Wed, 28 March 2007
The world's population has just reached the point where 50 percent is urbanized and the other half is not. As a result, development pressure is increasing at an ever-faster rate, and open space is disappearing. But there are ways to discourage sprawl and to redirect development. In this podcast, Sustainable Pittsburgh's Court Gould, recently featured at the event "Pittsburgh: A Humane Metropolis," shares concrete examples from Pittsburgh, describing ways that the region that is our metropolis can and is being developed in a humane way.
The Humane Metropolis is defined as a city that develops through an understanding that space is a finite commodity. Building green, environmentally-friendly buildings and neighborhoods, utilizing previously-developed space through rehabilitation, creative urban planning, and maintaining a clear focus on the arts and cultural development are all hallmarks of a Humane Metropolis.
Pittsburgh ranks at the top of U.S. cities when measured in those fields. Whether it's greening our hospitals, enacting permanent zoning protections for our hillsides, bringing car-sharing to the city through a new endeavor with Flexcar (PennFuture is a charter member!), or providing education to residents about energy efficiency, these and hosts of other reasons make Pittsburgh a leader nationwide. Listen as Court describes how Pittsburgh is well on the path to becoming a truly Humane Metropolis.
To learn more about the many organizations and initiatives mentioned in the podcast, peruse the following list. We welcome your comments below; simply click on "Comments." For more information about the work PennFuture is doing to support Pittsburgh's environment, communities, and economy, visit our Web site or e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org.
Sites to visit for more information:
Green Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University
Wed, 21 March 2007
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has abundant outdoor recreational resources for hunting, fishing, skiing, bicycling, hiking, walking, climbing, boating, just to name a few. Not only do these outdoor resources help to keep us healthy, they keep our local economies strong. Protecting these resources makes good sense from a health and economic perspective, but it's also part of celebrating our love for the mountains, rivers, streams, forests, and parks of Pennsylvania.
PennFuture's Jan Jarrett recently attended the Governor's Outdoor Conference, "Preserving Past Traditions, Creating New Connections," where she connected with the Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Michael DiBerardinis, and discussed the focus of the conference this year.
There is a need and an effort afoot, beginning in part at this conference, for Pennsylvanians to re-engage in outdoor recreational activities. Studies show, for example, that the average child in the United States today spends an average of six hours per day watching television or playing video games, or sitting at a computer. That is twice the amount of time children spend in school in a given year! At the same time, studies have found that the vast majority of children (60-80 percent, depending upon age) have no opportunities for outdoor play in their normal routine. Adults are staying indoors, too. In recent years, Pennsylvania has had up to a 20 percent decline in visitation to our 117 state parks, and purchases of hunting and fishing licenses have also been dropping.
Listen in to the conversation as Jan and Secretary DiBerardinis discuss strategies toward the effort to get people off the couch and into the outdoors.
For more information about PennFuture, or to contribute to our work, visit our Web site. We welcome your comments; just click on "Comments" below, or e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org.
Wed, 14 March 2007
PennFuture's Cool Pennsylvania campaign aims to stop the Commonwealth's contributions-- one percent of the world's total-- to global warming. Nearly 200 organizations, businesses, and citizens' groups have already endorsed the campaign, and the number continues to grow each day. More and more, people are realizing that the time to act is now, and that the solutions are within our grasp. The solutions range from increasing energy efficiency at home to switching to clean, renewable energy like wind power to eating locally-grown foods to working to change energy and transportation policies in Pennsylvania and the U.S. The consequences of not acting are grave, not only for our economy, environment, and health here at home, but also for people and places across the globe.
PennFuture's D.J. Trischler was fortunate to travel to Niger in Africa early this year as part of a trip with La Roche College. D.J. spent a great deal of time on the journey visiting with the Touareg (or Tuareg) people in Niger, a pastoralist group of Northwest African peoples who have lived in the Sahara region for centuries.
