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Friday, June 28, 2013

Activism Spotlight & Suggested Reading: Obama's Climate Address

Suggested Reading

This week’s suggested reading is actually a suggested watching. If you haven’t already, I want you to watch President Barack Obama’s speech on climate change, in which he explains his plan for reducing carbon pollution and increasing renewable energy in the United States.

Whenever the President gives a speech or an address, I feel it is important for American citizens to watch and listen. However, this speech in particular is a historical one. Never before has a President delved into such a forward looking and comprehensive plan for the environment. If you truly care about the environmental cause and working for change, it is essential to understand the viewpoint of the government on the matter and the actions that are currently being taken. If there aren’t enough initiatives being carried out, we need to voice our opinions and fight for them, and if actions are being taken, we need to show our support.

If you want to know the opinion of our nation’s leader on climate change, and the actions he is taking to reduce America’s carbon footprint, then you need to watch his climate change address, given at Georgetown University on June 25th.

President Obama’s plan isn’t perfect, but in it he has many great ideas and initiatives that will pave a healthier, greener path into the future. In it, he debunks the opposition’s greatest argument: digressing away from fossil fuels and moving toward renewable energy will cause a loss of jobs. The President claims exactly the opposite; developing a renewable energy industry will create many stable jobs. In his speech he also mentioned the Keystone XL Pipeline, which many experts predicted he would avoid. He said if the studies currently being conducted come back with results that suggest the pipeline will be damaging to the environment, then it is not in the nation’s best interest and, therefore, he cannot allow its construction. Since any legitimate study would show that, yes, the pipeline is absolutely horrible for the environment; all that remains to be seen is whether or not President Obama will stick to his guns.
Some of the downfalls of his plan include support for “clean coal” (there’s no such thing) and nuclear energy, along with a greater reliance on natural gas and the usage of new and improved drilling methods (although not directly stated, this is certainly referring to fracking).

After you watch the speech, please, leave your thoughts and opinions on it in a comment below. Or, tweet your thoughts to me: @Viridorari. Many organizations are now sending messages of support to Obama (he’ll need it, big oil companies won’t go down quietly), along with requests for changing the weaker points of his plan. I encourage you to search for one of these petitions and let Obama know you’ve got his back.

Watch his address on climate change here.

Politics may not always be the most appealing topic because they often bring about heavy debate and argument amongst people who are otherwise agreeable. However, to be an effective voice for the environmental cause, we must know what our government and our nation’s leaders are doing about it. Following green news and politics is essential. To hear the latest in environmental news and green movements, follow me on Twitter. I’m always retweeting important events and relevant articles. 
Happy watching!
Activism Spotlight

I never thought a day would come where I would be featuring Wal-Mart in my “Activism Spotlight.” I’ve always viewed Wal-Mart as the epitome of American materialism and greedy capitalism, not to mention an empire of waste and emission production.

    Well, I’m not the only one to think that; for years, Wal-Mart has been criticized among environmental groups due to the company’s extensive use of fossil-fuels. Apparently Wal-Mart finally heard the mean things being said behind their back. The retail giant has laid out a plan to using 100% renewable energy to power their stores, along with many other green-minded programs to reduce Wal-Mart’s waste and fossil fuel emission production. Wal-Mart is quickly transforming into one of the strongest supporters of renewable energy in the business realm. Wal-Mart has begun to focus more on renewable energy in the hopes of reaching new energy efficiency standards it has set for itself as well as becoming more environmentally friendly. Not to mention, by following current plans for renewable energy usage, the company will save about one billion dollars annually in energy costs.

    To accomplish 100% renewable energy usage, Wal-Mart is creating its own energy along with purchasing green energy. As of 2012, there were 150 solar installations in seven countries (producing 71 million kilowatt hours of energy), 75% of California’s stores were using some form of renewable energy, and there were twenty-six fuel cell installations in the U.S. Furthermore, Wal-Mart is testing energy productions from on site micro-wind, large-scale wind, solar water heating, and solar thermal.

    Here are Wal-Mart’s renewable energy goals for 2020. As a result of this plan, nine million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be saved. This is the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road. 

