If it seems far-fetched to imagine millions of Americans becoming mini energy producers, just look at Germany, where 51 percent of the country’s clean energy production is owned by individuals or farmers, while major utilities control just 6.5 percent of it.

A short paragraph from a recent New York Times article, ‘Crowdfunding Clean Energy’.

(Photo source: Inc.com)

image

From Der Spiegel:

Indeed, the statistics are impressive. It’s estimated that some 50,000 wind turbines have been exported from this mini-kingdom between the North and Baltic seas, nearly 50 percent of the wind-powered generators worldwide. But sales are declining now that large industrialized nations, such as India, China and the US, are emulating the Danes’ success.

In addition to the graceful, towering turbines made of fiberglass and steel, however, Denmark has also given the world a shining example of sustainability: The parliamentary monarchy is widely seen as a laboratory and model for how an entire country can make the transition away from coal, oil and gas and toward energy generated from renewable resources.

Today, already 24 percent of the electricity consumed in Denmark comes from wind power — a world record. There are plans to increase this to 50 percent by 2020, and the country intends to become entirely independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Photo source: Der Spiegel)

From The Hill’s E2 Wire:

Most undecided voters want more action from President Obama and Congress to fight global warming, and a substantial percentage say the topic will influence their ballot for president, a new poll shows.

The joint Yale University/George Mason University (GMU) survey found that undecided voters’ beliefs about the existence and causes of global warming are far closer to President Obama’s likely voters than GOP rival Mitt Romney’s.

Sixty-four percent of undecided voters believe Obama should be doing more to address climate change, and 72 percent say Congress should be doing more.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

I usually stick to sustainability and city themed posts on this blog of mine, but this conversation between a gay Vietnam War veteran and U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney definitely deserves an exception. This vet is a hero. Full stop.

P.S. It’s worth watching all the way to the end too. 

(Source: ABC News via Upworthy)

“Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.”~ Carl Sagan
Related:
‘STUDY: TV Media Ignore Climate Change In Coverage Of Record July Heat’ (Media Matters)
‘July 2012 Marked Hottest Month On Record for Contiguous U.S.; Drought Expands to Cover Nearly 63 Percent of the Lower 48’ (Science Daily)

“Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.”

Carl Sagan

Related:

We’ve got to somehow get everybody to understand that a different and better energy system is not only just possible, it’s inevitable.

Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in an interview for The Huffington Post article, 'Is Clean Energy Doomed If President Obama Is Not Re-Elected?'

(Photo source: Pew Clean Energy Program)

'What do you think our most powerful renewable resource is?' 
This is one of 12 editorial cartoons being considered by the Union of Concerned Scientists in their annual calendar contest. You can check them out and vote on your favorite here.
Related:
Naomi Oreskes: ‘The verdict is in on climate change’ (Los Angeles Times)
‘Fear of climate change may finally be trumping ideological denial’ (Huffington Post)

'What do you think our most powerful renewable resource is?' 

This is one of 12 editorial cartoons being considered by the Union of Concerned Scientists in their annual calendar contest. You can check them out and vote on your favorite here.

Related:

It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here: ‘State of the Climate: 2011 Global Surface Temperature’
From ClimateWatch Magazine:

Earth’s average annual surface temperature is higher today than it was when record-keeping began in the late 1800s, an indicator of long-term, global-scale climate warming. The red line shows how far above or below the 1981-2010 average (dashed line at zero) the combined land and ocean temperature has been each year since 1880. The data shown are one of several temperature analyses included in the State of the Climate in 2011, all of which show a warming trend.
The 2011 average global surface temperature was between 0.07 and 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer (0.13 and 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit), than the 1981–2010 average, based on a range of analyses. Including the 2011 temperature, the rate of warming since 1971 is now between 0.14° and 0.17° Celsius per decade (0.25°-0.31° Fahrenheit), and 0.71-0.77° Celsius per century (1.28°-1.39° F) since 1901.

