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  More than ever, we must demand that our elected officials commit to plans to upgrade failing power grids and outdated infrastructure and to implement solutions for cleaner and more efficient energy.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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Coral reefs all over the world are suffering severe damage from climate change, and as the levels of manmade greenhouse emissions continue to rise, the window of opportunity to save the corals are dwindling.  According to a report published in the journal, Nature Climate Change, “approximately 70% of corals are expected to suffer long-term degradation by 2030, even if strict emission cuts are enforced”.  Loss of the coral reefs would be devastating to the ecosystem because the corals are home to about 25% of the world’s ocean species.  In addition to providing coastal protection, they support tourism and fishing industries for millions of people globally.

Scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research at the University of British Columbia and the Universities of Melbourne and Queensland in Australia conduct studies on the impact of climate change on coral reefs.  With the use of climate models to calculate the effects of different emission levels on 2,160 reefs worldwide, the researchers concluded that “[t]he rise of global average temperatures, warmer seas and spread of ocean acidification due to greenhouse gas emissions . . . pose major threats to coral ecosystems”.  To protect coral reefs, sea surface temperatures must decrease greater than 2 degrees Celsius, which is the limit viewed as a safe threshold to avert most devastating effects of climate change—i.e., drought, sea level rise and crop failure.    The study advises that a limit of the mean temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius is needed to save at least half of the coral reefs.

A separate report issued last week notes the threat to the Caribbean corals and urged action to limit pollution and aggressive fishing practices.  Average live coral cover is down to 8% today, compared to 50% in the 19070s as reported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

These research findings should serve as a wakeup call on the severely negative impact of climate change on our ecosystems.  We need to act to save our environment while there is time.  Let’s live green, be green.

Coral reefs are under threat of degradation from global warming resulting in increased water temperatures.

A study from the University of Cambridge concluded that reducing our consumption of red meat would help our health and the environment.  The BMJ Open Study ( included data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of British Adults in 2000 to 2001.  The researchers observed the amount of meat consumed by study participants and the level of greenhouse gas emissions linked to 45 different foods.

After adjusting for proportions, the study found that people who regularly ate red or processed meat overall ate more food than people who did not consume red or processed meat on a regular basis.  They then calculated that if consumers of red and processed meat limited their intake to the level of individuals who do not consume red and processed meat or who ate smaller portions of these products with less regularity, the former group would reduce its health risks for diabetes, colorectal cancer and heart disease anywhere between 3% and 12%.  Specifically, the data indicated that men who ate red meat had an average consumption of 53 grams a day.  A reduction in consumption compatible to that of people who do not regularly consume red meat translated to a 12% decrease in risk for colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes.  This also would decrease greenhouse gas emissions linked with food and beverages by just under a half of a ton (0.45) per person.

Despite the fact that the survey data used for this study is more than 10 years old, the researchers validated its qualification for this study because statistics indicate that the consumption of red meat has not changed significantly over the past 10 years, and in fact, this data may even be conservative.  It is also consistent with previous research published in the British Journal of Cancer that shows a possible association between processed meat consumption and cancer risks, linking a 19% increased risk for pancreatic cancer and the daily ingestion of an extra 50 grams of processed meat.

Reduced consumption of red meat is a boost to good health and helps the environment.

Studies such as these provide hard evidence for our need to reduce consumption of red and processed meat.  This is a great way to improve our health and to help the environment.  To be successful, start small by first reducing the amount of red meat on our plates and increasing the side dishes.  Then move on slowly to eliminating red meat from some meals.  Look for creative recipes for vegetables and side dishes to make them appetizing and filling, and be sure to include water with your meals.  Once this becomes a habit, it will be easier to maintain.  There also is the added plus of extra cash in your pocket from reduction in food expenses.  Remember to eat green, live green, be green.

Green living is recognized overall as the right thing to do to protect the environment, improve our health and literally to save our planet. As an added bonus, green home improvement can raise your financial bottom line by increasing the value of your home. Researchers at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses of the University of California conducted a study of 1.6 million single family homes in the California market sector that sold between 2007 and 2012 to analyze the value of green home labels. Of the homes in this sample population, 4,300 were certified with green home labels from EnergyStar, GreenPoint Rated or LEED for Homes. Results indicate that of the average California homes priced at $400,000, residences with green labels sold for about $34,800 more or 9 percent higher than homes without the green label.

Researchers have labeled this result the “Prius effect” wherein a higher premium was placed on houses with green labels. This finding correlates with the environmental ideology of the area measured by the registration of hybrid vehicles. In communities where “green thinking” predominates, ownership of green homes and cars is a status symbol and a source of pride.

In recent years, awareness of the extent of global warming and the increase of greenhouse emissions has impacted the housing market significantly. This is especially true in warmer areas of the country. Residents in hotter climates are paying extra attention to the benefits of green homes, which include lower utility bills due to greater energy and water efficiency, healthier indoor air quality and improved environmental features, such as convenient access to clean, eco-friendly transportation and close proximity to parks and shopping and entertainment facilities.

The Prius effect is proof that green initiatives at the community level are far-reaching. Improving communities one at a time leads to a change in mindset and ultimately to a revolution. Let’s live green, be green.

While browsing the Internet this morning, I discovered an interesting article on the impact of the food industry on the environment.  This article features commentary by Arlin Wasserman, Chair of the Sustainable Business Leadership Council at the Culinary Institute of America.  Wasserman acknowledges the food industry’s inability to show environmental improvement, its lack of transparency, and the failure of some leading companies to alter the status quo.  He states that these issues create an incongruence with both the younger generation and the overall population, who are becoming more enlightened regarding the need to grow and harvest food in a more soundly manner.

This article lists some very relevant statistics regarding the agricultural industry:

  • Farming and ranching accounts for 40% of arable land in the world.
  • Farming and ranching uses 30% to 70% of fresh water.
  • Approximately 50% of greenhouse emissions can be attributed to farming and ranching.
  • Second only to oil, coffee is one of the most valuable legally traded commodities worldwide.
  • Half of the food produced globally is wasted due to improper harvesting and storage.

A major concern voiced by Wasserman is the change that has taken place regarding consumers’ relationship with food consumption and preparation.  We now rely on restaurants, carryouts and delicatessens for the majority of our meals.  This phenomenon results in fewer people even knowing how to cook or being informed about the sources of food or the ingredients used in meal preparations.

With his work with the Culinary Institute of Art, Mr. Wasserman aims to address problems with the food industry.  This organization strives to implement better decisionmaking about health, selection of food and our relationship and impact on the environment .  Hopefully, with the help of emerging associations such as Culinary Institute of Art, we can live green, be green.