The Alamo The Alamo Group of the Sierra Club
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

Sustainability
Lifestyles for a small planet


Alamo Region Livability Summit

Here is a link to the power point presentations from the Alamo Region Livability Summit.   It is on the MPO website www.sametroplan.org.   Look at the rotating carousel and click on presentations.

I recommend checking out the presentations Downtown Transportation Study by Kerri Collins, Pape-Dawson Engineers, and Innovation and Livability, by Mukul Malhotra,MIG, Inc.  These can give you an idea of changes that we can hopefully look forward to here in SA.  But it will take major efforts to get across the idea of multicenter cities, that are walkable, bikable to a town center, with energy efficient housing, and jobs nearby, and the role that transportation options play in making all these changes possible. 

I recommend reading Peter Calthorpe's Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change.  The reasoning, the solutions, and scenarios are all laid out in the book.  Calthorpe says that developers are seeing the need to move from sprawl to smaller footprint over a region, more compact, and Smart Growth lifestyles.  And that developers see the advantage of permanent tracks on the ground for rail and want to build around rail.  Transportation options save cities and families a huge amount of money over operation and maintenance costs in the future.
Barbara McMillin


Climate crisis is not just an inconvenience

Loretta Van Coppenolle, Conservation Committee Vice Chair, wrote this op-ed piece which was published in the August 31, 2011 Express-News.

Those who deny human-caused climate change, particularly if they hold positions of power, imperil us all. The time for skepticism about climate chaos has long since passed. Climate scientists acknowledge the climate crisis and they have the evidence to implicate fossil-fuel use.

Climate events in recent decades and just in the last year make it clear that we have a very serious problem on our hands. In 2011, the northeastern U.S. saw a far greater number of blizzards occurring than ever before. Tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri wreaked untold havoc. Flooding in the Midwest and elsewhere caused irreparable loss. Hurricanes in recent years have increased both in number and intensity, with this year shaping up to be a significant one.

In Texas, summer temperature increases are unlike anything in the past, with this year rivaling 2009 for the record number of 100-degree-plus days. The period from February through July 2011 was the hottest ever recorded in Texas. San Antonio summer nights go down only into the 70s, and that low only toward dawn. High nighttime temperatures reveal radiation from some source other than the sun (streets, rooftops, parking lots, etc.) since the sun doesn't shine at night.

The current drought could outpace the legendary Texas drought of the 1950s. So far this year it is the worst single-year drought ever in the state. Exceptional drought is now affecting more than 70 percent of the state, and it is predicted to continue. Some municipalities are running out of water. Others are drastically restricting irrigation. San Antonio may soon be in Stage III water restrictions for the first time ever.

The loss from heat and drought to Texas agriculture is staggering. There has been a $5.2 billion loss since last fall, higher than the record $4.1 billion loss suffered in 2006.

In other countries, climate devastation is taking its toll. We may choose to ignore what happens elsewhere, but it nonetheless affects us politically, economically and physically.

Carbon dioxide levels of 350 parts per million are considered normal. The CO {-2} level measured just last May was at 395 parts per million. While this may not seem like a huge increase, it is astronomical in terms of what it can do to us.

Some might say that addressing climate change would be economically too costly. The opposite is true: Not addressing climate change will cost us far more.

The time to act is now, and we must all act — even those whose political or religious beliefs cause them to shun acceptance of climate chaos. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our Creator to conserve energy and to call on our political leaders to come up with sweeping responses to the crisis.

Mayor Julián Castro has proclaimed September to be Climate Change Awareness Month in San Antonio. The culminating event will be Moving Planet, a climate solutions rally at the Pearl Brewery on Sept. 24. To learn of other events planned for the month, please go to 350SanAntonio.org.

Loretta Van Coppenolle is conservation vice-chair for the Alamo Group Sierra Club and a life-long environmentalist.


Mr. Green The green-lifestyle movement is burgeoning; there is a huge interest in earth-friendly options for living well. What we wear, where we live, how we get around, and how we spend our money affect not only our own quality of life, but the quality of our environment. Sierra Club Green Home is dedicated to helping you create a more sustainable home environment. Browse our site to learn more about all the things you can do. Your health, your wallet and the earth will thank you.

CoolHome

We don't have to wait for government to do something about climate change. Each and every one of us can get started today. By making our homes more efficient and conserving energy, we can cut emissions from power plants and do our part to head off global warming.

To help you begin, we've put together this Cool Home Tour. Watch as our own Mr. Green takes stock of a fairly typical American home and shows how minor adjustments and small efforts can add up to a big difference.


TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP CURB GLOBAL WARMING

cars

Responsible Choices

The choices we make and the products we buy test our commitment to maintain a healthy planet. When we burn fossil fuels—such as oil, coal, and natural gas—to run our cars and light our homes, we pump carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. This thickens the heat-trapping blanket that surrounds the planet, causing global warming.

Choosing modern technology can reduce our use of fossil fuels and help protect the planet. These ten steps will help curb global warming, save you money, and create a safer environment for the future.

one

Drive Smart!
A well-tuned car with properly inflated tires burns less gasoline—cutting pollution and saving you money at the pump. If you have two cars, drive the one with better gas mileage whenever possible. Better yet, skip the drive and take public transit, walk, or bicycle when you can.

gas nozzle one

Write your leaders now. Urge them to raise fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon.
Modern technology can make our cars and trucks go farther on a gallon of gas. It's the biggest single step we can take to curb global warming. The less gasoline we burn, the less CO2 we put into the air. Taking this step would also save nearly 4 million barrels of oil a day — more oil than we currently import from the Persian Gulf and could ever extract from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge combined. And by saving gas, you save nearly $2,000 at the pump over the life of your car.

one

Support clean, renewable energy.
Renewable energy solutions, such as wind and solar power, can reduce our reliance on coal-burning power plants, the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States. Call your local utility and sign up for renewable energy. If they don't offer it, ask them why not?

compact fluorescent bulb four

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
Especially those that burn the longest each day. Compact fluorescents produce the same amount of light as normal bulbs, but use about a quarter of the electricity and last ten times as long. Each switch you make helps clean the air today, curb global warming, and save you money on your electricity bill.

five

Saving energy at home is good for the environment and for your wallet.
Start with caulking and weather-stripping on doorways and windows. Then adjust your thermostat and start saving. For each degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, you can cut your energy bills by 3 percent. Finally, ask your utility company to do a free energy audit of your home to show you how to save even more money.

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Become a smart water consumer.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets and you'll use half the water without decreasing performance. Then turn your hot water heater down to 120°F and see hot-water costs go down by as much as 50 percent.

seven

Buy energy-efficient electronics and appliances.
Replacing an old refrigerator or an air conditioner with an energy-efficient model will save you money on your electricity bill and cut global warming pollution. Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances or visit their website at www.energystar.gov to find the most energy-efficient products.

eight

Plant a Tree, protect a forest.
plant a treeProtecting forests is a big step on the road to curbing global warming. Trees "breathe in" carbon dioxide, but slash-and-burn farming practices, intensive livestock production, and logging have destroyed 90 percent of the native forests in the United States. And you can take action in your own backyard — planting shade trees around your house will absorb CO2, and slash your summer air-conditioning bills.

nine

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!
ercycleProducing new paper, glass, and metal products from recycled materials saves 70 to 90 percent of the energy and pollution, including CO2, that would result if the product came from virgin materials. Recycling a stack of newspapers only 4 feet high will save a good-sized tree. Please...buy recycled products!

ten

Mount a local campaign against global warming.
Educate your community about how it can cut global warming pollution. Support measures at the national, state, and local level that: