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Archive for April, 2012

Very early this morning, while heading to work, I came across this scene right outside the building. There she is, a giant mama rabbit feeding her newborn some breakfast milk, just chillin under the For Lease sign. Maybe there’s some larger environmental message here about urban wildlife adapting to humans. Or habitat loss for wild species. Or rabbits looking for new apartments.

Or maybe just that a little bit of wild in a very unwild place caught me by surprise. So I though I’d share.

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My grandma is a world traveler. Last summer she traveled to a few western U.S. national parks and monuments including Mount Rushmore, Grand Tetons National Park and Crazy Horse Memorial.  She showed me all the pictures and said “Ryan, everyone wants to travel overseas but we have so much here.” After looking at the pictures, I could not have agreed more and appreciated the unique beauty we have here in the U.S.  I mentioned this story because it is National Park Week!

Yogi Bear, now that’s Amurica.

You only have till Sunday to celebrate, so go to your closest national park now (just kidding). There are 84 million acres of national park land in the U.S., AND because it is National Park Week admission into any park is free!  National Geographic has put together a nice photo tribute to our nation’s parks, it’s a great lunch break distraction; I must also admit I have a soft spot for Nat. Geo. due to a family subscription that has been passed down from my grandfather to my father to me.  You can find the closest national park near you here. Take your family, your spouse, or friends to our nation’s greatest treasures and get outdoors.  See our nation’s great lands before you take that Euro trip.  You can thank President Theodore Roosevelt for his great conservation efforts in the early 1900s for creating the National Park Service and conserving the park land we all love to enjoy today. Cheers.

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Is there actually green in this photo?

$9.45 billion

That’s the amount that Exxon Mobile executives announced today that the company made in profit so far this year. Not revenue, profit. A remarkable number that eclipses most major industries, let alone single companies.

Now, before I go further, I should point out this is MUCH more Pam’s wheelhouse than mine. She used to work for a fossil fuel company that should not be named. Suffice to say she’s done her time on oil rigs. That’s just how she rolls.

With that on the table, I’ll also spare you the obvious media blather about how oil companies make SO MUCH money and with gas prices being SO HIGH, we should publicly shame them. President Obama has even retaken the traditional mantle lately among Democrats of decrying oil companies and threatening to remove their subsidies.

No, this is a different argument.

Environmentalists believe that these companies make tons of money. And they believe that they don’t need handouts from taxpayers. Before we can reasonable have green and clean energy, we need to get rid of big oil barons and invest in small solar start-ups, they say. But what if companies like Exxon really are the key to transitioning to renewable energy?

I know, I know. Stay with me for a minute.

These companies will tell you that they’re energy companies, not oil companies. They’ll bet on whatever technology makes the most financial success. For now it’s oil and gas. There’s lots of it out there and high demand for it. But perhaps eventually it will be solar, wind or even something crazy like nuclear fusion.

Over the past few years, Exxon has spent about 5 percent of its annual profits on renewable energy research development. It’s a small percentage — could it be more? Of course! — but it usually amounts to a couple billion dollars. Shell, BP and Chevron have done the same. An analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress a few years ago revealed that the five biggest oil companies have traditionally devoted about 4 percent of their annual profits to renewable and energy ventures.

I’m not saying these companies are completely benevolent. We all know the have committed pretty egregious environmental snafus. Exxon Valdez, you might remember. Or the BP Gulf Oil spill in 2010. They have their own PR shops and can handle themselves just fine.

What I’m saying is that the amount of money, capital and energy know-how these folks have really is unmatched. And if clean power and energy efficiency are the real goal for us green watchers, these guys are in the best position to invest heavily in new technology. It’s a unique opportunity for companies with LOTS of cash hanging around and interest in making even more money in the future–a future where oil and gas have dried up. The only unknown factor is whether public pressure will become strong enough to make them do it.

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New and improved!

Afternoon, everyone. We’ve had some big changes around here lately. Ryan joined the team, which brought in tons of new readers. And we’ve expanded our content offerings, bringing you the freshest spinach – from politics to lifestyle to even entertainment eco-centered news and analysis. (We’re also approaching our first birthday, but we’ll try not jump the gun on that one).

So just like all things that age gracefully, we decided to go the way of Joan Rivers and order up a facelift. Enjoy the new look of the Spinach. Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.

And as always, stay tuned, because we’ve got many more fun changes coming soon.

