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)


Perhaps the use of new and more ominous terminology will convince nonbelievers that global warming caused by climate change is a reality.  There is a possibility that our senses no longer are stimulated to initiate our fear and defense mechanisms when we hear terms like hurricane, tropical storm or even thunderstorm.  However, one has to admit that “post-tropical cyclone” wakes you up, as does tsunami and derecho.  The latter word even forces you to click on the online dictionary or Wikipedia so as to be informed of its meaning.  For those of you clicking those sites now, it is a fast-moving violent thunderstorm complex, a counterpart to a tornado, that creates wind damage along a swath of more than 240 miles and produces wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour.

Whatever the terminology needed to stimulate the senses of the global warming nonbelievers, it is difficult to imagine that anyone can look at the pictures of the storm aftermath in places like New York City and New Jersey (especially Atlantic City) and not realize that global warming with its extreme weather occurrences is for real.  Let’s face it, even staunch Republican Chris Christie had a come-to-Jesus moment.  I applaud him for totally putting aside political concerns and recognizing that the damage he sees today is for real, not a movie set of post-apocalyptic New Jersey.  Hopefully, this experience will initiate conversation on strategies to make the environmental changes necessary to “turn the tide” in that state.

While some people still will point out that storms of this magnitude have occurred before, such as a similar occurrence on Long Island in 1938, experts agree that this storm delivered the worst damage in history to low-lying coastal areas.  It shattered records going back to 1969 in terms of kinetic energy, which is a measurement of wind speed integrated over the width of an area where the wind is blowing.  Also, it set a record in New York for the worst hurricane since the city was founded in 1624 due to its 9 foot storm surge on top of high tide, bringing water levels to 13.88 feet in the Battery.

It remains clear that proponents of green living support the movement to address issues of global warming and climate change and do not need catastrophic weather events to recognize that we need to take positive steps to save our planet.  They will do that anyway for many reasons, whether they be practical, moral, ethical, spiritual, economical or what have you.  However, let’s face it, now that Heaven and Earth have spoken, what more proof do the nonbelievers need?

In the coming days, let’s be safe, think green and live green.

Post-tropical cyclone attacks New York


Despite the criticism of skeptics and conservative politicians, the green job movement is moving forward and progressing.  In fact, a report issued last week by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) states that the growth and benefits of green jobs are even stronger than previously expected.  After its analysis of employment data from the Brookings Institution and the Pew Center on the States, who undertook the task of categorizing green jobs on a detailed industry and occupational level, the EPI concludes the following:

  • Green industries are growing faster than the overall economy, at a rate of 2,5 times as fast as other jobs.
  • States with green jobs withstood the recession and fared better than those without green jobs.
  • Approximately 20% of all green jobs are in the manufacturing sector, which is great for the economy because roughly 5.5 million jobs in this area have been lost since 2000.
  • Green jobs offer pathways into the middle class.  These jobs tend to require less education but pay better wages.  This is good for people who cannot afford to go to college but still need good jobs that pay well, enabling them to support their families in a wholesome and healthy manner.

Now we need to adopt the appropriate governmental policies on all levels–local, state and federal–to support the positive movement in the green economy.  This includes investing in storm water infrastructure and supporting energy efficiency programs in cities and states.  We need long-term commitment to businesses involved in solar and wind energy.  Most importantly, we need a change in mindset.  Only through education and technology with demonstrated successes in improvement of air and water quality and reduction in adverse health conditions attributed to pollution will we reverse our dependence on coal and fossil fuels, which are so detrimental to our environment.

A green economy is a win-win situation for everyone.  We can keep moving forward by practicing healthy living, educating our families and communities on green initiatives and demanding that our elected officials support the green movement through public policy.  We know that these strategies are important ingredients in the recipe to live green, be green.

Green economy pays off

As we enter the second week of Vegetarian Awareness Month, hopefully green initiates are using this period of awareness to take a look at their nutrition and using the abundance of information found on green websites to tweak their diets.  Having done this myself, I conclude that veganism and vegetarianism produce better consumers.

One of the first thing I learned from studying the veganism and vegetarianism is that decisions regarding the purchase of food should be addressed prior to going to the grocery store, rather than while walking up and down the food aisles.  With research at home, the consumer is better prepared to decipher and understand food labels and, most importantly, to recognize a real deal.  Prepackaged foods full of chemicals and preservatives then will be recognized as not deals at any price.  Also, the consumer learns that often it is a better deal to visit local farm stands to take advantage of fresh vegetables and fruits grown locally as opposed to those on the store shelves that were shipped from distant warehouses and are not fresh.

Veganism and vegetarianism also focus on education.  Most of the people and organizations committed to this movement are more than happy to share interesting and helpful tips and suggestions with interested consumers.  Even some stores, such as Whole Foods, have available books on the values of healthy eating, including cookbooks with recipes to prepare healthy and appetizing meals, which they will loan to consumers.

Some of the concerns voiced by consumers who question vegan and vegetarian diets are noteworthy.  One of the principal issues raised is the cost of vegan and vegetarian diets, which can be expensive.  The important thing to consider here is that there is a happy medium.  It is possible to study the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet and then to introduce more fruits and vegetables into meals, along with meat, seafood and dairy.  The vegetables and fruits can be made the centerpiece of the meal and the meat or seafood the side dish.  Another concern mentioned is the need to satisfy the necessary dietary requirements for protein, fat and vitamins derived from meat.  Research into nutritional values of vegetables and fruits, along with the addition of beans and legumes is mandatory to guarantee a healthy diet.

