Friday, July 31, 2009

A Few Quick Picks for Green Summer Drinks

I've found a few new worthwhile sustainable drinks this summer and thought I'd offer up a quick list of recommendations (note - I've already covered Peak Organic Brewing so it's not listed here, but I'm a big fan of all their offerings):

Bison Brewing Organic Belgian Ale. I found this oversized bottle while in Florida recently to visit The Green Girlfriend's parents. Crisp, little bit of citrus flavor, great beer for summer. Sitting outside on their deck watching the sun set, eating ribs, and drinking this wicked awesome beer was about as good as it gets. The Green Miles' recommended activity pairing: Backyard BBQ with food on the grill from your local farmers market.

Bonterra Vineyards. I picked up some of their chardonnay, made with organic grapes, at Harris Teeter recently. Tastes just as good as your typical Kendall Jackson or Clos du Bois or whatever, it's about the same price, and it's better for the environment. The Bonterra chardonnay retails for $13.99, but Harris Teeter has frequent sales and they give you a discount if you buy a half-case or case. The Green Miles' recommended activity pairing: Sip some like a good arugula-eating liberal while emailing your member of Congress to urge them to pass comprehensive climate & energy legislation.

Old Dominion's Beach House Golden Pilsner. Located in Ashburn, VA, Old Dominion is our most local major brewery (hence, its beer needs far fewer miles on the back of a truck to reach you). Generally, I'm not a fan of Old Dominion's offerings, but the Beach House Golden Pilsner does its job well -- light, crisp, just enough flavor, tastes great cold on a summer day. The Green Miles' recommended activity pairing: Tubing down the Potomac (recycling your empties after, of course).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Could Trees Disappear from Northern Virginia?

Earl Hodnett, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, thinks it's possible. The danger? Wildly overpopulated deer, with no natural predators in the DC suburbs.

From a recent interview with
These overpopulations bring significant, probably irreversible damage to the environment. The deer have removed ground-dwelling plants from this area. Even if we got rid of all the deer today, the deer have kept those plants from emerging for so many years now that the seed bank has lived out its shelf life.

All the animals that depend upon that strata of the forest for food, for cover—all that’s gone. There’s a growing list of forest-dwelling birds whose numbers are on the decline. It’s not just that we have an animal with charisma that everybody likes because of its big brown eyes. It’s a big problem.

There aren’t future generations of the forest. If it’s an acorn trying to sprout, the deer eats the whole thing. When the trees we have die, it’ll all be soccer fields.

We've made a choice that deer are so cute, we don't mind that they're vastly overpopulated to the point of throwing the entire food chain out of whack. Even though they're wiping out our next generation of native plants and trees, even though they carry ticks & Lyme disease, even though they've made Virginia the seventh-most-dangerous state for car-deer collisions. We're not doing the deer, the environment, or ourselves any favors.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tuesday: Authors of "Unscientific America" in DC

The Green Miles will be in DC Tuesday night to hear form the authors of Unscientific America:
Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum
Unscientific America (Basic Books, $24)
Tuesday, July 28, 7 p.m.
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave., NW

The authors of The Republican War on Science and Storm World sees an urgent need for more coverage of science in mainstream media, for improved education in the sciences, and for greater public engagement by hyperspecialized scientists if we are to grapple successfully with problems like climate change and the energy crisis.

Co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress. Jonathan Moreno, Senior Fellow at CAP and editor of Science Progress, will introduce this event.
You can read more from Chris and Sheril at their blog, The Intersection.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Question for Nats Fans Tonight

I see the Washington Nationals are giving away "eco-friendly" tote bags tonight. I emailed the Nationals to see if the bags are made of recycled material or if the "eco" claim is just because it's a reusable bag. Never got a response. If you go to the game tonight, let me know if the bags are made out of recycled material. Thanks!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Video: Handling Hawks in an Urban Habitat

Remember when I nearly left my finger in an owl's belly at Nats Park? I was at work yesterday at the National Wildlife Federation and happened to see this video profile NWF just produced featuring the owl handler, Rodney Stotts of the Earth Conservation Corps:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Would You Ask Jody Wagner?