In this video podcast, D.J. shares some of his wonderful footage from the trip, and introduces us to a Touareg leader Issouf Ag Maha. Ag Maha speaks to the group (seated together around the fire in the evening) about the serious impacts of global warming on the Touareg people. He describes how desertification is increasing, that the traditional means for survival of their people are disappearing as rainfall decreases and agricultural production becomes less and less possible. As many people are recognizing, the impacts of global warming are affecting those people least equipped to deal with it, and the consequences are in fact life-threatening.
To learn more about how you can get involved in stopping global warming, visit our Cool Pennsylvania pages. There are two organizations based in the United States who are working for change on behalf of the Touareg and other tribal peoples: the Nomad Foundation and Rain for the Sahel and Sahara. For more information, e-mail as at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org. We welcome your comments on this and any other podcast; just click on "Comments" below to leave your thoughts or questions.
Fri, 9 March 2007
Like the honoree of Time Magazine's Person of the Week, the Podcast of the Week this week is up to YOU-- we want to know which podcast you've enjoyed and why.
Category:Talk Back -- posted at: 12:16 PM
Fri, 2 March 2007
How could the dinner you cook tonight or the birthday gift you purchase help a small village in Africa, Asia, or Latin America? If they are fair trade products, they've been produced sustainably, under safe working conditions, at a fair price, and recognizing high labor and gender equity standards. It's easy to overlook the growing amount of fair trade products available at local stores. Sometimes these ambiguous products easily blend in on the shelf with their competition. If you're lucky, you may find that they have their own section. Look for the Fairtrade label. The fair trade movement has taken firm root in Europe, and is now only beginning to get seeded in the United States.
Learn more about the various individuals, businesses, and organizations Joy meets in this podcast. Many are endorsers of PennFuture's Cool Pennsylvania campaign, aimed at stopping global warming right here at home:
Thu, 1 March 2007
Did you know that while we spend only about 6 percent of our time each day commuting, it is during that short period of time that we get about half our daily dose of diesel exhaust? This may not sound like a big deal, but diesel exhaust is a nasty brew of all sorts of harmful pollution, delivered in the form of tiny particles that needlessly lead to health problems and shorten life spans.
Fine particle pollution, including diesel, can cause lung cancer, stroke, heart attack, infant death, and triggers asthma attacks. It can even cause people's allergies to get worse.
The Clean Air Task Force just released a new report documenting that diesel exhaust levels are four to eight times worse inside commuter cars, buses, and trains as compared to the outside air. This is due to long-haul trucks with diesel engines on the road in front of you, or the diesel engine in the bus or train you ride.
The report has a major up side, however. For diesel engines where a simple filter was installed, or other modern pollution controls were applied, pollution levels for commuters were next to nothing.
These simple, effective controls are available, but we need increased funding and other incentives and requirements to make retrofitting existing diesel vehicles with pollution controls a high priority.
There are already major efforts underway across the country, but we need your help to get it done. PennFuture is one of the many organizations participating in the State Diesel Initiative. The Group Against Smog and Pollution and Clean Water Action have led the way in southwestern Pennsylvania to curb diesel idling and to make diesel retrofitting in school buses and other vehicles possible. The Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania has been on the front lines of cleaning the air not only in their part of the state, but in petitioning the Environmental Quality Board in Pennsylvania to enact a statewide anti-idling rule for large diesel vehicles. In the Philadelphia area, PennFuture is coordinating the Next Great City initiative, where one of the 10 recommended actions is reducing asthma caused by soot from city vehicles-- by installing diesel particulate filters. The initiative is backed by more than 70 organizations. This is just a sampling of some of the work going on.
PennFuture firmly supports sustainable funding for and the expansion and use of all forms of public transportation. The benefits of transit are enormous, in terms of improved overall air quality and otherwise. But we are also working to ensure that diesel engines get cleaned up so that commuting is healthier and safer for everyone on or living near the road, track, or port.
Category:Air Quality -- posted at: 8:02 AM