where every detail matters. We care about your health and the environment. Our goal is to offer quality and the freshest Organic teas from around the world to the discerning customers. You can buy our teas online and at select stores in the Rochester area.
As a member of 1% for the Planet we also aim to spread the message of conservation further in our community. As the only member in the area, we have much work ahead, but look forward to our journey in this movement to protect our precious planet.
However, the fact that Gyaros has been “left alone” from human intervention, has proven to be beneficiary for the biodiversity of the area, and most importantly for the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal!
The biologists of MOm have been systematically monitoring the Mediterranean monk seal population at the island of Gyaros for more than a decade now. The scientific data collected so far have shown that the island is one of the most important pupping areas for the species, in the Mediterranean Sea. These data have laid the groundwork for including the island and its surrounding marine habitat in the NATURA 2000 ecological network of protected areas.
It is clear therefore that the island of Gyaros is not only a place of historical significance; it is also a very important place for the biodiversity of the Mediterranean.
MOm, in cooperation with other partners, continues its efforts to safeguard the historical and natural heritage of the island of Gyaros (watch video).
Support our research efforts – Join MOm at:
- fb page
- 1% For The Planet blog
By Grace Kay Matelich, ASC Media Coordinator
Our planet is home to more than 7 billion people and 8.7 million known species. 5,416 of those species are mammals. As humans, we often see ourselves as the highest on the food chain: Disease and disaster are our only modern predators.
But at a trophic level, we are not apex predators.
Apex predators are vital to an ecosystem as they control population numbers of lower class predators and herbivores, keeping them from overpopulating and destroying native plant life.
According to Caroline Fraser, a writer for Yale Environment 360, “the loss of these predators is a “global decapitation of the systems that support life on earth.”
And the ripples of population decline in this class of predators go beyond the disruption of the natural balance of our ecosystems—they can also increase the occurrence of some diseases.
Canada lynx and the North American wolverine are two of our more elusive neighbors. Both of these apex predators thrive in boreal forest, or taiga, and exist in metapopulations—sprawling populations that seldom interact with one another.
While strength may lie in numbers, there is nothing feeble about the sight of the lone lynx or wolverine commanding his or her terrain. The lynx’s signature stare is enough to stop any man in his tracks, and the wolverine is famed for its ferocious constitution.
Habitat fragmentation in the form of roads, highways, and subdivision poses a major threat to lynx and wolverines, because connectivity between isolated populations is crucial to both species’ survival.
Read more about these predators and the research we are doing in the Uintas on the ASC Field Notes blog: http://www.adventurescience.org/field-notes/phantom-predators]]>
Through the dedication of our supporters, RAE received the second-highest number of votes in this contest and was awarded a $5,000 cash prize to support our Living Shorelines program, which helps our nation’s coastal communities to be more resilient against the impacts of the increased flooding, erosion, and storm surge that will result from rising sea levels and intensifying storms.
This competition was created to recognize innovative ways that organizations across the country are helping lessen the impact of weather-related disasters. RAE’s Living Shorelines initiative was selected by a panel of judges as one of 10 finalists from a pool of more than 80 entrants. Selection as a finalist earned RAE an invitation to a two-day capacity-building workshop to refine our strategies for implementation, replication, and communication of this initiative as well as to the Solution Search awards dinner at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Additional information on RAE’s Living Shorelines initiative can be found here: https://www.estuaries.org/living-shorelines, and further details on the contest can be found at: http://solutionsearch.org/contest/reducing-our-risk.
We are deeply grateful to Solution Search and its parent organization, Rare, for selecting our entry as a finalist, and to all of our supporters for helping us win this prize. Together, we’re ensuring that America’s coastal areas and the natural resources they protect are able to be enjoyed for generations to come.
For additional information on Restore America’s Estuaries or Living Shorelines, please contact Lance Speidell at lspeidell (at) estuaries (dot) org.]]>
April 18, Portland, Ore. – Oregonians came out in force today to make a difference in
communities across their state for SOLVE’s 26th annual SOLVE IT for Earth Day, presented by
Portland General Electric.
SOLVE IT for Earth Day began in 1990 to clean up Portland area neighborhoods and illegal
dump sites. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest Earth Day events in the nation,
with hundreds of sites across the state and more than 9 million pounds of litter and invasive
plants removed over the last two decades.
This year over 25 tons of trash and debris were collected from 162 sites including neighborhoods,
parks, school grounds and natural areas around the state. Invasive non-native plants were cleared
from 11 acres and 3,000 native trees and shrubs were planted. An Oregon tradition now in its
third decade, the event saw families, community groups, individuals and businesses participate in
this fun, one-day event.
Participating volunteer teams included the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, numerous Boy
Scout and Girl Scout groups, churches, after-school programs, businesses, and community
groups. Also taking part were volunteers from event sponsors Skanska, KOIN 6, Klean Kanteen, Advantis Credit
Union, and Genentech.
Employees from presenting sponsor Portland General Electric made a difference at four different sites from Portland to Sherwood, giving back to the communities they serve. ”PGE and its employees care about the communities where we live and work, that’s why we’ve proudly supported SOLVE for over two decades,” said Sunny Radcliffe, Director of Government Affairs at Portland General Electric and a current member of the SOLVE Board of Directors. ”Throughout the month of April, hundreds of PGE employees and their friends and families, will roll up their sleeves and pitch in at SOLVE IT and other volunteer events across our operations area – for our annual Spring Into Action campaign, which celebrates Earth Day and National Volunteer Month.”
There were project highlights throughout the state. A hard working community member, Dixie Eckford stepped up in Sisters to organize a city-wide cleanup. Thanks to Dixie’s hard work 65 volunteers spread out across the city, collecting 2,000 pounds of trash, keeping it away from waterways and wildlife. At the Sherwood Trashapalooza 129 volunteers, including a group of employees from Portland General Electric, scoured the city for trash, removing close to 1,200 pounds. In Medford, 77 volunteers removed 6,600 pounds of trash from 2 miles of the Bear Creek Greenway including 20 shopping carts. During the Greater Helvetia Neighborhood Roadside Cleanup in Hillsboro, volunteers removed 7,200 pounds of trash from 50 miles of roadway, clearing 3 illegal dumpsites. An amazing 600 volunteers came together in West Linn to plan 1,250 native shrubs at the White Oak Savannah.Volunteers enjoyed the scenic Columbia Gorge in Cascade Locks, joining up to clear invasive English Ivy and Scotch Broom from more than a mile of trail.
SOLVE IT for Earth Day is presented by Portland General Electric, and supported by the following sponsors: Legacy Sponsor: Metro.
Major Sponsors: Clean Water Services, Washington County, and Oregon Parks & Recreation Department. Supporting Sponsors: The City of Beaverton and Skanska.
Media Sponsors: KOIN 6 and K103fm.
Community Sponsor: Genentech.
Site Sponsors: Advantis Credit Union, Klean Kanteen, and Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation Department.