Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

There is a growing movement afoot to add protected bicycle lanes to American cities.

In her wonderful, inspiring presentation to San Diego bicycle activists last night about bringing protected bicycle lanes to American cities, Martha Roskowski mentioned Copenhagen often. See what’s going on there in this short video.

Mega-thanks to Samantha Ollinger, director of BikeSD.org, for inviting Martha to inspire us yesterday.

Astounding! Copenhagen’s bicycle traffic signal timing system — cleverly called “The Green Wave” –allows a bike rider going a comfortable 12 mph to pass through 14 green traffic signals on one long stretch of road without stopping.

I was a bicycle commuter in Copenhagen for two weeks in December 2009 when I was in town for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. I came away viewing Copenhagen as Nirvana for cyclists.

What’s Happening in Rio?

One of my take-aways from attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 — remember that one? It was supposed to change the world — is that undertakings of such a grand scale, involving so many countries with diverse interests and agendas, sometimes fail to result in much significant change. They generate a ton of hope, but often fall short on action.

And now an even bigger U.N.-sponsored conference is taking place, trying to tackle issues similar to those on the Copenhagen agenda, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s called the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as the Rio Earth Summit or RIO+20. In fact, it’s the biggest conference in U.N. history, attracting some 50,000 attendees from 190 countries. They include world leaders, raggedy environmental activists, and a lot of people in between.

Here’s a pretty good story about the challenges and opportunities of the Rio Earth Summit. It tells how initial attendees are working on a “master plan” to slow down environmental destruction while providing enough food, clean water and clean energy for an increasingly crowded world. On Wednesday, the bigwigs — heads of state (except Obama; he’s sending Hillary) — begin arriving in Rio to review and — hopefully, eventually, by the end of the summit — agree on some common approaches.

I happen to know two people in the trenches at Rio. They are helping me better understand what the heck is going on down there.

Who do I know down in Rio?Find out, by clicking here to read the rest of this column.

All the intrigue …

I just saw this, and I give it a BIG thumbs up. You don’t have to be a climate nerd like me to find the story captivating.

If you want to know what I witnessed as a nongovernmental delegate to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 — albeit from a higher level than I experienced — this movie shows that. All the international intrigue; all the petty bickering and maneuvering among world leaders; all the desperate pleas from weaker nations like the Maldives.

I created this blog to share my experiences in Copenhagen; now this movie comes along and does it in two hours. I remember writing about the Maldives in one of my blog posts from Copenhagen, and I found it: A Response to Climategate.

Success!

My 13-year old niece Karina arrived in Florida from Eugene, Oregon this weekend for a week at science camp. She’ll spend an intense week conducting experiments, touring sites like Sea World and the Kennedy Space Center, and learning about science and technology with other top students. Below is a picture of her getting ready for the bus ride to the Portland airport.

It cost thousands for Karina to be able to go. She raised much of that herself by saving her allowance, holding bake sales, getting matching funds for good grades, etc. I pitched in with a Facebook fundraising campaign — Send Katrina to Science Camp! (seen above right on this blog) — that brought in a fair amount.

I want to thank the dozens of friends, relatives, and readers of this blog who contributed. We succeeded! Karina and her fellow students who are in Florida this coming week may be the future of American success in science and technology.

Karina called me just before beginning her journey, and I swelled with pride for her. Karina’s Mom — my Wonder-Sister Krista — penned this poem that expresses it better than I ever could:

When a gift is more than a gift

The bumper sticker.

We all get happy when it’s obvious that someone has put a lot of thought into their gift for us. The GreenTech Geek gets doubly — make that triply — happy when it’s clear that the gift-giver has not only though about me in selecting my gift, but also about the larger world in which we live.

So you can imagine my giddiness when I opened the following presents on Christmas morning two days ago:

  • Purple ‘Peace’ Bumper Sticker — My nieces in Eugene, Oregon — home to all things good for the Earth — have a tradition of sending me bumper stickers for Christmas, always containing messages intended to keep me connected to wholesome liberal thought processes so easily chipped away at lollygagging in it’s-all-about-the-sun San Diego. This year’s offering: a bold purple ‘Peace’ sticker from an interesting place called Peacemonger.org that sells all number accessories laden with messages reminding humanity of its better nature.

This gift served an additional awesome purpose: reminding me of the a little music video I put together a few years ago called The Bumper Stickers Did It. It’s about the power of the bumper stickers of Eugene, Oregon to lift my spirits during a difficult time in American history, when a Presidential election was stolen, Bush ruled the land, and unjust war was raging. 

Click here to have a look — and check out a couple more amazing gifts I got — at my latest weekly GreenTech column over at the popular San Diego-based blog, Tea With Lemon. 

Plastic Redux

A reader of this column was aghast at my December 5 post (Trash Art) about the giant swirl of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean. So she called my attention to an impossibly happy Japanese inventor, Akinori Ito, who’s come up with a fascinating way to turn plastic trash into usable oil. So it seems Japanese innovation can bring us more than freaky robots and imperishable automobiles The United Nations University has taken notice and produced a short video about the guy, his invention, and his crusade to spread the simple technology to countries most impacted by plastic trash.

Click here to see the rest of this post in my new GreenTech column at the popular San Diego-based blog, Tea With Lemon.

Songs to Save Us

Well-written and memorably performed songs have the power to change us, motivate us, and perhaps even cause us to think about things in the world in a brand new way. In the 1700s and 1800s, slaves in the United States used music to preserve their heritage and get through treacherous times. In the 1960s, folk singers used songs to voice frustrations of the anti-war and civil rights generations.

These days, some artists have taken on an even broader subject with their music — saving the Earth itself.

Here is a collection of four very special songs with strong views about how we think about the Earth, what we have done to the Earth, what some are doing to save the Earth, and the unthinkable future that awaits us if we let things get out of control.

VIDEO – Oscar Paradise: ‘Da Da Dam’ 

First up is ‘Da Da Dam’ by Paradise Oscar, a young singer from Finland who was his country’s entry in last spring’s Eurovision Song Contest (sort of an American Idol for the entire European continent). Oscar spins a musical fairy tale that cleverly pokes fun at those who deny our Earth is in danger. My favorite verse from this song:

 I’m going out in the world to save our planet

And I ain’t comin back until she’s saved

I’ll walk my way to see the King and parliament

If they don’t help I’ll do it by myself

Next is ‘Earth Song’ by the legendary Michael Jackson. You can see the video and my other choices here: 

GreenTech Geek: Songs to Save Us