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3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2013

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I recently had the opportunity to sit down with long-time friend and wind powered business owner, Lynn Anne Miller of 4GreenPs. Lynn founded 4GreenPs in 2006 after a successful career in marketing for venture-backed tech start-ups and Fortune 500 firms. 4GreenPs started as a traditional strategic marketing firm. At the same time, Lynn became personally interested in green living and sustainability issues. And so naturally, she combined this passion with her formal marketing expertise and 4GreenPs began working with green businesses. Mom Made Foods in Alexandria became her first green client in 2008. Since then, her clients have included Elysian Energy, FRESHFARM Markets, Seventh Generation, and the Livability Project.

With her wealth of knowledge from across the marketing spectrum, I chatted with Lynn about the most common marketing mistakes she sees growing businesses make.

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Wind Powered Business Directory

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These Businesses Mean Green

We encourage you to support our diverse wind powered customers. You can grab a coffee, shop for food or home goods, get a haircut, and go out for dinner all while supporting companies that have made a conscious effort to green their operations by switching to Wind Power through Clean Currents.

*The map below shows just a few of our commercial wind powered customers throughout the region

You can join the Clean Currents Green Community by switching your HOME or BUSINESS to clean, affordable wind power.

The following is a directory of our wind powered business customers:

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Clean Currents Supports Offshore Wind Energy Act 2013

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This is the year Maryland can take a step forward towards a clean energy future and the Offshore Wind Bill is one giant leap in the right direction. Clean Currents fully supports this bill and we applaud Governor O’Malley’s leadership in working to bring it to this point.

I call on other energy suppliers that supply green power to join us in standing firm with our colleagues in the environmental, faith, labor and business advocacy world in support of offshore wind power in Maryland. You can’t be authentic if you sell wind power on the one hand, but do nothing to support, and sometimes actively oppose, the development of wind off Maryland’s coast. I offer Clean Currents’ help to educate the public about the importance of this bill and the importance of Maryland taking it’s next big step towards a cleaner, greener, future free of the threat of climate change and air pollution.

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Clean Currents Wins Green America’s People & Planet Award

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Wind Power Provider Recognized as Leading Edge Green Business

Clean Currents announced today that it has won Green America’s People & Planet award, recognizing America’s best green businesses with innovation in clean energy. Winners are granted $5,000 to invest in their green initiatives. Clean Currents was selected as a winner of this award for their Green Neighborhood Challenge program (GNEC).  GNEC gives community groups and non-profits an opportunity to raise funds for green projects while increasing support for clean energy.

“We are honored to have won the People & Planet Award as it reinforces one of our main goals: to link green-minded businesses, individuals, and organizations together to build more sustainable communities. Thanks to Green America, we can further our Green Neighborhood Challenge program by energizing neighborhoods around clean energy and green projects to build a cleaner, greener future together,” commented Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents President.

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5 Tips for An Energy Efficient Holiday

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The holidays are a time of joy, good cheer, and excess. From Aunt Muriel’s indulgent cake to gifts galore and lights everywhere, it’s easy to set aside your environmental standards. We make it easy for you to lower your impact — and your electricity bill — this holiday season with 5 easy steps.

1. LED holiday lights: Let’s be honest – a Christmas tree isn’t finished until it’s bright enough so you can see it from space. That said, holiday lighting in the US consumes the equivalent electricity consumption of 500,000 homes in one month. Invest in LED lights – they use only 10% of electricity needed to light incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer. And, they don’t get hot – reducing the risk that your tree will go up in flames.

How to: Recycle your incandescent lights at holidayleds.com and receive 25% off your purchase of LED lights. Or, drop off your old lights at area MOM’s Organic Market. Grab LED lights at ACE Hardware, Target, and other major retailors. See how much energy your lights use with this fun calculator.
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Meet Farmland LP the Future of Sustainable Farmland

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Back at the B-Corp Champions Retreat, we met Jason Bradford of Farmland LP. After chatting about sustainable food and the future of US farmland, we were hooked on the mission of Farmland LP. We sat down with Jason to learn more about Farmland LP and their unique model that cultivates farmland sustainability.

