Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day of Climate Action a Success in Ithaca and the World

The International Day of Climate Action on Saturday, October 24 was the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. People in 181 countries came together at over 5,200 events around the world, calling for united efforts and bold leadership on the climate crisis before the crucial UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

Every event associated with’s Day of Action highlighted the number 350, the benchmark figure that scientists today say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Incredible creative actions across the globe included mountain climbers on our highest peaks with banners, underwater demonstrations in island nations threatened by sea level rises, star athletes organizing mass bike rides, and hundreds upon hundreds of community events to raise awareness of the need for urgent action. Staff from are in the process of displaying photos sent in of events on the big screens in Times Square and projecting them at UN headquarters, hoping to put pressure on leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track.

While groups formed the number 350 in a creative way on the melting peaks of Mt. Everest and the sinking beaches of the Maldive Islands, Ithaca locals and college students also rallied in their own climate change initiatives. Local groups met at Tompkins Cortland Community College for the event “Cool It! Doing Your Part to Stop Climate Change.” Attendees learned how to increase energy efficiency, lower consumption, and save money through discussions and family-focused activities.

PRI’s Museum of the Earth joined the Climate Action Day celebrations and was represented by speaker James Dake at the “Cool It” event. PRI also partnered with Cornell’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Cinema, and Cornell Center for Sustainable Future for a special showing of “An Inconvenient Truth,” followed by a presentation by Cornell University professor Charles Greene entitled “A Very Inconvenient Truth.”

On Friday, October 23, some 350 Ithaca College students, faculty, and staff gathered to dramatize the need for world leaders to take fast and effective action on global warming. Dressed as ghosts, the “climate Caspers” paraded around campus as symbols of the potentially deadly effects of climate change. Although the International Day of Climate Action has passed, Ithaca locals and their neighbors will undoubtedly continue to fight climate change, especially as the Copenhagen conference approaches.

The number 350 represents a clear and specific goal – to bring the atmospheric concentration of CO2 down to 350 parts per million or less to help stabilize our planet. Click here to view photos submitted from Day of Action events around the world, track 350 actions in our very own area, and learn more about the climate change mission.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Green Halloween

With tons of sugary candy, decorations, and costumes that are often worn only once, Halloween is an especially consumer-driven holiday. Fortunately, there are countless opportunities to make earth-friendly choices with the getups we wear, the types of food we serve, and how we choose to celebrate. Here are some tips on how to make your Halloween festivities more green from start to finish:

If you are planning a Halloween party, avoid paper invitations as well as the cost of postage by using free online sources such as or even through email or Facebook. If you prefer to send invitations through the mail, make your own from recycled cards or use tree-free paper products like hemp.

When shopping for supplies and treats, always bring your own cloth or recycled plastic bags with you. If you generally drive to do errands, try to get your shopping done all at once to save on gas and money and reduce your pollution. If you can walk, ride your bike, carpool, or take public transportation, even better!

When purchasing food for your Halloween get-together, look for foods that are organic, whole, and local if possible. Going meatless also reduces your environmental impact on the planet. Be sure to compost your food scraps, including leftover pumpkins and any other natural decorations like cornstalks. Here are some ideas for healthy finger-foods with a seasonal feel:

toasted pumpkin seeds
air popped popcorn
cider made with 100% organic apple juice, simmered with cinnamon sticks
baked apples with dates/raisins, walnuts, and cranberries
pumpkin bread with organic chocolate chips
vegetables and hummus

Having a Green Halloween doesn’t mean your party has to be decoration-free. Gourds, pumpkins, apples, cornstalks, straw bales, and other items from nature make great accents on front porches and table tops. Decorations such as colorful recyclable streamers and dinnerware add holiday flare. If you’d like to use candles for ambiance, use those made of soy or beeswax instead of petroleum. Above all, if you are going to purchase items that will end up in the trash, try to find ones than can later be recycled or composted.

Get creative and make your own costume! If you don’t sew, keep things simple with old sheets, cardboard and paint, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, and anything you have lying around the house. You can also visit secondhand stores (or your attic or basement) to find reusable material for your costume. For neighborhood families, host a costume-exchange party and dig out your old creations for the kids. Non-toxic, washable face pencils are suggested for decorating your child’s face.

