Posts Tagged green practices

Earth Promise “21 in 21” Interview Series – Bruce Gellerman

Bruce Gellerman – Host of “Living on Earth”, Public Radio International’s environmental program heard weekly on more than 300 public radio stations nationwide. (http://www.loe.org)

Bruce has worked at NPR as a science reporter, at WBUR-FM as business correspondent and Executive Producer and was Senior Washington Correspondent for The Center for Investigative Journalism.  He has consulted for the US State Department, Voice of America and Internews  and has taught journalism in more than a dozen countries.  His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Scientist, BBC-Radio, ABC TV-20/20 and CBS TV-60 Minutes.  He has received more than 40 national awards for journalism and is a three-time recipient of the AAAS award for broadcast science journalism, most recently for a documentary he produced about MIT’s Fusion Energy Research Laboratory. Mr. Gellerman has been accepted for two Fulbright Fellowships and is the author of “Massachusetts Curiosities”.

Earth Promise: What changes, or Earth Promises as we call them, have you made in your lifestyle to be more green?  Changes in home, travel, work, with your kids and community?

Bruce Gellerman: My wife is really the green-meanie in the family, constantly reminding me that I’m the one who hosts an environmental show. Being green comes naturally to her, she’s Russian and they waste NOTHING. We can have an empty refrigerator and she can cook up a banquet. We recently put on a new roof and a few weeks ago I did a story about how white roofs are really the way to save energy and CO2 emissions. Now Yulia, my wife, has taken to reminding me that we should have installed a white roof. To my defense we put on a light color roof.
I am my father’s son. He was the kind of guy who follows you around shutting off the lights.  We recycle, of course, don’t leave the water running when brushing our teeth, low energy bulbs and all that sort of stuff. I am the cheapest person in the universe so we definitely live within our means and aren’t big consumers. We drive a Prius which I love but have a 15 year old Camry wagon I hope runs forever. I’m holding out til they start paying cash for clunkers and I can trade it in for something a bit newer and more gas efficient, tho’ it gets 30 mpg. Not nearly what the Prius gets but enough to make most of Detroit envious.

EP: What was your first, ah ha! Green moment?

BG: I think I’ve always been a shade of green. I hate wasting things and shopping is about the worst thing I can think of doing.  I’m always amazed when I see someone, even today, toss something out, litter drives me nuts.

EP: Tell me about your show, Living on Earth? 

BG: Well, LOE is a science show and its radio which is the most visual medium there is. We try to tap into our listeners imaginations using sounds and words to put them into the stories we create. Radio is a story telling medium so that’s what we do. I love radio..or more appropriately, today, audio because I think radio …over the air tuners…are well on their way to dinosaur-hood. Audio, is the news medium for the future. It’s relatively inexpensive, accessible anywhere, and can be used while your doing anything…well, maybe it’s not very good when you’re taking a hearing test or writing a symphony.  I have a new WiFi radio which I absolutely love. I can tune into any audio on line, pod casts shows, music, whatever. If I’m in the mood for Serbian pop songs..bingo.  French jazz..I got it. Russian news…you betcha. I’m trying to WiFi my house with audio so my entire family can listen to what they want when they want it. The demise of newspapers has created a whole new playing field for audio. I think LOE’s future is very bright, if we can raise money in this economy. It’s weird, after 20 years of being on the air, the show’s focus; environmental science, is now the defining issue of our time, bisecting national security, the world economy, and so on. The irony is that after two decades we’re still doing the public radio begahons. I think that will change. People really get what we’re doing. Being an environmentalist today is simply being someone who breathes in and out. We’re all in this boat together—that’s the sub-context of the show—and we better figure out how to keep it afloat. Our listeners have great ears. They really, really pay attention and we get an earful when we screw up which we try mightily no to. But journalism is a human endeavor. As my best friend’s dad used to say to me: “to err is human, isn’t it divine.”

EP: What are the goals of this show?  Is it education, enjoyment, interaction?  A combo of the three? Others?  

BG: As I say, we tell stories about environmental science in a journalistic way.  We define the environment as everything on earth so we have an endless possibility of stories. There’s no lack of ideas. When Steve Curwood started the program nearly 20 yrs ago he was asked what he would cover after doing the first 6 stories! I try hard to strike a balance between storytelling and science. Radio is so ephemeral, so…transparent, so you have to catch someone’s ear quickly and not let go through the story so I’m always trying to pique a person’s interest thru the  creative use of sound, good writing and production. It’s like painting with sound.

