fossil fuels

Once Upon a Time NASCAR Went Green With Al Gore and the EPA

By Matt Bogoshian

Could such a story be true?

NASCAR just held their Green Summit this week in Chicago where I was lucky enough to represent EPA with an impressive group of change makers that included, of all people, Al Gore!

I’ve heard a few people question why EPA is helping NASCAR, but I like to think it fits into the story of the future, a story where all of us are on a continuous improvement path toward an America that’s built to last.

I just read Daniel Pink’s new book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, and he talks about the ways people are moved to take action. One way he describes is to tell stories the way Pixar tells stories, so here we go. Using the Pixar way, here’s one way to tell the story of the future:

Once upon a time, we built a strong and rising middle class powered almost entirely by fossil fuels, not realizing that our over reliance on them would hurt us in the long run. Every day for generations, we burned lots of fossil fuels to make stuff, build stuff, eat stuff, go places and have fun. Year after year, auto racing became more popular and NASCAR became part of the fabric of American sport. Then one day, everything started to change and more of us ended up finding new ways to get ahead using fewer fossil fuels and creating less waste. NASCAR joined the effort to improve their own practices, and help their fans learn new ways to save money, that also protect people’s health and the planet. Because of that, more kids learned new innovative skills and had better health. Also because of that, more people found better jobs and created their own businesses to make things that solved problems and added joy to life. Finally, we realized that by enlisting every American and every organization to work together, we could build a low carbon, low waste society that will create a rising and thriving middle class for this and every generation.

Make believe? Together, we’re on the road to find out …

You can help out, too, by using some handy tools found on our new online Green Sports Website. Next week is Pollution Prevention Week. Take steps to prevent pollution by committing to health, planet and money saving action!

Green for Go!

About the author: Matt Bogoshian is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Senior Policy Counsel in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention where he leads EPA and Obama administration efforts to help manufacturers and their supply chains profit by adopting more sustainable practices while harnessing the power of consumers to demand smarter products and services. Mr. Bogoshian combines strengths of efforts such as the E3: Economy, Energy and the Environment framework, the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge, the Design for the Environment (DfE) program, the EnergyStar Industrial program and the SmartWay Partnership to optimize collective benefit for American manufacturers and their communities. Bogoshian helps lead the President’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative, designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in communities across the country.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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How Big is Your Footprint?

Our teacher, Ms. Tilson , asked us how big our footprint was today. We started to take our shoes off and measure our feet, but she stopped us and asked if we knew the size of our Carbon Footprint.  The class looked around confused because we didn’t know that we had another footprint.

We leave footprints when we walk on the sand at the beach or when get our feet wet and track mud into the house. Our carbon footprint is a little different. We can’t see it, but it’s there and it impacts the earth by leaving a mark just like the ones in the sand and mud.

When we use fossil fuels like heating oil or coal to keep our homes warm in the winter and our cars running, that’s creating a carbon footprint.  These actions emit carbon dioxide, also called CO2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and makes up our carbon footprint.  The more CO2 that is created, the more carbon dioxide is released and the bigger our carbon footprint gets.  A big carbon footprint is not good for the earth. 

I know. I know. It’s easy to get picked up by our parents after school but doing so contributes to the carbon footprint. Instead, we should walk or bike to and from school or our friend’s homes. At the grocery store, check out where the fruits and vegetables come from. If they’re from another country, think about the amount of energy and gas it took just to reach the store.  That’s another big carbon footprint.

The best way to make your carbon footprint smaller is to use less electricity and less fossil fuels. Be sure to turn off your computer, television and lights when you’re not using them. Keep temperatures lower in your house during the winter even if you need to wear a sweater to stay warmer. Walk and bike whenever you can instead of using the car or bus. It’s great exercise too. I found out local farmers markets are a great way to get fresh fruit and vegetables. Buying from them reduces carbon footprints because it doesn’t take a lot of energy or gas to get them to us. Even though I still haven’t figured out how to get my favorite fruit, avocados, locally I’m going to try shrinking my carbon footprint.  

Lorenzo is a middle school student in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.  He’s into spectrology, the TV show Ghost Hunters and watching the NHL.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Mullen Monument – Not What It Used To Be

By Nancy Grundahl

I won’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of the Philadelphia sculptor, Daniel Kornbau. I hadn’t either until I began researching my ancestry. I learned that Daniel was the brother of my great grandmother Emma. His most famous work is the Mullen Monument, which was commissioned by the millionaire William James Mullen. It was, in fact, on display at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park. You can see it today in Laurel Hill Cemetery, where its location is marked on the visitors’ map. For Rocky fans, Laurel Hill is the cemetery where Adrian Balboa was buried.

After seeing many photos of the Mullen Monument on the web, I was surprised to see how weathered it was “in person.” Sharp edges were rounded. You can barely read Daniel’s name and address under the seated woman. Years of acid rain have not been kind to my great uncle’s work of art.

Philadelphia is downwind of many industrial sources of sulfur dioxides (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, particularly power plants that burn fossil fuels. These pollutants combine with moisture in the air to form the acid rain that reacts with the calcite in marble and limestone, causing the calcite to dissolve, destroying the fine details that Daniel worked so well to create.

The good news is that in the last few years, pollutants causing acid rain in the Philadelphia area have been reduced by actions including installing additional controls on power plants and burning cleaner coal. And, it was a pleasure to see Administrator Jackson’s recent announcement about requiring significant new reductions in power plant mercury and toxic emissions.

What can we do to help? Conserve energy, since energy production causes the largest portion of the acid rain problem. In this way we can help preserve fine works of art for future generations.

About the author: Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. She currently works in Program Support for the Water Protection Division. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Question of the Week: What is the best way to reduce fossil fuel use?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Many energy alternatives to fossil fuels have been suggested – nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, conservation, etc. Each source of energy has benefits and challenges.

What is the best way to reduce fossil fuel use?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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