Do It In the Dark: A night of live, acoustic music brought to you by the Vassar Greens!

Join the Vassar Greens this Friday, October 28th (TOMORROW) at 8 PM in the Aula for live, candlelit, acoustic performances by Vassar student musicians. In order to raise awareness around energy conservation, the entire event will use zero electricity and produce zero waste.

The concert will run from 8-10. Come for the whole thing or drop in whenever you get the chance!

Food and beverages will be available. BYOCup.

While you’re there, check out the various campaigns and initiatives the Vassar Greens are heading this semester, sign petitions, buy water bottles, or get on our mailing list. Tables and info will be set up throughout the night.

Start your halloweekend off right with the Vassar Greens at Do It In the Dark, Friday night, 8 PM in the Aula.

Lunch and Landfills: NYC Lags in Green Waste Management

In honor of the Vassar Greens’ On Campus Zero Waste Campaign starting a new composting initiative this semester, check out this recent NY Times article on New York City’s waste management:

IT was warm and sunny on a recent Tuesday and the lunchtime crowd in Bryant Park was in full swarm. Hundreds of Midtown workers sat on the grass or at round outdoor tables sunbathing, talking on cellphones and typing away on laptops.

But mostly they ate — sushi, pizza, chicken pesto salads, turkey club sandwiches — and much of their food came in plastic containers that had no place to go but into the trash.

As any befuddled, frustrated and guilt-ridden environmentally conscious New Yorker knows, takeout food and its containers — salad bar and deli clamshells; plastic cups and utensils; yogurt containers; fancy three-compartment bento boxes — are the bane of this city’s would-be recyclers.  They might reuse plastic shopping bags until they rip and religiously bundle every newspaper and magazine for recycling pickup, only to be undone by lunch.

“There’s nothing I can do,” said Doug Richardson, 25, an accountant eating a chicken salad from a deep plastic bowl. “It annoys me. It’s plastic in a landfill.”

Environmental advocates call recycling the weak link in the city’s green agenda, even after legislation was passed last year to overhaul the 1989 recycling law that made New York a 20th-century leader, not a laggard.

How far behind is the city? A survey by the Natural Resources Defense Council this year found that more than two dozen large and medium-size cities in the United States recycle all kinds of plastic containers, while New York takes only bottles and jugs. Another study this year, sponsored by Siemens AG, the global electronics and electrical engineering company, ranked New York 16th among 27 cities in its handling of waste, though it was third in overall environmental performance.

By now, other cities require recyclable or compostable takeout containers and utensils at restaurants — and bins in which to dispose of them. Cutting-edge green cities, like San Francisco, offer curbside collection of food scraps and compostable items at homes, restaurants and offices. And dozens of places now charge residents for their trash by weight to promote recycling and keep refuse out of landfills.

New York, meanwhile, is going backward: it now recycles about 15 percent of the waste collected by the Sanitation Department, which is primarily from residences, down from a peak of 23 percent in 2001. And while city officials have said they are reviewing so-called “pay as you throw” systems, there is no indication that the city might adopt one.

“This issue is simply not getting the attention it deserves,” said Eric A. Goldstein, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. “They’ve treated their recycling operation like the after-school clarinet program.”

Environmental advocates suspect a lack of commitment from City Hall. After all, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has tackled idling trucks, dirty boilers and even smokers who foul the air, but in 2002, to save money, he temporarily cut back on curbside collection of recyclables.

Caswell Holloway, Mr. Bloomberg’s new deputy mayor for operations and a former commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, said, however, that while recycling faced significant hurdles, a lack of commitment was not one of them.

“The mayor recognizes that a sustainable New York City means that we need to come up with ways to deal with waste,” Mr. Holloway said. “The clock is running on landfills.”

That said, he added, “We could do better.”