EP: The media is probably the biggest influencers of what people think nowadays. Sometimes if a message is played over too much, people will tend to ignore it after a while or tune it out or turn against it.  What is the best way to get the message across to the public without being overbearing?

BG: That’s a tough one because you never know what your listeners know or don’t know. I’ll give you and example; just today in our weekly review of the previous show one producer said an interview I did about Cap and Trade was too basic. I disagreed. First, it’s a hard topic to get your head around and there’s something new to discuss. You don’t want to keep re-re-re-re defining the term, at some point you have to accept it’s part of the great ‘out there’ body of knowledge but I had dinner with some really smart friends the other night and they didn’t know how it might work…so, we’re always trying to define things as we go along. I do think we can overplay a message and listeners can become inured by climate change, toxic pollutants, whatever.  My philosophy about this stuff comes from an italian restaurant in New York that used to have the slogan:” Give people something good to eat at a reasonable price, they’ll come”.  That’s the way I feel about radio. Give people something interesting to hear they’ll come. I also disagree that the media is the biggest influencers..a big one, no doubt but there’s so much going on, so many sources to simply lump things together as “media” doesn’t really say anything. Are blogs media? I dunno, I suppose.

EP: Thinking of different media types, how has radio increased its presence in helping the environment?  Are there more shows dedicated to it or discussing it more?  Are these shows reaching more listeners now than before? 

BG: Everybody…everybody is going green these days. It’s meaningless; I mean, Exxon/Mobile has green ads? NPR now has a climate change series which is quite good. Our distributor, Public Radio International has a number of news shows that now routinely do stories about the environment. The topic is so important and so universal that it can’t be ignored.

EP: How does the effect from radio differ from other forms of media such as TV or the Internet?

BG: Radio is the future of journalism. TV is garbage. I watched it the other day and muted the audio and it’s a joke…with the sound on, it’s worse. It’s too limiting. Radio is expansive. Maybe I should try listening with the sound off and see what I think!!!

EP: If you had to put together an ad campaign around the climate crisis and global warming, what topics and images would you include?  What do you think hits home with people?

BG: I think the stories and ideas that resonate deeply with people are the ones they can relate to. There’s a trick in radio writing which maybe I shouldn’t disclose but hey, what the heck, here goes: use the word “you” in a story, either expressly or indirectly. People perk up when it’s about them. As for images, radio is the most powerful visual medium so the goal for me as a producer is to exploit a persons imagination and give them something for their inner eye to see.

EP: What are some ways we can change people from “thinking green” to “acting green”?  That is, going from a group that knows there is an environmental issue and they are concerned, but do not take any steps to help to a group that takes action and make changes to help the environment. 

BG: Cynically speaking it comes down to money. Emotionally speaking it comes down to love. If I tell you your gas bill is going to go up 300% unless you figure out a way to conserve you’ll get it. If a person hears their children will suffer because of their parent’s stupidity, I think most will get it.

EP: Is this the sort of area where the media can really have an impact?

BG: Media’s impact is incidental. It happens in the context of everything else. People hear a story and maybe they’ll recall one element of it a few days later; over time it can become part of them. In radio there’s the old adage; tell the listener what you want them to know, remind them what it is, and tell them what you told them. Over time, there’s an effect.  At least I hope so.

EP: What is the most vital message you hope people will hear from your radio show relating to the environment?

BG: We need to change. Now. Yesterday. Get going.

EP: Tell me about some of the steps you have taken in your professional life to help the environment?

BG: My professional life? I don’t know we recycle everything at LOE and have a relatively small carbon footprint. I’d like to think we’re pretty good at practicing what we preach. I bike to work or take public transport like most folks here.  We recently remodeled our home and even though we can’t install solar because of the line of sight to the sun I had it wired for the day solar tech has sufficiently advanced and it becomes economically viable. We just had our house insulated …the utility picked up 75% of the tab!

EP: Were you “green” as a child?

BG: I was a pain in the butt kind of kid…always asking questions, always questioning everything. Some things never change.  

EP: What is the one Earth Promise you are going to make in the future that you have not done yet?

BG: One day I’m going to have geothermal put in. And while I haven’t eaten red meat in 24 years, I hope one day to go whole hog…er, I mean, give up meat-fish and fowl entirely. They’re really not sustainable. But when I say that out loud, I know the best I’ll do is cut down.

EP: Thank you.

