Sunday, August 7, 2011

Clean Renewable Energy! (Bring it Home!)

While I was in the Twin Cities, I had the privilege of touring a District Energy solar thermal installation atop the St. Paul River Centre.


What a great chance to see some clean energy initiatives across the country!


At the River Center in St. Paul, the solar thermal system can provide on average 1.1 MW (thermal equivalent) with its 144 solar panels, enough to provide all the hot water needs of the River and Xcel Centers! When the system produces excess energy, exceeding the needs of the River Centre, the excess energy is distributed by District Energy St. Paul to the area campus - "District Energy currently heats more than 185 buildings and 300 single-family homes (31.1 million square feet) and cools more than 95 buildings (18.8 million square feet) in downtown Saint Paul and adjacent areas." 


The DOE's choice of the Twin Cities as a Solar America Community provided funds and slight guidance for this solar installment. Being a DOE Solar Community means the cities received federal funds to implement solar installations through primarily American producers and workers, embolden the domestic solar market, and encourage technical education and training for a growing solar market.


However, District Energy sourced the solar panels, themselves, from Arcon Solar, a solar company from Denmark.  Unfortunately the Scandinavian solar technology surpasses our domestic solar producers.  The Scandinavian solar panels produce 30% more energy than their American produced counterparts, with a starting efficiency of 0.70!  Thus, it's obvious that there is a need for the Solar America Communities program. 


We need to encourage growth and development of our solar technologies here in America.  We need to continue to say, "Yes, this is the kind of energy we want produced in America! We want clean, sustainable, renewable energy, produced by our neighbors! We want jobs here in America producing high quality solar products!  We want to be competitive on the global market with our solar technology!  We want companies from all around the world coming to us because we have the highest quality product!  Now let's get there!"


Visit the "Solar in the Cities" site to learn more about Solar America Communities in the Twin Cities or click around on the Solar America Communities map to pick the city you're most interested in!
Request from your energy provider that your energy be coming from renewable sources.  Put on the pressure and show that there is a demand for Renewable Clean Energy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting Involved in Your Neighborhood

Yes I realize, I"m very behind on my blog posts, and for that I am sorry!  So we'll start this as a fairy tale, but it's true!

Once upon a time, Cycling for Climate Change stopped in Minneapolis, MN to stay there for a week and volunteer with different groups doing environmentally friendly things!  While Geoff was staying with Travis, the two of them used the great sites Volunteer Match and HandsOn Twin Cities to find some volunteer opportunities.  

With the first opportunity, on Tuesday June 7th, Travis and Geoff helped an elderly woman by planting a vegetable garden and flower bed for her! Flower beds are a great addition to anyone's yard.  They get you out and into nature, or at least more in touch with the earth and other life on this planet.  Flowers, just like all plants go through photosynthesis and therefore sequester carbon dioxide!  - Every little bit helps!  Remember we need to go from 390 parts per million(ppm) of C02 in our atmosphere, which we are at right now, to 350 ppm, the safe amount.  To learn more about that special number check out 350.org!  -  Besides, flowers are beautiful!
And vegetable gardens are a fun, fresh, and exciting way to get your food!  Growing a garden teaches you what it takes to start and maintain life, gets you more in touch with your food - demystifies the food supply chain for those foods, and makes you wonder how those big companies are doing it - and keeps you active!  If you don't have a vegetable, herb, flower, or other sort of garden you should definitely check it out, and see what all the rave is about!  It's well worth it!

The second opportunity, Travis and Geoff weeded with Weeding Wednesday, a program put on by Tree Trust along the Midtown Greenway!  The group weeded out all the non-native invasive species so that the native plants and trees could grow up big and strong, providing native ecology, beautiful landscapes, and carbon sequestration!  The Midtown Greenway is an incredible thing in and of itself!  It's a bike highway that runs east/west through Minneapolis!  It's gorgeous and a lot of fun!  Get out on your bike and ride around!  Enjoy your environment, some exercise, and the community that uses the Greenway!

I also should say, getting out and volunteering in your community is one of the best things you could do with your spare time!  Better yet, make time to get involved with your community!  It doesn't necessarily have to be environmentally focused, but simply volunteering your time to better someone or some other people is one of the greatest feelings and you're making a difference for the better in someone else's life.  That sort of good dead always seems to find its way back around.  Making bonds with people can change the world!

Start changing it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eureka Recycling

This this is a perfect way to follow up a post about waste!

Eureka Recycling!

I visited Eureka Recycling while I was in Minneapolis and got to talk to Miriam. 
She was great and very insightful!

Eureka Recycling started out of a neighborhood wanting to conserve energy by recycling! Way to go team! And it just grew from there!
Now Eureka is a zero-waste non-profit recycling business in St. Paul and a couple surrounding cities.
They are non-profit but they're trying to prove that is a profitable business. And it is! It's a need that has to be filled and the market will provide!

We have to make recycling a priority! Just like the St. Paul neighborhood did that eventually lead to Eureka Recycling!

Way to go Eureka Recycling!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Week not Wasted

Wow!
I can NOT thank Travis and Shannon enough!
What a week spent with them in Minneapolis!  It could not have been a better start to Cycling for Climate Change!

When I got there on Saturday, June 4th, Travis said that him and his mom wanted to do a no waste week, and asked if I would be willing to participate with them... Well duh!  What a perfect thing to do with CCC.

Shannon already does an AMAZING job on her own!  Recycling all 7 recyclable plastics (even though they can't all be recycled in Minneapolis) and composts food and paper waste that can't be recycled!  So, they do pretty well already!

Anytime Travis and I went out on the town we would bring back the waste from the stores/restaurants as well because you don't just waste in your home waste is everywhere and you have to be aware of that.

In the end it didn't end up being a ZERO waste week, but we didn't do too shabby!  Some inevitable sources of waste, unless we put pressure on government or producers to eliminate the unnecessary waste were the little stickers on fruit, some plastic containers from like pasta and what not, or the plastic sacks from cereal, etc. 

Research recycling and composting in your area.  If it doesn't already exist, help get it started!  If there's a market for it (ie. the people want it) it should be started and should work!

Also, push your government to create legislation to make more things recyclable and let's Reduce the Waste!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Petition

Here's a post dedicated completely to the petition.  It will include the overview and the actual letter, that way you can read this and then decide if you want to sign the petition. 

I strongly urge you to sign the petition and forward it or link it so that your friends can sign it too, to help create political action in our country!


OVERVIEW

We are already seeing the effects of the potentially most detrimental crisis to ever face humanity, climate change.  Unfortunately, our government is sluggish at best at protecting us against depleting resources, rising global temperatures, air and water pollution, etc.  We need to take a stand and tell our government to shift gears to a more sustainable United States of America and be a leader in the necessary global change.
The NASA and UNFCCC websites both state that the effects of Global Climate Change are already observable, in the forms of  "loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise," "extreme weather such as droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones (quoted respectively)."  As our production of green house gasses continues to increase these effects will only be exacerbated!  Without proper infrastructure in place our addiction to oil will cripple daily life!  We need green transit, alternatives to conventional agriculture and all the products made by and with oil.  The expense of dealing with and preparing for global climate change and peak oil NOW pales in comparison to the expense that would be necessary to adapt to global climate change and peak oil in a reactionary manner.
Thus, we, the people of the United States of America, demand that our government establishes the standards and infrastructure necessary to move to reliance on sustainable energy rather than fossil fuels, to reduce pollution, waste, and green house gases emitted into and present in the atmosphere, and to reform our conventional agricultural system to be more sustainable.
Write to your representatives, who should be representing and protecting YOU, that you want stricter emission standards, better infrastructure, and stronger environmental policy!