  • Produce 7 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy by 2020 (a 600% increase from previous Wal-Mart production levels). This is the equivalent to the energy produced by two fossil fuel power plants. 7 billion kilowatt hours can power every household in Austin, Texas for an entire year.
  •     By 2020, reduce the energy per square foot needed to power buildings by 20%.
  •     Renewable energy will cover 30% of Wal-Mart’s energy usage by 2020.

    Along with a plan for renewable energy, with goals for and beyond 2020, Wal-Mart is undertaking many other initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment. 

In partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Walmart created Acres for America in 2005. Acres for America is a ten year, $35 million commitment to purchase and preserve one acre of American wildlife habitat for every acre of land the corporation develops. To date, the program has helped conserve nearly 690,000 acres.

Wal-Mart is also rethinking its truck fleet (one of the largest in the world). The company is developing new fuel efficient truck models, along with altering truck routes and carrying capacity. Since 2007, the Wal-Mart fleet has delivered 361 million more supply cases while driving 287 million fewer miles.

Another initiative is working toward zero waste by evaluating and re-thinking excess food, packaging, plastic bags, and electronics recycling: 

    Wal-Mart, one of the world’s largest retailers is paving the way and setting an example for renewable business practices. Future friendly practices typically seem to be more common among small businesses, with owners that are more connected to their community and with bigger consciences. So, I was really excited to hear about the steps that this corporation giant is taking to reduce its impact on the environment. If more (preferably all) businesses, big and small, took this initiative, not only would they save money on energy costs, our world would be a cleaner, greener place.

    Take the time to let Wal-Mart know your support their forward thinking initiatives, and encourage your local businesses to partake in green practices. If you ever need help with writing a business letter, or want advice for advocating sustainability to a business, just email me at I’d be happy to help.

    Email Wal-Mart your comments on their sustainable practices here. Or, call: 1-800-WALMART (925-6278).


Update 11/15/13: This report shows that Wal-Mart isn't doing as well as they planned to with their sustainability focus: 

Animal of the Month Update
June is coming to a close, so I want to introduce a shark oriented organization that you could support. If you’ve been following my suggestions for Goodsearch, you may have already been supporting the Shark Research Institute (SRI) this month.

    SRI was founded in 1991 at Princeton, New Jersey, and the organization’s mission is simple and straightforward: Conduct and sponsor research on sharks and promote their conservation. Since then, SRI has expanded and now has field offices in the states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, along with international offices in Australia, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras, Mozambique, and Seychelles.

    Correcting misconceptions about sharks and preventing their slaughter are primary goals of SRI. They create a value for sharks by promoting their usefulness in the diving tourism industry, especially in developing countries. This provides a steady, reliable revenue to fisherman and prevents them from slaughtering sharks for immediate gain. SRI’s current projects are visual and satellite tracking, behavioral and DNA research, environmental advocacy, and public education. To read the educational materials that SRI provides on its website, click here. To see what kids are doing to make a difference for sharks, click here.

    There are many ways you can support SRI, including becoming a member. Depending on your level of membership, from Supporter ($50) to Conservation Patron ($1,000) your membership package will vary. If you are interested in learning more about sharks, SRI offers a selection of books here. Similarly, you can find a list of suggested shark DVD’s here. Another way you can support SRI is by adopting a whale shark, either by paying a $25 annual adoption fee or a $100 lifetime adoption (no renewal required). Each “guardian” adopts a whale shark that has been tagged, and they receive a certificate with their name, the shark’s name and size, along with when, where, and by whom the shark was tagged. Adopt your whale shark here. SRI also encourages you to conduct your own fundraising project. If eight-year-old kids can raise hundreds of dollars for SRI, so can you! Look over fundraising tips and information here. Lastly, learn how to become a part of the Ocean Legacy Society here.

    I hope in these final days of June, you will consider donating to a cause that will help endangered shark species like the Ganges shark. Saving the Earth’s disappearing species can only have positive effects on our ecosystems and the future of our world. I will always provide ways, big and small, for you to support Viridorari’s Animals of the Month.

    To learn more about SRI, visit their website. Follow SRI on twitter: @savethesharks


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