Archive for Lillian Dunlap

Solving Insoluble Problems

Earth Grad Cap

It’s that time of year again:  graduation season.  Like many of you out there, I spent last weekend attending a college graduation.  My little sister graduated from Smith College yesterday, with high honors might I add, and the whole family convened in Northampton, Massachusetts to see her receive her diploma and step into the next exciting chapter in her life.

The Smith College commencement speaker was Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, and her speech was both entertaining and inspiring.  Tammy spoke about the challenge of seemingly insoluble problems, and the importance of working away at them, continually pushing the boundaries of our knowledge until one day, these problems will be insoluble no longer.

One example she mentioned was that of climate change, a seemingly insoluble problem that faces our world today.  In her speech Tammy called upon the graduating class and its generation to lead the world in the fight against climate change and to remember that “our greatest obligation isn’t to each other. It is to the generations of Americans and people all around the world who haven’t been born yet — the ones who will inhabit this planet long after we’re gone.”

Tammy then quoted a call to action from poet Drew Dellinger, which I found particularly moving:

“it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?
what did you do


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Bad News (for the) Bears – How You Can Help


As I glance over at my calendar, I notice two things.  One, we’re already half way through May (hard to believe), and two, we’re also half way through National Bear Awareness Week.  Sponsored by the Defenders of Wildlife, Bear Awareness Week includes numerous events across the country at zoos and museums, and it also promotes several ways in which you can help save the depleted bear population.

By simply visiting the website you can let your voice be heard in the fight to have polar bears listed as threatened under the Endangered Species List and urge legislators to support laws that protects wildlife from global warming.  Polar bears are facing the loss of their sea-ice feeding and denning grounds as the Arctic climate rapidly warms due to global warming.  Defenders of Wildlife continues to fight for their protection, and it’s simple and easy to show your support.

For those of you who want to get involved further, the website also offers the option of adopting an animal to focus your effors on a specific species.  You can adopt a polar bear, a black bear, a brown bear, or a panda.

All of these animals are in danger, and your support makes a difference.  There is also a wide variety of adorable teddy bears and other meaningful gifts available that benefit these beautiful animals – something to think about next time a gift-giving occation rolls around.  I know I’d like to get a gift that makes a difference.

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Are you a Lumberjack?

When I tell people I’m from Portland, Oregon, I usually get one of two reactions.  The first one goes like this:  “Oregon?  What the hell is in Oregon?  Are you a lumberjack that lives in a forest?”  The second is more along the lines of, “Wow!  Portland is so cool!”


While Oregon is known for many things – hippie vibe, lumberjacks and big trees included –  it is becoming more and more recognized for its nature-friendly mentality and “green” ideals.  This, most likely, is the inspiration behind the expansion of companies like German-based  SolarWorld, one of the largest solar energy businesses in the world, into the Portland area, an otherwise slightly ironic choice for a company that revolves around the sun!

According to a recent New York Times article, “Here Comes the Sun, Right?,” the United States, once the world’s leading solar manufacturer in the 1990s, currently produces only 5 percent of the world’s solar panels due to an increase in interest elsewhere.  Even with recent support from the federal stimulus package signed by President Obama, “only a fraction of 1 percent of the electricity in the United States comes from solar panels, leaving ample room for the market to grow.”

Expanding in the midst of an economic recession may sound risky, but SolarWorld doesn’t seem concerned.  Quite the opposite, they argue that solar energy can provide both jobs and energy security and is thus part of the solution.

What do I say to all of this??  Bring on the sun!

