Nebraskans Install First Solar Panels Inside the Keystone XL Pipeline Route

‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industry
 
Silver Creek, NE — On Saturday, July 29th, the “Solar XL” project placed its first solar panels along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, on the farm of Nebraska landowners Jim and Chris Carlson near Silver Creek. The Carlsons, who rejected a $307,000 offer from the pipeline company TransCanada to build Keystone XL through their backyard, partnered with Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, and Oil Change International to put renewable energy directly in the pipeline’s path. Solar XL underscores the need to center solutions to climate change while rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and resisting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. 

“Build Our Energy Barn” built in 2013 on the Hammond family’s land inside KXL route near York, Nebraska — one of the many signs of resistance to Keystone XL. Photo Credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

Source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/albums/72157686827119456

“While we are dedicated to Keep It In The Ground efforts to stop new fossil fuel development, we are also deeply committed to the Just Transition. Solar and renewable energy can provide a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels and provide job growth in areas traditionally left behind, like rural America and our Indigenous communities. By placing solar projects in the route of Keystone XL, we are demonstrating how vital it is to not just stop dangerous and unnecessary projects like KXL but to also show that there are alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that do not put communities at risk and sacrifice Indigenous Peoples and land. We are excited to be a part of this resistance that also highlights the solutions that are needed,” commented Joye Braun, organizer from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Solar XL project is being supported through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this month. The solar panels, which will be installed in at least two other locations along the pipeline route, will serve not only as a form of clean energy, but as a symbol of the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% renewable energy economy. The panels will help power the homes of Nebraskans resisting Keystone XL, and are being installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.

Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industryThe Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil a day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and then on to the export market. The pipeline would pass through farms, ranches, and Indigenous land, posing a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources that would be contaminated by spills and leaks. Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission (PSC) grants those powers to a foreign corporation. Lastly, all along the route, local economies are connected to agriculture, and climate change is a serious issue. Keystone XL would significantly add to climate risks for farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations.

The first installation took place just over a week before the Nebraska Public Service Commission holds hearings in Lincoln on whether to grant a construction permit for Keystone XL through the state. One day before the hearings on August 6th, people from around Nebraska and surrounding states will converge for a march through the streets of Lincoln urging the Commissioners to reject the permit. If permits are granted for Keystone XL construction in Nebraska, TransCanada will have to tear down homegrown clean energy in order to build, galvanizing people across the country to fight back.
  

Jim Carlson, Nebraska landowner who placed solar in path of Keystone XL on his family’s farm: 

“I am vehemently opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline mainly because of the properties of the contents of the tar sands oil it will carry — this is not your Mother’s crude oil, it is the Devil’s, and it can kill. We must be focused on clean, renewable energy and America can get along just fine without this foul concoction they call bitumen that TransCanada wants to pipe across our precious soil and water.”
Jim Knopik, North Star Solar Bears. LLC:

“Our family-run company is based in Nebraska — and by installing solar projects, like the ones to stop the Keystone XL pipeline — my kids are able to stay on the farm. It’s time for our country to start the transition to clean energy now.”

More information on the “Solar XL” project:

http://boldnebraska.org/solarxl

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4 Ways to Prepare Your Family for a Natural Disaster

Disaster can strike anywhere — and it doesn’t care who you are or where you live. That’s why you need to be prepared, because you never know when the force of a natural disaster will impact your life. Today, while the natural disasters we experience may not be a direct result of climate change, it's very likely global warming will be the culprit of future weather-related events, according to NASA.

Global warming can strengthen hurricanes, as warmer sea temperatures and more heat in the atmosphere only increases the wind speeds of these sometimes catastrophic weather phenomenons. Increased risks of global warming can also usher in the risk of drought, intense storms and flooding as sea levels rise.

While you can’t prevent these catastrophes on your own, you can work to better prepare yourself against the inevitable. Here are four ways you can better prepare yourself if a natural disaster strikes near your home or community.

1. Identify Your Risks

Take the first step to prepare for a natural disaster by identifying your risks. Where should you start? Truthfully, you should know the most common hazards in your community, as understanding these potential risks can help you glean greater focus on your disaster plan. Then, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you live in a flood zone?
  • Do tornadoes frequent the region?
  • What will you do in the case of a severe earthquake?

You need to have answers to these questions to formulate your disaster plans. Get started with a helpful online resource like the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes’ natural disaster risk map to determine which disasters pose the greatest threat to your state.

2. Create an Emergency Kit

When disaster strikes, you need to move — and be super quick about it. Indeed, there won't be time to grab much of — or any — belongings or family keepsakes. But that doesn't mean you should leave your home empty handed. Instead, according to information provided on Ready.gov, every home should have a basic emergency kit that includes:

  • Water and food
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • First-aid kits
  • Whistles to signal distress
  • Cellphones with an accompanying charger
  • Cash

3. Be Mindful of Your Inventory

A natural disaster can destroy entire homes and communities. And while documenting everything of value in your home may seem tedious and monotonous, it can pay off and help you get back to your everyday routine after a disaster strikes, as proper documentation will ensure fair insurance reimbursement. Additionally, your inventory documentation will make the recovery process more simple and be a big help when you need to apply for federal disaster aid. It's also wise to check your home and car insurance policies to confirm your coverage before any major catastrophe strikes.

4. Practice Your Plan

There’s more to emergency preparedness than checking over your home. You’ll need to think about your car, too. How will you escape disaster? Is your vehicle suited for disaster conditions? Can you car’s tires stand up to difficult terrain?

Routine maintenance can keep your car or SUV operating efficiently so that changing a flat tire when disaster strikes will be the least of your worries. For example, TireBuyer.com offers a number of tire options, including the Falken Wildpeak H/T, from reputable retailers across the country. This way, you don’t have to lift a finger if your sedan or SUV needs a new set.

After ensuring your vehicle is in optimal condition, run through your emergency plan with your entire family. Focus on communication, speed and checking off each item on your checklist, which should include everything from switching off the utilities to grabbing your emergency kit before leaving your home.

Examples, Methods and Benefits of Sustainable Living

Shifting our lifestyle towards a sustainable model is a journey that takes a lifelong commitment. It requires learning, exploring and experimenting with sustainable practices in all the spheres of our lives. Beyond the reach of international agreements, campaigns, politics and economy, there are individual people who can do a lot to improve their way of life and the lives of people around them by following these examples.

Besides solar, Shifting our lifestyle towards a sustainable model is a journey that takes a lifelong commitment. It requires learning, exploring and experimenting with sustainable practices in all the spheres of our lives. Beyond the reach of international agreements, campaigns, politics and economy, there are individual people who can do a lot to improve their way of life and the lives of people around them by following these examples.
Conserve water

Fresh water takes up just a little over 2% of the world’s water, and only 1% is accessible drinking water. Water conservation not only reduces the energy and resources needed for its purification and transport, but also decreases pollution of natural water systems. There are many ways to use water more responsibly. Purchase only water-efficient appliances and install a grey water system. Front-loading laundry washers use up to 40% less water than top-loading models. Captured rainwater can be used for watering, and in combination with drip-irrigation, the amount of wasted water is even smaller.
Fresh water takes up just a little over 2% of the world’s water, and only 1% is accessible drinking water. Water conservation not only reduces the energy and resources needed for its purification and transport, but also decreases pollution of natural water systems. There are many ways to use water more responsibly. Purchase only water-efficient appliances and install a grey water system. Front-loading laundry washers use up to 40% less water than top-loading models. Captured rainwater can be used for watering, and in combination with drip-irrigation, the amount of wasted water is even smaller.

 How you reach your destination and how you move around once you get there makes a big environmental difference. A flight from New York to London emits about 1.2 tons of carbon per person on-board. The prospects are not glamorous as you might hope, but a cheap vacation closer to home is always a greener option. Trains and ferries are awesome transportation methods – like cruise ships for the environmentally aware. If you still have to fly, always look for direct flights. Once you’re there, consider public or human-powered transportation. Local buses and trams are perfect for getting a feel for a new city and its residents, while a bike can take you to the countryside or parts of town inaccessible to vehicles.

Travel green

How you reach your destination and how you move around once you get there makes a big environmental difference. A flight from New York to London emits about 1.2 tons of carbon per person on-board. The prospects are not glamorous as you might hope, but a cheap vacation closer to home is always a greener option. Trains and ferries are awesome transportation methods – like cruise ships for the environmentally aware. If you still have to fly, always look for direct flights. Once you’re there, consider public or human-powered transportation. Local buses and trams are perfect for getting a feel for a new city and its residents, while a bike can take you to the countryside or parts of town inaccessible to vehicles.

According to an article published in Time in December 2013, ‘There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.’ What we put on our table makes a big impact on the environment. By filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, you help reduce freshwater withdrawal as well as deforestation necessary for raising livestock. Some popular species of fish are at risk of being overfished, so feel invited to try some new seafood. By exploring farmer’s markets you can find fresh locally-grown produce, but also get the chance to meet people who produce your food.
Eat sustainable  

According to an article published in Time in December 2013, ‘There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.’ What we put on our table makes a big impact on the environment. By filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, you help reduce freshwater withdrawal as well as deforestation necessary for raising livestock. Some popular species of fish are at risk of being overfished, so feel invited to try some new seafood. By exploring farmer’s markets you can find fresh locally-grown produce, but also get the chance to meet people who produce your food.

While communities can benefit from geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, and wind power, solar energy is also suitable for individual households. Apart from using its thermal component to heat water, photovoltaic cells convert the sun rays into electrical energy. There is a hardly cleaner energy source, as it leaves no waste nor emits greenhouse gasses. The cost of solar systems is coming down, and some of the best solar panels in Australia are becoming more affordable to many households. These systems have no moving parts and require minimal maintenance, while the development of new lithium-ion batteries for homes increases your potential to store the energy surplus to be used during the night or on cloudy days.  Own fewer things    Getting rid of everything you don’t need and cutting out any activities that don’t add value to your life is one of the most effective ways to start a sustainable life. Keep only the things and activities you find useful and you love. By donating to charity or a freecycle program, you will de-clutter your home, but you also need to commit yourself not to re-clutter. Francine Jay, the author of The Joy of Less, says that you should store the items you use once a year or less in labelled boxes and keep outside your main living area. If you need to purchase something non-essential, wait for 30 days to see if you’ll still be needing it then.  Our every choice impacts the others through creation, use and disposal of the things we buy, the energy

Shift to solar energy
While communities can benefit from geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, and wind power, solar energy is also suitable for individual households. Apart from using its thermal component to heat water, photovoltaic cells convert the sun rays into electrical energy. There is a hardly cleaner energy source, as it leaves no waste nor emits greenhouse gasses. The cost of solar systems is coming down, and some of the best solar panels in Australia are becoming more affordable to many households. These systems have no moving parts and require minimal maintenance, while the development of new lithium-ion batteries for homes increases your potential to store the energy surplus to be used during the night or on cloudy days.

Own fewer things  

Getting rid of everything you don’t need and cutting out any activities that don’t add value to your life is one of the most effective ways to start a sustainable life. Keep only the things and activities you find useful and you love. By donating to charity or a freecycle program, you will de-clutter your home, but you also need to commit yourself not to re-clutter. Francine Jay, the author of The Joy of Less, says that you should store the items you use once a year or less in labelled boxes and keep outside your main living area. If you need to purchase something non-essential, wait for 30 days to see if you’ll still be needing it then.

Our every choice impacts the others through creation, use and disposal of the things we buy, the energy we use, the food we eat, etc. While we’ll probably never meet those who are impacted, our choices can change everything.

How to Select a Green Lodge when Traveling, Part 1

You are a person who puts active thought into eco-practices at home, but what happens when you go on vacation? Do you ever wonder “Where Can I Find a ‘Green’ Hotel or B&B?” or “How Can I Tell the Difference Between an Authentic Eco Lodge and One That Is Not?” or “Is There a Reliable Directory I Can Use?” If you have asked those questions, you’re in good company. But the answers are surprisingly complicated.

Here’s the reality: there is no one universal authority or definitive tool that eco-conscious consumers can turn to for sourcing “green” vacation accommodations.


With hundreds of countries around the world – all with different government agencies, infrastructure, politics, regulations, and living standards – it is a most difficult task to devise a uniform platform.

