Green Living

California nearing huge milestone in solar deployment

California nearing huge milestone in solar deployment

Golden state cements place as America’s solar leader California has cemented its place as America’s solar leader, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review, and stands poised to become the first state in the nation to have 10 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity – enough to power nearly 2.5 million homes. In 2014, California added 4,316 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 9,977 MW – just 23 MW short of cracking the 10 GW barrier. The report went on to point out that California had big increases last year across all solar sectors. Of the new capacity added, 615 MW were residential, 307 MW were commercial and 3,395 MW were utility scale. Together, these installations represented an $11.7 billion investment in the state.   “When it comes to creating clean energy jobs and protecting the environment, California is leading...
The Great Sierra River Cleanup

The Great Sierra River Cleanup

Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada Conservancy.  The Sierra Nevada Region is a world-renowned destination for adventure and discovery. Recreational gems like Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Mammoth Mountain draw visitors from around the world. Unfortunately, we don’t always pack out what we pack in. Sierra Nevada rivers, lakes, and streams are the source of drinking water for 23 million Californians. These waterways provide for activities as wild as river rafting or as relaxed as resting near a babbling stream. This year, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and dozens of local groups throughout the Sierra are asking for your help to keep these waterways clean. Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Join us on Saturday, September 20, for the 6th annual Great Sierra River Cleanup and help keep your favorite Sierra spot trash-free. Thousands of volunteers will join together to remove items like tires, cigarette butts, appliances, baby diapers, and cans and bottles...
Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time

Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time

Closing the Gap Between Farming and Eating Story and images by Bruce Willey Flying the Hoss Wheel Hoe. Photo: Bruce Willey For better or for worse we eat three times a day. Yet this daily but profound connection to the earth has become an act that is wholly disengaged from our perception of the world. We know our dentist, our plumber, our doctor, and our mailman far better than the farmer who grows our food. And no wonder. Our food system has become a complex industrial web of transportation, manufacturing, political, environmental, scientific, and marketing issues that are largely disconnected from the natural biology of food-giving plants and animals. Eating, it turns out, has become both easier and more complicated than any at time in human history. It’s enough to make your head spin, and render you cranky with hunger pains at the same time. And in the last...
My Other Car is a Cargo Bike

My Other Car is a Cargo Bike

    Photo by Daniela Becker Gauvin   Sure, many cyclists can haul ass but can they haul anything else? Bikes like Yuba’s Mundo aim to change that By Pete Gauvin Admit it: Many of us in the outdoor sports world are cycling fiends. We ogle and fantasize about bikes according to our respective sporting dreams and aspirations, be they road, mountain, downhill, cross-country, cyclocross, triathlon …… or multiples there of. I’ve been guilty of bike envy myself. Yet these specialized bikes, in addition to rarely being cheap, are often the ones we have to carve out time to ride. And “finding more free time” might very well be the most frequent lament in the universe. Really, what more of us sportos need, or anyone for the matter, is a bike that fits into the fabric of our daily lives, a bike that allows us to ride more everyday, a...
Just Add Water

Just Add Water

    Paddling west toward the Eastern Sierra.   After nearly a century of dormancy, a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens River is flowing once again Story and photos by Chuck Graham The put-in was a gentle drop-off from a barren, sandy shoal, but as soon as my bow pierced the water the river came to life. A school of brown trout fanned out beneath me. Several western kingbirds perched on the impenetrable tule reeds fortifying the runnel’s banks, swayed in the warm breeze. A majestic great blue heron, standing motionless in the shallows, patiently foraged the river’s bounty. However, this wasn’t an ordinary put-in. As I paddled this liquid artery that had been dormant since 1913, I gazed at a snow-capped Mount Whitney and the rest of the ominous Eastern Sierra towering to the west, while the desolate Inyo Mountains banked the river to the east. The revival...
The Big Ideas