Check out the rest of the article here.
Related:
Presentation Slides: ‘State of the Climate 2011’ (NOAA)
‘Cool Pacific Pattern Shaped 2011 Weather Extremes; Heat Dominates U.S. in 2012’ (New York Times)

(Graphic sources: NOAA) 

It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here: ‘State of the Climate: 2011 Global Surface Temperature’

From ClimateWatch Magazine:

Earth’s average annual surface temperature is higher today than it was when record-keeping began in the late 1800s, an indicator of long-term, global-scale climate warming. The red line shows how far above or below the 1981-2010 average (dashed line at zero) the combined land and ocean temperature has been each year since 1880. The data shown are one of several temperature analyses included in the State of the Climate in 2011, all of which show a warming trend.

The 2011 average global surface temperature was between 0.07 and 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer (0.13 and 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit), than the 1981–2010 average, based on a range of analyses. Including the 2011 temperature, the rate of warming since 1971 is now between 0.14° and 0.17° Celsius per decade (0.25°-0.31° Fahrenheit), and 0.71-0.77° Celsius per century (1.28°-1.39° F) since 1901.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

(Graphic sources: NOAA

From Salon:

For a long time, tactical urbanism was associated with guerrilla gardeners and fly-by-night pop-up parks, whereas large-scale “city planning” was seen as the job of bureaucrats with blueprints. But more and more often, City Hall is taking a more active (as opposed to purelyreactive) role in these types of smaller, cheaper, localized efforts, and sometimes even leading them. “Tactical urbanism has always been a combination of both bottom-up and top-down,” says Mike Lydon, a principal at the Street Plans Collaborative, an urban planning firm, “but now you’re seeing more of these ideas proliferate at the municipal level.”

In a way, thinking small is the next logical step in America’s urban renaissance. When cities really started changing 10 or 15 years ago, the economy was booming and the Internet was a newfangled gizmo. Today, cities have less money but more ways to communicate, two conditions perfectly suited to more focused, low-cost planning. Now you can home in on a specific neighborhood (or even just a few blocks), find out what the residents there want or need, cheaply implement it on a trial basis, and make it permanent if it works.

“We try to distinguish tactical urbanism from DIY urbanism and other similar movements,” says Lydon. “The intent is always to make something long-term and permanent.” In essence, cheap, ephemeral projects act as advertisements for better infrastructure. A roll-up crosswalk ends up painted onto the street by the city. An instant playground is taken over and maintained by the parks department. Just last week in Cleveland, after a pop-up cycle track was removed after its one-week lifespan, locals, disappointed to see it gone, starting asking the city for a permanent one to replace it.

Its easy to see why penny-pinching local governments would want to get in on this. The pedestrianization of Times Square, which began in 2009 as a pilot program that utilized little more than paint, orange traffic barrels and $10 lawn chairs, was a landmark moment in city-sanctioned tactical urbanism (the plaza has since been upgraded with curbs and sturdier seating). That same year, San Francisco launched Pavement to Parks, an initiative to turn underused street space into pedestrian refuges. Upon dedicating the first one, Mayor Gavin Newsom acknowledged that the city was catching up with what was already a grass-roots phenomenon. “I know that many of you have been talking about this for … at least 13 or 14 years,” he said. “Formally, it’s been at least a decade since community groups came together and talked about converting this pavement into a plaza.”

New York and San Francisco were early adopters, but Ethan Kent, vice president of the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces (PPS), says that until recently, such efforts existed as “a cool trend, but not the paradigm shift” that’s now transforming official policy. Last week in Philadelphia, for instance, the chief of staff for the mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities announced that the city would add more parklets and pedestrian plazas this year, building on the success of the Porch, a public plaza created in November out of underused space near 30th Street Station for the low cost (by municipal standards) of $300,000. This “Lighter Quicker Cheaper” endeavor, as PPS calls it, resulted in a space where less turned out to be more: Instead of spending lots of money to program it, it was left flexible for people to program themselves. Today, depending on when you show up at the Porch, you could find a fitness class, a farmer’s market, a live performance, or some of the 16,000 people who work within a five-minute walk eating lunch there.

“The ‘Lighter Quicker Cheaper’ method gets people focused on the uses,” says Kent. “Typically people can’t see how they can change the public realm because they feel like they’re depending on big capital projects.” But when city governments become tactical urbanists, it combines the best of both worlds: a space provided and sanctioned by the city, but one that the community can remake in its own image.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

(Photo: Better! Cities & Towns Online)