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06

Aug

Find a Farmer’s Market Near You

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Photo credits: djjewelz, Flickr 

We all love fresh produce. What better way than getting fruit and vegetables directly from your local farmer. In honor of National Farmers’ Week, gather some friends, grab your reusable bags and visit your neighborhood farmer’s market.

With over 8.200 listings in the USDA Farmers Market Directory, it’s easy to locate a market near you. Simply enter your zip code into the following link:

http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/mobile/mobile.html

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25

Jul

College Textbooks Unaffordability

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Could the spiraling cost of textbooks cause a ripple effect on the academic decisions of college students? A recent survey, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market” conducted by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGS in the fall of 2013, included over 150 universities and 2,039 participating students, revealed the following:

  • $1,200: the amount the average student spends annually on course materials

  • 65% of students surveyed decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive

  • 800% is the amount the cost of textbooks has risen over the past 3 decades

  • 94% of students who had foregone purchasing a textbook worried about the future impact it would have on their grade

The textbook publishing model is a nearly $14 billion industry controlled by a handful of textbook publishers. As the publishing industry continues to consolidate and ultimately reduce price competition, the cost of textbooks will continue to rise. 

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Source: USPIRG.org

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05

Jul

The Mystery of Carbon Sequestration

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by Tamar Burton

On July 2, the United Launch Alliance Delta II carrying NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite launched. The observatory was sent to orbit to measure the global distribution of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in the Earth’s climate. Since the 1950’s scientists have measured carbon dioxide from ground level, towers and above ground using aircraft within a limited network of 100 monitoring stations. The orbiting OCO-2 will improve measurements within the atmosphere and is expected to return between 100,000 and 200,000 measurements of carbon dioxide from across the Earth daily for at least 2 years. 

The missions primary science objective is to take measurements to locate sources of carbon and carbon sinks and get a more complete understanding of the geographic distribution of sinks of carbon dioxide emissions located on Earth. The three major sinks for human carbon emissions are the atmosphere, the oceans and the land (forests, grasslands, soils). This process will also determine how these carbon sources and sinks vary by month, season, and year.  

According to David Crisp, OCO-2 science team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California:

"Scientists currently don’t know exactly where and how Earth’s oceans and plants have absorbed more than half the carbon dioxide that human activities have emitted into our atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial era."

"Because of this, we cannot predict precisely how these processes will operate in the future as climate changes. For society to better manage carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, we need to be able to measure the natural source and sink processes."

The mission engineers and scientists admittedly won’t provide data for the purpose of convincing climate-change deniers to listen to scientific consensus. The data will instead be used to aid scientists in learning the details of targeting research for the purpose of gaining more information about future carbon sequestration and the potential for sinks becoming sources of emissions.

To learn more about Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, visit oco.jpl.nasa.gov

See Also:

The Real Life Impact of the New Clean Power Plan

Financial Implications of Climate Change

The Global Carbon Balance and its Vulnerabilities

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04

Jul

Happy 4th of July Pals!

Wishing you a great celebration with memorable moments with friends and family!

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23

Jun

Financial Implications of Climate Change

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In 2006, the world’s most authoritative climate economist, Lord Stern, a professor at the Grantham Institute, a research centre at the London School of Economics, wrote a hugely influential review on the financial implications of climate change. His report exposed some startling revelations pertaining to the economic models that have been used to calculate the fiscal fallout from climate change. Lord Stern’s review found the economic models used greatly underestimate the scale of the threat of climate change.

“It is extremely important to understand the severe limitations of standard economic models, such as those cited in the IPCC report, which have made assumptions that simply do not reflect current knowledge about climate change and its … impacts on the economy,”

- Lord Stern

The goal of his research was to shed light on these flawed economic models and for economists to strive for better models and thereby help policy-makers and the public to recognize the magnitude of the potential risks of climate change.

According to Dr. Simon Dietz, a colleague of Lord Stern, standard models are based on a false assumption that the risks are known and are small. In contrast, the new economic model goes beyond reporting only the potential damage to economic output and also includes damage to productivity as greenhouse gases reach dangerous levels.   

More information about their research is available, here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Working-Paper-180-Dietz-and-Stern-2014.pdf

See Also:

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

The Next Industrial Revolution

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

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19

Jun

The Global Rise of Materials Consumption

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The continued extraction of materials is increasingly impacting our planet and leading to scarcity concerns. As the poorest 80 percent of the planet achieves a living standard that is equal to a third of what populations in rich countries possess, the planet should anticipate the growing consumption of materials for future generations.