The Big Ideas

11 Solutions That Could Actually Save the Planet By Will Harlan and Graham Averill 11 Big Ideas The editors of Blue Ridge Outdoors, our sister magazine in the Southeast, asked Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, CEOs, and leading environmental experts: What is the single most important change needed to protect the planet and its people? Here are their 11 insightful, innovative, and inspiring responses. 1. Educate Women Worldwide The most effective contraceptive is education for girls. When women are educated, they tend to marry later in life, to have children later in life, and to have fewer children. In effect, you have a form of population control that’s peaceful, voluntary, and efficient. Plus, women do better in business, raising economic growth rates and lowering societal conflict. Empowering women through education provides the highest return on investment in developing countries. It is the single most cost-effective way to empower and modernize communities. Of...
Fact or Fiction?

Fact or Fiction?

Busting the 10 Most Common Eco Myths By Will Harlan and Graham Averill You’ve heard these myths before. Your uncle likes to repeat them at the dinner table, corporations tout them on TV ads, and politicians spew them during stump speeches. They’ve been used over and over to justify poor environmental policy, and they’re just plain wrong. Here are the top ten most dangerous eco myths. 1. Clean coal technology will solve our energy problems. The coal industry has spent millions marketing their new “clean coal” technologies to the public. In 2008, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Technology spent $40 million on TV and radio ads, and $1.7 million went to street teams who handed out clean coal schwag at the Democratic and Republican conventions. More troublesome, every politician from Obama to John Boehner tout clean coal as a viable workhorse for our energy needs. Yet the truth is...
The Transportation Dilemma

The Transportation Dilemma

By Jeremiah Knupp Hybrid versus standard. Incandescent versus compact florescent. Disposable versus cloth diapers…green choices can be daunting these days. Probably your single most important eco-decision of all is transportation. Driving ranks right up there with electricity as one of the top two causes of pollution that the average American contributes to the environment. But are buses or railways any better than automobiles? The true environmental impact of anything can only be understood through what is known as a “lifecycle assessment.” When applied to transportation, a lifecycle assessment takes into consideration factors like the pollution caused by manufacturing, maintenance and disposal of a vehicle, along with the pollution from refining, manufacturing, and consuming fuel. It also considers the impact of the infrastructure a particular form of transportation requires, like road, track or runway construction and maintenance and refueling stations. Luckily, there are professionals like Mikhail Chester who compute these things...
Still White as a Winter Moon?

Still White as a Winter Moon?

Despite a couple lean snow years, Shasta’s glaciers bucking global warming trends – so far Story and photo by Renee Casterline With its summit soaring 14,162 feet, Mount Shasta stands imposingly over the surrounding landscape, alone in its claim as the dominant peak of northern California. Unlike the highest peaks in the Sierra, Shasta has no peers on its flanks. It’s an absolute brooding, uncontested loner – a mountain “as lonely as God, and white as a winter moon,” as the poet Joaquin Miller memorably put it. It is this solitude, this unrivaled claim on your attention, that brings into sharp relief just how barren the usually white-cloaked mountain has looked this spring and summer. In mid-May, considered one of the prime climbing and skiing months, guides and rangers were bemoaning the summer-like conditions as the snow pack rapidly receded under the blowtorch of a week of 90-plus degree days....
High-Tech Hopes

High-Tech Hopes

Three Eco-Innovations that Could Save the World By Graham Averill In the midst of all false hype—and hope—surrounding corn ethanol and fuel cells, these three lesser-known innovations are gaining attention and research funding. Together, they represent some of the brightest opportunities for a green infrastructure, from the food we eat to the energy that powers our homes. Nanosolar Panels The trouble with solar right now is that it’s still too expensive. But not for long. The San Jose-based solar company Nanosolar has developed a low-cost, printable solar cell manufacturing process. Instead of the traditional solar panel, the Nanosolar product is a thin layer of photovoltaic film that converts light into energy. Powersheet solar cells cost one-tenth of conventional solar panels, can be produced at a much faster rate, and have proven to be just as efficient. Traditional solar panels require silicon, which is increasingly rare, expensive to ship, build, and...
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