Category Archives: Environmental Impact

December Film: CARBON NATION

December film: Carbon Nation

When: Wednesday, December 12, 7 pm; Where: Peacock Theater

DOCUMENTARY FOCUS

Carbon Nation, a peppy documentary directed by Peter Byck, is perfectly timed given the urgency of the climate crisis publicized in the recent IPCC report. It is addressed to Americans who already believe that we must make drastic changes in the way we live as a nation and as individuals. But even more, it is targeted to those who do not care or are antagonistic toward talk of global warming. That is why you will see spokespersons for large corporations, the military, and entrepreneurs stating that a low-carbon economy is good for business. Byck has gathered an astonishing and varied group of American citizens to educate us about solutions to the very-real crisis we are facing. It’s pragmatism is appealing across the political spectrum. It celebrates solutions, inspiration, and action.

LOW CARBON ACTIVISTS

The most enthusiastic and hopeful believer in a low-carbon economy and its positive impact on poor people is Van Jones, a civil rights activist who founded Green For All which brings new jobs in this burgeoning field to disadvantaged communities. A magic moment for him is watching trainees of Solar Richmond & Grid Alternatives installing solar panels in a California home.

Another activist is Bernie Karl, a geothermal pioneer in Alaska who has found a way to use 165 degree water to create geothermal power. He has come up with what many are calling a game-changing technology which can wean us from dependence on oil.

Dan Nolan, a former army colonel, shares the workings of the Green Hawks, people in the U.S. Department of Defense who are pushing the Pentagon’s move toward energy efficiency and sustainable power. There is a competition among base commanders around the US to become the first net-zero-energy base, to create all the energy they use, to use water in the most efficient manner, and to have bio-waste energy generators on base. Being off the grid makes the military more resistant to terrorism.

Cliff Etheredge, a rancher in West Texas, brags about the money he and others are making by leasing their land to wind companies. This project of green energy has brought new life back to a dying community.

Others featured in this engrossing documentary talk about:

  • the benefits of white roofs (Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld),
  • the search for a biofuel replacement for jet fuel (Richard Branson),
  • the generation of energy at or near the site where energy is used (Amory Lovins),
  • the fact that going green will save U.S. companies millions of dollars and create many new businesses (Thomas I. Friedman),
  • the benefits of plug-in hybrid cars (R. James Woolsey),
  • and the challenge of making energy efficiency in homes and offices universally accessible (James Rogers).

CONSENSUS VIEW

The consensus view of these movers and shakers in American society is that climate change can be dealt with before it is too late, but only if citizens, politicians, scientists, and businesses all work together on some of the solutions presented on Carbon Nation.

It is 84 minutes long. Sorry, no captions.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLs73KJI36w

Coral Bleaching from Sunscreen Pollution

Coral Bright, Wear White – by Melanie Quan

At the October general meeting of Sustainable Rossmoor, guest speaker Melanie Quan spoke about the harmful effects of sunscreen on coral reefs. White tips on coral pictured above are a reflection of “bleaching” and declining coral health (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University). Melanie’s presentation is below.

Coral bleaching resulting from sunscreen pollution has recently been a significant topic highlighted by the news media. While it is true that sunscreens are a cause of coral bleaching, the problem is multifaceted. As guest speaker Melanie Quan, a sophomore at Las Lomas High School, explained last month, the true impacts of sunscreen pollution are still unknown by a majority of the public. Last summer, she attended a science program called California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science (COSMOS) at UC Santa Cruz and worked to analyze the effects of common active sunscreen ingredients.

Based on the accumulation of studies, results show that common organic chemicals in sunscreen such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisilate or butylparaben can exacerbate coral bleaching at concentrations as low as 62 parts per trillion (equivalent to a drop of sunscreen in an Olympic-sized pool!).  Additionally, common inorganic physical barriers in many ‘reef safe’ sunscreens show potential to cause harm by inducing stress through oxidation, making them a less than perfect solution.

Many consumers of ‘reef safe’ sunscreens prefer brands using nano-sized particles or aerosol sprays because they reduce the chalky white look after application. However, these nano-sized particles can be ingested by coral because of their small size, expediting the effects of oxidation and stress on marine life. Thus, while many sunscreen companies have worked to avoid chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate that can rapidly cause coral bleaching, the common alternatives can still cause stress on coral over time.