We all could. The amount of nonrecyclable waste generated by just one New Yorker can be stunning, as I found out. Saving all the packaging from a week’s worth of takeout food, I ended up with three plastic yogurt containers, a paper salad box, a paper cereal bowl, two Styrofoam plates, one plastic salad-dressing container and seven plastic food containers — the rigid ones with snap-on lids. Also, five plastic cups (each with a plastic straw), a paper cup with a plastic lid, a plastic water bottle and a plain old paper cup (it held milk for my cereal). Also, one plastic fork, one plastic knife and two compostable plastic spoons, which I threw out rather than composting.

And to carry all that food I used three paper trays and a handful of plastic bags.

But change is on the way, Mr. Holloway said. To increase recycling capacity, the city has entered into long-term contracts and is building new infrastructure, like a 100,000-square-foot recycling plant at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park. At the same time, he said, a recently convened team from the Sanitation Department, the mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education, and his office is looking at how to divert more waste from landfills.

They’ve got their work cut out for them.

 

For the full articles on nytimes.com, click here.

VGreens to Join The Coalition Against Nukes National Day of Action OCT 1ST

A group of Vassar students will be attending the national day of action with The Coalition Against Nukes this OCTOBER 1ST (SATURDAY). The event is an all day event from 9 am – 9 pm in NYC. If you are interested in joining, contact Danielle Falzon at dafalzon@vassar.edu. Or attend the meeting about the event this Thursday (9/29) in the Retreat at 6.

From the CAN website:

The Coalition Against Nukes National Day of Action flagship rally will be in NYC Saturday, October 1, 2011. Located at Pier 95 Hudson River Park, 12th Ave @ West 55th Street, from Noon to 3:30 pm

The Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns inspired this grassroots action. It was intensified by the August 23 magnitude 5.8 earthquake that caused two reactors at Virginia’s North Anna nuclear plant to shut down. Twelve reactors up and down the eastern US reported “unusual events” to the NRC.

Then, on August 28, Hurricane Irene demonstrated powerfully that electrical power and transportation routes can be disrupted over a very large area-for days and weeks.

In New York, Entergy’s aging, leaky, 40-year old Indian Point nuclear reactors, with uncorrected safety concerns yet under consideration for additional 20-year relicensing by the Obama Administration, are located near 2 fault lines, just north of NYC in a very densely-populated area. Twenty million people live within 50 miles of Indian Point in NY, New Jersey and Connecticut.

We stand with the people of Japan who are suffering this ongoing nuclear disaster. We cannot let that happen here!

 

Contact dafalzone@vassar.edu if you’re interested in going!

Moving Planet Day of Action Event brought to you by the Vassar Greens!

Every year, 350.org sponsors an environmental day of action, to bring awareness to our daily impact on the air and the world around us.

This year, 350.org is sponsoring Moving Planet – encouraging everyone everywhere to get up, get out, and get moving in any way that doesn’t involve the use of fossil fuels.

To celebrate this day, the Vassar Greens will be hosting an event. Gather at the quad at 9:30 AM, this Saturday the 24th. Bring your feet, bring your bikes, bring your skateboards, bring your scooters, and get moving. We’ll converge on the Walkway Over the Hudson.

Over a dozen community orgs will be gathering there between 9AM and 3PM so if you can’t walk with us, please join us at any time throughout the day.
This is a great way to get involved in the greater Poughkeepsie community in a happy, healthy, beneficial way.

See you there!

For more info go to: moving-planet.org

Green vehicles are here and now

The Frankfurt motor show this year offered a look at some great innovations in green technology being used in European cars:

As is becoming popular on the auto show circuit, green is where many companies are heading. Sadly, though, in many instances it is as much about the image as it is cutting emissions and doing something meaningful for the environment. Here are some of the greener highlights from the Frankfurt Motor Show:

Opel pulled the wraps off a novel electric car that accommodates two riders. It draws its inspiration from the Ampera (aka Chevrolet Volt). In this case, the One Euro Car is exactly that — or so says Opel. It takes exactly one euro’s worth of electricity to drive 100 kilometres. The secret lies in the car’s aerodynamics and ultra-lightweight design — it weighs roughly a third that of a conventional small car.