Jason Bradford with Mac Stewart of Vitality Farms.
Vitality Farms leases Farmland LP land in Oregon to raise sheep and cattle.

Clean Currents: What does Farmland LP do and why is it important?

Jason Bradford: Farmland LP buys farmland and converts it to certified Organic, sustainably managed farmland as an investment fund, similar to a REIT.  We specialize in sustainable agriculture and integrating crop and pastured livestock rotations.  Our goal is to play a role in the transformation of the food system while benefiting the environment, supporting quality jobs, producing healthy food, and returning a financial profit for our investors.

Organic food sales in the U.S. have been growing between 15-20% per year since 1990 and yet the rate of conversion of U.S. farmland is lagging far behind.  Organic food is therefore more likely to be imported, and yet people also want local food.
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Clean Currents attends the Social Venture Institute Conference

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The Social Venture Institute conference took place October 19th & 20th in Philadelphia, PA. Over 200 representatives, owners, and members of a multitude of socially conscious businesses operating across the mid-Atlantic came together to connect, learn, and share their experiences. A rousing set of speakers, including Maggie Anderson (author of Our Black Year), Alejandro Velez (Founder of Back to the Roots), Mandy Cabot (Founder of Dansko), Michael K. Pearson (Founder of Union Packaging), and many others, provided great context and insight into the world of social entrepreneurship, its impediments, and advantages in the greater Philadelphia region.

Throughout the conference, there was amazing energy in the room. Much like our experience at the B-Corp retreat, we were reminded yet again that special things happen when socially conscious businesses come together. Spending two days with business owners whose mission goes beyond their own profits was inspiring. And, sharing challenges and insights about ways to make a profit without sacrificing our core values reminded us why we are a socially conscious business to begin with. Thanks for a great event, Sustainable Business Network!

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Blustery or Clear Future for Domestic Wind Power?

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Join us for a webinar on the state of wind power in the US, November 7th

Recently, we’ve seen headlines like the east coast has enough offshore wind potential to power one third of the country and twice as many coal power plants will be decommissioned by 2016 as originally estimated. Sounds pretty good for the wind industry, but what about the questionable renewal of the Production Tax Credit? And how will the upcoming election change the future of wind power?

Join Clean Currents for a webinar on the wind power potential in the US – where we are now, and where we’re headed – presented by Stan Calvert. Stan Calvert brings 30 years of experience in advancing renewable energy research and policy to this presentation. Currently with NeoNiche Technologies, Stan worked with Department of Energy for 20 years. He will share his expertise on wind power potential in the US and what it means for our future.

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Sandy is Coming: What you need to know

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Hurricane Sandy is decending on the East Coast today, bringing wind, rain, snow and storm surges. Here are some resources to help you stay safe.

1. Stay safe and dry!

2. Report power outages to your power distributor (Pepco or BGE).

PEPCO and BGE maintain power lines and distribute your power, even when you are a Clean Currents customer. Check their websites or call them for up to date information about your power should it go out. Click here for BGE. Click here for Pepco.

3. Stay up to date with current weather conditions. Check your local news, Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang, and the Weather Channel for current news on Hurrican Sandy.

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Kelly Richmond: Grassroots Organizing Rock Star!

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DC resident, Kelly Richmond was searching for a way to reduce her carbon footprint. After figuring out how easy it was to switch her apartment to Clean Currents’ wind power, she got inspired to spread the word.

Kelly started her own Green Neighborhood Challenge campaign among her neighbors in her Cathedral Heights apartment building. After assisting 7 neighbors in making the switch, Kelly branched out into the surrounding neighborhoods. She wrote to local list serves and put announcements on environmental websites. She even developed her own presentation on making the switch to wind power which she gave to community members at local public libraries. But, where Kelly found most of her success was in personal connections with the wide network of her friends in the DC area.
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Wind Powered Balitmore Week wraps up with a Bang!

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Last week, Clean Currents hosted the first ever Wind Powered Baltimore Week to celebrate Baltimore’s dedication to renewable energy. We hosted events like mixers and happy hours, wind powered businesses offered up deals and discounts, and we rounded everything out with an ice cream social the likes of which have never been seen before.

We kicked off the week in style, with a mixer at the Black Olive, overlooking the beautiful Baltimore Harbor. The following evening, we were joined by Abigail Hopper, MEA Acting Director, Maryland Senator Catherine Pugh, and many more to acknowledge Baltimore’s commitment to a clean energy future.  Hosted at Woodberry Kitchen, attendees heard inspiring messages from Ms. Hopper, Senator Pugh and Spike Gjerde, co-owner of Woodberry Kitchen.

Abigail Hopper shared, “Wind energy brings numerous benefits to the State, including homegrown clean energy, sustainable jobs, reduced public health costs, lowered greenhouse gas emissions and significant progress towards meeting our renewable energy portfolio standard.  Wind Powered Baltimore Week recognizes Baltimore businesses that are committed to Maryland’s renewable energy future.”

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Jodi’s Climb for Hope

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When my sister, Jodi, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer I couldn’t sit still. I went to Mexico and climbed an 18,500 foot mountain – Pico de Orizaba. On the descent with my friend Eric Kronthal, I came up with the idea of raising money through mountaineering to fund important breast cancer research. And so, Climb for Hope was born.

Six years later, over 100 beginner climbers summited mountains on 4 continents, and CFH has donated over $600,000 to Johns Hopkins University for a vaccine under development. This vaccine addresses some of the most aggressive and lethal forms of breast cancer, and CFH has helped speed up Dr. Leisha Emens work by more than 6 months, potentially saving thousands of lives. One day, this vaccine could be used preventatively in high-risk women.

My sister lost her long battle to breast cancer at age 45. To ensure Jodi Buerger’s name would live on, we changed the organization’s name to Jodi’s Climb for Hope. Now, she will be synonymous with great work because in Jodi’s words, “I want my daughter to grow up in a world without that disease.”

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Clean Currents is donating $25 to Jodi’s Climb for Hope for each household that switches to wind power. Learn more about Jodi’s Climb for Hope and what you can do to support the fight against breast cancer.

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Wind Powered Baltimore Week Kicks Off

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Join the fun, hon! Today we’re launching Wind Powered Baltimore Week to celebrate the vibrant wind powered community in Charm City. With events scheduled at wind powered businesses throughout the week, discounts and deals, and an ice cream social grand finale, there’s no better way to experience Baltimore this week.

Starting today, the following deals and events last all week:

  • Bambeco: 10% off entire site with code WINDWEEK
  • Michele’s Granola’s Autumn Breeze Special: Retail sized package of Apple Quinoa for only $5. Visit Michele’s Granola at the Catonsville, 32nd Street, or Baltimore Farmer’s Markets
  • Village Learning Place & Woodberry Kitchen: Donate to kick start the Little Free Library project in Charles Village and receive a gift certificate to Woodberry Kitchen.
  • All Star Pest Management: $50 off new service for customers that sign up with a reoccuring service plan.