As conscientious consumers, help us reduce harm to coral ecosystems! By taking note of active ingredients in sunscreens, you can help promote the health and sustainability of coral and marine life. Based on her research, Melanie recommends having titanium dioxide as the only active ingredient in the sunscreens you use. She recommends using non-aerosol, non nano-particle titanium dioxide sunscreens.

This Blog Post written by Melanie Quan.

For more information on coral bleaching, check these web sites from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

What is coral bleaching? When corals are stress by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. (https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html)

Coral Bleaching — Background (https://www.coral.noaa.gov/education/bleaching-background.html)

November Film: DIVIDE IN CONCORD

November Film: DIVIDE IN CONCORD
When: November 14 at 7 pm   Where:  Peacock Theater

In this documentary, Patriot Jean Hill (84) took her battle to ban plastic bottles in Concord, Mass, and teaches us what the combination of science along with the charm, courage, and determination of a concerned grandmother can accomplish.

In 1775, Concord patriots fired the ‘shot heard round the world’ that began the Revolution.

Jean Hill

Over 200 years later, Jean Hill is ready to fire the next shot, and it’s directly at the bottled water industry. 84 year old Jean has spent three years trying to get her town to ban single serve bottled water, and this is looking like her last attempt. With strong opposition from local merchants, and a town that has already voted against her three years in a row, will it ever be possible for Jean to win?

“A fascinating, entertaining look at how persistence and citizen action still mean something in a corporate-controlled society.” Michael Moore

Inspired by learning about the amount of garbage that these single serving bottles create, Jean actually tries to do something about it, which is something that we could all learn a lesson from. Divide In Concord follows her efforts to finally ban bottled water in her town, even after her previous attempts have failed.

She’s feisty, and doesn’t let her age slow her down, standing up to anybody who would go against her. Many of us wouldn’t even think of banning bottled water, but the effects of those empty plastic containers are drastic, and Jean won’t stand for it any longer.

The real highlight of the film, besides Jean and her frequently foul mouth, are the arguments against her bottle ban. Complete ignorance of the damage these bottles cause, and the kind of extreme reasons her opponents come up with, are hilarious to listen to, mainly because of how ridiculous they are.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/TCve9xVj_yg

82 minutes. SDH captions.

October Film: Oil and Water

When:  October 10, 7:00 pm    Where:  Peacock Hall

Oil and Water, a multiple award-winning documentary film, is an intimate portrait of two young people finding their voices and trying to beat incredible odds as they confront one of the world’s worst toxic pollution disasters in Ecuador and the Amazon Rainforest.

For decades U.S. oil companies colluded with a corrupt Ecuadorian government to recklessly pollute the land and waters of the Amazon Rainforest.  Native tribes were displaced, much of the local culture destroyed, and cancer and other disease rates increased.

But two teenage heroes emerge among the many that have been fighting throughout the destruction and since.  As the title implies, oil and water do not mix well.  Eight years in the making, this documentary follows Hugo and David on a journey that leads them to explore a more just future for people around the world born with oil beneath their feet.

The film is 72 min. long with captions.

Oil and Water reveals the social and ecological trauma of our global fossil fuel culture and how it shapes the lives of an indigenous population in Ecuador. The film also demonstrates the collaborative, visionary creativity that can also emerge from that space of pain, urgency, and love for humanity and our life support systems. I have followed the struggle of the Cofan people for decades and just when I thought all hope was lost, this film gives me reason for renewing my conviction in the power of struggle, the power of the people hit hardest by environmental injustice – and their allies – to imagine and forge new possibilities.” David Naguib Pellow, Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota, Author, Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice.

“Great film…arresting…Oil and Water is the most complete portrait of how societies might move beyond ‘the oil curse’ to use resources from crude development to benefit the local communities from which it is found. Or, possibly, as a launching point to standardize and regulate best practices in the entire industry…It is a story of recovery but also of the need for aggressive assistance and understanding. Oil and Water puts a very human face on the ground-level of the extraction that is fueled by distant consumers.” Dr. Brian Black, Professor, History and Environmental Studies, Penn State Altoona, Author, Crude Reality: Petroleum in World History.