As it stands, Opel says the One Euro Car is production viable and that it could be driven by those as young as 16, which is a scary thought! In fairness, Opel says the One Euro’s top speed, which is regularly 120 kilometres an hour, would be capped at 45 km/h when there’s a teen behind the wheel.

One of the truly clever ideas shown came from Amerigon in the form of a thermoelectric generator the company developed in partnership with BMW of North America, Ford and the United States Department of Energy. It converts the heat in the exhaust stream into electricity. The primary goal is to reduce fuel consumption; roughly 40% of an engine’s energy is lost through the heat in the exhaust gas. Converting otherwise waste energy into electricity decreases fuel consumption by reducing the load the alternator places on the engine. The unspoken advantage is that the power that would normally be consumed by the alternator is now available to the driver. Stay tuned, as this is a technology with traction.

The Honda EV Concept is an electric vehicle based on the Fit. When the production model debuts, it will be powered by a lithium ion battery and an electric motor that gives it a top speed of 144 km/h. It also features a three-mode drive system. When in Econ mode, the EV Concept delivers a 160-kilometre driving range, which is 17% more than the Normal mode and 25% more than the Sport mode. However, Sport is likely to be the more popular mode as it lets the car deliver the same sort of acceleration as a Fit with a 2.0-litre gasoline engine. To help the driver oversee things, the EV Concept has a connectivity system that allows him or her to stay connected with the car through a smartphone, personal computer or Honda’s interactive remote. The latter works without the need for an Internet connection or phone signal. Stay tuned for a preview of the EV Concept in December.

Volvo is developing a range of four-cylinder engines that will deliver the same performance as the company’s current sixes, but with much better fuel economy. The goal is to produce a range of engines that is 90 kg lighter and 35% better on fuel. These engines will also feature a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which, again, furthers the conservation cause. Finally, Volvo will become one of the first automakers to test the potential of a Flywheel KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System). In this case, the system is fitted to the rear axle (the engine drives the front wheels). When the brakes are applied, the braking energy is used to spin a flywheel up to 60,000 rpm. As the car drives away the flywheel’s rotational energy is transferred to the rear wheels through a special transmission. Volvo says the system could deliver an extra 80 hp to the rear wheels while reducing fuel consumption by 20%.

Finally, there was an electric car on the Brabus stand. The concept is based on a Mercedes E-Class, but with four in-wheel electric motors, which gives it four-wheel-drive capability. The motors draw their juice from a 56 kWh lithium ion battery that’s operated at 355 volts. This car has two distinctly different driving modes. In the Eco mode, the electric motors combine to produce 268 hp and a driving range of 350 km. Opting for the Sport mode drops the driving range to 240 km, but there is an upside —  power soars to 429 hp and (are you ready for this) a peak torque of 2,360 pound-feet! This is enough to waft 2,190 kg of leather-lined opulence to 100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds, doing so in complete silence. Brabus plans a limited production run of this rather radical electric conveyance.

In the ultimate of ironies, the Brabus Rocket 800 was sitting right beside the electric concept. According to the company, it is the world’s fastest street-legal sedan. Bumping the M-B-sourced V12 to 6.3L and force feeding the air into the engine through two honking great turbos and no fewer than four water-to-air intercoolers delivers 788 hp and 1,047 lb-ft of torque, although the latter is limited to a mere 811 lb-ft to prevent the tires from melting upon acceleration. For the record, the Rocket 800 runs to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and rips through 300 km/h in 23.8 seconds. It reaches terminal velocity at … 370 km/h! The Rocket 800 is only built to order and each will set the potential owner back a cool $685,000. Strangely, there was no mention of fuel economy

From the Posteddriving blog on the National Post. By Graeme Fletcher.

http://life.nationalpost.com/2011/09/14/gear-head-theres-hope-amongst-the-hype-for-green-vehicles/#more-41171

Power Shift NY to happen in Albany

From the Facebook event page:

This year, Power Shift New York will be a mass gathering of youth from every corner of New York to converge in Albany for a weekend-long summit that will educate, activate and empower our generation to put an end to hydrofracking and stand up for a just and sustainable future.