Healthy living mandates healthy eating.  Moderation in all areas of life also is key to healthy living.  Learning about vegan and vegetarian diets offers the opportunity to become better consumers and reinforces the need to live green, be green.

Let’s Learn to Be Green Consumers


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

Yesterday several television newscasts reported the findings of a Stanford University study on organic foods. The study, “[a]re Organic Foods Safer or Healthier than Conventional Alternatives?  A Systematic Review,” was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on September 4, 2012.  The researchers concluded, “[t]he published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.  Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria”.

Personally, I find the media reaction amusing and a clear example of the lack of understanding of the principal goals of the green movement.  Conversely, maybe I have it all wrong.  All this time, I believed that a berry was a berry with certain vitamins in it, and the point of being produced organically was to avoid the introduction of pesticides to it in the growing process.  In my mind, the same thing applied to the production of meat for human consumption.  Organically raised meat and poultry does not contain harmful drug-resistant bacteria.  However, these news reports seem to indicate that organic foods were somehow super foods that contain added ingredients that promote good health.

Informed buyers of organic food know that what makes the products better are the substances that are missing from them—pesticides and drug-resistant bacteria.  Also they know that the missing pesticides are not around to run off of the fields to pollute the water supply.  The pesticides are not around to negatively impact the health of the people working in the fields to produce the crops.  Finally, the pesticides are not around to kill the honeybees that pollinate the crops.

After garnering viewers’ attention with their misleading headlines, some of the news reporters mentioned as an aside that the study results did show that organic fruits and vegetables contain about a 30% lower level of pesticides than conventional fruits and vegetables and that the concentration of drug-resistant bacteria in organic poultry and pork is about 60% less than the amount in their conventional counterparts.  To this viewer, that is significant and is a step in the right direction.  Of course organic products cost more, but if organic foods were the rule rather than the exception, the cost differential would narrow.  Also, it is expected that the positive impact of a healthier diet would be realized in reduced illnesses and their accompanying medical costs.

Of note, it was pointed out that organic foods are a great choice for pregnant women.  Well—should we only maintain a healthy diet if we are reproducing, or should we eat healthy foods always?  It seems from the newscasts that the millennial generation understands what is going on because they were reported as the group most likely to eat organic foods.  Obviously, priorities are a matter of choice because compared with many older people, this group is just starting out in the workforce and generally have lower incomes and fewer assets.  Yet they put healthy food high on their priority list.

There is so much information out there on green initiatives.  It is so important that we carefully study the information fed to us and separate fact from fiction.  Let’s think green, educate green, live green, be green.

Summertime is here, and the beach is the number one destination for many vacations.  Sadly, many of the beaches in the United States are polluted by storm water runoff and sewage.  Moreover, a study by the National Resources Defense Council indicates that 15 of the beaches cited in 2012 have had “water samples violating public health standards more than 25% of the time” every year from 2007 to 2011.  Over the past few years, the United States has been plagued by severe storms that create storm water runoff; however, the problem with pollution at more than 3000 beaches in this country has been defined by animal and human waste.  It is so important that we put in place and observe green initiatives to protect our beaches so that vacations on the water can remain carefree.  Green beaches translate to green economy for so many areas of this country that are dependent on the dollars earned from tourists and vacationers.  

The goal to clean up beaches is not an impossible one as evidenced by the state of beaches in Great Britain, where quality of bathing waters has improved significantly over the past 20 years.  This was accomplished largely by upgrading sewage overflow infrastructures, thereby reducing the amount of sewage overflow to surrounding waters.  The increase in populations alone all over the country mandate the upgrades of water flow systems to meet the added use demands.  Consistent and frequent monitoring of water quality through sampling is of utmost importance.  Relaying the results of water quality samples serves to engage the green public to take action to support these environmental green initiatives.  

Green beaches are important to our world because they protect sea life— plants and fish.  They are a source of relaxation and fun for all citizens, and they are vital to the economies of so many communities.  

Let’s green up our beaches to live green, be green!


Source: David McNew/Getty Images North America)

The mobile device industry has changed the way people all over the world communicate.  While this business sector has improved the speed and methods of delivery of information and communication, it has negatively impacted green initiatives.  New gadgets are introduced to the market at lightning speed, and the “electronic junkies” constantly upgrade to the latest and greatest devices.  These old mobile devices often end up in landfills or even discarded with household garbage.  It is important that all mobile device owners educate themselves in green initiatives relative to responsible disposal of any electronic device that is no longer being used to ensure that the environment will not be harmed.

Several wireless companies have green initiatives in place, providing customers with information on environmental protection regarding the use of mobile devices.  This aspect of device ownership should be a primary consideration in the selection of a company to make a purchase of a phone or tablet.  In addition to protecting the environment, this decision can save the customer time and money.  For example, paperless billing saves trees and allows the customer to have account information readily available 24 hours a day.  Phone and tablet trade-in programs guarantee responsible disposal of older devices and may offer the customer a credit towards the purchase of a new device.  Thirdly, recycling wireless devices with a reputable company guarantees that the discarded items will not find their way to a landfill, and as a bonus, these products sometime can be refurbished and returned to service.

There are other features of mobile devices which inherently aide green initiatives.  Navigation apps identify the most direct routes to destinations, thereby reducing fuel costs.  They also provide up-to-date traffic information, which enables drivers to spend less time stuck in traffic, wasting fuel.  Finally, the use of mobile broadband creates virtual offices, saving gas and other commuter costs.

Anyone who owns a mobile device can go green and reduce energy consumption, save time and money and help protect the environment.  Let’s all do our part to communicate green, live green, be green.