Some interesting statistics about materials:

- the cement industry now accounts for about 5 percent of all carbon-dioxide emissions

- at least 6.4 million tons of plastic litter enter the oceans every year

- in the last 3 years China used more concrete than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century

The ultimate conclusion; the planet cannot sustain another century of massive material growth. We need to limit the use of raw materials and do a better job with recycling, reusing and reducing our consumption.

For more on the subject, Vaclav Smil, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba and the author of Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization makes a compelling case in this video.

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08

Jun

Celebrating Our Oceans on World Oceans Day

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Our oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the planet’s water, yet less than 1 percent of the Earth’s water is fresh water and only 6 percent is drinkable. Today, as we celebrate our oceans, communities participate by attending events to raise awareness on World Oceans Day.

Following decades of burning fossil fuels, combined with the continued clear cutting of forests, we must shift our focus to the impacts from billions of tons of CO2 that are emitted annually. Unlike the role of trees in carbon sequestration, the ocean’s role as carbon sinks absorbing about 2 billion metric tons of carbon annually is a lesser known benefit of the oceans.  

Facts and Figures Courtesy of NOAA

• Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 percent of the Earth’s water and represent 99 percent of the living space on the planet by volume.

• Oceans absorb about 30 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.

• Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions.

• Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people.

• As much as 40 percent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries and loss of coastal habitats.

Issues Facing Our Oceans:

One metric used to provide a snapshot of the trash filling our oceans is the Ocean Trash Index. By learning what is polluting our oceans, we can take action to prevent specific items from reaching the water in the first place.

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According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags are used annually in the U.S. Of these, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags, requiring at least 12 million barrels of oil to be manufactured that are disposed of annually. These bags and other plastics contribute to the increasing acidification of our oceans. Acidification results from an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that increases the sea acidity as it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid - also known as “the other CO2 problem.” In addition to combating pollution, every ton of CO2 the oceans remove from the atmosphere also contributes to the oceans increasing acidity. 

A 2013 study claimed acidity was increasing at a rate 10 times faster than in any of the evolutionary crises in the earth’s history.

"surface waters are changing much more rapidly than initial calculations have suggested. It’s yet another reason to be very seriously concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere now and the additional amount we continue to put out."

- Jane Lubchenco, head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

How We Can Help:

The carcass of an albatross full of colorful plastics and sea turtles deformed by 6-pack plastic are familiar images of pollution’s effects on marine creatures. While there is no simple solution, taking steps to change our behaviors including incorporating reusable shopping bags, while reducing and repurposing are important steps. In addition to the 3 R’s and daily efforts to make a difference, communities can participate by joining local beach cleanups held annually around the U.S. by various organizations. This year, the International Coastal Cleanup is scheduled on September 20, 2014. 

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04

Jun

The Real Life Impact of the New Clean Power Plan

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By Tamar Burton

The EPA’s State-by-State Collaboration for Climate Change

As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, on June 2, 2014 the EPA proposed a new rule called the Clean Power Plan, to address roughly one-third of all domestic green-house gas emissions. The plan will effectively force power plants to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, establishing the first-ever national carbon emissions limits.

If approved, the carbon savings impact is equivalent to removing two-thirds of all vehicles from America’s roads. From the perspective of the Health Care Act, the savings are attributed to preventing up to:

  • 490,000 missed work or school days

  • 6,600 premature deaths

  • 150,000 asthma attacks in children

According to Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s administrator, the plan is a “wake-up call” that will spur innovation, protect our health and environment, and fight climate change. The plan affords states flexibility to pick from a menu of policy options to set state-by-state targets for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants. Compliance can be achieved by electing to shut down coal plants, installing clean technologies including solar and power, and energy-efficiency technology. States may elect to join the Northeastern or California cap-and-trade programs or choose to enact a state-level tax on carbon pollution.

“California is proof positive that states can fashion creative policies that improve their environmental and economic bottom line, and that’s exactly what will be needed to make EPA’s Clean Power Plan a durable and resounding success.”  