–Team Spinach

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You may be over Earth Day, but here in spinach land we’re just getting started with our weeklong tribute to Earth Day.  This week we’re highlighting what we think are our planet’s greatest challenges.  I’d like to bring attention to our car-designed cities.  I haven’t owned a car for two years (some people say omg how do you live without a car?!); I find it invigorating.  Not all cities were built around a train or bus system like NY, DC, and a few others.  There are a couple DC food blogs (and perhaps other blog types too) that hype up the so-called NY-DC rivalry.  I’m sure this leaves NY-ers saying, rivalry whaaat? And DC-ers saying oh yeah the DC food scene is very up and coming.  That aside, (as my Northern Jersey roots say there’s no place like NY despite my love for the District) DC takes the cake for showing its love for…the bicycle.

A bicycle tribute to the upcoming Summer Olympics.

Just this week Wmata (Washington’s metro service) announced plans for a pilot bike & ride facility.  I love this concept, Green Light approved.  The pilot facility will be at the University of Maryland’s College Park metro station and will hold up to 100 bikes in a secure room and the cost to the cyclist, ready…2 to 5 cents per hour!  Now that’s a cheap parking garage.  DC also started the famous Capital Bikeshare which NY is starting this summer.  With bikeshare you pick up and pay as you go or have a monthly membership to bicycle all over town as much or as little as you like and then drop off the bike at the closest docking station near you (there’s an app for that).  I hope more cities do bike and ride garages; biking perks are endless – exercise (great way to clear your head), no 4.00/gallon fuel, less road rage, and clean air, it doesn’t get better than that.  So, grab a bike, take a walk, request better public transportation near you, and drive less when you can. Cheers.

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…this is one of the best videos of all time.

If you don’t know now you know, today is Earth Day.  Here in Washington and across the East Coast it’s cold and rainy; my volunteer project to post “don’t litter” signs on storm drains at the National Mall for the National Park Service was cancelled and hopefully it will be rescheduled.  I really enjoyed this video and it touches on a subject that I’m passionate about, reusable products. Shockingly, there are people and businesses who do not recycle and many of the everyday items we use still end up in our nation’s rivers and lands which we all love for recreational use.  Every bag that you refuse from your local grocery store or every plastic bottle that you don’t buy at the gas station is something great that you’re doing to protect the local lake where you swim and fish, and it saves you a couple of dollars!  Reusable water bottles (this site has it all!), coffee mugs, and bags are really affordable now a days and almost all retailers sell them; so, go get yours today.  Back to my Frozen Planet (Discovery Channel) marathon. Cheers.

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Afternoon, folks. We’ve got PLENTY of Earth Day-related fun coming up next week here at Spinach HQ. But as a curtain raiser, we just came across this declaration from the boss man. A presidential proclamation. Self serving for his administration? A little. But a good primer on some of the country’s top environmental accomplishments.

On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans came together to celebrate the first Earth Day. Students, teachers, activists, elected officials, and countless others challenged our Nation to confront our most urgent environmental issues and rallied around a single message: the success of future generations depends upon how we act today. As we commemorate Earth Day this year, we reflect on the challenges that remain before us and recommit to the spirit of togetherness and shared responsibility that galvanized a movement 42 years ago.

America rose to meet the call to action in the months and years that followed the first Earth Day. We passed the Clean Air, Clean Water, Endangered Species, and Marine Mammal Protection Acts; founded the Environmental Protection Agency; and ignited a spirit of stewardship that has driven progress for over four decades. Today, our air and water are cleaner, pollution has been greatly reduced, and Americans everywhere are living in a healthier environment.

While we have made remarkable progress in protecting our health and our natural heritage, we know our work is not yet finished. Last July, my Administration proposed the toughest fuel economy standards in our Nation’s history — standards that will save families money at the pump, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and significantly reduce our dependence on oil. In December, we finalized the first-ever national standards to limit mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants, helping safeguard the health of millions. We have taken action to protect and restore our Nation’s precious ecosystems, from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. And we continue to make landmark investments in batteries, biofuels, and renewable energy that are unlocking American innovation and ensuring our Nation stays on the cutting edge. Our country is on the path to economic recovery and renewal, and moving forward, my Administration will continue to fight for a healthy environment every step of the way.

As we work to leave our children a safe, sustainable future, we must also equip them with the tools they need to take on tomorrow’s environmental challenges. Supporting environmental literacy and a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math for every student will help ensure our youth have the skills and knowledge to advance our clean energy economy. Last year, we launched the Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award to encourage more schools to pursue sustainability, foster health and wellness, and integrate environmental literacy into the curriculum. In the days ahead, we look forward to awarding the first Green Ribbons and recognizing the accomplishments of green schools across our country.

Forty-two years ago, a generation rallied together to protect the earth we would inherit. As we reflect on that historic day of activism and stewardship, let us embrace our commitment to the generations yet to come by leaving them a safe, clean world on which to make their mark.

Let us know what you think. Or better yet, tell the White House.

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