This Halloween, think treasures instead of candy. Rather than individually-wrapped, sugary treats, hand out stickers, temporary tattoos, whistles, pencils, spinning tops, and other tokens or handmade keepsakes. For healthy food items, organic juice boxes, fruit leather, 100% honey sticks, granola/breakfast bars, boxes of raisins or dried fruits, dried veggie chips, and raw or roasted nuts make great, simple choices. If you enjoy giving out more traditional treats, organic dark chocolate is available in bite-sized pieces by companies such as Endangered Species Chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in anti-oxidants and Endangered Species Chocolate contributes 10% of its net profits to help support struggling species and their habitats.

If you are bringing the kids trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, let them decorate their own bags made from old pillow cases, shopping bags, purses, or hand-sewn fabric. Remember to use rechargeable batteries rather than disposables in your flashlights. Battery acid is toxic, leaching into groundwater and causing serious environmental contamination. Shakable, hand-cranked, and solar-powered flashlights are also battery-free and fun for kids to use.

As your celebrating the holiday don't forget to visit the Museum of the Earth for our spooktacular Museum in the Dark:

Museum in the Dark
Museum in the Dark
Thursday, October 29
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Presented in partnership with Cornell Astronomy and the International Year of Astronomy.
Explore the Museum after-hours Halloween-style! Make comets, go on a flashlight tour, hold some creepy crawlies, visit astronomy trick-or-treat stations, make your own cider, and more! Come dressed in your costume and we'll have a spooktacularly good time!
Members - $5 adults, $3 student/senior, $2 youth (4-17), children three and under are free
Non members - $10 adults, $7 student/senior, $5 youth (4-17), children three and under are free

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A car that gets 100+ MPG?

That's right. A group of Cornell University engineering students have advanced to the next level in the Automotive X Prize competition sponsored by Progressive Insurance. The team is working to build and design a car that will get 100+ MPG! The prize is $10-million! Good luck Big Red!

Learn More: Automotive X Prize

Photo: Cornell Chronicle

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

International Day of Climate Action


On October 24, people from around the region will gather at Tompkins County Community College (TC3) as part of the largest global day of climate action ever. The event—one of more than 2,000 rallies in more than 140 nations—is coordinated by to urge world leaders to take fast and effective action on global warming. This is the first global campaign ever organized around a scientific data point: 350 parts per million CO2 is the safe upper limit for the atmosphere according to the latest scientific data.

Climate change could be the biggest challenge facing this and future generations. Attend this event at TC3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to learn how to lower your carbon footprint to ensure a healthy family and community. Participants will learn firsthand how to increase energy efficiency, lower consumption, and save money. Local groups will discuss local, national, and international issues in celebration of's International Day of Climate Action. Learn more at PRI and its Museum of the Earth will be represented alongside the Cayuga Nature Center by James Dake at the event. Stop by and see James and learn what the CNC and PRI are doing to help the cause!

PRI has also partnered with Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Cinema, and Cornell Center for Sustainable Future for a special showing of the film "An Inconvenient Truth" at 7:30 followed by a presentation led by Cornell University professor Charles Greene entitled "A Very Inconvenient Truth" in the HEC Auditorium in Goldwyn Smith Hall on the Cornell campus.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Under the Sea Part II

You may recall a previous post about the cabinet of the government of the Maldives meeting under the sea to bring awareness to climate change. They had their meeting this past Saturday.

Here's part of the story from the Huffington Post:

GIRIFUSHI, Maldives — Members of the Maldives' Cabinet donned scuba gear and used hand signals Saturday at an underwater meeting staged to highlight the threat of global warming to the lowest-lying nation on earth.

President Mohammed Nasheed and 13 other government officials submerged and took their seats at a table on the sea floor – 20 feet (6 meters) below the surface of a lagoon off Girifushi, an island usually used for military training.

With a backdrop of coral, the meeting was a bid to draw attention to fears that rising sea levels caused by the melting of polar ice caps could swamp this Indian Ocean archipelago within a century. Its islands average 7 feet (2.1 meters) above sea level.

For photos and to read more of this article click here: Under the Sea

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Big Belly...

I was walking in the Ithaca Commons today at lunch and came across a cool new feature: a Big Belly Solar Compactor!

The company's web site states, "The BigBelly® Solar Compactor is a patented compacting trash receptacle that is completely self-powered. Instead of requiring a grid connection, BigBelly uses solar power for 100% of its energy needs. The unit takes up as much space as the "footprint" of an ordinary receptacle—but its capacity is five times greater. Increased capacity reduces collection trips and can cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. BigBelly also provides cost efficiencies from labor savings, fuel cost and maintenance savings, as well as environmental benefits from reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Safe, easy to use, and designed to keep out pests, the BigBelly has already proven its worth in urban streets, parks, colleges, arenas—and in all weather conditions."

Sounds like a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Green Jobs and Green Homes for New York State

Today, New York Governor David Patterson signed the "Green Jobs, Green Homes" bill into law while on a visit to Syracuse, NY. News 10 Now states that " middle-class homeowners will be able to receive up to $13,000 and businesses up to $26,000 to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings."

For more information on this story please check it out here: News 10 Now

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Silo House

The "Silo House" is a home that was designed by a team of students from Cornell University, and is Cornell's entrant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon Contest. Teams from universities around the world design and build solar-powered houses. Cornell’s entry is one of 20 teams who was asked by the United States Department of Energy to compete in this years event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

One of PRI's long-time volunteers Elizabeth Munson is one of the "Specialists" on the Cornell project. We wish her and the rest of the team well!

For more information on Cornell's Silo House click here: Solar Decathlon

Friday, October 9, 2009

US Chamber of Commerce is anti-climate legislation...with a surprising supporter

The US Chamber of Commerce is a large faction against climate change legislation. So much so, large companies like Nike have removed themselves as members of the Chamber because they feel climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed.

One member of the Chamber, who is still financially backing the US Chamber of Commerce, despite its negative stance on climate change, is Toyota, a 'green' car company dedicated to climate change solutions and mitigation.

This article describes the situation in more detail. Pretty interesting stuff...let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

EPA Back-up plan

The EPA has just modified one of its regulations on carbon dioxide emitters from those who contribute 250 tons of pollutants to 25,000 tons. I know it sounds backwards, but THIS IS GOOD! Now the EPA can focus on regulating those emitters of high amounts of carbon dioxide, the same who would be uncomfortable in a cap and trade or carbon tax situation imposed by legislature.

For an awesome explanation of how this lays good groundwork, check this out!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marcellus Shale in the News

There's an interesting article in today's Ithaca Journal about the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement On the Oil, Gas and the Solution Mining Regulatory Program from the New York State D.E.C. (We blogged about this last Thursday: Marcellus Shale).

Read the article here:

Natural gas quest: Technical report carving deep divisions between gas companies and industry critics

Friday, October 2, 2009

Be Green...Tips for Halloween

I was perusing one of my favorite sites, The Daily Green, and found a great article about recycled Halloween costumes. Last year, I bought a costume for $60, and I really only got to wear it once. What a waste...

Here's the story: The Daily Green

Send us your recycled costume photos from this year, or this upcoming year and we'll post them on the blog!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Marcellus Shale -- an Update.

In a previous blog post we explained the role that PRI is playing in the ongoing discussion surrounding Marcellus Shale and gas drilling in the Central New York region. Yesterday the New York State DEC released their Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement On the Oil, Gas and the Solution Mining Regulatory Program.

The document is available online in PDF format that is searchable. (It's over 500 pages long.) If you would like to comment or express concerns or support of this doucment you have until November 30, 2009. The corresponds with the Marcellus Shale Summit that is being held at the Treadway Inn in Owego, NY on the same day. PRI's Trisha Smercak will be in attendance.

Here is the information regardging the public comment period:

Comments - The public comment period will be open until November 30, 2009. The Department is offering three ways in which to submit comments. We have created an on line submission system which will allow you to write comments and tag them to your areas of concern. Attachments can also be included. You may submit e-mail comments; please include your name, e-mail or return mail address to ensure notice of the Final SGEIS when it is available. Finally, written comments should be sent to: Attn: dSGEIS Comments, Bureau of Oil & Gas Regulation, NYSDEC Division of Mineral Resources, 625 Broadway, Third Floor, Albany, NY 12233-6500.

To read the full document: dSGEIS