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Welcome!

As a social entrepreneur, I am dedicated to finding innovative solutions for greening business. As a passionate supporter of National Parks and public lands, I work toward protecting these special places from the impacts of climate change and pollution.

Beth%20in%20Yellowstone.jpg

Join me on this site as I report from Yellowstone on the threats climate change poses toward our beloved national parks, and how Yellowstone and other parks are making a difference in sustainability.

"If we continue to increase our emissions of heat-trapping gases, a disrupted climate will cause the greatest damage to our national parks ever."
Stephen Saunders

"A climate disrupted by human activities poses such sweeping threats to the
scenery, natural and cultural resources, and wildlife of the West’s national parks that it
dwarfs all previous risks to these American treasures."
From NRDC Losing Ground Report

"Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environmental and social degradation."
Paul Hawken
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01/12/11: "The End of the Wild," Emma Marris, Nature

01/06/11: Climate change threatens Sierra, delta, group says," Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle

01/05/11"Environmentalists pick Snake Basin, Yellowstone among most threatened habitats by climate change," Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman

12/31/10"Yellowstone Grizzlies and the Betrayal of the Public Trust," Louisa Wilcox, NRDC Switchboard

12/26/10: "How a Tiny Beetle Could Decimate Yellowstone," Elizabeth Shogren, NPR

12/21/10: "Once upon a time, whitebark pine . . ." Matt Skoglund, NRDC Switchboard

12/21/10: "Climate Change's threat to the wolverine," Rebecca Waters, High Country News

12/08/10: "Silence of the Pikas, Part II," Wendee Holtcamp, Adventures in Climate Change and Bioscience

12/08/10: "Climate Change Response Strategy Released by NPS Alaska," Alaska Business Monthly

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  • Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (Speaker's Corner)
    Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (Speaker's Corner)
    by Larry J. Schweiger
  • Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming
    Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming
    by Anthony D. Barnosky
  • Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
    Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
    by Bill McKibben
  • Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
    Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
    by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
    Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
    by James Hansen
  • Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference (Chelsea Green Guides)
    Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference (Chelsea Green Guides)
    by Jon Clift, Amanda Cuthbert
  • Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis
    Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis
    by Al Gore
  • The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd Edition
    The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd Edition
    by Robert Henson

Thursday
Jun242010

Yellowstone concessioner honored for environmental efforts with AH&LA Good Earthkeeping Award 

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) honored Yellowstone National Park concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts with its Good Earthkeeping award for the company’s new “For Future Generations” educational campaign and retail store.

The AH&LA Stars of the Industry awards program was created more than 40 years ago to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the lodging industry. The Good Earthkeeping Award recognizes lodging properties that have developed a culture toward integrating superior environmental management practices and that show the organization's commitment to achieving superior environmental success.

Last year, Xanterra launched an innovative "For Future Generations" gift store accompanied by a campaign aimed at raising the awareness of park guests and employees about climate change. The store is dedicated to interpreting climate change in parks featuring educational displays and product sustainability scorecards, which provides information on the impact each item has on the environment.

The campaign also includes an innovative educational display in guest rooms with a plush animal toy, an educational brochure, and website on being a green guest in national parks. An extensive training program also was developed and required for all 2,800 employees. Xanterra is now expanding the store and campaign to its other locations, including its operations at Grand Canyon and Crater Lake.  

Xanterra’s environmental program, called Ecologix, is extensive. Last year in Yellowstone the company diverted 73 percent of its solid waste from landfills into other areas such as recycling, reusing and composting. Over the past nine years the company has reduced its overall energy use by 14 percent and its water usage by 25 percent. The Yellowstone operation also recently completed a project that uses recycled vegetable oil to power boilers to heat the park’s historic hotels. Xanterra also uses amenities such as cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner bottles made of corn starch that are compostable. This single initiative will divert more than 280,000 plastic bottles – or nine tons – annually from the waste stream. 

For more information on Xanterra’s environmental initiatives in Yellowstone, visit the For Future Generations website.

Thursday
May132010

Life in Yellowstone inspires Georgia Tech Professor and students to design technological solutions 

Yellowstone's boreal chorus frog inspires research on vaccine transport (Photo courtesy Georgia Tech)What do frogs and vaccine transportation have in common? Or bighorn sheep and automobile safety?

Professor Jeannette Yen, Director of the Center for Biologically Inspired Design at Georgia Tech, described the relationships between these seemingly unrelated things during a presentation today in Yellowstone National Park.

“Imagine what Yellowstone can inspire,” Yen told the audience. She teaches a course on biologically inspired design and this spring tasked her freshman class in developing innovative products and techniques based on Yellowstone’s unique living world—one of the largest intact wild ecosystems on earth.

“Yellowstone has such a richness of organisms and a range of challenges—like extreme cold or thermal activity—that all animals and plants address successfully. The diversity of this place has blown me away,” said Yen.

Life in the first national park has already been the impetus for a number of research and design projects. For example, the intrepid Boreal chorus frog survives Yellowstone’s harsh winters in a frozen hibernation.  To accomplish this, the animal raises its blood sugar levels to prevent tissue damage—the water outside the tissues freeze, the water inside the tissues is protected by the blood sugar “antifreeze.” Scientists are studying this amazing process to improve techniques for transporting and preserving vaccines.

During their annual rut, bighorn sheep engage in horn-to-horn combat as they establish dominance. Some of these contests can last up to 24 hours and the animals can collide at speeds of over 40 mph. The honeycomb structure of its horn base and its perfectly aligned spine create a highly effective shock system that helps it resist injury. This natural system is helping researchers design better collision resistant material for automobiles.

