In a statement released earlier this week, a bipartisan group of legislators from both the Senate and House of Representatives warned that the expiration of the wind protection tax credit (PTC) would result in the loss of a substantial number of manufacturing and construction jobs, thus triggering a great debate on the relevance of this credit and the efficacy of wind energy.  The PTC “subsidizes new wind generation by 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of wind electricity produced”.  If this credit is not renewed by Congress, it will expire at the end of the year.  The impact of the threat of expiration of this credit already is being felt as wind companies are pushing back projects and laying off workers because of the looming uncertainty of federal funding.

After reading articles and blogs on this subject, I could not help but notice some of the comments made by other readers, many of which were constructive, but others, concerning.  I use the term “concerning” because I see that in most debates or discussions regarding green initiatives, education and understanding of the issues, or the lack of such, clearly guides the dialogue on these topics.

Living green and understanding the need to effect environmental change requires education.  Research and development and technological advancement enable scientists to find solutions to cleaner and efficient energy.  This definitely comes at a cost, albeit a worthwhile expense.  The push to advance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools today recognizes the benefits of providing opportunities for students to explore new ideas and new worlds related to science.  Education programs, such as STEM, provide a bridge from the old to the new and are so important because they enhance vision, which is a key ingredient in the success of any scientific venture.

Unfortunately, there are many diehards in this country, who are resistant to change, even if it is for the good of people and the environment.  The green movement should not and cannot be dragged down by resistance to change, and modern technological solutions to energy problems should be welcomed, especially in the face of scientific evidence of looming catastrophes relative to climate change directly attributed to human behavior.  This negative mindset is not new in America as history gives us many instances of innovative ideas that prevailed but were met with great resistance.  An immediate example that comes to mind is the case of Henry Ford, who was successful in mass marketing the gas engine automobile in a time when many Americans would have settled for “faster horses“.  In the same spirit of Henry Ford, the green movement must promote efficient wind energy solutions as the future of our nation rather than “clean oil” solutions as suggested by some people.

Another major issue with detractors of wind power, who would be happy to see the credit expire, surrounds the willingness to destroy the job market.  Job creation is crucial to the recovery of the economy, and the market in wind energy projects presents the opportunity to add jobs.  This is especially good for veterans because “work in wind energy offers vets the opportunity to use a wide variety of skills they learned in the military, such as risk analyses, problem-solving and contract negotiation. . .”  So many of us voice our appreciation for the sacrifices of veterans and their families to protect us, and the promotion of wind energy projects through the PTC presents opportunities to reward returning soldiers with jobs, rather than just handshakes and pats on the back for their service.

Another potential base of support which needs to be tapped for wind energy advancement in this country is couples with young children or who are planning to have children.  Today’s energy solutions will frame your children’s tomorrow.  Living green should be the top priority on your agenda so that you can ensure a safe and healthy environment for your children.  Issues of renewable energy, such as wind power should become routine in articles in parenting magazines and blogs designed to educate families on living healthy.

The time is running short to extend the PTC.  As Congress haggles over the many issues dangling on the fiscal cliff, it is urgent that supporters of the green movement band together and speak up to protect the PTC so as to ensure the advancement of wind power as a viable source of energy in America.  We cannot allow the defeat of innovation technology such as this that enables us to live green, be green.

Sources for this article:

Wind Energy

Wind Energy (Photo credit: janie.hernandez55)




Since his first term in office, President Obama has held the stance of favoring green technology innovation and becoming self-reliant on energy through alternative energy sources.  True to his word, changes are being made in most industries to, at the very least, become aware of alternative solutions to traditional fuels.

One very important (and expensive) portion of our Gross Domestic Product is spent on our nation’s defense. Their invaluable service comes with a price tag of close to 700 Billion dollars annually, a budget that is greater than the next 17 countries combined.  With that said, more can certainly be done to help reduce this gross spending, while at the same time keeping our country safe.

Yesterday, in a sign of approval for green technologies, the Senate voted 62-37 in favor of the Navy’s continued purchase of biofuels. The Navy already has a “Great Green Fleet” which is used for military exercises in Hawaii during the summertime. The expensive $26-per-gallon biofuel mixture used to fuel these vehicles combines cooking oil and algae blends to power ships, jets, and helicopters, and is a promising start to transition our military from oil to biofuels.

