Archive for February, 2008

Solar Oven Dinner

This Saturday 2/28 5pm
Try food cooked in ESW’s very own solar ovens!!!
Price: Sliding Scale $5-$10
Place: Thurston Winter Lab Classroom
INTERESTED??? Contact Carmen cni3@cornell.edu

Hope to see familiar and new faces there!!!


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sustain_logo.jpgCredit to Carlos Rymer and Mollie Futterman in the Cornell Daily Sun

It is now approximately one year since President Skorton signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, setting Cornell on the path towards climate neutrality. KyotoNOW!’s Beyond Kyoto Campaign showed that there exists widespread support for such a target on campus. Since then, the student group has been looked upon with admiration by the youth climate movement and many organizations on campus. But since then, an entire year has passed. So it is about time that we ask ourselves what we have done in the last year about this commitment and, more broadly, sustainability. Well, let’s think about it.

Shortly after the signing of the Presidents Climate Commitment, an Implementation Committee was formed to draft a comprehensive plan (due in exactly one year) to reach climate neutrality in the Ithaca, N.Y. campus. In addition, an ad-hoc faculty committee was formed voluntarily to begin looking for ideas on what to do to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Lots of ideas have been proposed, including a rapid transit system promoted by the local group Connect Ithaca, wind turbines on nearby hills (Enfield, Town of Caroline and Mt. Pleasant), increased energy efficiency, a big red bikes program, biodiesel production from dining locations,and methane biodigestors. We don’t know yet what the Implementation Committee is doing, but we’re set to find out soon when President Skorton addresses the campus today at 11:30 a.m. in the Duffield Atrium, where the first anniversary of the Presidents Climate Commitment will be celebrated.

In addition to all this administrative work, there has been a great buzz around campus about the Presidents Climate Commitment. In fact, every time a campus publication mentions sustainability, the commitment is brought up as the most aggressive move yet. It is now typical to confuse sustainability with climate neutrality, since global warming has become such a huge threat and people are getting that in their heads. Yet climate neutrality is something to be achieved over one or a few decades; it’s something that, right now, is all about words. In effect, this constant talking about Cornell’s commitment to climate neutrality has masked the obvious about sustainability.


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green-basics-cfl-white.jpgCredit to Brian Karlovitz in the Cornell Daily Sun:

In the latest step toward achieving energy independence from traditional fuel sources, the nearby Town of Caroline will receive compact fluorescent lightbulbs as part of an initiative called Energy Independent Caroline. EIC participants are planning to distribute one bulb to each of the town’s approximately 1200 households in April.

The Carbon Flourescent Lightbulbs last eight to 10 times longer than the average incandescent bulb and consume 75 percent less energy than conventional bulbs. Ithaca College and Cornell students, along with other community members, will help distribute the bulbs.

Founded in 2005 when Caroline became the state’s second municipality to purchase wind power for 100 percent of its electricity use, EIC’s ultimate goal is for the town to generate its own wind power instead of purchasing it from outside sources. The light bulb campaign is just the newest initiative taken on to achieve this goal.

One of the group’s leaders, Dominic Frongillo ’05, a Town of Caroline Board member, explained that the group grew out of worries about dependence on fossil fuels.


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Credit to Justin Wheeler in the Cornell Daily Sun:

So we’re told that the average American puts 20 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. But talking’s not enough.

We’re told about how our thirst for oil is contributing to habitat and species elimination, placing, at times, entire ecosystems in jeopardy. Not even close.

We’re told global warming is a reality, and that proactive change on the part of consumers will inhibit its consequences. It’s not enough.

For whatever reasons, this country lacks enthusiasm (real enthusiasm) over the idea of civic responsibility with respect to the global climate of … um … the global climate. Sure, it’s easy to change our incandescent bulbs to energy efficient fluorescents. And it’s not too hard to shut off the lights before leaving our rooms. But, alas, the trick to doing this dance right lies in the subtleties. As with everything, real change takes genuine effort.


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Credit to Wendy Wang in the Cornell Daily Sun:

In 2000, when former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was running for our nation’s highest office, his position on global warming would not have garnered him a Nobel Peace Prize — he was virtually silent on the issue. In 2008, this trend continues, as current presidential candidates rarely bring up science and technology policy problems. This lack of action prompted the beginning of ScienceDebate2008, a movement to invite the presidential candidates to debate on science and technology-related issues.

To correct the problem, President Skorton, along with other university presidents, science organizations, members of Congress, technology companies like Intel and 17,000 individual supporters, signed a petition to show support for the debate.

Although the presidential candidates have yet to respond to the debate’s invitation, the event is set for April 18 at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

The debate comes amidst news of President Bush’s recent budget proposal for 2009. While increasing some funding for areas like the U.S. Department of Defense’s research and development, the proposal continued to cut funding for many critical departments that deal with science-related issues, like NASA’s science portfolio. Moreover, even though some departments like National Institutes of Health experienced no change in their budget, their budgets actually decreases when adjusted for inflation.


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Credit to Sylvester Johnson in The Ithaca Journal

On the day that Ithaca’s Common Council passed the resolution in support of a federal carbon tax The Journal published the guest column “Ithaca Common Council’s support for Carbon Tax questioned” by Paul V. Sheridan that argued against passage on the basis of skepticism of the science of climate change. This column responds.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases “very likely” are contributing to climate change. The inspiration for the studies leading to that report was the rough correlation between rises in human population, carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere and average global surface temperature over the last 150 years. Correlations do not show causation, but such observations can inspire hypotheses for further investigation.

The panel therefore compiled the results of many worldwide climate computer simulations. The simulations were run both with human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases and without, including only variations in natural climate forcing such as solar. Only with human-induced emissions did the results correlate roughly with the rise in average global surface temperature. The temperature has risen steeply enough in the last three decades to support strong statistical significance culminating in the statement that human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases “very likely” are contributing to climate change.

Now the debate has moved beyond the science to policy. Whether the next president is Republican or Democrat, legislation is likely to get enacted to reduce fossil fuel emissions, with the options being a federal carbon tax or emissions trading. The outcome of this Congressional debate will affect residents of Ithaca.


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Credit to Tyson Buerkle in the Cornell Daily Sun:  

If you haven’t heard of Greenstar Cooperative Market, you probably haven’t been in Ithaca all that long, but don’t worry, that’s okay – now you’ve heard of it, right? Greenstar started up in the early 1970s as a small purchasing co-op, and members would take turns picking up orders for the group at a wholesale market in Syracuse. At first the co-op was relatively small. However, membership grew rapidly and soon they began retailing from a permanent store site. Today the store is located on the corner of West Buffalo and Fulton streets in Ithaca.

So why am I telling you all this? Greenstar has a deep-rooted commitment to local foods, one that can be traced all the way to their mission statement.

In Greenstar’s produce, grocery, bulk and deli sections, they shelve as much local food as possible, sourcing their products from twenty local farmers. The co-op offers local produce year-round, but it is seasonal. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll get a nice head of local lettuce in February! During the winter months you’ll find mostly storage crops such as potatoes, onions, beets and squash. You can also find locally produced and processed foods in other parts of the store such as the bulk section and in the deli. One of the most popular products at Greenstar is the local tofu, processed by Ithaca Soy.

Recently Greenstar adopted a first-rate labeling system. Very visible signs point out exactly what on the shelves is local produce. After talking to the General Manager of the store, I found out that the co-op’s definition of “local” is a 30 mile radius as the crow flies – a much higher standard than the average 100 miles that people generally think of for local food. Due to the signage and labeling in the market it is quite easy to go into Greenstar and pick out some good local foods for dinner.

Admittedly, Greenstar is a bit further away than some of the other local food options I have described in the past weeks , but do not despair! The T-CAT bus route 21 makes a stop at the Ithaca Bus Station right across the street from the co-op.

I’ll end by saying, if you have never been to Greenstar, you should definitely check it out! Greenstar Cooperative Market is one of the key places that make Ithaca a local food hot-bed.

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