Friday, May 29, 2009

Tips of the Day!

Every Friday, we are going to give our readers some easy tips on how they can be greener, save money, and conserve our precious resources.

Today's tips:

Looking for good fruits in vegetables to go with dinner? Why not consider only eating what's in season! This will dramatically cut down on your carbon foot print. How super easy is that?

Throwing away ziploc bags that you put your sandwich in for lunch? Why not reuse them. I always rinse mine out with some soapy water and put on the faucet to air dry before my next use!

Moving home from college? Why not consider borrowing boxes or buying pre-used boxes for the move. Just another way to make that move a bit greener!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Growing Season

As we approach the growing season here in central New York we thought it might be interesting to write about Agriculture and the effects of climate change on this industry.

Agriculture is one of the central pillars of New York State’s economy – and as our climate changes, our whole agricultural system will change in response. One’s first thought might be, “Well, warmer temperatures mean a longer growing season and think of all the cool things we can plant now!” This is true up to a point, but with warmer temperatures come new problems, new pests, and losses of crops that can’t adapt to heat.

Don’t all of us, here in New York, occasionally wish for a longer summer? It certainly felt like we got it last year…The first hard frost here in Ithaca was 2 to 3 weeks late. So what’s the problem with this? Increased growing season and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (remember plants use CO2 for photosynthesis) could indeed boost harvests. Unfortunately the flip side is that summer will not only be longer, but also hotter and drier. Weather patterns would change, water would evaporate more quickly in the hotter climate and extreme weather events like floods, damaging thunderstorms, tornados, and hurricanes would be more common. Drought would also become a more frequent event. Crops would be more stressed, farmer costs would rise as they needed new ways to irrigate, and our precious water resources would be increasingly taxed.

With milder winters and hotter summers, we would also see an increase in pests that can infest and damage crops. Upstate New York already has it’s share of damaging pests, but cold winters often control population numbers and keep pests from the more southern regions from moving north. For example, the corn earworm, which is common in the south, spreads only as far north as Ohio, Virginia, and southern New Jersey. Cold winters keep it from permanently infesting more northern regions. With milder winters, however, it will easily be able to enlarge its range. An additional issue with agricultural pests is that as summers become longer and warmer, these organisms have additional time for breeding. This means that more generations will be produced over the growing season, and thus more pests for longer periods of time.

So what does all of this mean? Though growing crops may be more challenging, we should continue to see agriculture as a major part of upstate New York’s economy. There will be major changes though – Can you imagine New York without maple syrup or apples? Our warming climate could impact our most traditional crops!

Maple trees, and the associated syrup industry, thrive in New England and in upstate New York. Unfortunately, an earlier, warmer spring could lessen the amount of maple syrup extracted during sugaring season. Maple syrup is harvested during a transitional time in early spring, when the weather goes through a freeze-thaw cycling, very cold nights with days above freezing. This cycle encourages movement of sap through the tree, and with an earlier and quicker spring, we expect fewer days and a diminished harvest.

Apples too could be impacted negatively. Though a longer growing season seems positive, many apple trees need a certain number of days below freezing in order to set large amounts of fruit. With warmer winters, many traditional varieties of apples will no longer produce large amounts of big fruit, and with warmer and earlier springs, apples will bloom earlier. Spring temperatures, as we well know, are incredibly changeable, and if bloom comes early, followed by frost, the flowers and fruit could be damaged.

Climate change is intertwined with every natural process that happens on earth. With climate change comes new weather patterns, new water systems, and new ecosystems for plants and animals. With each change, a new set of conditions is established with new interactions happening between all processes and organisms. Each week we pass on tips for you to consider implementing in order to live “lightly” on the world. Some might wonder where the connection between these tips and the reality of New York’s agricultural economy is, but as we are all learning, using sustainable agricultural methods and buying locally grown food will not add to existing problems, and may eventually help solve them.

-Elizabeth Humbert

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Climate Change for Kids...

I wanted to share this site with you:

It's a website from the EPA that is geared towards kids. It explains what Climate Change is in a non-threatening way, it has games, and a lot of great information. I thought it might be a good resource for our readers and their families!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tips of the Day!

Every Friday, we are going to give our readers some easy tips on how they can be greener, save money, and conserve our precious resources.