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Eighteen Area Non-Profits Join Forces to Support Wind Power and Save on Electricity

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Clean Currents Assembles Local Non-Profits in Sixth Round of Successful Wind Power Purchase

Clean Currents, a leading green energy provider in the Mid-Atlantic, announced the successful execution of the sixth Nonprofit Energy Alliance purchase, a green electricity purchasing cooperative arranged by The Nonprofit Roundtable, Nonprofit Montgomery, and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

By working with Clean Currents, the eighteen area nonprofits in the energy alliance were able to leverage collective buying power to take advantage of lower electricity rates.  Collectively, the eighteen nonprofits purchased 3.9 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of wind power, with an aggregate savings compared to standard rates through their local utilities of approximately $25,000 per year.  The fourteen participants renewed their commitment from past rounds: CentroNía; Latino Economic Development Corporation;  Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care; Metro TeenAids; DC Scores; Vesta, Inc.; A Wider Circle; Joe’s Movement Emporium; Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church; Emmanuel United Methodist Church; Great Hope Homes; Montgomery Housing Partnership; Washington Revels, Inc. and Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, MD. In addition, four new organizations joined NPEA VI: Advocates for Justice and Education; First Baptist Church of Ken-Gar; Washington School of Photography; Whitman-Walker Health.

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B Corps Take Over the World!

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Last week, Gary and I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual B Corp Champions Retreat in Half Moon Bay, California. B Corp certification is a voluntary certification socially minded companies can use to report on and improve their impact on employees, their community and the environment. We became a B Corp in 2010. We went out to this year’s retreat, our second, with our friends from Nana Design, another MD socially responsible business who we recruited to join the B Corp movement this year.

The community of B Corps has grown in the last year (630 companies and counting) and the retreat was a much larger group than last year. It is incredible to spend a few days among such an inspiring group of businesses. We all share the belief in the power of the private sector to do good not only because we can but because it is our responsibility to our communities and the world. The retreat is not like another conference, where you sit in over-air-conditioned rooms and struggle to stay awake. In fact, we spent most of the retreat in a big tent outside with a nice ocean breeze talking, listening to stories, brainstorming, and doodling with scented markers. There was even an impromptu song at the end there…
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We all Scream for Taharka Brothers

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Taharka Brothers makes handmade ice cream with a mission. Creating change and connecting with the community is at the heart of the company’s soul as Taharka Brothers was one of the companies to file for Benefit Corporation status in Maryland.

Switching to wind power was a natural choice. As Darius Wilmore with Taharka Bros. explained to us, “Sustainability is important to our business because it’s important to the overall health of our economy, society and planet – it’s the responsible thing to do.” The company uses their purchasing power to create change. Taharka Brothers has built personal relationships with the farmers in Haiti where they source ingredients and uses Facebook to educate consumers about the lives of those behind the ingredients. You will also find local ingredients in their ice cream as they are strong believers in supporting the local economy. On a recent visit, we discovered a large bag of Michele’s Granola waiting to be combined into the next magical creation.

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Green Neighborhood Challenge BLAST OFF!

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On October 1st, 2012 a diverse range of community groups in Maryland and Washington, D.C. launched their 60-day Green Neighborhood Challenge (GNEC) campaigns to educate and inspire members of their communities to switch to wind power at home. Participating groups receive a $30 donation from Clean Currents for every associated household that switches to wind power. The donations earned through GNEC fund local greening initiatives that directly benefit participating communities.

The Silver Spring YMCA launched their GNEC campaign October 1st at a Healthy Living Workshop for Latino mothers and their children. “Part of healthy living is living in a way that keeps our community and planet healthy” Says Patricia Coronado, Director of Membership for the Silver Spring YMCA.

Other groups that launched their GNEC campaigns this week include the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, MD, Seaward Academy in Washington, D.C., the Calvert Hills Neighborhood in College Park, MD, and The Zenith Apartments managed by Bozzuto in Baltimore City.

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An Educated Consumer is our Best Customer

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Growing up in the New York area, I remember a certain clothing store’s commercial that had the tag-line, “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Exelon/Constellation’s recent foray into the anti-wind camp makes this point especially true in the green energy world. For Clean Currents, and other truly green companies, an educated consumer is indeed our best customer.

