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Glenn Hurowitz's Posts

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How two 15-year-old Girl Scouts (and Grist readers) changed Kellogg’s

It'll take some willpower, but don't have "samoa" until they stop harming the planet.Photo: Laura TaylorWhen Kellogg’s announced this week that it is moving to limit the deforestation caused by the palm oil it uses to make Frosted Flakes, Keebler cookies, Rice Krispies, and Girl Scout cookies, it represented an enormous achievement for two 15-year-old girls from Michigan. You may remember Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen from my article two weeks ago, "Are Girl Scout cookies killing orangutans?" They’ve been working for several years to get Girl Scouts USA to switch from palm oil to more planet-friendly and healthier alternatives …

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Are Girl Scout cookies killing orangutans?

Yet another reason to feel bad about waking up in a pile of crumbs.Photo: Josh KenzerIt's Girl Scout cookie season, but Michigan scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva are finding other ways to support the organization’s mission of "building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place" than selling those famous Thin Mints and Tagalongs. Many varieties of Girl Scout cookies include palm oil, the No. 1 culprit behind deforestation in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. When Madison and Rhiannon found out that Girl Scout cookies were destroying the forest homes of endangered wildlife …

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Budget for rainforests puts Obama’s $1 billion pledge at risk

Photo: Rhett A. Butler, MongaBayBoth President Obama’s proposed budget and especially House Republican proposals fall significantly short of the administration’s $1 billion pledge for short-term forest finance made at the Copenhagen climate summit – putting the United States’ climate credibility at even further risk. However modest, the $1 billion pledge was one of the few concrete, deliverable commitments on international climate finance that the United States has made.  Without these funds, the United States will be doing very little indeed to address climate change internationally. Here’s the breakdown: According to the administration’s revised numbers, the United States is currently spending …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Possible breakthrough: Indonesian palm oil giant pledges zero deforestation

Oil palm concession in Indonesia. Photo: Hayden Potential good news for orangutans, tigers, and the climate: Indonesian palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), a subsidiary of all-round planet pulper Sinar Mas (palm oil, illegal logging, coal) is promising not to destroy forests and ultra carbon-rich peatlands for palm oil. Photo: Rhett A. Butler, MongaBayHere’s the skinny from Rolf Skar of Greenpeace, whose multi-year campaign targeting Sinar Mas seems to paying dividends: This move by GAR would have been almost unimaginable just a year ago, and -- if properly implemented -- could be an historic step towards full forest and peatland …

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Why America’s Sputnik moment should include trees

Last week the President unveiled his “Strategy for American Innovation” which details his approach to jumpstarting the American economy by investing in important areas such as clean energy, health care technology, and education.  This week he hits to road in an effort to get folks excited about   modernizing our infrastructure. As a climate champ, this all sounds great to us. More mass transit, more science, more education, healthier people, more clean energy—bring it on!  Yet, the President’s approach misses an opportunity to highlight a critical aspect to our economic and social wellbeing. To my surprise, the word “ecosystem” appears at …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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How to prevent your airplane from hitting a goose

I recently wrote a big-think piece for The Atlantic about how the federal government’s and New York City’s gassing of Canada geese in a misguided attempt to reduce the risk of bird-plane collisions actually represents the beginning of a new and disturbing era in Man’s relationship to the creatures of the sky. Particularly if you’re a bird lover, I think you’ll enjoy it. But in the course of researching the article, I came across some fascinating, simple advice from bird experts about the best way to reduce the risk of birds striking airplanes: grow the grass on runways higher. Probably …

Read more: Food

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Top five forest stories of 2010

In the context of an overall bleak 2010 for the planet, forests offer a bright point for some celebration -- showing this sector as the area offering perhaps the best hope for continued progress in fighting climate change. Towards that end, here are the world's top five forest stories of the year: Global decline in deforestation, showing that REDD+ is working: By far the most important story of the year was the significant decline in deforestation, particularly in the Amazon. According to a report by the Global Carbon Budget in Nature Geoscience, emissions from land use change have declined about …

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Bolivia, the Saudi Arabia of obstruction

UPDATE: The delegates at Cancun have approved a deal that makes important progress on forest protection, clean technology, adapting to global warming, measurement and verification, and the establishment of a Green Fund. While it doesn't commit countries to specific post-2012 cuts in pollution yet, it's an important step forward that could lead to a more comprehensive agreement in Durban, South Africa next year -- and show politicians in the United States that our global competitors are willing to take action. If we don't, we risk being left behind in the race to a low carbon economy.  The agreement was approved …

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Forests poised for major progress in Cancun — if Hugo Chavez and U.S. don't get in the way

Deforestation causes more carbon pollution than all the cars, trucks, ships, and planes in the world combined.Photo: Helen LloydThis post was originally published on The Energy Blog, a project of Planet Forward and the National Geographic's Great Energy Challenge. The Cancun climate summit may be turning into a surprising opportunity for progress towards saving the world’s forests and other ecosystems, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) in the wonky parlance of the climate negotiations. Even as a comprehensive agreement faces challenges, there’s relative consensus that the parties to the Kyoto Protocol, the predecessor climate agreement to the one …

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Richard Goldman, founder of the Goldman Prize, dies at age 90

Richard Goldman.Photo: The Goldman Environmental PrizeThe planet lost a great and generous hero on Monday when philanthropist Richard N. Goldman died at the age of 90. Goldman is most famous for cofounding the Goldman Prize, $150,000 awarded annually to a grassroots environmental activist on each of six inhabited continents. It seems as if Goldman died happy. "I see this as the most meaningful philanthropy I've been involved in," he said at the 1994 Goldman Prize Reunion. "It has a future value, and really, if I died now, I’d die with a smile." The Goldman Prize quickly grew in stature to …

Read more: Climate & Energy