The size of our military seemingly gets larger with each passing day. Without a change to biofuels, our already excessive dependence on foreign oil will move to crippling figures.  An investment in infrastructure to refine and house biofuels in both domestic and foreign bases, while initially a financial burden, will do much to save money for a sector which uses fuel in egregious but necessary amounts. In fact, “One plank of the Navy’s plan, in conjunction with the departments of Energy and Agriculture, is to spend more than $500 million to jump-start construction of refineries that could produce large volumes of biofuels.” However, with a fiscal cliff looming, spending more seems to be the last thing policymakers want to advocate.

Yet, similar to any worthwhile technology, you must invest heavily initially in order to reap dividends. At the onset, computers cost a couple thousand dollars with minimal computing capabilities. As time moved on people, became more educated on its capabilities which sparked innovation and competition, and ultimately drove the price and size of its parts downward. Now you can purchase a powerful computer an inch thick for a couple hundred dollars. An initial investment in biofuels for the military will be expensive at first. But as with computers, innovation will make biofuels cheap in the near future and will help to save a tremendous amount of the military’s budget spending on fuels moving forward. Let’s invest in these new technologies so that one day, even our military can live green and be green.


SANDY BB Tunnel Gov Cuomo press conf-3808 crop...

SANDY BB Tunnel Gov Cuomo press conf-3808 crop crop (Photo credit: MTAPhotos)

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has outlined a storm preparedness plan that addresses power maintenance and prevention of flooding from hurricane-driven waves.  These are two of the major items under consideration by Cuomo’s NYS 2100 Commission.  The governor is well aware that it will be difficult to obtain the necessary federal funding required for his plans, but he emphasizes that prevention and mitigation of risks now, although costly, will save money and lives in the future.

The plan to protect New York City from future super storms comes at a price of more than $9 billion.  The current price for damages to the state from Sandy is $32.8 billion, with $19 billion apportioned to damages in New York City alone.  With this data available, hopefully this proposed investment will be deemed wise, particularly in light of the dire predictions of increases in the frequency of super storms.

The current proposed plan would rearrange the location of huge electrical transformers from the basements of large commercial buildings to the upper levels to prevent power failures.  Also, the state would have the systems in place to shutter key tunnels, airports and subway systems, locking out floodwaters.  Additionally, Cuomo wants to construct a seawall to prevent beach erosion and destructive surges into the city and Long Island.  Another item on board in the plan calls for the requirement for health care facilities to be equipped with backup power located at upper levels, rather than in basements.

It will be interesting to see how Gov. Cuomo’s plans play out in the current political environment, especially with the looming fiscal cliff,  Clearly the ultimate concern here is to take adequate steps to prevent injury and loss of life during extreme weather occurrences.  While there is an expectation that the federal government will offer financial support to address these problems, it also will be mandatory for each of the states affected by the storm to step up to the plate financially.  This is especially true regarding seawall barriers.

An excellent case study on the role of states in the construction and maintenance of water protection systems can be found the study of post-Katrina recovery efforts in New Orleans.  After the devastation by Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers spent $12 billion to build a system of gates, walls and armored levees to protect the city during future storms.  There still remains approximately $1 billion worth of work to be completed.  A looming issue here is the cost of upkeep of this system, which carries a hefty and ongoing, but mandatory, price tag.  By necessity, New Orleans instituted a levee tax, which was just renewed by voters.  Consequently, if a seawall is approved and constructed in New York, the citizens there can expect to shoulder the financial responsibility for its maintenance.

Another issue that will have to be addresses is oversight of any water protection projects.  Under the Flood Control Act of 1936, the Army Corps of Engineers transferred the maintenance of water-control projects to local and/or state authorities.   New York State and/or City would have to put in place the necessary authorities to handle any seawall projects constructed there.  This project will be a very expensive system which will require strict inspections and maintenance to be effective.

The recovery from Hurricane Sandy will be long, difficult and expensive.  This storm has forced New York and surrounding states to “rethink” its infrastructure.  We can expect long debates and compromises to fix the problem, and we know that the cost of any solutions will be large and ongoing.  Hurricane Sandy and the expectation of future storms of this magnitude have forced all of us to “rethink” our relationship with the earth.  Now more than ever, we need to live green, be green.

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Kyoto Protocol Convention

Kyoto Protocol Convention (Photo credit: Marufish)

The opening sessions of the United Nations Climate Change meeting in Doha, Qatar witnessed the United States resisting pledges of steeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.  U.S. Deputy climate envoy John Pershing stated, “President Obama was sticking to his 2009 goal of cutting emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020″.  Even that target was rejected by the U.S. Senate.