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Kermit the Frog is a Liar


As Kermit the Frog famously said, “it’s not easy being green.”  Well sorry Kermie, but I think you’re mistaken.  Today, April 22, 2009  is Earth Day, and there’s no better time to discover the multitude of EASY things you can do to green your life.  There is no shortage of suggestions to be found on the internet for simple ways to shrink your carbon footprint and reduce your negative impact on mother earth.  A few of my faves from Green Style Magazine’s “101 Ways to Green Your Life” include:

  • Buy organic foods
  • Buy local products
  • Use reusable containers to bring lunch to work
  • Skip the bottled water
  • Bring your own grocery bag to the supermarket
  • Buy an insulated reusable coffee mug instead of using paper or styrofoam ones ( and PLEASE don’t use styrofoam cups as cup holders)
  • Get off junk mail lists
  • Take public transportation

And the list goes on, and on, and on!

And this one just amuses me: Buy organic undies!

So remember!  While he may represent a loving and enduring image from our childhood, Kermit the Frog cannot be trusted!  It IS easy being green!  And you can do it!

P.S.  For those of you out there with kids (or if you just happen to be an adult who loves Disney), the Disney Store is supporting Earth Day.  Bring in three plastic bottles, and receive a free gift!

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It doesn’t have to be earth shattering…

Hellooooooo spring!  The sun is out,  the winter coat is at the back of the closet, and it’s almost time to break out the flip-flops.  So what does spring mean besides a wardrobe change?  It means Earth Day is here!  Okay, okay, so maybe Earth Day doesn’t bring with it as much excitement as some other holidays, but awareness is growing.  There are events scheduled nation-wide designed to educate the public and perhaps, if we’re lucky, improve environmental awareness.

Earth Day’s official date is Wednesday April 22, and Boston area events will be held in the days prior to and following.

If you can’t make it to any of these events, I urge to rethink some of your small daily activities.  If you’re going for coffee, bring your own travel mug and save a paper cup.  If you’re going grocery shopping, bring your own tote and save a plastic bag.  If you’ve got errands to do, do them all at once rather than driving to and from home.  Better yet, walk to your errands, or take public transportation.   And I certainly hope you’re ALL already recycling 🙂

There are little things that people can do every day to make a difference…little things that don’t take much effort.  The changes you make don’t have to be earth shattering, they just require a little thought.

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I hate to harp on about this…

…but I’m going to anyway, because it’s important.  Articles have been popping up left and right lately about the importance of shutting down computers after work hours.  The latest article I’ve seen, in USA Today, references a recent report put out by 1E, a specialist global provider of Windows Systems Management software and services solutions.  The report, titled “PC Energy Report 2009 – United States, United Kingdom, Germany,” looks at the money and energy wasted by not turning off PCs at night, and how this wasted energy affects our environment.  Among its findings, the report states:

Collectively, US organizations waste $2.8 billion every year powering 108 million unused PCs. In 2009, these unused PCs are expected to emit approximately 20 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions – roughly the equivalent to the impact of 4 million cars.  As an example, for an organization with 1,000 PCs, this amounts to approximately $26,000 per year.

And here’s a surprising stat to think about come quitting time:

If all the world’s 1 billion PCs were powered down for just one night, it would save enough energy to light up New York City’s Empire State Building — inside and out — for more than 30 years.

Frankly, the state of the world’s environment these days terrifies me.  Please, let’s all do our small, easy part to help.  Power down at night.

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Shut Down Your Computers – Save Green

I just read this interesting article about PC energy costs and what can be saved by simply shutting down your computer at the end of the work day.  Try treating your computer like the lights in your office, and shut it down when you leave for the day. Most people would consider leaving the lights on all night to be wasteful.  Why should your computer be treated differently?

PC power drain costing £300 million a year

Businesses could save around £25 on each and every desktop PC they own, simply by ensuring they are powered down at the end of the day.

The simple job of powering down a PC can reduce a machine’s energy use by 80%, and is one step being recommended after a study reported that UK organisations waste as much as £300m a year powering idle computers.

According to the 2009 PC Energy Report released today by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy, only 27% of UK workers power down their computers at the end of the workday – although that number compares favourably to the situation in the US, where only 10% do so.

“Despite spiralling energy costs and the environment playing an increased role in the corporate agenda, much further action is required by both individuals and employers” the bodies behind the study said.

Read More Here

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