I may have an opportunity next week to ask a question or two to Jody Wagner, Virginia's Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. Anything you'd ask Jody? Post your questions in comments, and if I get a chance to ask it, I'll post her answer here. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Steven Chu's Best Week Ever

Big week for U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu! First he joins Facebook, now he's on The Daily Show. At first I thought the interview seemed a little awkward, but you quickly realize Jon Stewart thinks Chu is an amazing guy and really wants us to like him, too:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Steven Chu
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saturday: ACE/CVN Pickup & Drinkup

When there's a stream that needs cleaning and an organic beer that needs drinking, The Green Miles cannot turn down an opportunity to serve his community. Will you join my crusade to leave no trash behind and to let no Peak Organic Amber Ale go flat?

I'll be heading down to South Arlington on Saturday, as Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and the Community Volunteer Network team up for a Pickup & Drinkup from 3-7pm.

BarcroftCleanupWe'll start by cleaning up Four Mile Run, meeting at 3pm at Arlington Mill Community Center (4975 Columbia Pike). Wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves if you have them.

Then at 5pm, we'll head over to Busboys & Poets in Shirlington (4251 South Campbell Ave). Busboys is a leader in sustainability and their Saturday happy hour includes organic draft beer.

Should be a great way to get outside and enjoy a summer Saturday afternoon. Sign up here!

In case of bad weather, call 703-228-6406 after 1pm on July 25th to find out if the event is postponed (rain date is the next day, Sunday July 26th, same time and place).

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 27: Local Foods Tasting

Here's an Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment event coming up next week:

Local Foods Tasting: Explore Seasonal Foods from Arlington Farmers' Markets. Monday, July 27, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., Arlington Central Library Auditorium, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington. Join Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and Virginia Cooperative Extension to try local foods and learn new recipes for food gathered from the Farmer's Market. $15 per person (payable in check at the event). To reserve space, please email Alison Foster or call 703-228-7772.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Big Lie About Nuclear Power

Just finished my appearance on CleanSkiesTV. (Looking at the screen cap, I'm reminded that my head looks like an orange on a toothpick.) It's funny how their website goes to such great lengths to emphasize their objectivity, then you get on and they're like, "Renewables are teh suck! Long live natural gas!"

I kid. Actually, I thought their reporting on natural gas this morning was pretty objective. It was their coverage of nuclear power that was hard to swallow. According to one reporter, the biggest obstacles to nuclear power are "government bureaucracy and how to deal with the nuclear waste."

Really? I thought the biggest obstacle to building new nuclear power plants was that it's wicked expensive.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) this week proposed instructing utilities to build 100 brand-new nuclear power plants. As Grist reports:

A study released last month [PDF] by economist Mark Cooper, senior fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, found that building and operating 100 new nuclear reactors would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of the reactors than would generating the same electricity from renewables and energy efficiency. And taxpayers would have to foot the bill for loan guarantees for the nuclear industry, as the private sector has been unwilling to make big investments in the sector.
Sen. Alexander's nuclear unfunded mandate would force utilities across the country to jack up rates to pay for those plants. As much as Republicans cry socialism at the tiniest increase in tax rates, they seem to have absolutely no problem with skyrocketing electricity rates.

And from a political point of view, why not? People tend to blame high electricity rates on their utilities. But they blame high taxes on politicians. And having to take a leadership role to explain why something unpopular is needed is what spineless elected officials fear most.

So having to explain to voters that while a bill like the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act might cause their rates to go up a bit but their bills to go down thanks to massive efficiency gains ... well, that's a bit much to ask of Sen. Alexander.

Photo courtesy Public Citizen

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wake Up with The Green Miles

I'll be making an appearance on Wednesday morning at 9am, check it out!

UPDATE: Here's the video ...

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Most Common Recycling Center Fail

Whenever I go to a recycling center, be it municipal or in an apartment complex, I always see all kinds of odd items that don't belong there. Yesterday, sitting on top of the container bin was an old messenger bag. Does that count as a bottle or a can?

But the most common recycling center fail that I see comes when people drop off their empty bottles and cans in brand-new trash bags.

There's the obvious monetary cost of buying the new trash bags. And from an environmental perspective, putting your recycling in new trash bags wipes out a lot of the benefit of recycling in the first place.

Most garbage bags are made from new (not recycled) plastic. (The biggest trash bag manufacturers, Glad and Hefty, have barely dipped their toes in the water of making bags from recycled material.) Then the bags just get torn open and trashed at the recycling center.