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Earth Promise Announces “21 in 21” Interview Series in Honor of Earth Day

As a lead up to Earth Day on April 22nd, Earth Promise will post an interview each day between April 1st and April 21st giving different perspectives about the environment from influential people in the green community.  The subjects in the “21 in 21” interview series will give their opinions and thoughts on various topics from how each person greens their lives, the impact they are making in their fields, recommendations for what we can do for the environment, thoughts on President Obama’s plans, and numerous other environmental topics.  The interviews will appear each day in the blog section of the site at http://www.earthpromise.com/blog.

These 21 interviewees come from various areas of interest including the world of politics, radio, business, entertainment, education, travel and the web.  Some of the interviewees include Bruce Gellerman, host of “Living on Earth” on Public Radio International, Olivia Zaleski, the host and editor of CNN’s, The Business of Green, George Newall, the co-creator of Schoolhouse Rock (Schoolhouse Rock! Earth DVD comes out today!), Robert Stone, director of Earth Days set to be released on April 22, 2009, and Alexandra Cousteau, Social Environmental Advocate and granddaughter of Jacque Cousteau.

The following is a tentative schedule for the interviews that are set from April 1st to April 21st.   Come back often to check out what each has to say.

Wednesday, April 1st – Bruce Gellerman, host of “Living on Earth” on Public Radio International

Thursday, April 2nd – Raquel Fagan, Executive Editor for Earth911.com

Friday, April 3rd – Nathan Winters, Founder of Follow Nathan Foundation who will bike across America to raise awareness for land and nature conservation

Saturday, April 4th – Tim Leffel, Travel Writer

Sunday, April 5th – Matthys Levy, founding Principal of Weidlinger Associates, Consulting Engineers and author of Why the Wind Blows, a History of Weather and Global Warming

Monday, April 6th – Traver Gruen-Kennedy, Chairman at Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation

Tuesday, April 7th – Nora Duncan, Policy and Legislative Affairs Liaison for Governor Jodi Rell (CT)

Wednesday, April 8th – Matt Petersen, President and CEO of Global Green USA

Thursday, April 9th – Leslie Drogin, Government Affairs Analyst at K&L Gates and  former Senior Advisor for Policy and Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy

Friday, April 10th – Stefani Newman, Founder of Teensygreen.com

Saturday, April 11th – Adam Berg, Founder and CEO of Earth Promise

Sunday, April 12th – Eric Mangol, CEO of Figment Media LLC

Monday, April 13th – Howard Waldman, Green Dean at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School

Tuesday, April 14th – Olivia Zaleski, Host and Editor of CNN’s, The Business of Green

Wednesday, April 15th – George Newall, Co-Creator of Schoolhouse Rock!

Thursday, April 16th – Robert Stone, Director of Earth Days (set for release on April 22, 2009)

Friday, April 17th – TBA

Saturday, April 18th – TBA

Sunday, April 19th – TBA

Monday, April 20th – Alexandra Cousteau, Social Environmental Advocate and Granddaughter of Jacque Cousteau

Tuesday, April 21st – TBA

Each interview will first appear in the blog area and then will remain on it’s own Earth Promise page afterwards to facilitate easy access for new and return visitors.  

Get inspired by these interviews to make Earth Promises, or changes, in your lifestyles to help the environment.  No matter how small the change, it makes a difference.  View a categorized list of promise you can make on the site for ideas and inspiration.

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Green Questions for YOU

Today’s blog post is a little different and will not be about us pushing content to you, but you pushing content to everyone.  We wanted to simply post a few questions and see what you had to say.  There are no right or wrong answers just opinions.  Simply post your answers/thoughts in the comments section.  Will be very cool to see what the readers have to say.

 

1 – Did you turn out the lights on Earth Hour which occurred this past Saturday (3/28 at 8:30 local time)?  Based on what you did, saw, read, or watched, do you think Earth Hour was a success?  Why?

 

2 – Do you have any plans for Earth Day on April 22?  Any suggestions to others reading this that are looking for ideas?

 

3 – Thinking back a year ago, what are some of the main ways you have become greener?

 

4 – What is the one Earth Promise, or change, you are going to make in the future that you have not done yet to help the environment?

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A Friendly Earth Promise Reminder: Tomorrow is Earth Hour

Just a friendly Earth Promise  reminder that tomorrow night March 28, 2009, at 8:30pm is Earth Hour. This international annual event is held on the last Saturday of March signifying awareness to take action on climate change.  Started by the World Wild Life (Australia) in 2007, Earth Hour achieved worldwide participation in 2008.  For more information, be sure to visit:

 https://earthpromise.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/earth-hour-earth-day-earth-living/

Also let your kid in on the action.  Earth Hour Kids invites children and teens to participate in this climate changing event as well. 

