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Searching for "Environment_&_Green_Living"

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Embrace Your Inner Treehugger

We sure hope you care about the environment but even if you don't, Earth Day is the day to fake it

Drag your bike out from behind the lawnmower in the garage, pull out that chic canvas tote, and get ready for this year's round of photo ops of eco-friendly politicians—today is Earth Day.

Obama is visiting Newton, Iowa today, a city almost wiped out when a Maytag plant closed two years ago. But—how convenient—green business swooped in and saved the day, providing the town with jobs building the towers supporting wind turbines. He'll use his visit to talk about the $15 billion he wants each year dedicated to renewable energy.

As to be expected, not everyone is rolling up their sleeves to plant trees or install solar panels. Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is commemorating the holiday by honoring Gordon Dancy, the man who "invented the first high density plastic grocery bag, which can handle up to 40 pounds of stuff," Limbaugh said. "That singular invention has benefited our daily life on earth in multitudinous ways."

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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Antarctic Ice Bridge Collapses

Jamaican-size ice sheet breaks off; Clinton calls for greater polar protection

Climate change is proving to be the ultimate bully to our poor friend Antarctica. BACKPACKER previously followed the possibility of extinction for its Emperor Penguins and new studies suggesting it's warming more than originally thought. In yet another blow to the continent, an ice wall collapsed this weekend allowing a large ice shelf to drift free from Antarctica.

An ice bridge connecting the 25-mile long Wilkins ice shelf to the Antarctic Peninsula collapsed on April 4, breaking up into chunks in the Southern Ocean. The 3.8 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature in the Antarctic during the last 50 years is said to be one of the causes of the break, a factor that often effects ice sheets further north than the Wilkins. Luckily, the break won't effect sea levels—think of ice melting in a glass of water—but it does leave the land-bound ice behind it exposed to melting.

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Monday, April 06, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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19th Everest Summit

Record-holding Sherpa begins trek today for yet another summit—this time with an eco-friendly twist

How many times have you climbed Mt. Everest?  If you answered zero, we're with you.  Once?  We're pretty impressed.  If you're Appa, a 48-year-old Sherpa guide, you've got eighteen summits under your belt and are hoping to cinch number nineteen in May.  

Appa, along with his climbing team, set out today for Everest with plans of ascending the peak for the nineteenth time. If he completes the climb, he'll have pounded out over 100 miles on the world's highest peak since his first ascent in 1989. He told the Associated Press, "Everest is not easy to climb, but after scaling the summit so many times, I am more confident and experienced. It should not be too difficult but I have to always be careful."

It turns out his team is planning to be careful in more ways than one. We're all familiar with the policy of packing out used toilet paper a la Leave No Trace, but their team is taking it to the next level and carrying all of their human waste off the mountain too. The hundreds of bags they've packed to haul their own excrement will also be used to bring down other trash that's been left by past climbers and has earned the mountain the title of World's Highest Garbage Dump.

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Monday, April 06, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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National Parks Go Green

Park Service intends to eliminate massive carbon footprint affecting their own lands

It's no surprise that the effects of climate change are hitting national parks—more frequent flooding, receding glaciers, and slight temperature changes that effect plants and animals. Frustrated rangers are discovering that along with mammoth SUV's and puffing smoke stacks, they too are to blame for their own troubles.

Just how much greenhouse gases are national parks spewing into the air? The three Washington parks of Mt. Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic are estimated to have a combined carbon footprint of 30,820 metric tons of carbon monoxide. Not only does that sound like a lot, it is a lot—a year's worth of emissions from 2,667 houses.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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Yellowstone For Sale

To help bolster falling revenue and a stalled economy, National Park Service plans to sell portions of America's first national park

Has it really come to this? In a sure sign that the recession will leave permanent scars on our landscape, the National Park Service has announced plans to auction off sections of Yellowstone in an effort to offset falling revenues, ballooning budgets, and diminished expectations from President Obama's stimulus package.

Environmental groups have been quick to protest the decision, calling it an even greater betrayal than any of the notorious land grabs perpetrated by the Bush administration. But park officials are calling for pragmatism, noting that famous portions of the park like the Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone will remain protected, while the sale of the less-visited portions of the park's interior and periphery could improve overall infrastructure and services.
"We're facing down some of the worst financial problems for the park ever, so we have to be honest with ourselves and with the public," said Deputy Superintendent Patrick Diggman. "There are parts of Yellowstone, mostly in the backcountry, where almost no one ever goes. Those places can be sold to interested parties, and we can use the revenue to continue paying salaries, keep the park open, and perhaps even fund development and roads around more popular spots."
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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Eco-Cops On Patrol

New York deploys environmental police—what you gonna do when they come for you?

