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[1THING] Blog: Archive for May, 2012

[ More fun at Ride the Drive ]

Planning to attend Ride the Drive on Sunday June 3rd?

Great! You’ll have a blast riding five miles of roads usually clogged with cars and trucks. If it’s anything like last year, you’ll see some folks with pretty cool bikes, like old Orange Krate Sting-Rays, and some other bikes that go beyond the limits of most people’s imagination.

But there are plenty of other activities to take in along the way. Here are some suggestions:

*The Schwinn Triple M Music Stage on the Square at East Washington Avenue from 10am-2pm.

10-10:45am Sexy Ester

11-11:45am  Keefe Klug

Noon-12:45pm  Mark Harrod

1-1:45pm  Willow Lane

* Helmet Fitting Station at Olin Park. (Loose and title to the back of your head is not the right way to do it, kids)

*Bouncy house at Olin Park (Kids only!)

*Boulders Gym Climbing Wall, Wilson at John Nolen

Check out all the Ride the Drive info here.

 

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[ Saving America’s Endangered Rivers ]

Saving America's Endangered Rivers

2. Green River

Patrick DiGiulian of EarthShare member organization American Rivers talks about his organization's recent Most Endangered Rivers list along with his personal reasons for wanting to protect the nation's majestic rivers.

 

We all need clean water. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Fresh water is crucial to every living thing on our planet. Most of our drinking water comes from rivers. And rivers and streams also give us places to fish, boat and swim – not to mention homes for wildlife.

On May 15th American Rivers was proud to announce the 2012 America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report. The report highlights ten rivers whose fate will be decided in the coming year, and encourages decision-makers to do the right thing for the rivers and the communities they support.

We chose the Potomac as America’s #1 Most Endangered River for 2012 because of the threat from urban and agricultural pollution. While the Potomac River is cleaner than it used to be, pollution is still a serious problem – and it could get much worse if Congress rolls back critical clean water safeguards.

As a DC resident, the Potomac is especially important to me.  I get my drinking water from it, on the weekends I enjoy running along the Billy Goat trail at Great Falls National Park, and when I have the opportunity I kayak and sail by the DC monuments.  It is amazing how much of my life revolves around one single source.

As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, the
Potomac – known as “the nation’s river” as it flows by the capital — is emblematic of what’s at stake for rivers nationwide.

Our president, Bob Irvin, said, “This year’s Most Endangered Rivers list underscores how important clean water is to our drinking water, health, and economy. If Congress slashes clean water protections, more Americans will get sick and communities and businesses will suffer. We simply cannot afford to go back to a time when the Potomac and rivers nationwide were too polluted to use.”

The America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is one of the best-known and longest-lived annual reports in the environmental movement. Each year since 1986, grassroots river conservationists have teamed up with American Rivers to use the report to save their local rivers, consistently scoring policy successes that benefit these rivers and the communities through which they flow.

American Rivers reviews nominations for the report from river groups and concerned citizens across the country. We look at the significance of the river to human and natural communities and the magnitude of the threat to the river and associated communities. The report is not a list of the nation’s “worst” or most polluted rivers, but rather it highlights rivers confronted by critical decisions that will determine their future. The report presents alternatives to proposals that would damage rivers, identifies those who make the crucial decisions, and points out opportunities for the public to take action on behalf of each listed river.

You won’t be taking action to only protect the places I love and depend on, but you will be protecting the safety and well-being of millions of Americans. 


Take Action to Help Protect These Rivers! 

Thanks for helping to protect our rivers and clean water!

America's Most Endangered Rivers® of 2012:

#1: Potomac River (MD, VA, PA, WV, DC)
Threat: Pollution
At stake: Clean water and public health

#2: Green River (WY, UT, CO)
Threat: Water withdrawals
At stake: Recreation opportunities and fish and wildlife habitat

#3: Chattahoochee River (GA)
Threat: New dams and reservoirs
At stake: Clean water and healthy fisheries

#4: Missouri River (IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY)
Threat: Outdated flood management
At stake: Public safety

#5: Hoback River (WY)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and world-class fish and wildlife

#6: Grand River (OH)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and public health

#7: South Fork Skykomish River (WA)
Threat: New dam
At stake: Habitat and recreation

#8: Crystal River (CO)
Threat: Dams and water diversions
At stake: Fish, wildlife, and recreation

#9: Coal River (WV)
Threat: Mountaintop removal coal mining
At stake: Clean water and public health

#10: Kansas River (KS)
Threat: Sand and gravel dredging
At stake: Public health and wildlife habitat

Learn more about all of America’s Most Endangered Rivers and find out how you can get involved.

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[ SeaWeb ]

  SeaWeb
SeaWeb is the only international, nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to using the science of communications to fundamentally shift the way people interact with the ocean.
 

LNT Logo
8401 Colesville Road | Suite 500
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-495-9570
Fax: 301-495-4846

www.seaweb.org
Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Number: 11796

Click here to sign up for news from SeaWeb

  SeaWeb Careers

 

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[ National Aquarium in Baltimore ]

National Aquarium in Baltimore
The National Aquarium is a nonprofit aquatic education and conservation organization with a mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.

LNT Logo
501 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-576-3800

www.aqua.org
Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Number: 11251

Click here to sign up for news from the National Aquarium

National Aquarium Careers

 

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[ Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics ]

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands.

LNT Logo
1830 17th Street, Suite 100
Boulder, CO 80302
303-442-8222
Fax: 303-442-8217

www.lnt.org
Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Number: 10423

Click here to sign up for news from Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Careers

 

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[ Earthworks ]

  Earthworks
Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.
 

Earthworks Logo
1612 K Street, NW, Suite 808
Washington, DC 20006
202-887-1872
Fax: 202-887-1875

www.earthworksaction.org
Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Number: 41290


Click here to sign up for news from EarthWorks

  Earthworks Careers

 

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[ A sneak attack on wilderness: Legislation that hurts backcountry sportsmen looms in the U.S. Senate ]

Image: 

So many of our memories are made when we spend time with our favorite people in our favorite wild places.

Now, a bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives threatens those memories. H.R. 4089 is a sneak attack on wilderness disguised as a pro-hunting bill. It would fundamentally undermine existing protections for some of our nation’s backcountry destinations, including wilderness areas:

  1. Allowing motorized vehicles and other development in congressionally-protected wilderness areas
  2. Eviscerating the president’s authority to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act
  3. Allowing development in hiking, hunting and fishing areas without public review or comment

A master of deception

Like all things in disguise, H.R. 4089 is not what it seems. The bill’s supporters claim that it supports and would even help hunting and fishing in wilderness — something that The Wilderness Society strongly supports. After all, sportsmen are some of America’s greatest conservationists, harking back to the “Wilderness Warrior,” President Theodore Roosevelt.
In reality, the bill would not help hunters or anglers. Instead, it would destroy the wilderness that defines the backcountry hunting and fishing experience. H.R. 4089 is Congress at its worst: trying to fix a problem that simply does not exist. 

Unfortunately, H.R. 4089 deceived enough members of Congress to pass the U.S. House of Representatives.  Now it is in the Senate, and we need to reveal its true identity: a gift to those who want to destroy these backcountry traditions that this country was built upon.

Sadly, H.R. 4089 is part of a wave of legislation that seeks to systematically dismantle decades of laws that protect America’s wilderness and public lands. To learn more about these dangerous bills, please see our report, Wilderness Under Siege.  All together, these bills threaten nearly half a billion acres of public land.

Congress should protect our backcountry, not destroy it.

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[ Green Quiz Challenge – Bike Commuting ]

Green Quiz Challenge – Bike Commuting

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baudman / Flickr

About 40% of trips in the U.S. are taken within 2 miles of home—an ideal distance for riding a bike—yet only a small fraction of people pedal to their destination. Why is this?

One of the biggest factors preventing people from riding bikes is concern for safety. When governments build bike lanes and paths, more people feel comfortable riding a bike. The growth in bike commuting in the past decade is a result of cities growing their bike-friendly infrastructure.

By what percentage did bike commuting increase in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010?

A. 5%

B. 15%

C. 43%

D. 73%

The correct answer is C. 43%. Congratulations to our green quiz winners: Carly Johnston, Susan Williams, and Kevin Gregson!

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[ Why New Pesticides are Putting Bees at Risk ]

Why New Pesticides are Putting Bees at Risk

 

Pesticides

Valley_Photographs / Flickr

 

Jay Feldman is a cofounder of EarthShare member charity Beyond Pesticides and has served as its director since 1981. In this, the second of our two-part series (read Part 1 here), Feldman talks about his concern about pesticides like clothianidin that have been in the news recently for their detrimental impacts on honeybees.


EarthShare: Why is clothianidin harmful to bees? What crops is it used most heavily on?

Jay Feldman: Clothianidin is an insecticide which is toxic to a range of insects, including many pollinators. The most common effects to honey bees exposed to clothiandin are sub-lethal in nature, meaning that the bees will not die from exposure to the chemical alone, but that it will injure them to a degree that it makes it difficult or impossible for them to perform essential tasks. It is thought that the chemical can weaken the bees’ immune systems, making it harder to fight off viruses and parasites which can have more direct and immediate effects on health and mortality. 

The most common application method is to actually coat the crop seeds with the substance before they are planted. Then, when they germinate, the pesticide literally becomes part of the entire plant pollen. When the bees land on the plant and gather the pollen, they are exposed to the chemical, and if they bring the pollen back to the hive, the rest of the colony becomes exposed as well.

There is also increasing evidence that bees are exposed to clothiandin during the planting season, even before the plants containing the chemical have grown. Several studies have shown that dust which is expelled from mechanical seed planters while planting treated seeds is laced with large amounts of clothianidin. When bees fly though this dust, they become coated with the chemical and begin to suffer adverse effects.

Clothianidin is currently registered for use as a seed treatment on corn and canola seed. Although these crops don’t require pollination, they do produce pollen and are often visited by bees whose hives are located nearby. Despite the fact that honey bees aren’t used commercially to pollinate corn, by virtue of its sheer prevalence (corn covers 88 million acres of U.S. farmland), this crop accounts for a large portion of honey bee nutrition and exposure, and nearly all U.S. corn is treated with systemic insecticides such as clothianidin.

 

What’s the status of the drive to ban Clothianidin?

A petition has been filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Beyond Pesticides and several other environmental groups on behalf of commercial beekeepers. The petition seeks to have the agency immediately suspend any use of clothianidin and more thoroughly study its effects on pollinators.

When the pesticide was first licensed (“registered”), EPA only allowed it to go ahead on the condition that the manufacturer, Bayer, submit data concerning the chemicals effects on the health of pollinators, namely honey bees. However, in the nine years since it was first registered, there has been no adequate data on pollinator effects submitted to EPA and the agency has simply allowed the chemical to achieve full, unconditional registration. Thus, the agency has failed to follow its own requirements and has seriously endangered the U.S. population of honey bees and the U.S. food system as a result.

Beekeepers and environmental advocates are asking EPA to respond to the petition within 90 days of its filing (by mid-June 2012) and are hoping that the agency will recognize the dire situation that has arisen as a result of allowing the use of this chemical.

 

What other pesticides most concern you right now?

We are concerned about a broad range of toxic pesticides that have adverse effects on human health and the environment. Pesticides in the organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroid families are particularly problematic because they are neurotoxic and have effects on the neurological and endocrine systems as a result of low-dose exposure.

While EPA has reduced the use of organophosphates in the residential environment, they are still used in agriculture, for mosquito control and on golf courses. Synthetic pyrethroids, which include pesticides like bifenthrin, cause detrimental effects on organ systems well after exposure in the developmental phases of life. EPA’s model for testing has been high-dose chemical exposure, ignoring the implications of toxic mechanisms that work in miniscule doses. We also are seeing studies that link the synthetic pyrethroids to learning capacity and autism.

In addition to specific chemical effects, the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) crops has resulted in increasing dependency on pesticides. These crops are designed to be tolerant of herbicides, so that more pesticides can be used in the cultivation of the crops without fear of crop damage.

The most well-known GMO crop has been “RoundUp-Ready” corn, which allows the widespread use of the pesticide glyphosate. But, as the weeds have become resistant to the chemicals, new pesticide-tolerant crops are being developed. The latest is 2,4-D tolerant corn, which will increase the use of one of the most notorious chemicals, Agent Orange. While the other chemicals in Agent Orange were banned years ago, 2,4-D has a hazardous track record of its own, linked to cancer among farmers who use it.