“An important film–it puts a human face on the very real and severe consequences of our thirst for oil. Yet it also gives viewers hope in the way it shows how two young adults can make meaningful changes to the world around them.” Dr. Benjamin Sovacool, Director of Danish Center for Energy Technology, AU-Herning, Associate Professor of Law, Founding Director of the Energy Security and Justice Program, Vermont Law School, Author, Energy and Ethics: Justice and the Global Energy Challenge.

Official Website and trailer: To see a trailer, go to http://www.oilandwaterdocumentary.com/ and click on the documentary’s lead photo.

Rossmoor Participation in San Francisco Climate March

On Thursday, September 6, Sustainable Rossmoor (SR) members were joined by members of the Democrats of Rossmoor and others at a sign making party for the San Francisco area “Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice” Climate March held on Saturday, September 8, 2018.

A few folks brought their own supplies and snacks to share. Many others used 14 foam boards on sticks supplied by SR. Markers were loaned by Katha Hartley, Democrats of Rossmoor club President. The overflow crowd from Mulligan went out to the patio. People were industrious and artsy. Nine folks created signs to be donated to marchers going empty handed.

Sustainable Rossmoor members were among 30,000 at the march on Saturday, September 8, 2018.

 

 

 

.

 

 

The crowd went from Embarcadero Plaza to Civic Center, demanding racial and economic justice, an end to fossil fuel production, and a transition to 100% renewable energy.

These demands were given to Gov. Jerry Brown ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit on September 12 -14, 2018. The Summit is a meeting of public officials and corporate executives from around the world.

March organizers were from Rise for Climate, Justice and Jobs. Marchers urged support for community-led solutions, starting in places impacted the most by pollution and climate change. March contingents came from over 300 organizations representing environmental and climate justice organizations, communities of faith, immigrant justice organizations, Indigenous-led groups, labor organizations, youth, and many more.

According to the Mercury News, the Global Climate Action Summit “makes California a worldwide flag-bearer on the issue at a time when the federal government is in retreat. The event at Moscone Center, dubbed the “Global Climate Action Summit,”  is something of a swan song for outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown. He leaves office in January, having led California to major gains in renewable energy and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — all amid a backdrop of record drought, floods and massive wildfires that brought the issue into stark focus.”

 

 

September Film: NO IMPACT MAN

September Film: NO IMPACT MAN

When:  September 12, 7:00 pm

Where:  Peacock Hall

This award-winning documentary tells the story of author Colin Beavan, who went completely “green” in NYC, giving up virtually all of the comforts of modern living — electricity, gas-powered transportation, non-local food and landfill waste disposal — in a drastic effort to curb his environmental impact. 
The camera captures many joyful moments, such as stomping on laundry in the bathtub and shopping at a dairy farm, as well as the toll this well-intentioned, year-long project takes on Beavan’s wife and 2-year old baby daughter. Ultimately, it saves them over $1,000/month and brings this family closer together. 

In November 2006 author Colin Beavan, started a research project for his next book ‘No Impact Project’. Intending to actualize some of his Zen Buddhist beliefs, this newly self-proclaimed environmentalist asked himself:
“Why do I have to wait for congress to do something? Why do I have to wait for big business to do something? Why don’t I do something?! “

He could no longer avoid pointing the finger at himself. He left behind his liberal complacency for a vow to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year.
No more automated transportation, no more electricity, no more non-local food, no more material consumption… no problem. That is, until his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle and their two year-old daughter are dragged into the fray.

The documentary shares the highs and lows of the families journey to sustainable living, including Michelle’s year off from consuming fashion. From ditching meat and shopping from bulk food bins and farmers markets.

Michelle called him a “1900’s house wife” as he cooked, composted, and cleaned for the family all without relying on most 21st century conveniences. Colin made all of their cleaning products with borax, baking soda (the box was compostable) and vinegar.

The film transitions to reality-tv territory at times when the couple have heartfelt discussions about the possibility of adding another member to their family, and Michelle’s ‘eco-slips’ in regards to coffee and ‘camping at home’ despite a hate of camping. While these hurdles can be dealt with from the family unit, some of the biggest challenges that the household faced was both positive and negative media coverage.

After the experiment was over, Colin and Michelle did bring back the the electricity and their fridge but still don’t use the freezer, a dishwasher, an AC, or have a TV. They also traveled by air to see family. They remain very conscious of their trash output. They continue to try and not buy anything new, preferring to source from secondhand places. They’ve lost weight, sleep better, have more energy, and save over $1,000/month.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/D58kZfqTrjY