- Derek Walker, Associate Vice President of the US Climate and Energy Program for Environmental Defense Fund

The proposal was developed under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which directs the EPA to set goals and allow states to submit plans to achieve those goals. To find out more, visit, http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule

See also:

Making Reuse Convenient

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

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01

Jun

The Millennial Economic Shift

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Source: The Brookings Institution

"A recent Intelligence Group study found that 64% of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring."

By 2025, millennials will represent 75 percent of the workforce, dominate corporate culture and hold the purchasing power of the U.S. economy.

The implications of this generationally-driven economic shift are disclosed in the Brookings study, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America” by co-authors Mike Hais and Morley Winograd.

The study shows that millennials are lending their support to socially responsible corporations. Here’s some insight about millennials from the study:

  • they are drivers for inclusion of social and ethical causes within the workplace

  • they favor corporations that foster programs where employees are recognized for external contributions “to better the planet”

  • they keep more assets in cash, and less in financial markets as they distrust financial institutions

  • they desire employers who support social or ethical causes they consider important

For more on the study, please download here.

See also:

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

Food Labeling: Confuse and Conquer

Making Reuse Convenient

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27

May

The Spiraling Negative Economic Impact of Student Debt

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by Tamar Burton

In recent years, each graduating class has been bestowed with the title, “the most indebted”, and the class of 2014 is no exception. This summer, new graduates will enter the professional world strapped with an average student loan debt of $33,607. 

According to Bloomberg, the student debt drag is having a strong effect on the spending power of these 20-something consumers for large purchases. This may be part of a cultural shift as young graduates are failing to enter the housing market or purchase cars as they face lower expectations for future earnings.

The millennial generation represents 80 million members with a combined annual buying power of $200 billion and represent 25% of the population. The Census Bureau reports 20-somethings have taken the lead. For the first time since 1947, 22-year-olds are the most represented age group in America, with 23- and 21-year-olds claiming the second- and third-rank, and Baby Boomers now ranking fourth.

The impact of a growing millennial population, combined with a questionable disposable income, is having a significant effect on the future direction of our economy. 

See also:

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

Tradepal Announces New Clinton Global Initiative to Make Reuse Convenient for College Students

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21

May

Solar Roadways: Paving the Way to Awesomeness

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Imagine if the roads were paved with solar panels? 

Yeah, Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways! 

Check out the video below to see it in action: 

See Also:

The Next Industrial Revolution

Just TRADE It!

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

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To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed [Watch]

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On May 17, 2014, a distinguished alumni of UT Austin, Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, returned 37 years later to deliver the commencement address. He opened by framing the opportunity for change and focused graduates on their ability to make an impact on future generations.

The following excerpt provides a life motto of leadership and dedication.

"Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up – if you do these things, the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and – what started here will indeed have changed the world – for the better.”

Watch the full commencement address below:

See Also:

The Next Industrial Revolution

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Just TRADE It!

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13

May

Marketing Doubt: The Timeline of Climate Misinformation

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by Tamar Burton

In a segment that aired in 2012, FRONTLINE explored the timeline leading up to the massive shift in public opinion on climate change with climate skeptics discussing their motivation and strategy to manufacture doubt. “Climate of Doubt” correspondent, John Hockenberry reveals this issue through interviews with both climate skeptics and climate change supporters.

As the segment begins, John Hockenberry examines the climate skeptics message to shift public opinion, “that man-made global climate change is a myth” and the agenda to promote uncertainty as a measure of success. The mission, to create doubt among citizens by framing the issue as a political agenda led by non-skeptics seeking to expand government, increase taxes, increase power bills, reduce jobs and reduce American freedoms.

A poll taken in 2006, by Pew Research revealed that 41 percent of Americans supported the view that there is “solid evidence” that the planet was warming due to human activity. The recession in 2008 created an opportunity for skeptics to promote “Global Warming Alarmism”. That same year, Americans for Prosperity, led by its president Tim Phillips, went on a national “Hot Air” tour that sought to build opposition to carbon regulation by erecting a hot-air balloon with anti-global warming slogans. During the tour, alarmists made claims that Cap and Trade was a trillion dollar tax increase, and a gimicky marketing effort that needs to be stopped. By October 2009, the pro-environment majority was declining following the grassroots campaigns, controversial reports and media campaigns led by climate skeptics.