Professor Yen hopes designs inspired from life in Yellowstone will not only provide practical technological solutions, but will also help motivate the protection of its ecosystem. “I hope the designs will remind us of the organisms that inspired it and as a result help us promote the conservation of biodiversity in the world.”

Monday
Apr122010

The Institute at the Golden Gate hosts a signature gathering of eco-innovators

Courtesy Institute at the Golden GateLeaders in sustainability from across the globe will gather this week on April 14-16 at the second annual Turning the Tide Conference to forge solutions to today’s most pressing environmental issues—from climate change and the health of the oceans to water conservation, waste management and wildlife preservation.

The conference unites eco-innovators from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines to create an unparalleled atmosphere of creative energy, channeled into action for environmental change. Speakers at the event include national health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, sustainable food leader Alice Waters; Nobel Laureate and climate scientist Stephen Schneider; Activist and actor Peter Coyote; Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy; Ocean Voyages Institute president Mary Crowley, and many others.

In an effort to reach a broad global audience, the Institute will webcast several conference keynotes and breakout sessions during Turning the Tide, and will engage the public in real-time discussions via Twitter and Facebook feeds.  All interactive components can be accessed through the Institute’s home page at www.instituteatgoldengate.org.

Turning the Tide will again be held at Cavallo Point–the Lodge at the Golden Gate, at Fort Baker in Sausalito. Over the past year, the partnership behind the transformation of Fort Baker from a former U.S. military base into the nation’s newest and most stunning national park lodge has been recognized with a bevy of sustainability awards, including the Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the 2009 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) from the State of California; and, most recently, LEED® Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

For those not participating in the full conference, the Institute is featuring two community events open to the public. A screening of Garbage Dreams, preceded by a discussion with the filmmaker Mai Iskander and Goldman Environmental Prize recipient Laila Iskandar, will be held on Wednesday, April 14. On Friday, April 16 tickets are available for a special advance showing of the new Disneynature film Oceans, opening on Earth Day.

The Institute at the Golden Gate is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting dialogue, collaboration, and action for a sustainable world. The Institute is a program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service.

Visit the Institute at the Golden Gate’s website or call (415) 561-3560 for more information or to register for Turning the Tide.

Saturday
Mar132010

Yellowstone’s frogs journey to Denver, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit 

Yellowstone's frogs in new airport PSA (image courtesy Save the Frogs)Next time you frequent the airports in Denver, Chicago, St. Louis or Detroit, you might see a Yellowstone Columbia spotted frog peering at you from a colorful poster. Save the Frogs, a non-profit dedicated to amphibian conservation, has launched a new public service campaign about the plight of the first national park’s amphibians.

Frog populations have been declining worldwide at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world’s over 6,000 amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have completely disappeared since 1980, while amphibians naturally go extinct at a rate of only about one species every 250 years.

In Yellowstone, a recent study found that three of the four species of the park’s amphibians had decreased as a result of climate change. Researchers surveyed kettle ponds (ponds originally formed when glaciers retreated and fed by snowmelt and groundwater) between 2006 and 2008 in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley. They discovered that dry ponds have increased 4-fold in the past sixteen years, and as a result eliminated a large segment of ideal amphibian habitat in the park.

Dr. Kerry Kriger, founder and Executive Director of Save the Frogs, visited Yellowstone last year and gave a talk to park visitors about amphibian decline. He got the idea for the PSAs and approached ClearChannel about placement in airports; the company agreed to help.

Kriger hopes the public will take notice and take action. “The goal of the ad is to raise awareness of amphibian declines, and to ensure that people know that climate change is a problem now, not something that needs to be dealt with in the future. I've always thought that Yellowstone embodied the issue, as it's the world's oldest protected area: if we can't save Yellowstone's wildlife, how much chance do we have to save wildlife anywhere else?”

Save the Frogs is also holding its second annual Save the Frogs Day on April 30, 2010. Events are being planned throughout the United States, South Africa, India, Australia, Croatia, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Colombia. For more information, or to participate in the event, visit the Save the Frogs website.

Saturday
Mar132010

The world unites in celebrating life on earth: Earth Hour 2010 

Earth Hour 2009 supporters in Thailand (Photo courtesy WWF)The news about climate change is often bad, filled with disheartening updates and sobering predictions on current and future impacts to our planet.

But on March 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm the world will celebrate life on earth and unite in the battle against climate change as the lights go dark globally as part of Earth Hour. Sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour has been an annual event since 2007. Last year, 4,159 cities participated including New York, Hong Kong, Paris, London, Sydney, and Los Angeles. Over a thousand iconic landmarks also went dark such as the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, Rome’s Coliseum, and the Las Vegas Strip.

In December of 2009 at the historic UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, over 192 nations unanimously agreed that global warming is the greatest threat to our planet today and that the world must act together to limit warming to a 2-degree threshold. The consequences of our reliance on fossil fuels and overwhelming consumption of energy is reverberating across the globe—disrupting natural processes and placing people and animals at risk.

Climate change is impacting the life on earth that we cherish—today. It is not an abstract, future threat, but a real force that already has repercussions in the present. In Yellowstone National Park, a small beetle that thrives in warmer temperatures is destroying a vital food source for the park’s grizzly bears. Over a third of the world amphibians are on the verge of extinction, including the yellow-legged frog in Yosemite National Park. Desert bighorn sheep and American pika, already living in two different worlds of extremes, are disappearing from their historical ranges as increasing temperatures render their respective habitats unsuitable.

Pledge your support for the grizzly bear, for the yellow-legged frog, the pika, for the survival of our national parks, and for all life by taking part in Earth Hour on March 27, 2010.