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)


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.

Source for this article:


You probably are familiar with the old adage, “put your money where your mouth is”.  This saying definitely applies to the green movement.  Green initiatives require an enormous financial commitment to develop and advance the technologies necessary to address the issues of climate change and to reverse the pollution of the Earth.  Statistics collected in Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 Report, a study backed by the UN Environment Program, have tracked financial investments in green energy globally since 2004.  These statistics reveal the following:

  • Investment in renewable energy accounted for 44% of all new energy generation capacity added last year.  This represents an increase in renewable investment, up from 34% in 2010 and 10.3% in 2004.
  • The majority of the money invested in renewable energy came from the private domain and largely was invested in the area of research and development.  In fact, investment from the private sector was twice that of government and public bodies.
  • The renewable energy sector of emerging economies, such as India and China, has the biggest boost.
  • In 2009, China surpassed the United States in total annual investment, and in 2011, it attracted more money than any other country.

While these statistics show a financial commitment to the green movement, statistics indicate that investment in green initiatives still lags behind that of traditional sources.  In 2011, only 6% of the world’s energy requirements were generated by renewable sources.  A caveat to this situation is that many clean tech companies have suffered from the volatility of the markets over the past two years, and in many countries, policies established to encourage investment in renewable energy have been weakened by austerity measures undertaken to upright faltering economies.

When considering investing in renewable energy or other green initiatives, the due diligence requirement cannot be understated.  Thorough understanding of this market sector is mandatory.  For example, it is important to know that these markets require government confidence and commitment in order to be successful.  Financiers require stable policy to back green investments.  It is important to identify mature technologies because they have longer track records.  These often include onshore wind and solar energy.  Remember:  Lower technological risks equal more finance.

Investing in renewable energy and green initiatives presents potential opportunities for financial gain, as well as moral commitment to the green movement.  As with any investment, make sure you do your homework and seek professional advice so that you understand the many factors involved.  A place to start your journey to green investments is:

Let’s live green, be green!

Due diligence– Prior to investing in any commodity, do your homework, and if necessary, seek professional financial advice.

Now we know many ways to go green.  Most of us have incorporated some of these steps into our personal lives, either by personal choice or by government mandates.  For this movement to be successful and widely embraced, it is important that each of us feel a sense of empowerment from a decision to go green.  In order to sustain a green movement, there must be an immediate payoff.  We realize that in some areas, particularly those of climate change and clean energy, change will be slow, cumbersome, expensive and embroiled in politics.  However, there are some simpler areas of green causes to endorse that bring a more immediate sense of payoff.  These include health and wellness, frugal living, minimalism, spiritual environmentalism, and self-sufficiency.

1.  Health and wellness.  Perhaps this is the subject area that is of utmost importance to most people today.  Scientific evidence has associated several diseases and adverse health conditions to environmental pollution and use of harmful products.  Many cancers are linked to the use of chemicals in cleaning products and fertilizers used to grow food.  Cancer incidence rose significantly from 1950-1998.  Presently it is estimated that 1 in 2 American men and 1 in 3 American women will develop cancer in their lives.  Secondly, with the increased rate of air pollution, the diagnoses of asthma in adults increased 75% between 1980 and 1994 while the same diagnoses in children increased 150%.  Thirdly, the incidences of autism have shown an alarming increase of 56% since 2002.  Other statistics note higher rates of reported infertility problems, along with more reports of birth defects in newborns.  Tests of breast milk samples consistently have shown the presence of pesticides, herbicides and household and industrial cleaners.  Obviously our transition from a natural to an inorganic style of living has caused our cells to mutate, breaking them down and polluting our bodies with toxins.  Adopting green standards in the selection of food and cleaning products goes a long way to protect our bodies.

2.  Frugal living.  At first glance, a walk through the grocery store gives the impression that organic foods and products are more expensive than non-organic products.  However, upon close inspection, this is not necessarily the case.  Local farmers and farmers’ markets are a great source to purchase fresh foods and vegetables.   Local merchants often are available to answer any questions regarding fertilizing and growing techniques of their crops, as well as freshness of the products available for purchase.  When eating out, the new trend of local farm-to-table restaurants offer an opportunity to get well-prepared food that supports local farmers and merchants.  Frugal living also involves (1) purchasing reusable containers and cleaning materials as opposed to disposable paper and plastics; (2) walking, biking, carpooling or taking public transportation to get around town; and (3) even choosing to live in planned urban developments with parks, restaurants, shopping and entertainment facilities and schools strategically located in close proximity to residences and/or the provision of clean-energy public transportation to travel around our communities.  Frugal living enables us to save money, time and the environment while going green.

3.  Minimalism.  A major complaint often voiced today by many people is that life is so complex.  We often are so over-committed to work, social activities and chasing the American dream that we have cluttered our homes and minds to an unhealthy degree.  A minimalist lifestyle urges us to slow down, eliminate distractions, reconnect with family, friends and the universe and to feel less stressed, rushed and exhausted.  By necessity, minimalism incorporates frugal living.  We avoid wasteful consumerism, using only what we need, thereby being able to downsize our living spaces, possessions and activities.  This truly is a green concept with an immediate payoff.