The United States’ refusal to back the Kyoto Protocol has been joined by China, Russia, Japan and Canada, leaving the European Union and Australia as the larger countries supporting the pact, along with ore than 100 developing countries and Kyoto backers.  The recent protocol dropouts agree with the position of the United States that “it is meaningless to extend cuts under Kyoto when big emerging countries have no curbs on emission”.  It is for this very reason that the United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  The worry here is that without extension of the Kyoto Protocol, there only would be national actions without any legally binding UN pacts.

With the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and its ever-increasing price tag still on the minds of Americans, along with the acknowledgement of key political figures that climate change and global warming are harsh realities that need urgent attention, it is evident that Americans are ready to tackle these issues.  Additionally, President Obama pledged to do more to address the issues of climate change in his second term.  With or without the Kyoto Protocol, it is important that we as citizens educate ourselves on the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, keeping dialogue on the forefront.  More than ever, we must demand that our elected officials commit to plans to upgrade failing power grids and outdated infrastructure and to implement solutions for cleaner and more efficient energy.  Now is the time for America to take the lead and be the driving force to effect change so that we live green, be green.

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Designed as a marketing ploy or not, Unilever’s goals in its “Sustain Ability Challenge” are commendable and worthy of notice.  Unilever, the global health and food conglomerate known for brands such as Ben and Jerry’s, Dove, and Knorr is trying to use their worldwide presence as a way to change consumer behavior towards sustainable living.

A total of twelve United Kingdom families will take part in the “Sustain Ability Challenge”. In the social experiment, “Families will test practical ways to adapt their daily routines and adopt more sustainable behavior, for example, not throwing away food and not over buying.” Prior to the experiment, families were told that such proactive measures would help them reduce up to fifteen percent off their food budgets and up to twenty five percent off their total waste.

The company hopes to, “…Understand the triggers and barriers to changing consumer behavior towards more sustainable choices.” The decision to start the project came as a result of the nearly seventy percent of consumers in a recent poll citing price and expenses and being the primary reasons behind their failure to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. The most admirable part of the experiment however is that Unilever is planning to use the research to help spark a global movement.  Specifically the firm’s long term goal is to, “…Use the research to shape its conversations with Government and other commercial firms to address broader issues of consumer behavior change.” Changes in social behavior start on a local level, but it is through the actions of governmental bodies that truly drive the sustainable movement forward. Even if done as a marketing stunt, Unilever’s “Sustain Able Challenge” is worthy of praise, if not simply for the fact that it brings about awareness for a truly worthwhile cause. Either way, let’s all take this social experiment as an example of how we can all live green, and be green.


An economic case for high speed rail in America: We, as Americans, tend to have an inherent belief that America is the greatest nation on earth. The metric used to arrive at this belief is typically not one based on stats, figures, or data, but on a sincere love for this country. While there is nothing wrong with loving one’s country, there is something inherently wrong with allowing love to blind us from the facts. Across a multitude of metrics, America falls short of the number one spot. Two of those metrics coincide both in reality and in the reason for this blog; green energy and high speed rail. When discussing the implementation of high speed rail in America there are two numbers to take into account: The roughly $2.2 trillion in infrastructure investments[1] neededby America and the unemployment rate for October 2012, which was 7.9%[2].

Before explaining the need to initiate the implementation of high speed rail in America, we first must define the term itself. The definition of high speed rail varies in the international community and within the United States. The International Union of Railways defines it as systems of rolling stock and infrastructure which regularly operates at speeds of 155 mph on new tracks, while only at 125 mph on older tracks.[3] In the United States the definition tends to vary, with the accepted minimum being 90 mph. A major argument that is used against the implementation of high speed rail in America is that the nation is too large and that it would be too costly. However, while a national high speed rail system would be the end goal decades down the line, it is not the main aim of high speed rail. High speed rail would be used as a viable option to connect “mega-regions” throughout the United States. Mega-regions are defined as large-scale economic units of multiple large cities and their surrounding suburbs.[4] The mega-regions within the USA are responsible for over 75% of our economic activity.  These mega-regions extend over vast areas, ranging from Boston to D.C. and from Pittsburg to Chicago. This writer can attest to the pains of driving from NYC to Washington D.C.