As we reflect on the campaign of misinformation propelled by the Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the Searle Freedom Trust among others, we now know that climate change is indeed a reality. In a recent study by Robert J. Brulle, PhD, a Drexel University environmental sociologist, he identifies the flow of funds from the climate denial movement to the range of organizations on both sides of the debate. The denial movement, being funded primarily through “dark money” by using pass-through accounts resulting in an untraceable source. Brulle identified 118 important climate denial organizations in the U.S. which led to the identification of 140 foundations. These foundations funded 91 organizations through grants totaling $558 million from 2003 to 2010. Additionally, the study revealed that the 91 organizations had an annual income in excess of $900 million, with an annual identifiable foundation support of $64 million on average. With such large grants, climate deniers were able to reach advocacy groups, conservative foundations, trade associations, politicians and media outlets to further their agenda.

Today, public media outlets provide daily reports of erratic weather occurrences and destruction across the globe that were once sporadic. Most recently, the Third National Climate Assessment released earlier this month, has removed all doubt - climate change is undeniable. The Third NCA is considered to be the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever produced on climate change and its impacts in America and is a key deliverable of the President’s Climate Action Plan, which provides steps for cutting carbon pollution and preparing for the impacts of climate change as we act to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas that is warming the planet. It is now time to take action and reduce our impacts, build businesses with a green agenda that will help ensure that future generations receive the same quality of life as generations past.

Watch the FRONTLINE Climate of Doubt segment, here:

See Also:

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

The Next Industrial Revolution

To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed

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08

May

Our commitment to our community

We understand that the most precious commodity that you have is your time. And for this, we promise to never interrupt your time spent on Tradepal with mindless ad targeting. We will also continue to preserve your privacy by not sharing your data.

This month marks the highest user engagement Tradepal has ever achieved as members have promoted contests, engaged Earth Day swaps and invited others to join them on the platform. I would like to thank every single member of our community for their continuous trust in our marketplace.

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We are currently working on an exciting new product line-up that will reduce the natural friction that marketplaces represent. Our engineering will continue to solely focus on enhancing your user experience on the Tradepal platform. Our goal is to make reuse convenient, seamlessly connecting you with a trading counterpart.

Trading items saves a significant amount of money. It also makes us, as a society, much more resilient and sustainable.

With best regards,

@karimguessous

P.S. As always, we invite you to share your thoughts and welcome your feedback. To contact us by email, contact@tradepal.com

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07

May

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

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by Tamar Burton

It’s official, climate change is no longer a distant threat, but is already here according to a government report issued on Tuesday. Prepared by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the 800-page report is the Third National Climate Assessment in a series of reports with the goal of developing a sound science to manage future climate impacts. Developed over four years, the third report was guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee, and developed by a team of hundreds of the Nation’s leading climate scientists and technical experts, among others.

The report provides a context to explore 10 U.S. regions and 12 impacts to society and delve deeper into the subject. These impacts include heat waves, coastal flooding, droughts that lead to increased wildfires, climate disruptions to agriculture and scarce water resources. By providing detailed content to explore the causes and climate impacts of each region, viewers come away with a better understanding of the affects on our food and water supply, energy sources and the oxygen we breathe. 

As global citizens, having access to information about the impacts in your state, an in-depth analysis by region and response strategies for decision-making is highly important. The report clarifies key topics including the science of global change, human health impacts, the carbon cycle, adaptation and extreme events related to climate change in each region. 

Report: Read the climate change impacts as reported in the National Climate Assessment

Explore: What we can do to Reduce the Impacts via interactive graphics 

At Tuesday’s White House Daily Press Briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified the role of the President’s Climate Action Plan. When a member of the press asked whether the climate report was part of a strategy for scaring Americans into dealing with the consequences of climate change, Jay Carney responded: 

"The purpose of the Third National Climate Assessment is to provide information in a form that is understandable and comprehensive for Americans across the country to use and review so that they can better understand the effects of a change in climate on their regions of the country and understand that the change in climate is creating impacts everywhere…"

"It’s happening now… that is the bottom line result of this assessment…" 

"But the purpose of the report is not just to inform, but also to make clear that there are things we can do practically that can affect the direction of climate change and prepare us for the impacts." 

"Americans can download the information and find out for themselves."  

Watch the White House Press Briefing on Climate Change:

Watch as Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, discusses the Report:

See also:

Food Labeling: Confuse and Conquer

To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed

The Next Industrial Revolution

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