Exelon/Constellation is “publicly leading an organized campaign against the (wind) industry’s #1 priority,” according to the spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the premier wind power group. Exelon/Constellation is apparently leading efforts to abolish the Production Tax Credit (PTC), set to expire this year.  The PTC is a huge driver in getting wind farms built, along with consumer demand through voluntary purchases and state Renewable Portfolio Standards. In fact, uncertainty surrounding the renewal of the PTC is already negatively affecting the wind industry, causing the loss of domestic manufacturing jobs. Exelon/Constellation’s efforts against the PTC is a serious enough issue that AWEA has expelled Exelon/Constellation from the group. As the AWEA spokesman notes, this is not just a “difference of opinion,” but rather the fact that Exelon/Constellation is leading the efforts to kill the PTC, thereby curtailing the development of wind power.
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Golden West Cafe – #2 Best Bar in Hampden

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It is easy to see why Golden West Cafe was just name #2 Best Bar in Hampden by City Paper’s Best of Baltimore. The menu is an eclectic mix of organic grass-fed beef, vegan BBQ riblet sandwich, Thai chicken and mint salad and their famous green chile sauce. What really sets Golden West apart is their focus on sustainability.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Kris Gobeil the General Manager and learn more about Golden West’s efforts. Kris explained that being 100% wind powered is only one of the many steps that they are taking. Composting and purchasing produce and meat from local, organic farms are other key initiatives. They purchase natural eggs from Springfield Farms in Sparks, MD.

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Galway Bay: Live Green, Eat Irish

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On September 10th, Clean Currents own Lynn gardner hit the golf course as part of the 13th Annual Galway Bay Golf Tourament. The tournament worked to raise enough frunds to install 15 new water wells in the Holy Cross Parish Community of Nhkamenya, Malawi.

Galway Bay is part of the Irish Restaurant Company in Anne Arundel County, MD. All three of the company’s locations, Brian Boru, Galway Bay and Killarney House are 100% wind powered through Clean Currents. The Irish Restaurant Company also minimize their carbon footprint through recycling, rain barrels, earth friendly serving products, re-using materials for renovations, recycling cooking oil into biofuel, eliminating plastic, using environmentally friendly cleaning products, minimizing water usage, and much more. Galway Bay was the first restaurant in Maryland to be certified as a Maryland Green Travel Partner.

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Hello, Wind Powered Baltimore Week!

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We are THRILLED to announce Wind Powered Baltimore Week, October 16 – 21st. We have a week full of great events to celebrate the amazing wind powered community in Charm City.

Events range from happy hour co-hosted with Baltimore City Paper at Golden West Cafe to Not Your Mom’s Ice Cream Social at Taharka Bro. Ice Cream Factory. Don’t miss the Green Neighborhood Challenge kick off at Union Mill, and see the full schedule of events.

Congrats to our Clean Currents powered businesses that raked in the recognition from Baltimore City Paper’s Best Of Baltimore today! We can’t wait to celebrate with you during Wind Powered Baltimore Week. Here’s the round up of wind powered winners:

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Energy Efficiency 101 with TerraLogos Energy Group

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So, what is the deal with energy efficiency? The concept is easy enough – use less electricity, save on your bills. But how do you know which investments will give you the energy savings, and cost savings, you’re looking for?

Peter Van Buren of TerraLogos Energy Group helped the Clean Currents team answer these questions with ways to prioritize your energy efficiency investments.

  • Sealing ducts, air leaks and insulation gives you the best return on your investment. If you have leaky ducts and air leaks, you’re heating and air conditioning your neighborhood rather than your home. By sealing those holes, your furnace and air conditioner can use less energy to heat and cool your home. You’ll see the most return on your investment by taking this step first.

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Megan Barrett Joins Clean Currents

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This week, Megan Barrett joined Clean Currents as our new Communications Manager. Megan comes to Clean Currents after spending three years at Live Green, a grassroots organization working to make green living easy and affordable for people in the DC metro area. As Co-Director, she managed their communications strategy, cultivated partnerships, and organized community events. She helped grow the start up from its infancy to the organization it is today.