Power Shift NY will mark a turning point as young people of all backgrounds unite to take a stand and demand a green economy. Across New York, we’ll build grassroots campaigns for clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and accountability from our elected leaders in Albany. With powerful training and a bold vision, the collective power of young people will take game-changing action to create a livable future for all New Yorkers.

To learn more, get involved, and register, go to www.powershiftny.com! *site will be live in the next few days.

Power Shift New York is a project of Frack Action, the Green Umbrella (the NY youth network formed at national Power Shift 2011), and other leading environmental and social justice organizations.

 

http://frackaction.com/

http://nygreenumbrella.wordpress.com/

 

**UPDATE: The date for Power Shift NY is yet to be determined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Vassar Greens!

As we start a brand new year here at Vassar College, this is a little reminder to remember the Greens when you think about how you want to spend your free time this year. As environmental conservation picks up as a major concern politically, socially, and globally, being a part of the movement will help you stay at the forefront of this growing phenomenon. While helping the Greens create real and permanent change on Vassar’s campus and in the greater Poughkeepsie community, you’ll gain a broader understanding of the current environmental issues facing the world, particularly for our generation. This knowledge is invaluable in terms not only for your own personal growth, but also for your growth as a responsible citizen of this planet. Global climate change and environmental conservation crosses all political, geographical, generational, and racial borders because it effects all of us, perhaps not equally, but in some way, and will be a major topic for decades to come.

Please join the Vassar Greens in this global movement and do your part, however small, to contribute to the betterment of your school, your community, and your planet.

The Vassar Greens will be tabling at the activities fair this Sunday from 12:30-3PM. Visit our table and sign up for our mailing list. Or sign up right on this website (click here).

Also, be sure to check out our first meeting of the year, this WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7TH at 7PM in the Villard Room. Get involved in some of our exciting campaigns, such as Tap That, which made huge strides last year towards it’s goal of banning bottled water on campus, or our Zero Waste campaigns, which opened the Free Store last year (opening again soon!) and worked with community groups within Poughkeepsie to deal with Dutchess County’s solid waste management program.

There are endless opportunities to get involved and hold leadership positions within the Vassar Greens, so come to our first meeting of the year, this WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7TH at 7PM in the Villard Room.

See you there!

National Concerns Over Fracking Increase

A controversial technique for producing oil and natural gas called hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — has led to drilling booms from Texas to Pennsylvania in recent years. But there are concerns that it may be polluting drinking water.

As policymakers in Washington discuss how to make fracking safer, there is concern that fracking itself has become a distraction.

In the U.S., pretty much all of the oil and gas that was easy to get to is gone. Fracking makes it possible to extract petroleum from hard-to-reach places — say, a mile underground in dense layers of shale.

Drillers pump truckloads of water mixed with sand and chemicals into the rock. Under intense pressure, that creates tiny fractures that allow oil and gas trapped there to escape.

“Hydraulic fracturing is truly the rocket science of what’s happening in energy,” says Tisha Conoly Schuller, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Schuller has seen fracking bring new life to old oil and natural gas fields, boosting domestic production in the U.S. She says that’s a good thing — especially for natural gas, because it burns cleaner.

In Pennsylvania the number of natural gas wells drilled into the Marcellus Shale has increased from 34 in 2007 to 1,446 last year.

But drive around the region and you’ll see that not everyone shares the industry’s appreciation of fracking. There are lawn signs opposing gas drilling, and in Sullivan County, N.Y., a handmade sign reads, “Thou shalt not frack with our water. Amen.”

Many fracking opponents were inspired by the movieGasland. In one compelling scene, Weld County, Colo., resident Mike Markham shows how he can light his tap water on fire.

Throughout the movie, filmmaker and activist Josh Fox gives fracking special attention — calling into question how safe it is and whether it’s adequately regulated.

Says Schuller: “I think hydraulic fracturing has become a synonym for oil and gas development or anything one doesn’t like about oil and gas development.”

