Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Save the Gulf: Olivia's Bird Illustrations

As the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico becomes worse and worse every day, there are some incredible stories of individual doing their part to help.

One of these stories if of a an 11 year old girl from New York. Olivia Bouler has helped to raise thousands of dollars for various conservation charities by offering to donate dozens of her drawings to anyone pledging money. She says her inspiration came after bursting into tears when watching a news report about the slick's advance towards the gulf coast shoreline where she holidays each year with her family.

She responded by writing the following letter to the Audobon Society:

Dear Audubon Society,
As you are all aware of, the oil spill in the Gulf is devastating. My mom has already donated a lot of money to help, but I have an idea that may also help. I am a decent drawer, and I was wondering if I could sell some bird paintings and the profits to your organization. My mom is in touch with an art gallery where I live. She is going to sell them here. I also am hoping to go to Cornell in the future. I want to become an ornithologist. I know a few species of birds. I also acknowledge that this is breeding time for plovers, terns etc. I will do all in my strength to earn money. All I need is your OK. Here is a picture of a northern cardinal as a sample.
Thank you for your time.
11 years and willing to help.

The Audubon Society immediately contacted her parents and asked if it could buy one of the drawings to hang in its Manhattan headquarters. Charity officials then discussed how best to use Olivia's bird paintings as a fund-raising tool and it was decided, with her permission, that her watercolours of birds would be used to raise money for several groups, including the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, the Weeks Bay Foundation and the Sierra Club.

Anyone who makes a donation to these groups is being asked to email Olivia's mother ( and Olivia will then draw a bird with pencil, paint it, and post it to the donor.

To learn more about the project and view more of Olivia's pictures, visit the Facebook Page - Save the Gulf: Olivia's Bird Illustrations.

Source: Guardian UK

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Making the bus less of a drag

14 year old Jonny Cohen learned about aerodynamics and wind resistance in his physics class where the students built miniature racing cars. Later, while riding the bus to school, Jonny couldn’t stop thinking about how inefficient most vehicles in the real world actually are — especially school buses with their wide, flat windshields.

Jonny’s idea was simple: Add Plexiglas shields to school buses. That should make the buses more aerodynamic. More aerodynamic buses get better gas mileage, which means they burn less fuel, which means they emit fewer of the harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

It’s a simple, small-scale idea, but GreenShields won enough attention to get $25,000 in an online competition sponsored by Pepsi. The money will help GreenShields develop a prototype and make enough shields to fit a handful of buses.

Even better, Jonny and his friends already have achieved one of their big goals: Making people more aware of the environmental impact of their daily lives.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's All About Carbon

NPR has teamed up with Robert Krulwich to provide a chemistry lesson on Carbon. In a 5 part animated series, Robert explores the behavior of the carbon atom.

Above is the introductory segment of a five-part series that explains how carbon atoms form bonds, break apart and create the conditions that can lead to global warming. Since most of us are beginners when it comes to elemental chemistry, this is a lesson in five, easy-to-grasp steps. And grasping, by the way, is a big part of the story.

To read the article relating to this story, visit

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Project PLANT-A-TREE ( is a guerrilla art project by the artist Stelle Confuse. PLANT-A-TREE believes that development does not go hand-in-hand with uncontrolled building. By visiting the PLANT-A-TREE website, one can participate in the effort by 'planting a tree' in your city and having your name entered into the virtual tree

PLANT-A-TREE takes a stand against uncontrolled building to protect the historical, cultural and landscaped patrimony of earth and the health of its citizens while promoting the birth of new green spaces that serve to balance the destruction caused by urban development.

This campaign uses stickering and other guerrilla art tactics to spread the message. Stickers like the icon above are placed in cities around the world.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Great Power Race

The Great Power Race is a clean energy competition between students in China, India, and the United States. The aim is to kick-start hundreds of new climate solutions projects on campuses and in communities in all three countries and to demonstrate to governments and businesses our generation's leadership in transforming our world towards a green economy.

The Great Power Race is a joint project of, the Chinese Youth Climate Action Network, the Indian Youth Climate Netwok, and the Energy Action Coaltion.

The Great Power Race begins now. This spring, we will see which country can sign up the most campus teams to take part:

Students, click here to register a team on your campus today:

Not a student? Please encourage any students you know in China, India or the US to sign up.

Ultimately, this is a race for all of humanity -- a race to solve the greatest challenge of our time and to realize the greatest opportunity for a prosperous future.

