Atlantic Ocean shore at Longport, New Jersey

Atlantic Ocean shore at Longport, New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The summer beach season has opened officially on the east coast, and while we hear commercials, politicians and even President Obama declaring that the New Jersey shore communities are “stronger than the storm“, we must question the hasty rebuilding of shoreline communities and businesses in time to accommodate the tourist season as a show of strength versus  resilience.

Rebuilding homes in these communities, along with replacing board walks and amusement parks, definitely indicates resilience and determination to continue a tradition and industry that is crucial to the region.  However, these actions alone do not translate necessarily to strength, a required attribute to prevent such devastation during future storms.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines resilience as “the capability of a strained body to recover the size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive strength”.  To that end, many of these communities are resilient in that they have rebuilt and reopened post Hurricane Sandy.  On the other hand, the concept of being stronger, by definition implies “an ability to endure stress, pain or hard use without giving way”.  It is questionable whether these communities, in their hasty return to open in time for the tourist season, actually adopted measures to ensure that they have greater strength than previously to withstand future violent storms.

An interesting and provocative source for  information on rebuilding after a devastating storm can be found in a paper released on December 12, 2012 by the Association of State Floodplain Managers, Inc.  This report “outlines some of the actions that communities, individuals, businesses, and state and federal officials can take to reduce the suffering, damage, and risks from events like Hurricane Sandy in the future.” Acknowledging the need to use the destruction caused by Sandy as a learning opportunity to avoid such damage and destruction in the future, this paper alerts us of the need to alter our reaction to violent weather disasters so as not to keep making the same mistakes.  As stated in the paper, despite the experience of several hurricanes,  including Andrew, Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and recently Irene and Sandy, most of the nation still lacks an adequate “rebuilding policy to deal with situations when a large area is impacted by an extreme event.”

This reports details specific steps to take to reconstruct communities that are safer, and disaster resistant.  It specifically addresses concerns with deteriorating and poorly designed infrastructure.  Changes need to be made in the location of power grids and storm drainage systems.  Also, changes in land use, addressing density limits and only allowing open space compatible use is important to protect people in areas that are “100% guaranteed to flood again”.  Careful planning and implementation cannot be done in a hasty fashion.  To do so places these communities at the risk of new destruction during future storms.

As we celebrate the reopening of the Jersey shore communities in time for the beach season, local, state and federal officials must continue to work to make our communities really “stronger than the storm”, not just resilient to the storm.  To do so truly is to “live green, be green.


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The ever-growing movement to repeal the very controversial Monsanto Protection Act has garnered the support of both the Tea Party and the green movement, thereby breeding strange bedfellows.  The Monsanto Protection Act “allows Monsanto and other companies to continue selling genetically engineered seeds, even if a court has blocked them from doing so”. [1]  In recent months, federal courts have ruled against the Department of Agriculture, who approved the sale of genetically engineered seeds, stating that the agency acted hastily in their approval, without giving careful consideration to the seeds’ “potential harm“.  In response to these rulings, the seed industry lobby fought back and was successful in attaching the Monsanto Protection Act as a resolution to the spending bill signed into law in March.  Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) took note of the rider and spoke out against it on the Senate floor.  Unfortunately, his voice fell on a typically empty floor, resulting in Tester’s failure to garner enough votes to block the passage of the rider.  This bill then was signed by President Obama as a part of the massive spending bill.

Now we see true activism at work.  Many conservatives, namely the Tea Party, are voicing opposition to the Monsanto Protection Act, particularly on the underhanded way this resolution was passed.  Of course, proponents of the green movement are opposed to the Monsanto Protection Act based on environmental and health concerns. [2]  While the reasons for opposition of the Monsanto Protection Act may vary in that the Tea Party opposes “the special interest loophole for friends of Congress” [3], and the green movement opposes GMOs [2], the opposition itself reflects a coalition unencumbered by politics.  The goal here is a unified one:  namely to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act.

Such activism is refreshing in this current toxic and partisan political atmosphere, which typically results in gridlock and ineffective action or inaction.  We now see the potential power of the people at work.  The Monsanto Protection Act is a bad deal on so many fronts.  We need a united stand to repeal this act.  We here at LGBG urge our readers to contact your senator (see list below) [4] and voice your opposition to the Monsanto Protection Act.  To do so is to live green, be green.


Sources for this article:


Washington DC - Capitol Hill: United States Ca...

Washington DC – Capitol Hill: United States Capitol (Photo credit: wallyg)


Today’s presidential inauguration presents a wonderful and unique opportunity to celebrate and recommit to living a healthy green lifestyle.  Inauguration is defined as “the beginning of a system or period”.  As such, this period of transition to a new administrative period in Washington, DC, represents a chance to start fresh to accomplish the work of the people.  As stewards of the earth and protectors of the environment, today is the day for us to celebrate our victories, thank our many foot soldiers and heroes, identify our challenges and band together as one voice to promote our causes and pursue our agenda.  The observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on this day, with its focus on service to our country, serves to bolster our spirit and commitment to the Earth.  I find it extremely poignant that President Obama will take his oath on Dr. King’s travel Bible facing the direction of the King Memorial,  creating a dramatic reminder of our duty to this land, as the scripture admonishes us to replenish the Earth.


As we listen to the oaths, speeches and commentaries at today’s inaugural events, let’s take our own oaths to continue to do the seemingly small, but effective things to reduce pollution and waste, such as recycling, reducing our gas and meat consumption, supporting businesses that are kind to the environment and calling out those who violate the earth.  Also, be that voice that speaks out to identify issues and brings elected officials to task when they fail to represent the constituents as they should.  Rally around organizations who lobby for green initiatives in Washington, DC, who often ask for no more than that you lend a signature to a petition to show support for that eco-friendly position on a particular issue. Additionally, let’s support our organizations who are working hard to effect change.  Please consider donations of time and/or money to their wonderful causes.  They truly are the foot soldiers of this movement.


We at LGBG feel honored to work for all things green.  We are grateful for the many friends and associations we have made, and we enter this inaugural period with a stronger sense of urgency and commitment to a green lifestyle.  We hope that this day will be a day of reflection, happiness, peace and celebration for our nation and for all things green.  This is the day that we reinforce our commitment to “be the change we want to see”.  Happy Inauguration Day!  Let’s live green, be green!


In response to the outcry following the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings on the heels of several other incidences of gun violence in schools and public arenas, the Obama administration unveiled a substantial proposal to address the issue of gun violence in America, triggering objections from guns-rights supporters, but gaining the support of millions of American citizens.  The President’s proposal has four principal components:

  • Law enforcement.
  • The availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition.
  • School safety.
  • Mental health.

To effectively impact all four of the principal elements of the sweeping proposal, President Obama made the following recommendations:

  • Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales.
  • Reinstating the assault weapons ban.
  • Restoring a 10-round ammunition limit in magazines.
  • Eliminating armor-piercing bullets.
  • Providing mental health services in schools.
  • Allocating funds to hire more police officers.
  • Instituting a federal gun trafficking statute.

Many political observers and gun lobbyists are voicing complaints about the massive effort to address the gun violence problem, which is leaving a huge black mark on our society today.  Complaints range from disagreement with the attempt at such a massive overhaul of the current ineffective gun regulations to outcries of political overreach by the current administration and violation of citizens’ second Amendment rights to bear arms.

It appears that some key points are being overlooked here.  The level of gun violence should send a distress signal to each and every one of us in this nation, particularly when we peel back the layers of each past instance and see the consistent pattern of mental illness, social maladjustment, bullying, etc., all toxic ingredients woven into the fabric of this ridiculous mayhem.  This is an awful testament to any society, let alone one such as ours, which consistently touts our civility, intelligence, Christian values, and sense of humanity.  We consistently show pride for our liberty and rights, as we should; however, we need to stop and consider the rights of others to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Surely any parent who sends their children to school or to a public place, such as a shopping center or a movie, should have the reasonable expectation that their children will return to them.  Acknowledging this right and working to enforce it will not take away from the rights of law-abiding citizens who want to own weapons, not by any means, and that is not the intent of any gun legislation.  If done the right way, gun owners will still have their guns, if they are legally entitled to do so.

In the height of the emotion and standoff over the proposed gun regulations, we need to stop and think.  The families of Sandy Hook Elementary School, as well as the Giffords and other families who were affected by mass killings have taken this opportunity to stand together for a safer world from gun violence at a time that is anything but convenient for them as their wounds and hurt are so raw and real.  It is awful, an abomination, that we declare our rights to take up arms so loudly because of potential possibilities of aggression that may or may not happen when these wonderful people are speaking up trying to convey the message of the reality of gun violence, a stark and dismal reality for them that will haunt them for the remainder of their lives and a reality that they are trying to prevent the rest of us from every experiencing.  Why can’t we listen–  “Be still and know.” (Psalm 46:10).

It was poignant to see the nation rally and support the communities that have suffered horrible attacks of gun violence.  Now let’s really help by working to save America’s children.  We can put an end to the senseless acts of violence going on in America today.  As the victims of these tragedies reach out to our legislators and communities to solve the issue of gun violence and its impact on the American family, let’s listen and accept the message that this has to stop.  To do so is to protect our family and definitely is a great way to live green, be green.

Sources for this article:


America (Photo credit: acb)


Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

Any discussion of the looming fiscal cliff must address the impact on green initiatives as any budget cuts or tax increases will adversely impact the efforts of both families and businesses to go green.  With the realization that compromises will have to be made on both sides across the aisle, it remains important that our elected representatives focus on the fact that governmental spending need to include investment in human and physical matters that will pay dividends in the future.  A green economy qualifies for such investment because its tenets lead to a healthier society and an environmentally friendly world.

Several of the tax incentives for living green were derived from the Bush era tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of this year if not renewed by Congress, thus creating the looming fiscal cliff.  A few notable ones to mention are as follows:

  • The residential energy efficiency credit.  This credit is given to homeowners who purchase high energy-efficient appliances and home improvements.  Many Americans have received reductions in tax liability through the use of these credits while at the same time making their homes more energy-efficient.
  • The American Opportunity Credit.  This credit provides a $2500 tuition tax credit, thereby enabling more people to go to college.  This opportunity directly affects the potential pool of trained people needed in the research and development of green technology and the direct training needed for operation of green industries.
  • The payroll tax credit.  Taxpayers will see a decrease in their take home checks if this credit expires, thus impacting their ability to exercise healthier choices in the purchase of foods and organic products.
  • The production tax credit (PTC).  This credit subsidizes wind power by 2.2 cents a kilowatt hour.  This is important to states and localities working hard to establish wind power as an alternative energy source.

As the discussion and bargaining proceed over the next few weeks, it is important that we advocate our positions on green initiatives which will be affected by budget decisions.  Now is the time to contact your congressmen by phone or email and state your position on these issues.  Today’s investment of time will reap tomorrow’s dividends.  Let’s live green, be green.



Last night, during his victory speech, President Obama made note that in the coming years we must take notice and attempt to neutralize the threat posed by global warming. Of course, this raises the question of how this will be undertaken and how it will affect the economy. When we looked at this election cycle, we did not see climate change brought up as a campaign point, so to sketch out the next four years, we must look at the past four. With regards to climate change and the economy, we can see some key areas that Mr. Obama has at least focused on, if not attempting to enact policy, namely fuel efficiency, green energy and jobs, high-speed rail, and oil subsidies. Let’s take a quick look at each one of these and see how the President’s policy regarding them could affect the economy.
The Obama administration set new standards in fuel efficiency. These standards will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light duty trucks by the model year 2025. These standards are projected to save US consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump, while decreasing US oil consumption by 12 million barrels.  The adoption of these measures alone will cut down on one of the most painful costs for American families, allowing them to spend more on more beneficial sources of consumption. Furthermore, these standards increase incentives for hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as charging stations. These incentives could help to reduce costs, and as such, decrease barriers to entry into the market. Government assistance also could help propel the US into the coveted position of world leader in the electric vehicle market. The President has made a point to increase exports and promote electric vehicles, and this certainly could play into this.
Concerning green jobs, the President had in the past secured a tax credit for clean energy jobs, research, and production. Many manufacturers awaited the outcome of the elections with trepidation, as Gov. Romney stated multiple times he would end all subsidies to green energy. We will likely see the President push for a continuation, if not an expansion, of these tax credits over the next four years. Justification for these subsidies would be the infant industry theory, wherein the industry would likely not survive for the time being without the subsidies. Another green sector in the economy would be mass transportation. The Administration has laid plans for national high speed rail lines in the past. The stimulus included funds for the upgrading of creating “high speed railroads” as they are known in the rest of the world. The Administration will likely push for high speed rail for both economic and political reasons. Politically, the promise of jobs and a more centralized connection and access to major population centers could entice blue collar voters to go Democrat in rural and economically depressed counties.
Finally, the President has made a continuous push over the last year to end subsidies for oil and gas companies. While it was not discussed much in the election, the fiscal cliff is still on the horizon. It presents a perfect opportunity for the President to press for an end to oil subsidies. Simultaneously extending and or increasing green energy tax credits, while getting rid of oil subsidies, could give the green energy market more of an advantage and make costs of production and prices more competitive.
Regardless of what’s undertaken, transitioning one’s economy is a difficult task. Climate change is very much real, and it presents a very credible threat to our standard of living and economy. However, it also presents new opportunities for economic success. We can either go down with the sinking ship that is fossil fuels or we can jump ship and transition to a green economy. The US has been the hegemonic power for the past century because of its economic might, which has been driven by an innovative spirit and position as the most competitive player on the world stage in the most important industries. For the 21st century, that is green energy. I believe the Administration sees it this way, yet the realities of the world may replace restrictions on what can be done. The President has made climate change an issue.  now he must convince the people and Congress it really of the same.

Sources for this article are:

By Sean McGuire

Now that the 2012 election is over, Monday morning quarterbacks are examining their play books to determined what did and did not work and where they stand on their key issues.  The same holds true for proponents of green initiatives.  The commitment and actions of green coalitions, scientists and ordinary committed citizens over the past few years have yielded remarkable results in the fight to give climate change and global warming the attention it requires.  While it is unfortunate that it took Hurricane Sandy’s catastrophic descent on major northeastern urban centers in this country to garner the call to action from political leaders, it still is important to recognize that the platform is here now.  With the visual record of Sandy’s attack fresh in our minds and the costs of the devastation still rising, it is mandatory that we use this window of opportunity to aggressively move forward to advance a green agenda to address the problem of climate change.

Today we celebrate the reelection of Barack Obama, who, in his victory speech, specifically addressed the need for a country “that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet“.  Our agenda finally has made it to the national spotlight.  As concerned citizens, we must hold the President and other elected officials accountable for addressing this problem.  To do this, the green movement must rethink and regroup its strategies with the goal to establish a major voting block inclusive of all people committed to protect and preserve the earth.  We particularly need the energy of young people ages 18 to 30, who have a real stake in this movement because the condition of the planet directly affects their tomorrow.  With a strong lobby and voting block established, the green movement can secure the commitment of elected officials and candidates who have the option of effectively representing this voting block or face defeat.  This is our time to propel climate change to the position it deserves, upfront and center with health care, foreign policy and the economy.  This is a natural progression as this issue is fully woven into the pattern of all of every existing item on the national agenda and can no longer be ignored.

As we address the hard work ahead for the green movement, it is important that we celebrate the victories achieved in this election.

  • The persistent efforts and education by the League of Conservation Voters and other policy interest groups and watchdogs resulted in the defeat of three “Flat Earth Fivers”, namely Joe Walsh of Illinois, Ann Marie Buerkle of New York and Francisco Conseco of Texas.
  • Rhode Island voters approved a bond for $0 million to fund wastewater and drinking water projects.
  • The state of Maine approved several water, sewer, conservation and transportation bonds.
  • The city of Longmont, Colorado anti-fracking activists were successful in upholding a ban on hydraulic fracking and storage of fracking waste within city limits.
  • Seattle, Washington voters overwhelmingly approved a 30-year bond for $290 million to rebuild the Elliott Bay seawall.

There were a lot of lessons to be learned from this contentious election campaign.  Perhaps the most important is the admonition by former President Bill Clinton at the Democratic Convention that “we are all in this together’.  With this in mind, let’s use this new day to roll up our sleeves and work hard to live green, be green.

From Darkness to Light - please read

From Darkness to Light – (Photo credit: ecstaticist)

This week’s NBC Education Nation was touted as a must-attend/must-see event for anyone interested in the education of America’s youth.  This summit, hosted by NBC in New York’s Rockefeller Center brought together more than 300 leaders in education, philanthropy, government and the media.  Guest speakers included President Barack Obama, Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and a host of other CEO’s, politicians, journalists, etc.

I have followed this summit online, reading excerpts from town hall meetings and blogs, as well as watching reports on the local news stations.  A lot of problems with the education system have been mentioned, but the subject noticeably avoided was green initiatives.  In fact, some of the suggestions offered may conflict with the green movement.  Primarily, there is an emphasis on technology in education, which endorses equipping students with tablets, laptops and smart phones to be used in the classroom.  While this may sound like a great idea on the surface, one can only imagine the magnitude of the negative impact of this huge amount of electronic debris on the environment.  Of course, such ideas are great for Microsoft and other computer and electronics manufacturers, who make large notations to schools or who sell these products to students at a discount, thereby reaping large financial gain and tax credits.  Their bottom line is different than that of the green movement.  Also, one must question the equity in this suggested program.  To effectively address the issue of education, any program would need to be inclusive of all children irrespective of station in life.  It would be unfair for students in the poor school districts to be left out of these programs because they do not have access to Internet or other systems necessary to support the use of these devices.

Another topic not addressed at the summit was learning environment.  To be successful in school, students need access to physically healthy structures.  This summit seemed to ignore the fact that there are a lot of “sick” school buildings still in use, once again predominantly in poor communities.  Many children in this country attend schools that are polluted with mildew, mold, outdated structures or inadequate/no heating system or air conditioning, thereby making learning difficult or impossible.  The provision of a suitable learning environment has to be part of the education nation dialogue.

A third topic of the summit was online learning.  There are two sides to this story also.  Access to online courses is beneficial to some people, but it should not replace the traditional classroom, which presents a valuable opportunity to ask questions, and more importantly, to hear the questions and comments of other students and instructors.  I can recall times that a student did not ask a question, but a teacher recognized a confused look and addressed concerns of that individual.  Online courses potentially remove the ability of a teacher to recognize the need for additional help from a student who may not be able to verbalize this need.  Any online course programs definitely should incorporate a hybrid component, which require some face-to-face group meetings.  Additionally, school attendance presents an opportunity for the school systems to guarantee healthy meals for breakfasts and lunches.  This is important for so many children and must be continued.

The issues discussed here represent only a few of the issues that needed to be addressed at the NBC Education Nation Summit.  There was some discussion of curriculum, but the Summit should have included experts in the green movement, as these individuals are well aware of the environmental issues that need to be addressed through education.  Discussion could have included the need for commitment to develop and implement educational programs to build the workforce to find solutions to green issues threatening the planet.

This writer thinks the NBC Education Nation has earned an F for its grade for this year’s summit.  Our very existence mandates that we learn green, live green, be green!

Green initiatives were not well represented in 2012 NBC Education Nation Summit