The industry worries that the focus on fracking could prompt policymakers to restrict the practice and bring a halt to the gas booms under way. That’s already happening around the country in places such as Buffalo, N.Y., Pittsburgh and most recently Morgantown, W.Va. New York is deciding on new rules to govern fracking there.

It’s not just the industry concerned about the focus on fracking. Some environmentalists say it may be taking attention away from the other problems that go along with drilling, like air pollution and toxic spills.

“I’m hoping that it’s really just a starting point — a jumping-off point — to look at all these other issues,” says Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And Mall hopes the focus on fracking will lead to more research about how oil and gas development affects people.

“There’s very little science about any of these impacts — not just the fracking, but the air quality, the waste-management issues,” Mall says. “But it does seem the immediate priority of the agencies is to focus on fracking.”

Certainly that’s what the Energy Department’s Natural Gas Subcommittee will discuss as it meets in Washington, D.C., this week. Eventually the group’s recommendations will be sent to the federal agencies that have a role in regulating fracking.

From NPR – http://www.npr.org/2011/07/13/137789869/as-focus-on-fracking-sharpens-fuel-worries-grow

Organic Water: The Latest Sham

From Minnesota Public Radio website:

A funny thing happened at the Fancy Food Show in Washington the other day.

We were cruising through the various food exhibits from around the world, checking out the latest goodies, including gluten-free snacks, quinoa in a bag, and relaxation drinks, and then we came upon the food display from Wales.

Perched on a white tablecloth we noticed some very sleek water bottles, labeledIllanllyr SOURCE. A serious guy named Eric Ewell eagerly offered us a taste, “Try this pristine organic water.” We choked back a giggle. Organic? Really?

As the company’s website says, “Illanllyr … comes from our sources beneath certified organic fields in west Wales in the UK.” So, Ewell says, the water has never been tainted with chemicals, making it organic as it as it emerges from the ground.

OK, so the soil above the water source is organic. We get that. But the water itself, organic? Maybe it’s time to separate out the marketing buzz words from the science.

Remember the properties of water? H2O means each molecule of water contains two atoms of hydrogen (H) joined to one atom of oxygen (O). In order for something to be organic — as in alive — it needs carbon. So water, by definition is inorganic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which defines the term organic when it comes to agricultural products in this country, specifically excludes water and salt. Table salt, or NaCl, is made up of sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). No carbon there, either, folks.

“This is kind of silly. Of course, people can buy and sell what they want, but this is an example that people know so little about water,” Charles Fishman tells Shots. He’s the author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water.

Illanllyr isn’t the only one using the term organic loosely. A quick Google search turns up dozens of brands of waters claiming to be organic. “Marketing water this way doesn’t make it look special,” Fishman says. “Let’s go with cosmic water — it all came from space in the first place — how about selling it that way,” Fishman quips.

Clean, pristine, and cosmic. Now that’s catchy. Try that for a label.

by Allison Aubrey, National Public Radio

NY fracking review

ALBANY – The state’s top environmental regulator is set today to further explain the Department of Environmental Conservation’s newly released recommendations for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens will address the media today at 1 p.m. in a conference call with reporters.

The DEC Thursday released a number of major, sweeping changes to its much-critiqued 2009 review of hydrofracking, a technique used by natural gas drillers involving the injection of a mix of water, sand and chemicals into shale formations to release gas.

Among the department’s recommendations included a formal ban of high-volume hydrofracking in the Syracuse and New York City Watersheds as well as all state-owned land. Gas wells would also be kept at least 500 feet away from the primary aquifers, which provide drinking water to most of the state’s urban centers.

A full, 900-page report is due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo today. It will be available to the public July 8 and a 60-day comment period will begin in August.

The DEC’s latest recommendations would still allow for fracking on most private lands within the Marcellus Shale formation, including land owned by counties and municipalities.

But high-volume hydrofracking in New York is still on hold until the DEC issues a final version of its environmental review. The department still has to make another round of revisions after the public comment period ends in October, a process that likely will take several months.

From the Poughkeepsie Journal (http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20110701/NEWS01/110701007/1006/news01)