A national multi-state effort to create new standards in science education was announced this week. For the first time, science curriculum identifies climate change as a core concept and emphasizes the role that human activity has on climate systems.
The Next Generation Science Standards for state education curriculums is a joint effort of the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the nonprofit group Achieve. The new standards are the first extensive national recommendations for science instruction since 1996. They were developed by scientists and experts in 26 states, but they are optional.
So this means some middle and high school students enrolled in the American public school system will soon be required to study climate change as a scientific occurrence. About 40 U.S. states are expected to identify global warming as a man-made problem. Environmentalists are cheering, but unfortunately the issue is just as charged in the educational arena as the political one.
“Climate change is not a political issue and climate change is not a debate. It is science,” Mario Molina, deputy director at the Alliance for Climate Education, told the Guardian. “It is strongly supported heavily researched science, and our hope is that teachers will not see this as a political issue or a political debate.”
Unfortunately, some very vocal Americans do not consider climate change scientific. They see it as a controversial issue that shouldn’t be taught in schools. “It’s a shame that American school kids are being taught claims of certitude on an issue that continues to unravel before our eyes,” Marco Morano, communications director for Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, told The Washington Examiner, while referencing studies that suggest global warming has nothing to do with human actions. “To teach kids there’s a consensus… is a major disservice to children, and a disservice to education,” he added.
Here’s how the New York Times describes the new standards: “Educators involved in drawing them up said the guidelines were intended to combat widespread scientific ignorance, to standardize teaching among states, and to raise the number of high school graduates who choose scientific and technical majors in college, a critical issue for the country’s economic future.”
“The focus would be helping students become more intelligent science consumers by learning how scientific work is done: how ideas are developed and tested, what counts as strong or weak evidence, and how insights from many disciplines fit together into a coherent picture of the world.”
Meanwhile, The UK Department of Education has introduced a proposal that would completely ban climate change from educational discussions, due to its controversial nature. Children under 14 will no longer be able to learn about the human impact on climate change.
So the battle to educate Earth’s children about global warming rages on, but at least it will soon be an option in the U.S.
It’s spring – time to get outdoors and enjoy all the beauty and adventure that nature offers. For the past ten years, Central Coast Outdoors has arranged kayaking, biking and hiking tours in the California Central Coast region, and for the last five of those ten years, Central Coast Outdoors has neutralized its own operational emissions as a CarbonFree® Business Partner.
"Our company goal was to lower our emissions and impacts as much as we could and use carbon offsets and other mitigation measures to address the impacts that remained,” explained John Flaherty, co-owner of Central Coast Outdoors with his wife, Virginia. “We feel Carbonfund.org works hard to offset and repair environmental damage for organizations that advocate for a sustainable future."
Central Coast Outdoors has taken many additional steps to be an environmentally responsible tour company. They use highly fuel efficient hybrid vehicles for their tour transportation, installed solar electric panels on their office, use refillable water bottles and purchase produce and menu items from local farmers markets for tour meals. These efforts coupled with their ongoing commitment to maintaining a CarbonFree® business underscore Central Coast Outdoors’ dedication to being a truly sustainable tour operations company.
Get out there this spring – enjoy the outdoors, but be sure to choose tour operators that are truly dedicated to environmental responsibility like Central Coast Outdoors to plan your next adventure.
Spring is here and the lawn mowers are beginning to rumble. As you weigh your lawn maintenance choices, consider the following:
- Gas-powered lawn and gardening equipment contribute to 5% of the U.S.’s air pollution
- In one hour, one gasoline-powered lawn mower:
- pollutes the same as 40 late model cars
- emits the same amount of carbon dioxide as driving a new car 350 miles
- Almost 600 million gallons of gas are used in the U.S. for lawn mowers each year
- Hearing loss is possible at 85 decibels (dB) with gas-powered landscaping equipment operating between 85 dB and 110 dB.
For homeowners in the Montgomery County, MD area, there’s a cleaner new alternative to lawn care. New CarbonFree® Business Partner A.I.R. Lawn Care is an eco-friendly lawn care company that uses electric-powered lawn equipment charged with solar panels mounted on their trucks and trailers. A.I.R. stands for Atmosphere, Improvement and Renewal, and A.I.R. Lawn Care’s mission is to improve and renew the atmosphere while providing quality lawn care services.
To augment their sustainability and in recognition that they can’t eliminate all of their business-related carbon emissions, A.I.R. Lawn Care took the additional step to mitigate remaining operational emissions by joining the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program.
