Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cape Wind Gets Green Light

Great news for the Cape Wind project. They’ve been given the “super-permit” to develop their 130-turbine wind farm – what would be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.

What’s staggering is the potential energy that would come out of this farm: Average electricity production would power 200,000 homes; when at max capacity, the number of homes is double that. Check out the Cape Wind website to learn more.

The article also gives a brief but less-than-detailed update on the two proposed off-shore projects here in R.I., stating that the permit process is underway and that the smaller of the two eyes completion sometime in 2012.

Closer to home, each time I drive through Portsmouth and see those turbines spinning it puts a smile on my face. Why? The simplicity and logic of renewable energy. And the technology is getting better -- and for the bean counters, more price competitive -- each and every day. Carbon-based energy is on the down-and-out. Granted, there is a LOT of work to do before we awaken to this Renewable Nirvana, but projects like Cape Wind are definitely putting us on the path.

Curious -- would you support economically viable renewable energy projects here in town? What do you think the general public's position in on these sorts of things?

Friday, May 29, 2009

What’s another foot or two?

In terms of sea levels around coastal New England – and the Sakonnet area in particular -- it could mean a lot.

Imagine our little coastline redefined in significant ways by 2100: The loss of our beaches and other waterfront properties where the land slope is small; the potential need to re-route Main Road down by Grinnell’s Beach; living history being swallowed by the sea. Imagine our own little bit of environmental refugee action as people and families need to abandon their “ships” for higher ground.

This New York Times article is a quick synopsis of new research coming out of the National Center for Atmospheric Research warning that an accelerated melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could have a more profound effect on the sea levels of the northeast U.S. and Maritime Canada. Of course, while these climate models are based on current and historical data, they are just models. That means they could be wrong. Or right. Or somewhere in the middle.

While it’s just one of many possible scenarios based on a plethora of variables, it would behoove us not to care, not to pause and consider those worse case scenarios and use them to light that fire of action; of caring about what such impacts might have on us or our families in our later years. The first step in figuring out how to solve a problem is acknowledging that both the problem AND the potential impacts exist. From there it’s about working together to find solutions – big and small -- and putting them into action.

I’m on board. How about you? Each one of us continues to have a roll to play in our everyday lives to help our little neck of the woods stay vibrant and inviting not only in the short-term but that seemingly far off (but not really) future.

Call me crazy, but I like to think that my great-grandchildren might some day stroll along Fogland Beach and hold one of the same small, round, smooth stones that I might have held and tossed into the river myself, throwing it back to the water to ride the waves and tides once again.

[Photo Credit: Sara Gerlach]

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tube for Tuesday: U.S. Organic as the New Obesity Driver?

I don't know about you, but I love The Daily Show. Unfortunately, my schedule rarely allows me to watch it. Thanks to Sara for spotting this one. Here's to mixing in a few laughs.

If you're a fan of T.D.S., you'll immediately get how much Samantha Bee is mocking this guy who is arguing that promoting organic, local food is elitist and will drive obesity rates in the U.S. If you've never watched this witty, sometimes abrasive, mock news program, get ready for a bit of uncomfortableness...

On a serious note, I can't believe (actually, I can, sadly) that there is an organization out there -- one with such an austere name as the American Council on Science and Health -- that could even attempt to argue such a position. But then you realize that they have been underwritten by some of the biggest names in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and package foods companies and it all begins to make sense. You have to love a healthy dose of spin when you see it... Enjoy.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Introducing Bodhi

BODHI MAXWELL GERLACH. Born May 4 and weighing a whopping 10 lbs 6 oz. This is our third and I think final foray into the baby scene. Sara is doing great; Will and Amelia have not left Bodhi's side since he's come home. We are all adjusting and figuring out the new 5-person routine. For now, it's that kind of good Fifth Wheel feeling.

I've dubbed Bohdi (pronounced Bow-dee) the "Green Baby" as we are trying to minimize his environmental footprint from the get-go. So far, it has been all about recycling as much as possible from his brother and sister (clothes, furniture, etc.) and the dirty "D" word -- diapers. We've been using gDiapers this time around. Check out their website for full background, but we were drawn to these for two reasons: the ability to compost those soiled with pee only and frankly, they are kind of cute. A recent Boston Globe blog post mulled over the diaper options for eco-conscious parents.

While we have yet to add any to the compost pile (that's just the way it is with newborns), we do feel that what we are disposing of is, by volume, less than what we would have been doing with conventional diapers. Time will tell. We have yet to try the dissolve-in-your-toilet method for disposal.

The only drawback so far (though minimal) is their availability. We have been picking them up at Green Grocer in Portsmouth. The fact that they stock these is icing on the cake for such a great, local depot for all things organic.

Up next for Green Baby is food. By the time we hit our stride with produce from the garden, Bodhi should be making the transition into more solid food. We are aiming to produce some of our own -- peas, carrots, and the like. Stay tuned.

Curious about the name Bodhi? Here is some background. I continue to be inspired by my readings on Zen Buddhism and we just thought the name was beautiful and special. When you put the two things together, you get our little guy.

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

The past five weeks or so have been a whirlwind. I’m going to try and get out a blast of new posts over the next few days to cover it all, but in the meantime here are the sound bites:

First, my 12-day trip to China. This was the capstone requirement of my 16-month Executive MBA program at Northeastern University. Four cities (Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing), numerous business presentations and tours, and a bit of sightseeing later and I can’t believe we’re done. It was an eye-opening experience – one that I wish more Westerners could have as I believe it would do wonders for expanding the broader perspective on this global stage we’re now living in.

Next came graduation. Finally it’s over. Honestly, the event itself was lackluster and anti-climatic. But, with the degree in hand, I can start to move on. What’s next? I’m not sure. I’ll be heading back to the health insurance world on Monday, eager to see what happens. But deep inside I continue to feel a strong longing to do something “more”; something that contributes to a mission that is more near and dear to my passions; something that for me, I can see more tangible results. Ideally, this “more” will be in the green sector (for-profit for now – sorry, I have a family to provide for). Alternative energy is a sector that has strong growth potential. There are many others. Time to start that networking…

Most importantly, we had our third child, a boy just over a week ago. Our family is ecstatic. I’ll give him his own post…

Finally, I’ve been trying to dive into some projects that have been on the back burner for a while – reseeding some lawn, building new garden beds, screening last season’s compost (amazing) and feeding our perennials, and some odds and ends around the house.

The best thing about this time off has been reconnecting with my family. I didn’t realize how busy I had been over the past 16 months. So it’s no wonder that I’ve been feeling a bit “lazy”, wanting to cash in on that R & R capital I’ve been earning since starting my MBA. That also includes writing. Honestly, I’ve been uninspired of late. The reason why, I’m not sure, but I just can’t seem to beat it. I’m hopeful that as the garden begins to grow and blossom, so too will my eagerness to write and continue sharing (and learning) about these things that help this footprint of ours.

I hope all is well with all of you.