References:
http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
http://unfccc.int/essential_background/feeling_the_heat/items/2904.php

The actual letter:

Take Strict Action on Climate Change Legislation
Greetings,
In the face of the greatest threat to face humanity, we, the American people, request action to be taken by our representative government. The urgency of the issue demands immediate and strict green house gas emission standards to be set. The United States of America needs to be a global leader in the effort to protect our planet.

The NASA and UNFCCC websites both state that the effects of Global Climate Change are already observable, in the forms of "loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise," "extreme weather such as droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones (quoted respectively)." As our production of green house gasses continues to increase these effects will only be exacerbated! Without proper infrastructure in place our addiction to oil will cripple daily life! We need green transit, alternatives to conventional agriculture and all the products made by and with oil. The expense of dealing with and preparing for global climate change and peak oil NOW pales in comparison to the expense that would be necessary to adapt to global climate change and peak oil in a reactionary manner.

Thus, we, the people of the United States of America, demand that our government establishes the standards and infrastructure necessary to move to reliance on sustainable energy rather than fossil fuels, to reduce pollution, waste, and green house gases emitted into and present in the atmosphere, and to reform our conventional agricultural system to be more sustainable. 
 
 End.
 
If you've gotten this far, I am very impressed!  Now just look over to your left to find the widget that tells you to "Make a Difference" and "Sign Petition" and please do so! :)
Thanks!
 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Off to a Good Start

Cycling for Climate Change is off to a GREAT start!

After the last post, I got to know the owner of the Dunn Bros in Framington that I was hanging out at!  Dave told me about Dunn Bros and why he got into the coffee business.  Dave sees coffee and the role he plays as being a facilitator to conversations, connections, and networking - it's about the person to person relations.  He also saw his role as being able to promote cool projects and causes... like Cycling for Climate Change!
I told Dave all about the project and he really liked it and said that he would follow the progress of the project and keep updates on the Farmington Dunn Bros "what's going on" bulletin board! - Thanks Dave!

In general, it was great to see the excitement, support and hospitality in Farmington!  

Saturday, in the morning I stopped back in at Dunn Bros for my morning cold press iced coffee and a scone - very delicious!  While I was ordering a crew of cyclists from NORTHFIELD stopped in; one was a St. Olaf music prof!  He asked if I was the one on the St. Olaf hompage, to which I responded, "yeah!"  So I ended up having breakfast with a Northfield cycling crew and talking about CCC and the St. Olaf Cycling team and other things.  Pretty cool way to start the morning!

I then hopped back on my bike and over to the Farmington Wildlife and Aquatic Area where I met up with the Friends of the Mississippi River where a crew of around 20 of us planted 125 trees in just over 2 hours!  It was fantastic and a blast to do!  Made friends and got to spread the word about CCC some more and even took some video!  I really have to figure out what I'm doing with this video!  Don't worry, you will get to see it!

Then when we finished I made my way up to Minneapolis!

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3rd

Today was initially supposed to be in Minneapolis, but I'm going to be working with Friends of the Mississippi and Vermillion Stewards Program tomorrow morning at 9am planting trees along the Vermillion River here in Farmington, MN.  So I'm camping out again tonight.  Then heading up to MPLS with Travis (who's planting trees as well).

The ride today from Owatonna (Cabela's) to Northfield (St. Olaf) was good (somewhat surprisingly after what turned out to be an 85mi fully loaded ride, my longest in a day).  Ran a couple of errands while I was in town, and visited some friends.  At at the Tavern, the Tavern Special (delicious and cheep)! 

Headed out from Northfield around 1-1:30pm, initially inteding to get to Minneapolis.  Unfortunately, though, as I was heading out of Farmington, I got a flat in my back tire... already?! really?!
While I patched that up, I called Travis and coordinated our volunteering for tomorrow, and decided, that it just made sense for me to stay in Farmington.

So now I'm at Dunn Bros Coffee, typing up a blog and then going to eat, then camp out under the stars!  Waking up bright and early, and starting the first day of volunteering!

Thanks for reading!
Always remember how your actions impact the planet!
Peace!