“Being a member of the original “green” industry, A.I.R. Lawn Care has always had a commitment to take care of the environment. However, we strive to do this in the most responsible way. We challenge homeowners to do the same by taking the A.I.R. Dare™ and using eco-friendly lawn care,” explains Zack Kline, CEO and Founder of A.I.R. Lawn Care. “As part of being responsible, we chose to partner with Carbonfund.org to offset any carbon emissions generated from other activities of our operations. Carbonfund.org provides us the credibility to validate our carbon offsetting initiatives.”
We can all take steps to reduce carbon emissions by closely examining our daily activities and seeking out more energy efficient choices and cleaner energy solutions. Check your area for alternative lawn care solutions and environmentally responsible leaders in the lawn care industry like A.I.R. Lawn Care. Your family, neighbors, friends and the environment will all benefit.
Large industrialized nations such as the United States and Australia no longer can point to lesser developed countries for refusing to set binding emissions targets. This week the head of the United Nation's (UN) climate change secretariat, Christiana Figueres, praised on Twitter the "remarkable leadership ahead of [a] 2015 agreement" of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) willingness to sign legally binding emission reduction targets as part of any new international climate treaty. The 2015 agreement aims to provide a new draft international climate change treaty that will then be enacted by 2020.
Last week Quamrul Chowdury, lead negotiator for the LDC Group, told Climate News Network that the group would accept binding emission targets as part of any new deal, provided they are based on countries' differing circumstances, and that they would like to see all countries face such targets.
Historically the group of 49 LDCs, which together cover 12 per cent of the world's population, refused to accept responsibility for helping to solve a problem they do not believe they caused. This allowed some developed countries to argue that they will make cuts only when the LDCs do so, despite the fact that it is industrialization and development that have largely contributed to the human caused portion of climate change.
Also this week, Responding to Climate Change reported that Afghanistan became the latest country to formally ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The country is now required to develop its own national action plan, including development of low carbon infrastructure and adaptation to climate change. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and shows little sign of ever doing so while Canada, Japan and New Zealand withdrew from the agreement at the last round of UN climate talks in Doha.
The LDCs willingness to sign targets is a critical step forward in negotiations that have been stalled for years with industrialized nations and lesser developed countries at loggerheads. The LDCs have stepped up and made the first move. Now it is time for the U.S. to make its citizens proud and commit to legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as well. The fact is our country is out of excuses. Let’s not run out of time to save the planet too.
As spring nudges its way into April, most of us are looking forward to longer, warmer days and short-sleeved outdoor activities. There is, however, a very hardy group of extreme sports enthusiasts preparing for the grueling sub-zero temperatures that will envelope them during the running of the 11th annual UVU (You versus You) North Pole Marathon on April 9th.
The North Pole Marathon is run over the classic 26.2 miles marathon distance, and the race includes an individual competition with male and female divisions and a team competition for teams of three or more. There will be 24 hours of daylight at the North Pole during race time, so the race is scheduled to commence at midnight, if the conditions are optimal. Forty-eight competitors from 20 countries will take part in the 2013 UVU North Pole Marathon.
This year’s UVU North Pole Marathon will set a record of its own by achieving CarbonFree® Event status in partnership with Carbonfund.org. Race organizer Polar Running Adventures worked with Carbonfund.org to assess the event-related carbon dioxide emissions resulting from attendees’ international flights to the Svalbard, Norway meeting venue, attendee and staff travel from Svalbard to the North Pole camp, all helicopter flight emissions related to race set-up and management, and heating fuel consumed by the accommodation tents provided at the race site.
The overall calculated emissions impact was then offset by an equal investment in reforestation projects in the Brazilian Amazon in order to neutralize the estimated race-related emissions.
The North Pole Marathon race course crosses Arctic ice floes six to twelve feet thick, located at the Geographic North Pole. In fact, not a single section of this marathon crosses over land. Dubbed the 'World's Coolest Marathon' by Runner's World magazine in 2004, and with temperatures hovering around April’s 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, icicles forming on eyelashes, eyebrows and noses will be the least of the competitors’ worries.
The first ever North Pole Marathon was a 'solo' run by Polar Running Adventures’ own Richard Donovan. Richard won the First Ever South Pole Marathon ten weeks previously and became the first marathoner at both poles by completing the North Pole Marathon.
"The melting sea ice of the Arctic Ocean is often cited to be the result of the impact of global warming. Hence, the North Pole Marathon is very conscious of the need to use its race location on the polar ice cap in a positive environmental manner,” explains Richard. “Many of the participants use the event to spread climate change messages to a large global audience, and we have found a perfect partner in Carbonfund.org to make sure our race is CarbonFree®."
In addition to organizing the world's most northerly marathon, Polar Running Adventures also organizes the world's most southerly marathon, the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Working with a network of associate specialists, including the world's foremost polar logistics experts, the company delivers world class events in the most remote parts of the planet. Carbonfund.org admires these hearty competitors and is proud to partner with Polar Running Adventures to help the North Pole Marathon achieve CarbonFree® status.
Green Web Hosting is getting a lot of attention as it seems that every business of any size is setting up a website. Businesses with a commitment to environmental sustainability are looking for the cleanest, greenest ways to run their websites.
Green web hosting companies are able to offer their services as being more environmentally responsible by reducing or mitigating emissions from their own server and IT electricity consumption. The CarbonFree® Business Partnership program makes this a simple and affordable step, and HostBaby Web Hosting of Portland, OR recently made the move to green web hosting with Carbonfund.org.
HostBaby offers web hosting services that help independent musicians, authors and artists create highly customizable websites. Now HostBaby’s services will be CarbonFree® through HostBaby’s support of Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy and clean air technology projects.
In addition to its CarbonFree® commitment, HostBaby maintains a robust recycling program and paperless billing. The company helps facilitate ride-share programs for its employees by offering discounted year-round bus passes and giving gas cards to employees who rack up carpooling miles. They also participate in the Bike Commute Challenge every year with sister company CD Baby.
"It’s essential that all businesses conserve and establish sustainable practices,” states Chris Bolton, HostBaby Marketing. “The future is at stake. HostBaby is committed to doing our part."
Part of Carbonfund.org's mission is to bring to our readership and subscribers the current issues surrounding and the proposed solutions available to address the negative impacts of climate change. While this objective is intended to be informational, it is also intended to provide simple actions that each of us can take to help solve the climate crisis.
Our previous post addressed the politics of climate change, underscoring the importance and impact that grass-roots efforts can bring to bear on current issues. It also elicits action you can take today to insist your political representatives take notice and take actions consistent with the public’s demand for climate crisis solutions.
Well, here’s a great place to take up the challenge.
Last month, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) proposed a very aggressive bill to address climate change through a series of measures intended to:
- place a carbon emissions fee on the top fossil fuel polluters in the US,
- protect communities from the environmental harms of natural gas fracturing,
- invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives,
- create a clean energy rebate program for consumers, and
- contribute to national debt reduction.
The provisions of the bill are very clearly explained in this summary posted on Senator Sanders’ website.
The proposed legislation has garnered “overwhelming public support” expressed through an online public survey and from key environmental leaders across the country, including Bill McKibben of 350.org, Mike Brune of Sierra Club, and Tara McGuiness of Center for American Progress.
Read environmental leadership quotes supporting the legislation on Senator Sanders’ website.
The imperative to “tax” carbon emissions in order to curb fossil fuel consumption was underscored by report just released by the International Monetary Fund in support of eliminating energy subsidies as a way to more accurately reflect the true cost of energy sources.
In his op-ed published by the Guardian, Senator Sanders explained part of the motivation for the proposed legislation:
“We will never fully deal with this crisis until Congress passes strong legislation. Sen. Boxer and I are going to fight as hard as we can to do that, and we will work to rally support from American families all across this country that care deeply about their children and grandchildren's future, and want to protect them from this planetary crisis.”
Let your Congressional representatives hear from you today – let them know that you support the Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act proposed by Sanders and Boxer. Tell them that you demand action – today – to develop real and effective solutions to combat the climate crisis.
Among our long-term CarbonFree® Business Partners are many that choose to support our renewable energy projects, in part because their own business operations provide essential services to green energy resources.
Concord, NH-based FiberNext does just this, maintaining its CarbonFree® operations for the past five years while providing fiber optics communication solutions to the green energy industry.
FiberNext, a versatile turnkey fiber optics solutions provider, has been involved with the design and implementation of fiber optic networks for commercial scale wind farm sites. An industry leader in this area, FiberNext has established a commitment to green energy initiatives by supplying developers of clean wind energy with next generation communication systems. This focus on renewable energy made it a compatible choice to support Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects with annual donations as a CarbonFree® Business Partner.
"Carbonfund.org seemed like an effective way to make a direct contribution to clean energy initiatives, which is at the heart of our business and corporate culture," explains Craig Bowden, Sales and Marketing Manager for FiberNext. "The media recognition that Carbonfund.org had already generated for itself as an innovator in the area of carbon offsets helped us realize it was a legitimate and reputed vehicle in this emerging market."
Over the past five years, FiberNext has neutralized its annual operational emissions by an amount equivalent to the emissions from the annual electricity consumed by twenty-five households. The CarbonFree® Business Partnership program has helped FiberNext to lead by example in the renewable energy field, and we commend their ongoing commitment to a cleaner energy future.