Each of the creators works as a coordinator for youth climate movement campaigns in their respective countries, and are excited to be working on this international campaign together.

Our parents raced for the Moon. Our generation will race for the Earth. Ready, set, GO!

There are a lot of college students on Facebook and Twitter. You can start to rally your friends to sign up for the Great Power Race with just a few clicks:
For Facebook, click here: 
For Twitter, click here:

Even if you are you not in China, India, or the US you can still be a part of the Race: visit and please do forward this email to students you know in those three countries.

There will also be opportunities to link the Great Power Race with 10/10/10--the "Global Work Party." 10/10/10 will be a day to launch or showcase our climate solution projects for students and non-students all over the world.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where does the oil money go?

People are spending money to fill up their gas tanks all the time, but where is that money going?

The video above, "Follow the Money" exposes the secret that oil, gas and mining companies don't want consumers to know: That while mining and oil drilling are multibillion-dollar industries in some of the world's least developed countries, the people of these countries are only losing more.

A bipartisan bill now in Congress would help empower people by making oil, gas and mining companies open their books. This simple act of public disclosure would be an incredibly powerful tool for communities to demand accountability from their leaders -- but some industry lobbyists are working to stop it.

I just wrote my members of Congress to urge them to open the books on mining and oil drilling -- but my letter alone isn't enough.

So I'm asking everybody: Will you join me in demanding justice for these people and communities?

Please, click here to write your representatives in Washington -- it should just take a moment, and it could make a real difference to people and communities around the world.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fantastic Nature Photography

Times Online has released a selection of photographs that they have dubbed the greatest nature images of all time. The selection includes a shark caught in a net, giant tortoises emerging at sunrise, and seals playing in sea grass, among many others. View the full slideshow here

After viewing the greatest nature images of all time, head over to the Flickr blog to check out some dangerously cute photos. These are pictures of foxes, skunks, bears, and other 'dangerous' animals before they are all grown up.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Climate change adaptation in poor countries

As part of their human impact stories, has recently added Oxfam's report on climate change adaptation in poor countries.

Climate change is fast pushing communities, particularly the poorest and most marginalized, beyond their capacity to respond. Across the world, subsistence crops are approaching the limits of their viability as temperatures change, erratic rainfall patterns and changing seasons are upsetting agricultural cycles and many are left struggling to feed their families.

Oxfam's report draws on case studies from around the world and Oxfam’s experience working with rural communities to set out what is needed and a range of interventions that are available to enable people living in poverty to adapt to climate change. Nonetheless, there are limits to adaptation, and without rapid and significant global mitigation, these options will be quickly lost.

The report identifies the need for a combination of bottom-up and top-down processes in order to create the enabling conditions needed for people living in poverty to adapt to climate change.

Source: and Oxfam UK

Sunday, May 2, 2010

High-speed train innovation - making stops without stopping!

A recent Google Buzz by a friend of mine has alerted me to an amazing new Chinese high-speed train innovation - get on and off a bullet train without stopping!

Consider the amount of time that is wasted by a station stops. If there are 30 stations between Beijing and  Guangzhou , just stopping and accelerating again at each station will waste both energy and time.  A mere 5 min stop per station will result in a total loss of 5 min x 30 stations or 2.5 hours of train journey time.

The Chinese have come up with this brilliant innovation:

1. For those who are boarding the train : The passengers at a station embark onto to a connector cabin way before the train even arrives at the station. When the train arrives, it will not stop at all. It just slows down to pick up the connector cabin which will move with the train on the roof.

While the train is still moving away from the station, those passengers will board the train from the connector cabin mounted on the train's roof. After fully unloading all its passengers, the cabin connector cabin will be moved to the back of the train so that the next batch of outgoing passengers who want to alight at the next station will board the connector cabin at the rear of the train roof.

2. For those who are getting off: As stated after fully unloading all its passengers, the cabin connector cabin will be moved to the back of the train so that the next batch of outgoing passengers who want to alight at the next station will board the connector cabin at the rear of the train roof. When the train arrives at the next station, it will simply drop the whole connector cabin at the station itself and leave it behind at the station. The outgoing passengers can take their own time to disembark at the station. At the same time, the train will pick up the incoming embarking passengers on another connector cabin in the front part of the train's roof. So the train will always drop one connector cabin at the rear of its roof and pick up a new connector cabin in the front part of the train's roof at each station.

A brilliant innovation. Bring on the high-speed trains!