The economic opportunity provided by such decreased times is quite obvious at first glance. The most noticeable is Philadelphia becoming a suburb of NYC.  It then would take me roughly five more minutes to travel to NYC by train while only living within fifteen miles of the city. Many will note that the Acela train, operated by Amtrak, already runs the north-east corridor route. The Acela, despite having limited speeds for most of its journey, as well as no dedicated track, can be deemed a success story. From 2000 to 2010, ticket revenues on the Acela line grew by 87%. Furthermore, despite only accounting for 10% of Amtrak’s ridership, the Acela line accounted for 25% of ticket revenue.  It comes as no surprise then that Acela has the best revenue of any of the Amtrak lines.[5] The success of the Acela line demonstrates both the restrained demand for high speed rail and its viability as a transportation system. Still, some question if high speed rail is worth it. Within the Stimulus, the Obama administration guaranteed money for the purpose of the creation of high speed rail. However, in several cases Republican governors refused the funds on ideological grounds. If we are to look back into history, what would we say to any governor who refused the interstate highway system? We would likely call that individual a fool and rightfully so. High speed rail has the opportunity to be the interstate highway system of the 21st century.

My final point is perhaps a bit existential, but nonetheless is one I feel must be addressed. I began this post discussing the notion of America being the greatest nation on earth.  There is a bridge in Trenton, NJ with the following inscription: “WE MAKE IT, THE WORLD TAKES IT”. To those of my generation, this may seem somewhat ironic; however, this was not always the case. America is still a manufacturing superpower, but it has lost ground. Now we must approach this realistically and recognize that a great deal of our manufacturing success came from the devastation unleashed on the rest of the world during WW2. However, we must also recognize that the demise of American manufacturing is not solely due to the rise of the rest of the world. We celebrate the resurgence of the American auto industry and lament the reign on imports over the past several decades. Yet, we are never told that the manufacturing system that caused Japanese imports to dominate world markets was first offered to American manufactures. Our country turned it down and the rest is history. America’s dominance of the global economy has much to do with the timely decimation of others, but just as much to do with what we produce.  When we look back on times of American prosperity, we find that it was the United States that was manufacturing the world’s most advanced technologies, while inventing many of them at the same time. At some point in time this all changed, and we have witnessed the decline ever since. We decry that supposedly all of our good are made in Mexico and China, yet we must recognize that most of those jobs are not coming back. This must be an accepted reality. If people are already frustrated at t-shirts and iPhones made in China, what happens when it’s our nation’s mass transportation system? Around the world millions of people are being pulled out of poverty and nations that were once written off are becoming some of the most economically developed in the world. Within a decade we will see an explosion of people in the middle income range around the world. High-speed rail has already proven to be a success in Europe, Japan, and China. No doubt others will seek to emulate this success. So where will they turn? The answer can be America, and this country will be able to solve a multitude of our other problems, such as unemployment. Americans tend to hold the attitude that if you are not first, then you are last. In the case of the hegemonic power of the 21st century, whoever dominates the green market will keep or gain that mantle.





For good news Monday, the message is that green Christmas gifts keep giving long after the holiday season is over.  We now are approaching the end of November, and the holiday shopping season is in full swing. Many of us dared to brave the crowds on Black Friday and throughout the weekend, only to find many of the offerings did not excite us.  A lot of the toys were imported and were not that stimulating and most likely will entertain children for a few days and then end up in toy boxes and closets.  Some were even toxic and unsafe.  The selections in clothes often were pretty boring, and we know that they will end up in a drawer or on a hanger, ignored until the spring yard sales.

This holiday shopping season is a great time to be conscious of green initiatives.  With the philosophy of giving green Christmas gifts that keep giving, Christmas shopping becomes more meaningful.  First of all, this brand of shopping makes gift giving more thoughtful because it requires really thinking about the recipients and then selecting something special for them that you know they  would enjoy but may not likely purchase for themselves.  A gift could be a class for the budding photographer, painter, dancer or maybe ski lessons.  Tickets to an event or show often make great gifts.  Gift certificates to a farm-to-table restaurant is a great way to introduce friends or family to eating green and supporting local eateries.  Membershipsto museums, green foundations and organizations, which offer meetings and special events for members provide opportunities for recipients to learn and be entertained at functions and programs.  Two great sites to check ideas and deals for Christmas shopping is and Groupon.

All i want for christmas is you

All i want for christmas is you (Photo credit: Lauren Manning)

So for this holiday season, please try to think out of the box when selecting gifts for family and friends.  Have a green Christmas when it comes to giving gifts.  I guarantee you that this will be less stressful, eco-friendly and healthier for you and the environment.  As always, live green, be green.

The Alliance of Institutional Investors, a coalition of the world’s largest investors have called on governments to focus on climate change and to strongly support investments in clean energy.  This group stated in an open letter that “rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and more extreme weather were increasing investment risks globally”.

The alliance’s call for governments to address the issue of climate change more aggressively precedes the start of the United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar where approximately 200 countries will convene with the goal of extending the Kyoto Protocol, which is the existing plan adopted by developed nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions and is slated to expire at the end of this year.

The alliance notes that governments can effectively address climate change and cleaner energy by adopting the proper policies that would make investment in clean and efficient energy attractive to institutional investors.  It also voiced the urgent need to issue “strong carbon-reducing policies”.  The letter came with a dire warning that failure on the part of governments to act to address climate change with its warming trends would result in extreme weather occurrences becoming more typical and costly as recently witnessed with Hurricane Sandy.

Hopefully, the United Nations climate talks scheduled for 11/26 through 12/7 will be productive and will result in the establishment of global collaborative policies and plans to aggressively attack the problems of climate change.  With the support of institute investors, governments can expect to make huge gains in the fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions and create cleaner energy efficiently so that we all can live green, be green.

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Climate change

Climate change (Photo credit: jeancliclac)

I often find myself wanting to be as sustainable as possible. However, in many instances, the information is not available on how my specific choices will impact the environment, or if it is, I feel alone in doing the environmentally friendly thing.  With a new startup called Oroeco, founder Ian Monroe is looking to change the behavior of individuals to act sustainably.  He is doing this by quantitatively showing the environmental impact with each decision made by a person.

The entire concept for the company arose when Monroe saw that the information needed to make ecologically sound decisions was being held by consulting firms and intellectuals rather than consumers. According to Monroe, Oroeco attempts to overcome this challenge by, “…Creating a personal sustainability tool that includes social games, competitions and rewards, in order  to encourage a more sustainable lifestyle. The game will harness information with mobile devises and social networks and games and combine those into a tool that provides information and incentives for making sustainable choices on a daily basis.”

By tracking daily purchases, and quantitatively displaying the impact of that specific decision, each consumer will have the power to make a decision with much more information at hand than previously available. Going further into the mechanics of the operation, Monroe stated, “We automatically link up to all your spending and investment with a website called Through your using your credit or debit card we can calculate your climate change footprint according to what you purchase for groceries, your gas, airfare, health and education expenditures.”

In addition, by constructing the paradigm to be as a game amongst friends and communities, people will want to act sustainably, even for the wrong reasons. The structure taps into two ideas that promote global change and behavior: Incentives and competition. The social media aspect of the business utilizes these ideas by creating rewards for good behavior. As a result of these rewards, more individuals are likely to participate and try to outdo one another, thus creating, in this case, a competition amongst individuals and communities on who can live the most sustainably. The key to Oroeco’s success however will be the aforementioned participation element. In this case, let’s all try to do our part and live green and play green.


The renewal of the production tax credit for wind energy prior to its scheduled expiration at the end of the year would best serve traditional Republican or red states.  The 2012 election results clearly shows that most Americans believe that clean renewable energy is important and that oil is not representative of energy resources in our country’s future.  This clearly was evidenced by the defeat of candidates backed by polluters and their “dirty energy” dollars.

Presently, the strongest wind resources in the country are in Texas, Kansas and South Dakota, with Texas claiming bragging rights for the most installed wind power at a rate of 10 gigawatts per  hour or the equivalent of five Hoover Dams.  Statistics indicate that 81% of wind installed in America is in Republican districts.

Additional reasons to extend the production tax credit include the following:

  • Its expiration would result in the loss of 37,000 jobs, mostly in Republican districts.
  • Letting any tax expire is commensurate to raising taxes, which would not be good for the nation or for the states that already are heavily invested in these projects.

The production tax credit is good for both the economy and the environment, and it should not be held political hostage during the debates on measures to be taken to avoid the looming fiscal cliff.  The best way to help save this important tax credit is to let your elected officials know your position at the following website:

The production tax credit extension will serve as clear notice by our elected officials that they are ready to put aside partisan bickering and come together to do the work of the people so that we all can live green, be green.

Sources for this article:

wind power

wind power (Photo credit: twicepix)