Sustainability, taxes, and “the fiscal cliff”

Carbon tax could be part of eventual tax reform package
In The Hill’s Congress Blog, Paul Bledsoe writes:

President Obama’s recent remarks regarding climate change policy, which have come under fierce attack from many environmentalists, in fact represent important new discipline in the administration’s political framing of its key priorities. As he made clear at his post-election press conference, the president intends to make policies to help the struggling middle class and restore robust economic growth the sine qua non of his second term. This renewed economic emphasis is a hopeful sign that the administration will be in a much stronger political position to pursue many long-term policy goals over the next few years, including action on climate change.

Turbine tax credit, jobs at risk
In the Portland (ME) Press-Herald, Kevin Miller reports:

The tax reform momentum that seems to be building in Congress may imperil tax credit programs that have had major impacts in Maine, including wind power investments and economic development projects in rural or low-income areas.

Higher Education Sustainability Round-Up

MBA Overhaul Geared to Sustainability, Career Growth
Humboldt State University’s completely revamped MBA program hinges on how top 21st century business is reshaping strategic sustainability and the new careers that will flow from it. HSU’s growing School of Business, buttressed by a $2.5 million investment by donors and the university, has overhauled the one-year MBA to close the gap between what traditional business schools teach and what companies are looking for in their future employees.

Campus Dining to eliminate table tents in 2013
In the spring semester of 2013, Illinois State University’s Campus Dining Services will eliminate the use of table tents in all of their dining centers. The table tents are the paper promotional pieces RSOs and other organizations distribute to advertise their events. This step is the next in an effort to make the campus more sustainable. The information screens will be substituted for the paper tents. Between Linkins and Watterson, there are approximately 200 dining tables. The current rule allows up to five table tents on each table.

Campus farm scheduled for the spring
After three years of talk circulating about a possible campus farm at DePauw, students will finally break ground for the new farm in late Feb. 2013. With student contributions, the Sustainability Club will grow produce and vegetables that will be used in the DePauw dining halls. The goal for the farm is to get students in touch with nature and for the university to become more organic in what they serve to students.

Ohio State campus cafe fueled by nearby organic garden
At one spot on campus, food doesn’t travel far from the ground to your plate. In the back of the Wexner Center for the Arts near College Road, an organic garden is being tended, and once it’s crop is yielded, it travels no farther than the Heirloom Café in the Wexner Center. The Wexner Center Chef’s garden is a collaboration between Ohio State’s Ecological Engineering Society, the Wexner Center for the Arts and chef John Skaggs and aims to bring a food-to-fork concept to campus.

Purdue research farm gets organic certification
A 10-acre Purdue University research farm has been certified as organic, giving Purdue scientists a chance to play a bigger role in the growing organic farming field.

ASU adds composting program, joins EPA Food Recovery Challenge
Arizona State University adds a composting program and joins the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge. The EPA’s voluntary program kicks off Nov. 15, 2012 in celebration of America Recycles Day. According to the EPA, food is the single largest material sent to landfills and accounts for 25 percent of all waste sent to landfills.

Sustainability becomes a Marquette goal
An improved composting program will help boost the university’s efforts to “go green” as Marquette attempts to become more environmentally sustainable.

New AASHE Academic Commons: Call for Materials

AASHE has recently launched the new Academic Commons, a resource that compiles educating for sustainability materials from across the sustainability community. AASHE is looking for higher education leaders to help kick off the Commons, and welcomes submissions in the form of power points, lecture notes, lesson plans, videos, etc. Visit the Academic Commons to learn more, or submit your materials.

Running big-draw server farms on fuel cells, solar and wind

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

The Internet uses more power than the auto industry. Microsoft and Google are trying to cut the carbon output of their server farms by investing in alternative energy. How about a data center powered by a fuel cell running on waste methane?

Adam Werbach Launches yerdle on Black Friday with 10,000 Free Items

Read the full story at Shareable.

Adam Werbach has been on the cutting edge of the environmental and sustainability movements for two decades. His latest venture, yerdle, combines those passions in a service designed to motivate ordinary people to share instead of shop. Yerdle officially launches today, on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, to call attention to the advantages of sharing over shopping. Below is an interview with Werbach exploring why he’s launching yerdle, the community strategy he’s innovating, and what he hopes to accomplish in the long run.


NYSERDA launches Irreconcilable Temperatures campaign to engage New Yorkers in energy efficiency

A more comfortable, energy-efficient home is within reach. This is the key message of Irreconcilable Temperatures, an online campaign launched today by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to educate the public in an amusing way about its Home Performance with ENERGY STAR(r) Program.

Featuring five video webisodes and a resource website, Irreconcilable Temperatures details the adventures of a thirty-something New York State couple in their quest to make their first home more comfortable and their energy costs more affordable.

“Humor can be a powerful educational tool. This campaign seeks to capitalize on humor in a way that demonstrates to homeowners the many very real and practical benefits of investing in energy efficiency in their homes,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA. “We want all New Yorkers to know about the wide range of programs available – from direct incentives to free or low-cost assessments and financing – that can increase the comfort, safety and energy efficiency of their homes.”

The Irreconcilable Temperatures campaign provides all the resources homeowners need to get started on energy efficiency upgrades to their home to reduce the amount of energy they use and cut energy costs. Visitors to the Irreconcilable Temperatures online site can:

  • Follow Wendy and Russell, two New Yorkers with a home that’s putting a chill on their relationship. The webisode series chronicling the simple steps they took to reduce their energy use and costs (and stop arguments over who controls the thermostat) will be posted in November and December.
  • Read stories from some of the thousands of homeowners across New York who have gained better control over their energy use and significantly reduced their home energy bills.
  • Learn about the steps to getting started, including applying for a comprehensive home energy assessment (free to most New Yorkers) through the Home Performance with ENERY STAR(r) Program. These assessments are conducted by a participating Home Performance contractor accredited by the Building Performance Institute, a national standards development and credentialing organization for residential energy efficiency retrofit work.
  • Understand the incentives and financing options that are available to make energy upgrades easier and more affordable to do, such as a 10 percent cashback incentive on eligible measures, On-Bill Recovery Financing loans that allow homeowners to pay for upgrades on their monthly utility bills using projected energy savings to pay down the loan, and low-interest unsecured loans. Both loan options offer loans of as much as $13,000 per household, or $25,000 if the energy upgrades meet a higher cost-effectiveness standard.

To watch the webisodes, join the campaign mailing list, or get started on a home energy adventure, visit

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.

State of the Climate Global Analysis October 2012

Download the document.

Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC’s Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The October 2012 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.