If you visit a recycling center, take your recyclables there in a reusable bin or bag. It'll save you money in the long run and the planet (and your recycling center) will thank you for it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

GOP Climate Plan: Canned Goods & Handguns

Cross-posted from Blue Virginia

Will "Drill Baby Drill" Sell in Arlington?

Was just perusing the website of Eric Brescia, the Republican candidate for House of Delegates here in Arlington's 47th District. His issues page promises to, "Promote economically viable, efficient, and clean energy technologies." But the first item in his energy plan?
Develop Virginia’s natural gas supplies and dedicate royalty revenue to transportation
Pursue an energy strategy that would only create a handful of jobs in places far from Arlington like Virginia Beach? And dedicate the revenue to transportation with nothing about where and how the money is spent (Brescia's website also says nothing about dedicated funding for Metro)? So Arlington could get none of the jobs and none of the transportation funding, but receive all of the negatives of higher global warming pollution?

Sounds like Arlington Republicans are putting up yet another candidate simply to raise his own profile at the expense of the issues that matter to Arlingtonians.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Links Between Environment, Economy, Public Health

Over at Grist, Dave Roberts reviews some recent studies on the economic impacts of environmental issues and concludes:
One thing they all have in common: an environment-degrading practice often defended as necessary to economic health is revealed, upon closer inspection, to be uneconomic. I wonder how many other allegedly economic environment-degrading practices would also be revealed uneconomic if examined with a fresh eye?

It’s almost like the economy is embedded in an environment, and degrading the latter ultimately degrades the former.

And in today's Washington Post, David Fahrenthold reports:

The same pollution problems that afflict the Chesapeake Bay's fish and crabs -- high levels of mercury in fish, neon-colored algae blooms and voracious bacteria -- can also threaten the health of people who fish, boat and swim in the estuary, according to a new report.

The report, released today by the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation, pointed out that the threat of infection from pollutants that wash into the bay from onshore is great enough that health authorities recommend not swimming until 48 hours after a significant rain.

You know that old myth about how you can put a frog in water and slowly turn up the heat and the frog won't notice until it's boiling? That's us when it comes to the Bay. We've been sitting here, not noticing the minor changes as the Bay slowly degrades. Now we can't even swim in our own Bay after a heavy rainfall.

It's happened gradually enough that what should be a shocking change is received not with outrage but with resignation.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wait, Who Are The Elitists Again?

The Green Miles is in Providence for the Fourth of July. I just heard Dick Armey's FreedomWorks organization is holding another round of teabagging this weekend.

The closest event? Nantucket. Nothing in Rhode Island or southeastern Massachusetts at all. To see the protest, I'd have to take a ferry to some of the most exclusive vacation property in the United States.

If there's a teabagging event near you, I definitely encourage you to make a "climate action now" sign and stage your own counter-protest. If you do, email me pictures!

New EDF Ad: "Thank You, Tom Perriello"

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

And as Blue Virginia reports, a Roanoke television station has refused to air a false National Republican Campaign Committee attack ad on Perriello.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The GOP's Selective Scientific Outrage

Let's review.

When former oil industry lobbyists in George W. Bush's White House rewrote scientific reports to downplay concerns about global warming and manufacture false doubts and controversy, Republicans stayed absolutely silent.

Now that the EPA is "ignoring a scientific study by a non-scientist that it never commissioned and which hasn't been published in any scientific journal," Republicans are claiming it's one of the biggest political scandals in American history.

You know, it's too bad Republicans have stood up against science on evolution, stem cells, Terri Schiavo, and climate change (just to name a few). Otherwise, their outrage might carry a shred of credibility.

But who needs credibility? That doesn't matter to the mainstream media. They have no choice but to uncritically report everything Republicans say. I mean, that's what journalism is all about, right?

Quick Cute Clip to Brighten Your Thursday

To pay the bills between blog posts, The Green Miles works at the National Wildlife Federation. NWF's Reston office sits next to Lake Fairfax Park, so we get everything from deer to groundhogs to snakes in our backyard. During these hot summer months, every once in a while an all-staff email will go out saying, "There are turtles keeping cool in the shade under cars in the parking lot, check under your car before you go home!"

Here's the latest wildlife sighting -- a family of raccoons living in a dead tree out back: