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Paint has not been applied, nor Photoshop engaged – this tree is all natural and totally wicked

The Eucalyptus deglupta, more commonly known as the ‘rainbow tree’ for obvious reasons, is worthy of a post if for no other reason that aesthetics.

From Environmental Graffiti: “the Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) or Mindanao Gum is the only species of Eucalyptus tree found in the northern hemisphere. As if that weren’t extraordinary enough, the up to 70-m tall tree also shines in the colours of the rainbow: its bark can take on a yellow, green, orange and even purple shading!”

The tree’s unusual colouring is a result of patches of the bark shedding periodically, thus showing the age of the bark. “Freshly shedouter bark will reveal the bright green inner bark. This darkens over time and changes from blue to purple and then reaches orange and maroon tones.”

“Pulpwood’s here to stay though as it is considered a source of green energy, and demand has increased over the last few years. Currently though, trees cultivated specifically for pulp production account for only 16% of world pulp production. About 9% comes from old growth forests and the remaining 75% from second-, third- and more generation forests.” While it may be a waste of tree years for some pulpwood, the reforestation effort of specifically this tree is increasing, making the rainbow tree a source of renewable energy.

Given how awesome these trees are, it is a shame that they are only cultivated in New BritainNew GuineaCeramSulawesiMindanao and the Philippines.

-Jessie W.

How social media is creating green forums for sustainable, green engagement.

Environment activism, like social media, is an interactive activity requiring on- and offline engagement. Given how powerful a tool the internet has become in creating and sustaining broad-based networks, it works to the advantage of environmentally-conscious activists to engage the medium to create a ripple-effect of awareness.  These forums allow the opportunity to connect online with like-minded people for a variety of purposes, from business growth to political or environmental activism.

The problem, of course, arises in the transition from vibrant online communities to real, in person results. Yet, in the words of WebEcoist, the “dedicated and curious greenie can glean a lot from participation in niche environmental forums. And voting and sharing on green social news sites is a terrific way to fill out your green social web experience.” And as engagement and education are always the first steps of any movement, the abundance of these online forums make the sometimes daunting task of environmental stewardship slightly less cumbersome.

The following ten platforms integrate environmental activism with social media’s networking capabilities (all site descriptions are courtesy of The WebEcoist, more information available here).

1.) Sustainable Design Forum

Architecture fans and geeks alike will not want to miss this seriously smart forum for true buffs and industry experts. Featuring “news and resources for sustainable design in architecture, development and construction,” this site also also shares great op-eds from thought leaders and top builders and designers.

2.) EcoUrls

The brand-new ecourls.com (still in beta) was created by top green bloggers and social media contributers to promote exceptionally high quality green news and information. You can visit the site and sign up to meet other green bloggers, social media users and find some excellent content. Though just starting, so far the site looks very promising, with an emphasis on content over flashy design or cluttered features.

3.) Change.org

Change.org is a clear, simple activist forum with an interesting format: you type the change you want to see in the world and the site guides you to a relevant project, organization or issue. Or choose from the most common changes on the main page. The coolest part about Change is that you can create your own organization (they’re called “Changes”) and get others in the community involved. A great place to connect with people and nonprofits that care about the future of the world and its inhabitants.

4.) Carbonrally

If competition gets your blood pumping, this is the place for you. Rather than supporting and connecting with other green minded people, you compete with them. It’s a fun, original concept and though it’s new seems to have a good base of users participating. Compete on teams with those in your real-world community or online pals against other teams on the site. Will you join the Royal Acorns? Looks like they’re the underdogs.

5.) Rate It Green

It’s pretty straightforward: you join, you rate. This is a well-crafted and easy to use green forum for environmentally-friendly building product ratings; like Consumer Reports for green building. Whether you are starting from scratch or retro-fitting your current pad this is a good resource.

6.) Green Options

Home to many of the best green blogs online, this green network also has forums. Not as populous or deep as Treehugger but definitely worth participation, particularly if you feel overwhelmed by the bigger forums. Connect with others and discuss all kinds of green issues at Green Options.

7. Responsible World Citizen

This Ning thing is thriving. Ning – basically a community platform for creating your own social network – is a hit and grows daily. If you read blogs like Triple Pundit, work in green business, or simply care about the future bottom line, then Responsible World Citizen’s “sustainable conscious business community” is for you.

8. Planet Green

Planet Green, brought to you by Discovery and tightly partnered with Treehugger, has launched new forums. They aren’t very active yet but the content on Planet Green is high-quality and the membership so far at the forums is a good crowd. Try it out.

9. The Environment Site

Purely green discussions ranging from tech to energy to politics to health can be found at this thoughtful and calm forum. Sincere members weigh in from all over the world on a number of environmental topics. A recent thread asks: “Can you be a capitalist and environmentalist at the same time?”

10. Arch

The Arch design community features over a dozen well-populated and active architecture and design forums, including green. A must-stop for anyone into technical design, engineering, green architecture and more.

If your business or organization wants to know more about using social media for a specific purpose, drop us a line at either jwillms@pondstone.ca or amiron@pondstone.ca.

-Jessie W.

A long-awaited feature for the popular and extremely useful Google Maps.

screen shot bike biker route google maps

From Wired, full article here.

With the click of a mouse, the new feature allows you to plot the best (and flattest!) ride from Point A to Point B. Several cities, including New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, have bike-specific mapping sites. But Google is rolling it out in 150 cities nationwide and announcing it Wednesday at the 10th Annual Bike Summit in Washington, D.C.

“This has been a top-requested feature from Google Maps users for the last couple years,” says Shannon Guymon, product manager for Google Maps. “There are over 50,000 signatures on a petition.”

The news thrilled bike advocates, who have for years been pushing — and petitioning — the search giant to include bike routes on Google Maps. No longer do they have to rely upon paper maps or open-source DIY map hacking or crazy-cool helmet-mounted heads up iPhones.

“This new tool will open people’s eyes to the possibility and practicality of hopping on a bike and riding,” says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “We know people want to ride more, we know it’s good for people and communities when they do ride more — this makes it possible. It is a game-changer, especially for those short trips that are the most polluting.”

Cyclists will have to map their victory lap from their desks, because Google’s cool mapping tool is available only on a computer for now.

“Making the bike-route tool available on Google Maps for mobile devices is a high priority,” Guymon says. But it’s a priority without a launch date.

To create the mapping tool, Google developed an algorithm that uses several inputs — including designated bike lanes or trails, topography and traffic signals — to determine the best route for riding. The map sends you around, not over, hills. But if you really want to tackle that Category 1 climb, you can click and drag the suggested route anywhere you like, just like you can with pedestrian or driving routes. Users can suggest changes or make corrections to routes using the ever-present “report a problem” feature on Google Maps.

bike route google maps adds new feature

Google kicked its bike-mapping effort into high gear in October when it started using improved datasets that provided more specific information about trails, street details and more granularity on college campuses. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy provided Google with information on 12,000 miles of bike trails nationwide, and the League of American Bicyclists helped gather data on bike lanes and so forth.

“We’ve got a five-person team in Seattle that has spent the majority of its time working on this project since October,” says Guymon.

To test the tool, bike-commuting Google employees vetted suggested routes against their own experience, pointing out discrepancies on routes or time allowances.

Google Maps for bikes has a unique look and feel. Bike trails are prime cycling turf — “They’re like the highways for cyclists,” Guymon says — so they’re indicated in dark green. Streets with dedicated bike lanes are light green. And streets that don’t have a bike lane but are still a decent route because of their topography, light traffic or other factors are indicated by dotted green lines.

Don’t go looking for turn-by-turn GPS-based navigation though. That feature remains strictly auto-centric.

For other interesting findings on the service, go here.

-Jessie W.

These are more than just cool blinds with LED-powered lamps in them: they’re entirely solar powered and a great example of small solutions that can reduce power consumption and move homes to a lower carbon footprint. Sunlight is stored during the day time (with the added benefit of blinds being used in areas exposed to large amounts of sunlight) and LED lights provide mood lighting in the evening.

Designed by Yoon-Hui Kim and Eun-Kyun Kim

A few weeks ago we told you about the drowning island of Tuvalu.  The small island only rises 4.5 meters above sea level is already starting to feel the effects of climate change, and is asking larger nations, like Australia for help.

TuvaluTideWave4

Tuvalu is looking for help in constructing sea walls around the cluster of islands to prevent them from sinking. Tuvalu is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2020, but this will only have a small impact on climate change considering the size of the country.  Australia could also play a bigger role when it come to reaching agreement on global emissions reduction targets.  Oxfam Australia has called on Australia – one of the biggest polluters in the world – and New Zealand to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by 95 percent by 2050. It also urged the two governments to contribute more money toward helping small island nations adapt to climate change.

Some villages in Tuvalu have already been abandoned. Aside from rising sea levels, Tuvalu also faces the danger of salt water is getting into the soil, making it difficult to grow crops.   A report by Oxfam Australia warns that climate change could produce eight million refugees in the Pacific Islands, along with 75 million refugees in the Asia Pacific region in the next 40 years.

TuvaluTideHouseT57

Other small, island countries are following Tuvalu’s lead in becoming carbon neutral.  Fiji is taking steps to ‘climate-proof’ their villages. They are testing salt-resistant varieties of staple foods, planting mangroves and native grasses to halt coastal erosion, protecting fresh water wells from saltwater intrusion and relocating homes and community buildings away from vulnerable coastlines.

Tuvalu update.

Tuvalu, the world’s forth smallest nation and one of the hardest hit by the effects of climate change, hopes to rely solely on clean energy by 2020.

The island, located between Australia and Hawaii, is seeing rapidly rising sea levels.

tuvalu

The country’s largest football stadium has already been covered in solar panels which now supplies 5% of the energy needed by the country’s capital.

After only 14 months, the first step in Tuvalu’s mission has reduced consumption of generator fuel shipped from New Zealand by 17,000 tons and saved 50 tons of CO2 from being released in the atmosphere.

-Lacey T.

Pondstone Communications

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