In a pinch, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that the ecotourism industry is relatively young and evolving quickly. More consumers are demanding “eco-friendly” travel options, so there will be a response in kind from the industry. More information will become available via online directories and useful apps ready to download to your smart phone or tablet.——————————————————————————————————

Costa Rica is a top-ranked destination for “green” vacations. Click here to learn more about a jungle lodge and rafting adventures down the Pacuare River in Costa Rica – https://www.ecotourlinq.com/blog/spotlight-interview-with-rios-tropicales

Photo: Rafting on the Pacuare River  Photo credit: Rios Tropicales
Photo: Rafting on the Pacuare River Photo credit: Rios Tropicales

What does a green lodge look like? Well the facility can be any number of things – a working ranch or farm, a seaside hotel, a mountain inn, a jungle lodge (on the ground or in the trees), a small village B&B, a desert bunker, a campground, or a dormitory-style hostel. Frequently these accommodations will be located inside or near a national park or possibly a World Heritage Site.
Coming up in Part 2 – Tourism Bureaus and Ecotourism Associations

Guest Writer Bio: Deborah Regen is the publisher of a website directory and blog dedicated to consumer information about ecotourism and sustainable travel. She also sends out a free monthly e-newsletter to subscribers including notices of giveaways. https://www.EcoTourLinQ.com and her email = admin@ecotourlinq.com

MAAP63 Shows Patterns of Deforestation throughout  the Entire Colombian Amazon

Amazon Conservation, in collaboration with Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), has just posted MAAP #63: Patterns of Deforestation in the Colombian Amazon. 

The vast Colombian Amazon covers approximately 119 million acres, 6.2% of the total Amazon biome (RAISG, 2016). This region contains a diverse variety of ecosystems, including montane, lowland, and flooded rainforest. Importantly, much of this region has remained intact, partly due to Colombia’s longstanding civil conflict that may be coming to an end. 

This report has two objectives: 1) Illustrate the major deforestation hotspots in the Colombian Amazon between 2001 and 2015 and 2) Focus in on one of the most important hotspots, located in the Caquetá department.

This map, created by Esri’s emerging hotspot software, identifies forest loss trends over time to identify new, intensifying, diminishing, and sporadic deforestation hotspots (2001-2015).

We are excited to present this initial collaborative analysis of the Colombian Amazon, a work that reflects an important partnership with our colleagues at Amazon Conservation and their MAAP Project. It is MAAP’s first report in the more interactive “Story Map” format, incorporating ACT’s expertise with regard to this platform

This is the first MAAP (Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project) article for the Colombian Amazon and was produced in partnership between the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and Amazon Conservation, made possible by support from the MacArthur Foundation. MAAP seeks to improve understanding of current patterns and drivers of deforestation by harnessing the recent explosion of high-resolution satellite imagery and near-real-time deforestation data, and presenting this information in accessible reports. ACT and ACA will be working together to expand MAAP to include Colombia.

Some of the Map Downloads:

This is the first MAAP (Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project) article for the Colombian Amazon and was produced in partnership between the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and Amazon Conservation, made possible by support from the MacArthur Foundation. MAAP seeks to improve understanding of current patterns and drivers of deforestation by harnessing the recent explosion of high-resolution satellite imagery and near-real-time deforestation data, and presenting this information in accessible reports..#1This is the first MAAP (Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project) article for the Colombian Amazon and was produced in partnership between the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and Amazon Conservation, made possible by support from the MacArthur Foundation. MAAP seeks to improve understanding of current patterns and drivers of deforestation by harnessing the recent explosion of high-resolution satellite imagery and near-real-time deforestation data, and presenting this information #2
Map created by Amazon Conservation team & Amazon Conservation, June 2017

Citation
Hettler B, Thieme A, Finer M (2017) Deforestation Patterns in the Colombian Amazon. MAAP Colombia: 1.

Technical notes
The emerging hot spot analysis was run in Esri’s ArcGIS software using annual forest loss data provided by the GLAD laboratory at the University of Maryland.
2016-2017 forest loss from a custom classification of Google Earth Engine Landsat 8 composite