In the end, these GMO system increase pesticide dependency and force a continuation of the pesticide treadmill, as chemical strategies try unsuccessfully to overwhelm nature. If you think this is just an agricultural issue, stay tuned for the newly developed genetically engineered grass seed that will soon be widely available.

 

How can EarthShare readers help protect bees and other wildlife?

Once EPA formally publishes the petition to ban clothianidin in the Federal Register, it will seek input from the public on the issue. You will have a chance to submit a public comment supporting the goals of the petition and urging the agency to take action to protect pollinators from this toxic chemical. Stay tuned to www.BeyondPesticides.org for important updates on how you can voice your thoughts to EPA.

Closer to home, managing your lawn and garden organically provides pollinators, as well as other wildlife, with a safe habitat and food source. Visit our website to pledge your property as a pesticide-free, bee-friendly habitat, and find out more about actions you can take to protect pollinators.


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[ Cycling to EarthShare for Bike to Work Week ]

My Urban Bike Commute: Cycling to EarthShare

Erica Flock, EarthShare Online Manager

Dcbike_whiteknuckled

whiteknuckled / Flickr

 

One sign of the bike’s popularity in Washington, DC is the nonchalance with which many of my friends and colleagues hop on one after work or dinner with friends. I regularly see cyclists zipping by at all hours on the street in my neighborhood or tourists grinning on red Capital Bikeshare bikes on paths and lanes around the city.

Ranked as a top 10 bikeable city by Walkscore, the District is, indeed, a great city for bicyclists, at least by U.S. standards. The two-year-old Capital Bikeshare just reached 2 million rides and the city continues to add new bike lanes and other amenities. With Bike to Work Week approaching, I decided it was a great opportunity to forgo my typical Metro ride and bike to work.

After mapping out the 4-mile route from my home in DC to to the EarthShare offices in Bethesda, MD (using Google’s handy bike map tool), I learned that biking to work would take a mere five minutes longer than taking Metro. Half my route would go through neighborhoods and half through the beautiful, forested Capital Crescent Trailcertainly a more low-key ride than most DC commuters face.


Capcrestrail2

 

The Capital Crescent Trail was a rail line that carried coal and building supplies to and from Washington, DC for many years before our member organization Rails-to-Trails Conservancy helped turn it into a bike and pedestrian path. Like many trails in the DC area, the path gives a full spectrum of terrain: from verdant woodlands that make you forget you’re in the city to some of the most bustling neighborhoods in the region: Georgetown, Bethesda and Silver Spring.


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A Rails-to-Trails marker on the Capital Crescent

 

My bike is nothing fancy (it’s an old, somewhat ugly hybrid I picked up on Craigslist for about $200) and I didn’t wear any special clothing—just threw on my work clothes and a helmet. The forest along the trail was thick and released a pungent, springy smell as I whizzed by. When I arrived in Bethesda and left the trail, I hopped on the city’s on-street bike lanes to make it most of the rest of the way to the office.

Thanks in part to another (local) EarthShare member charity, Bethesda Green, Bethesda is set to get more bike parking this week, just in time for the close of Bike Month. In addition to increasing bike paths and lanes, adequate parking is critical to growing a bike-friendly city.

Bicycle commuting in the U.S. jumped 40% in the last decade, but still remains marginal compared to countries like the Netherlands (watch this amazing video of rush hour in Utrecht and you'll see why). Many people in the U.S. feel understandably unsafe biking for transportation because their cities lack the infrastructure and laws to support cyclists.


Bikeshop

A bike shop in Bethesda near the EarthShare offices

 

Some of our members like the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and Natural Resources Defense Council are working hard to ensure that bicycling gets the attention and funding it deserves. Ultimately, bicycling will only become a transit option if we let our leaders know it’s a priority – for our health, safety and the planet.

Now that my route to work is no longer a mystery, I plan on making biking a regular part of my week. You can too! Take the first step by plugging your location into the Google/Rails-to-Trails Bike Directions tool, then get pedaling!

 

More on bike commuting from our members:

Biking to Work: How to Get Started, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Make biking to work your 2012 resolution, Natural Resources Defense Council

Smarter Cities, Natural Resources Defense Council

Bicycles Belong, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy

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