When not at work, Megan grows tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and other local fruits and veggies in her community garden, plays interior designer in her Cleveland Park apartment and is training for a half marathon. She’s been dedicated to the environment since a small child. Her parents often recount the trials of raising the young environmentalist who would make her family bring recycling home from vacation and ration water usage in the bathroom.

Megan has a M.A. in Global Environmental Policy from American University and a B.A. in Political Science from Kenyon College. Contact her at mbarrett@cleancurrents.com.

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Gettin GNECy With It

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While many of you are enjoying the last precious days of your summer vacation and area children prepare for the upcoming school year, here at Clean Currents we’re busy gearing up for the next round of the Green Neighborhood Challenge (GNEC), which officially begins on October 1st.

Armed with a new and improved program structure, new website, new promotional materials, new video, and a new staff member to lead the program, we are more excited than ever to help build more sustainable communities in the Mid-Atlantic through our hallmark community engagement program!

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Customer of the Month – August

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Clean Currents is happy to present our August Customer of the Month: Charlie Garlow.

Charlie lives in the Woodmoor Neighborhood in Silver Spring, MD.  He is a lawyer and co-owner of The Green Commuter bike shop located in Takoma Park.

 

When asked what his favorite Clean Currents wind powered business was, he couldn’t help but say his own, The Green Commuter, which sells standard and electrically powered bicycles.

Charlie was selected the our August Customer of the Month because of his commitment to minimizing his impact on the environment and spreading knowledge and information on sustainability to others.

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Sailing into the Sunset

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It seems as though we were just planning our Memorial Day getaways, but alas, the end of summer is nigh — and as we sail into summer’s sunset, let’s take a look at what’s occured during the past few months …

On all counts, the summer of 2012 was the hottest on record, setting new high temperature benchmarks across the country, exacerbating one of the worst wildfire seasons in history, and causing the worst drought in the United States since that of the mid 1930′s dust bowl.  In fact, the full economic consequences of this summer’s drought have not yet hit, as experts are predicting prices for grains–and in turn, prices for meat–to soar as farmers prepare for record low harvests.

It was also a cruel (cruel) summer for the globe’s usually ice-clad regions.  Climatologists are expecting a record low for Arctic sea ice this season, beating even the most aggresive warming trends and forecasts.

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Apples to Oranges

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We’re entering the final stretch of Presidential campaigning and energy is one of the top issues that continue to be brought up by both President Obama and Governor Romney.  Both men have reiterated their support of “homegrown” sources of energy in order to provide greater energy security for the country, but differences arise when it comes to their overall energy policies.

To cut through the cable news punditry that’s proliferating on the subject of each’s energy policy, here’s a quick reference guide:

Governor Romney

Mitt Romney’s proposed energy policy focuses on decreasing environmental regulation of energy while increasing production of domestic carbon-based energy resources in the hopes of creating jobs and bolstering the economy with lower prices for energy.

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Too Hot, Too Dry

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Have you been scratching your head at the seemingly endless barrage of “weather anomalies” we’ve been subjected to, wondering what role human-induced climate change is playing?

A new scientific study out this week may help fill in some of the blanks for you.  NASA’s senior climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen and two co-authors published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about extreme heat waves and droughts.  Their main finding: The percentage of Earth’s land surface hit by extreme heat during summer has expanded from less than 1% in the years 1951-1980, to as much as 13% from 1980 to now.

The authors use the metaphor of “climate dice” to explain what we are doing to our planet by burning fossil fuels and destroying forests.  A normal set of dice gives a standard set of outcomes based on statistical likelihood of hitting a certain number.  For example, the odds of rolling a “7″ with two dice are about one in six.  However, if you “load” the dice in such a way that makes them almost always land with a “4″ on one dice and a “3″ on the other dice, you are substantially increasing the odds of rolling a 7; likewise with climate.  By significantly increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we are in essence loading the climate dice to land more frequently on “extreme weather”.

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