4.  Spiritual environmentalism.  Perhaps the first known environmentalist was Henry David Thoreau.  His recognition and embracement of the environment was from a spiritual perspective.  Thoreau recognized that “in wilderness is the presentation of the world”.  Thoreau was an extremist regarding man’s need to coexist with the planet.  A study of his writings reveals his understanding of the need to wisely manage all resources, including, but not limited to time, money, work, talents and health.  For living space, Thoreau states:  “[e]ach town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of five hundred or a thousand acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation”.  Thoreau Journal, October 15, 1859

Finally, on the need to protect the environment Thoreau writes:  “[w]hat is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”  Familiar Letter, Thoreau to Harrison Blake

And finally, “[a]t the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplainable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.  We can never have enough Nature.”  Thoreau, Walden, Spring

Spiritual environmentalism is a very personal journey for many people, and provides a response to the recognition that the Earth does not belong to us, but rather is on loan.  We are the stewards of the Earth and are responsible to preserve it and pass it along to future generations.  Another great reason to go green.

5.  Self-sufficiency.  The foundation of green living is self-sufficiency.  We cannot expect private businesses to promote individual self-sufficiency as this is contraindicated to their main goal, to increase the bottom line.  Also, we cannot afford to wait to break through government gridlock to enact laws mandating use of renewable energy, sustainable care of land, and protection of natural resources or to enforce the ban of harmful chemicals in foods and other products of daily living.  Self-sufficiency affords us the opportunity to prepare for natural disasters and potential catastrophes through education; become savvy in recognizing political corruption and using our vote to repudiate it; maintain awareness of flaws in the present social structure which heavily relies on over-consumption and waste and to take pride in adopting a satisfying lifestyle that promotes a healthy balance of work and family life.

These are just a few reasons to go green.  The list goes on and on.  There is so much that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our environment.  Let’s live green and be green.

An excellent source for environmental articles and statistics can be found at


The U.S. Energy Information Agency has released a report this month which states that energy related carbon dioxide emissions during the first four months of 2012 fell to about the levels noted in 1992. While acknowledging the contribution of conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy to the decrease of carbon dioxide emissions, the agency largely attributes the drop-off in levels to low-priced natural gas. The decrease in price of natural gas is driven by higher levels of shale gas drilling in some areas of the northeastern United States, as well as in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. It is cheaper now to burn natural gas than coal, and as a result, utilities are starting to rely on gas-fired generator plants.

The quick-turnaround from coal to gas has surprised many government and industry experts. The messages regarding climate change and the need for cleaner energy are not new. It appears that people are predominantly cost-driven. An environmentally friendly solution to a pollution problem that is less expensive than an environmentally harmful practice is sure to win.

It is important to mention that any efforts made to counter human-induced climate change must be global. Unfortunately, the use of coal for energy is growing, rather declining in some other countries, specifically in China. Global cooperation to seek cleaner energy solutions is mandatory in order to be effective for any one part of the planet. Another issue looming on the horizon lies with the use of natural gas because while it burns cleaner than coal, it still emits some carbon dioxide. Also drilling for natural gas carries potential risks, some of which are not fully understood. Environmentalists state that in fracking operations, the large volumes of water, sand and other chemicals injected into shale rock to break it apart and free gas often pollute underground drinking water and cause methane leaks, which in turn, and produce air pollution. This contributes to global warming. Some groups, such as the Sierra Club, have major concerns with the potential risks versus the net benefits of using natural gas.

It will be interesting to see the developments in energy sources that will accommodate global expectations, satisfy federal mandates, and effectively address economic and environmental concerns. Research and development in the field of energy is challenging, but hopefully some solutions will be found in the near future. Let’s do all that we can to live green, be green.

Natural gas power plants”cycle” on and off more efficiently than their coal counterparts.

With the start of the 2012 London Olympics already underway, we here at the Live Green, Be Green Blog would like to turn our attention to the potential environmental ramifications an Olympic competition will have on an already bustling city such as London. Heading into these games, a huge cause for concern for the Olympic Committee in selecting London as a host city was the potential disastrous impact it could have on the environment. 

However, contrary to conventional wisdom, the city has been superb in limiting its carbon footprint. According to Michael McCarthy’s report over at Independent, these Olympic games are, to date, the greenest in its history. Renewable energy has constituted 11% of all the energy supplied at the games. In addition, when comparing the cities carbon footprint at the games with respect to 2009 estimates for the event, the city has beaten the estimates by around 20%. Such ambitious goals enabled the city to host the Olympic games, and is truly a testament to how the Olympic Committee and the city of London have put the event’s environmental impact near the tops of its agendas. Such actions speak to the impact we all can make as individuals as we all seek to live green and be green.