Be sure to visit the Earth Promise blog  as next week we will have 21 fantastic interviews leading up to Earth Day.

 

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The Great American Cleanup – Get Involved

 It’s never too late to improve your community’s environment. Keep America Beautiful’s annual event, The Great American Cleanup takes place between March 1 and May 31 in communities all across the United States. This is the nation’s largest community improvement project.

Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful, Inc.’s mission is to “engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community environments.”  This is done through their various programs such as The Great American Cleanup.  Each year, people work together to beautify their neighborhoods: picking up litter in parks and roadways, cleaning up beaches and other waterways, planting trees and flowers to restore public spaces, painting over graffiti, repairing local homes and businesses, and holding recycling drives and workshops.  The concept is two-fold—educate and participate.

The Keep America Beautiful, KAB, website makes it easy to get involved in a program near you.  KAB provides the tools  to locate or start your own community based beautification project; from how develop partnerships and corporate sponsors to curriculum for teachers to utilize in their classrooms. You can also visit the history of KAB and witness the beginnings of the green mentality long before it was fashionable.  Oh yes, I vividly remember the first public service announcements; one in particular with the single tear running down the Native American’s weathered cheek.  The message was, and still is, clear: pollution is disgraceful and we need to work together to save our planet.

Remember, it’s never too late to volunteer your time and effort for The Great American Cleanup.

And visit Earth Promise to make your promises to help clean up America!

 

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Baby You Can Share My Car

First off, I’d like to apologize to the Beatles for the pun used in the title; I just couldn’t help myself!

The magazine section of the Sunday, New York Times from March 8, 2009 has an exceptionally informative article about the new (American) trend, car sharing. “Car sharing (a European concept) is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour.  The editorial focuses on the origins of one of the largest car sharing companies, Zipcar.  This is not just a cars on demand type of company, but a community.  Althoughvery convenient for both city dwellers and college students, being a member of Zipcar may not be something for country or suburban folks to participate in. 

To read the article in its entirety, click here  You might think twice about purchasing your next car.

To learn about ways you can make Earth Promises about your transportation, click here.

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Tap Project’s Good Deed

Growing up, I always made the assumption that (clean, drinkable) water would always be available.  My wasteful habits are astonishing to look back upon: running water while brushing teeth; not turning the hose off while washing the car; and running the kitchen sink while washing dishes. The millions of gallons of water my family and I wasted make me cringe with disgust.  This careless water behavior of mine has come to a screeching halt.   The news about our dwindling water supply and countries around the world not having safe drinking water to survive is not so new.  With our environment in peril, it’s time to truly make a change in behavior.

Today, the lack of clean water is the second largest killer of children under the age of five.  This global crisis is due to the high demand for fresh water in our world.  In a 2008 CNN interview with Maude Barlow, author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water,   Barlow explained: One way or another, we have taken accessible clean water … and we have rendered it unusable. We take massive amounts [of water] and we irrigate the desert, where it evaporates. We’re pumping groundwater all over the world far faster that it can be replenished by nature. We are actually running out of fresh, clean water everywhere in the world, including here in North America. We have to give up this myth of abundance. We have come to the limits of the planet.”

How can we help our fragile planet’s water supply?  This upcoming March 22nd through March 28th is World Water Week.  We can all make an extra effort to support clean water access to everyone around the world.  New York City based, Tap Project assists UNICEF’s endeavors to bring clean water to children all over the world.  Participating “restaurants would ask their patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free.” 

Starting in 2007, Tap Project was solely a NYC endeavor with 300 Manhattan-based dining locations.  In 2008, it has grown more than 7 fold to 2,300 participators nationally (restaurants, corporations, volunteers, advertising agencies, community groups, local governments and everyday diners). 

The Tap Project website allows you to locate a participating restaurant near you.  Although it is too late to volunteer or sign up your restaurant for this year’s Tap Project, donations can be made to support UNICEF’s project to provide sanitized water for children around the world.

To kick off 2009’s Tap Project, a walk in both New York City and Chicago will occur.  Although it is only a one mile event, the participants are encouraged to carry a minimum of one gallon of water to show support for “the millions of children worldwide who must carry water from distant sources each day.”

Be sure to visit Earth Promise as it has many ideas for you to change your wasteful water habits. 

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