Today's tips:

As summer approaches one of the greenest things you can do is to plant a garden! There's nothing like fresh veggies on a summers day!

Unplug your electronics (DVD player, TV, cell phone and iPod chargers) when you're not using them. This will cut down on your electric bill! Another simple trick to save more money!

Wash your clothes in cold water! Not using the warm or hot cycles will save you money and your clothes will get just as clean!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Big Green re-USE-it! Bin

I stopped off at Wegmans (a chain of grocerry stores located in the North Eastern part of the US) tonight in Ithaca and found this huge green bin in the lobby. I mean it's huge, almost like a wooden dumpster.

It's a "re-USE-it bin" -- the store places clean items that they no longer need, with the hopes that their customers might find a need for some of the items. Tonight there was a huge garbage can, some plastic bowls, and some muffin holders -- all for free!!! Here at Climate Change 101 we like free!

This is a great program, and we are lucky to have it here in Ithaca! I'm not sure if this is just a local thing or if it's at all the stores? I did search their site and could not find any other information.

If you are in Ithaca make sure you check it out on your next trip to the market!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

High-Tech Greening...

Have an iPhone or an iPod Touch? If so, there are applications that you can purchase to help green your lifestyle. Applications like iGas lets you search for the cheapest gas prices in a zip code; if you purchase the "A Real Tree" app they will plant a real tree in one of 12 countries fighting deforestation around the world; The 3rdWhale app helps you to locate "green" businesses in your area. There are plenty more cool "green" apps out there.

Here's a video about these green apps:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Federally Mandated Auto Emisions...

There's a great article in today's New York Times about the President's initiative to federally mandate auto emissions. Read the story below:

Published: May 19, 2009

The Obama administration plans to combine California’s tough new auto-emissions rules with existing fuel economy limits to create a single new national standard.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Green Fees...

College students demanding to pay higher tuition? I never thought I would see that statement in print! That said, I came across this really interesting article about students who are willing to pay a little more for a "greener" college experience. Check out the article below.

GREEN FEES: College Students Demand To Pay Their Own Way To Renewables

Would you pay more in fees to have a "greener" campus? Let us know in the comments section!

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, May 11, 2009

What's Your Idea?

Frito-Lay, the maker of Sun Chips, has joined forces with National Geographic to give 5 people or groups $20K towards an idea that will make their communities greener! Watch the video below:

What's your idea?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tips of the Day

Here are some relatively low cost and easy ways to be a bit greener:

1. Turn off the dishwasher's drying cycle! Let 'em air dry!

2. Say goodbye to Otis and skip the elevator -- take the stairs!

3. Take the bus! Public transportation is our friend!!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Climate Change and the American Pika

Following an initial review of a petition seeking to protect the American pika under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the American pika may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species.

The Service will undertake an in-depth, scientific review of the American pika to determine whether to propose adding the species to the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants.

The petition provides information suggesting that climate change may have effects resulting in individual mortality, population extirpations, and reduced species range for the pika.

Today’s decision, commonly known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the American pika provided in the petition requesting that the species be placed on the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants protected under the ESA. The initial petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to give the American pika federal protection under the ESA. Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available.

To ensure this review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding the American pika and its habitat.

The Service is seeking scientific information regarding the American pika’s historical and current status and distribution; its population size and trend; its biology and ecology; its taxonomy (especially genetics of the species); ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat; and threats to the long-term persistence of the species. If listing the American pika is warranted, the Service intends to propose critical habitat and therefore requests information on what may constitute physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species; where these features are currently found; whether any of these features may require special management considerations or protection; and whether there are areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species that are essential to the conservation of the species.

Scientific information will be accepted until July 7, 2009 and can be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at:, or can be mailed or hand delivered to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2009-0021; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

The Service will evaluate all information regarding the status and distribution of the American pika, including the impacts or potential impacts to the species resulting from either human activities or natural causes.

The American pika is a small mammal that inhabits fields fringed by suitable vegetation in alpine and subalpine mountain areas extending south from central British Columbia and Alberta into the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The historical range of the species includes California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

A key characteristic of the American pika is its temperature sensitivity; death can occur after brief exposures to ambient temperatures greater than 77.9 °F. Therefore, the range of the species progressively increases with elevation in the southern extents of its distribution. In Canada, populations occur from sea level to 9,842 feet, but in New Mexico, Nevada, and southern California, populations rarely exist below 8,202 feet.

In October 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the Service to list the American pika and conduct a status review of each of the 36 recognized subspecies of American pika. The Service advised CBD that the petition could not be addressed at that time because existing court orders and settlement agreements for other listing actions required nearly all of the listing funding. Subsequently, the CBD filed a notice of intent to sue over the Service’s failure to publish a petition finding, and the Service entered into a settlement agreement requiring the Service to submit a petition finding to the Federal Register by May 1, 2009, and to submit a status review finding to the Federal Register by February 1, 2010.

The petitioners assert that American pika populations are threatened by climate change, livestock practices, fire suppression and invasive species, changes in disease and predator relationships, inadequate regulatory mechanisms, off-highway vehicle usage, and roads.

Aside from climate change, other threats cited in the petition do not at this time appear to be significant to the species or its habitat. However, those threats will be further examined during the status review.

For more information regarding the American pika, please visit our web site at’s finding will be published in the Federal Register on May 7, 2009.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What to get Mom for Mother's Day...

I've been thinking of things to get my mom for Mother's Day and keep coming up short! I want to get her something that is useful, and a little more environmentally friendly then some flowers that were flown in from warmer climates.

My mom doesn't really need flowers. She'll just end up throwing them into the garbage. She's not much of a composter, but we still love her! I think I want to get her something more useful, and something that will help her pocket book, and keep her healthy.

The perfect gift is (insert drum roll here): a membership to her local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)! This way every week she'll get her fill of fresh and most of all locally grown fruits, veggies, and even fresh cut flowers!

You can find resources to CSA's by visiting: LocalHarvest.Org!


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

State Parks Adopts Sustainability Blueprint

Comprehensive Plan Recommends Targeted Reduced Mowing Throughout the System of 178 State Parks

ALBANY, NY -- Allowing more lawns to return to meadows and using fewer pesticides are key elements of a new sustainability plan aimed at easing the impact that the daily operations of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have on natural resources, the agency announced today.

"New York State must aggressively pursue innovative, sustainable practices to ensure a healthy future for all New Yorkers, and I can think of no better place to 'go green' than our tremendous State parks," said Governor Paterson. "New York's parks connect tens of millions of people to our State's great outdoors every year, and these measures will make sure they will continue to offer a beneficial, uplifting environment for our children and grandchildren."

"State Parks should be a leader in integrating sustainability principles and 'green technologies' in all aspects of our programs and activities," said Commissioner Carol Ash. "We're responsible for passing on our State Parks in good repair to the next generation. This sustainability initiative will help protect our natural resources by ensuring our operation incorporates energy efficient technologies, green building design, fuel efficient vehicles, green products procurement and other sustainable practices."

Ash noted many of the practices outlined in the policy are not new for State Parks. Over the past decade the agency has made significant progress in implementing sustainability practices, including installing renewable energy technologies such as solar PV panels at park entrance stations, boat launches and police sub stations; developing an extensive alternative fuel vehicle fleet; and initiating the agency's first LEED-certified building at the Taconic regional headquarters.

"The sustainability plan has allowed us to gather input from parks staff across the state about how we can successfully improve and formalize our sustainability practices," Ash said. "The plan will enable us to employ these practices at parks and historic sites across the state and allow us to track our progress."

The plan focuses sustainability efforts in five priority areas:

Energy Conservation and Improvements

The plan calls for a comprehensive effort to reduce energy consumption, using a wide range of tools and tactics, including electronic meetings to reduce auto travel, purchasing hybrid and alternative energy vehicles, and reducing lawn mowing at state parks.

Building on a successful pilot project in the Saratoga-Capital Region, OPRHP will expand its reduced mowing efforts to the entire parks system. Each park region will be required to identify ways to reduce the area and frequency of mowing. Reduced mowing will be accompanied by a public education component to minimize negative reactions from park users and the community at large to help dispel the misperception that un-mowed areas are "uncared for."

"Allowing some lawns return to their natural state is a simple way to reduce greenhouse gases, air pollution, save money and encourage a health natural habitat," Ash said.

The sustainability plan sets a goal of reducing the purchase of gasoline and diesel fuel by 20 percent by the year 2015. This translates to a savings of approximately 230,000 gallons of gasoline and 50,000 gallons diesel fuel annually by 2015 yielding more than a half million dollars in cost savings to the agency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 5.7 million pounds annually. In 2007, OPRHP purchased over 1.1 million gallons of gasoline and 266,212 gallons of diesel fuel, at a total cost exceeding $2.3 million.

Sustainable Sites

The plan recommends OPRHP take an integrated approach to designing and constructing buildings and managing landscapes to minimize impact to the natural environment. A critical component is the goal to eliminate pesticides from parks, especially areas frequented by children, such as beaches, playgrounds, picnic areas, ballfields, campgrounds, and hiking trails. The plan acknowledges areas for which targeted pesticide will continue, most notably in the area of golf course management.

Under the pesticide guidelines, all OPRHP facilities and operations, including those of concessionaires, will eliminate pesticide use wherever possible. In instances where they are needed to protect health and safety or control invasive species, as well as at golf courses and arboretums, State Parks will use least toxic chemicals. All facilities will reduce the use of pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, which employs proactive mechanical, sanitary, cultural or biological methods to control pests to the maximum extent possible, with the use of chemicals only as a last resort. Through detailed surveillance, IPM focuses on establishing physical barriers to pests and reducing the food, water and shelter available to them.

Waste Reduction and Recycling

The sustainability plan calls for a comprehensive program to reduce waste, promote re-use and enhance and improve recycling programs. OPRHP will focus its efforts on reducing waste, specifically paper use reduction along with the purchase and use of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. Collection of glass, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles will be undertaken at parks where feasible.

Green Procurement

OPRHP commits to purchasing products that minimize their impact on the environment and maximize the use of recycled and secondary materials. Environmentally preferable purchasing can be factored into most commodities purchased - encompassing everything from paper, cleaning products, asphalt, office furniture, and computers; to park benches, playgrounds, and building materials for construction projects.

Education, Training and Interpretation

The plan also calls for the agency to take advantage of tremendous opportunities to demonstrate sustainable practices to the more than 55 million people who visit state parks and historic sites each year. For example, the Jones Beach Nature Center, where solar and geothermal energy are used, provides a wonderful opportunity for public education and interpretation of these renewable energy projects.

The sustainability plan and the pesticide policy are available on State Parks' web site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit the web site.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Citizen Science Movement

Citizen science is the idea that daily observations by people in every walk of life, if made with a seriousness of purpose, can contribute to the scientific understanding of the natural world. Here at PRI we do a lot of things that are citizen science focused, including participation in CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network, and our work in the fossils of the region.

I just read an article talking about the impacts of concerned citizens on the biodiversity loss movement in relation to climate change. There are a lot of amazing things out there that you can do to contribute to the scientific effort. Just do a quick search for citizen science opportunities and find one you could feel passionately about.

Many people find controversy in the data collected by ordinary citizens, as the article points out. I, for one, believe it to be a fantastic movement. We can't be everywhere, we can't collect data on everything. But the fact is, everything is changing and being affected by climate change in some way. If you'd like to contribute your knowledge to the science, be it on birds, lilacs (which are starting to bloom here in CNY), bugs, clouds, or whatever you find particularly fascinating, please do. Even if you don't know all of the details, don't have a GPS unit, or are new to the subject, your efforts could prove to be invaluable in our study of the planet.

That's why we scientists usually live a "cluttered" lifestyle. My apartment is full of things that might be useful as information a child my mother was at a loss for the things I kept stored in bags and boxes. But, hey, it could be important someday. And so could your observations. Science is so much more than carefully mixing chemicals together. Every day you commit scientific acts, so admit to yourself that you, too, are a scientist, and join the citizen science movement!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tips for the Day

Every Friday, we are going to give our readers some easy tips on how they can be greener, save money, and conserve our preacious resources. Today's tips are how to conserve water...

For the Toilet: Fill bottles with sand or pebbles, and put in the back of the tank. This essentially creates a low-water flush, saving more than 2 gallons a flush!

For the Shower: Install a low flow showerhead, and take shorter showers. You could save up to 40 gallons of water every 5 minutes!

For the Sink: Turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth or shaving. You could save 6 gallons of water a day!

Now those are some pretty good tips! If you have tips that are working in your life, respond in the comments section and we will post them!