Polluters, illegal wildlife smugglers, and recycling-blockers of New York beware: The boys in blue—or, in this case, green—are after you. The NYPD has ramped up their environmental conservation officer presence, and while there are only 20 in the actual city, they issue around 2,000 summonses for criminal activity a year. And while they may dress in green and wear flat-brimmed, Smokey-the-Bear-style hats, they also carry handcuffs and guns.

Criminal summonses and complaints about environmental crimes have doubled and tripled in New York in recent years, which reflects both a growing environmental awareness by the citizenry and a willingness to prosecute offenders by the police force. Now, when New Yorkers complain about a body shop leaking copious oil into the street or a store refusing to reimburse customers for returned bottles and cans for recycling, eco-cops are quick to enforce environmental laws.

They also embark on their own investigations, shutting down seafood markets for selling undersize fish and issuing citations for improperly stored or undocumented shellfish. They'll even pull over trucks for spewing polluting blue smoke in asthma-prone, low-income housing areas. Read Full Story...
Thursday, March 26, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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Omnibus Wilderness Bill Passes

After the president's expected signature, over 2 million acres will get the highest federal protection possible

There were a few bumps in the road, but both the House and Senate have finally passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which will permanently designate over 2 million acres in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia as the most protected form of wilderness. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming weeks.

Included in the popular, then less popular, and now popular-again bill are expanded protection for California's Sierra Nevadas, Oregon's Mount Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, Idaho's Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, and Zion National Park in Utah. In Wyoming, the bill will block further oil and gas exploration and designate the Snake River as "wild and scenic."

Most controversy surrounding the bill came from Republicans concerned it might block the chance for domestic energy development or limit hunting and gun rights on these additional acres. With these controversies resolved, environmental groups are quickly hailing the bill's passage as a major success. Read Full Story...
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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Thick Air in Big Bend

Haze over the Texas national park will take 146 years to clear

When you look out at the rugged mountains of Texas' Big Bend National Park, you'll probably see something less beautiful than jutting peaks and green river valleys. The hazy air that blankets the park is obscuring the view of even the tallest peaks that were easily seen 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, the view's not changing anytime soon. The Environmental Protection Agency has asked states to clean up certain areas like national parks by 2064. Environmental commissioners in Texas, however, have a different timeline—they see the air not being cleared until 2155.

Why will it take other national parks only 55 years to cut haze but Big Bend plans for 146? Chalk it up to politics and money.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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Summer Fun At Ski Resorts?

Colorado senator introduces controversial bill that would allow summer recreation on national forests leased by ski resorts

At the end of ski season across the country, shredding ceases and the mountain forests formerly filled with loads of tourists go back to a relatively tranquil state, save for the odd front-side downhill mountain biker or dayhiker. Ski resorts often have to close, because they don't technically own the land where they operate lifts and groom runs—they lease it from the Forest Service. Vail famously has to close in late April, regardless of righteous late-season pow, to accommodate elk calving.

That could change: Congress is considering a bill proposed by Colorado senator Mark Udall that would allow ski resorts to pursue year-round activities on the land they lease. The bill would affect over 125 ski resorts nationwide, and would allow ski resorts to offer summer activities like mountain biking, alpine slides, zip-lines, and, one can only hope, zorbing.

Wilderness advocates are hacked about the bill, and they worry that this could signal a descent into carnival-like madness, with water parks, roller coasters, and other corny rides invading our forests. Read Full Story...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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The Greenest Day of the Year

Green parks, green living, and green beer—what will you do to celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

St. Patrick definitely didn't rid Ireland of snakes, he probably didn't invent the shamrock cross, and he likely wasn't even Irish, but he spread Christianity in Ireland and continues to inspire hordes of people (Irish and non-) to pay tribute by getting totally blotto on green beer and Jameson's all day long during the anniversary of his death.

Which doesn't mean you have to drink green beer on ol' St. Paddy's Day—but if you do, you might as well be as green about it as possible. According to excellent research done by Slate's Green Lantern, draught beer is by far the most environmentally sensitive way to get your fill of suds, since kegs last 15-20 years and are lighter than bottles by serving (which reduces carbon emissions associated with shipping them). If you can load up on beer sodas at a locally-owned brewery, even better. Failing those options, go with cans, but make sure a large portion of it comes from recycled aluminum.

If you'd like to celebrate the holiday without getting smashed, you could always pay tribute to St. Patrick's homeland by visiting the greenest spot you know. Short of Ireland, I'd like to nominate Washington's Olympic National Park as the literal greenest spot in the U.S. A few minutes in the Hoh River Trail's temperate rain forests, and you'll swear leprechauns are laughing at you from underneath mossy logs and behind giant emerald ferns. Read Full Story...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 in: News & Events, Environment & Green Living
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