As world leaders pledge to reduce carbon emissions and the importance of protecting the environment continues to grow globally, individuals and businesses are searching for ways to decrease their impact on the environment. It’s no surprise then that professional sports leagues are beginning to develop and encourage ways in which they can become more environmentally friendly, too.
This comes as a great relief to environmental critics, especially considering one baseball game can produce 760,000 bottles and cans that are discarded in the trash rather than recycled, one football stadium can produce about 100,750 tons of carbon dioxide per game, or that NASCAR’s total fuel consumption for an entire season has been estimated at 2 million U.S. gallons.
The decision for national sports teams to promote green initiatives is an important step. Not only will it positively effect the environment while the teams are on the field, but it also has the potential to influence their millions of fans to be green off the field.
1. Major League Baseball
With 30 teams, 162 games per season, and on average, 80 million spectators, Major League Baseball (MLB) certainly provides its fair share of the negative environmental impact caused by professional sports.
However, due to initiatives over the past few years, the MLB is quickly becoming one of the greenest professional sports leagues. Last year, the MLB partnered with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) to create a Team Greening Program.
This was the first league-wide environmental protection program and aims to organize and support environmentally sensitive practices. The Team Greening Program plans to:
- Create club eco-committees.
- Provide information on how to offset carbon emissions from the team and fan transportation, as well as, facts and resources to assist each team in assessing their environmental impact and how to reduce it.
- Create an official environmental policy.
- Add environmental policies and language to contracts.
- Reduce the use of paper in offices and switch to recycled paper products.
- Work towards renewable energy use.
- Encourage fans to make environmental changes in their own homes.
The MLB has also made significant changes to their baseball parks across the country. They now have recycling bins for plastic cups and bottles and the vending machines are being made more energy-efficient. Solar panels have been installed to provide some of the energy used for games and even the grounds crew is switching to more environmentally friendly cleaners.
Not only are changes being made for the league as a whole, but individual teams are taking the green movement into their own hands. The Atlanta Braves have built the first ballpark stadium that meets standards created by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Pittsburgh Pirates are using corn-based cups, soy-based ink, and recycled toilet paper, the Boston Red Sox have installed solar panels and the Seattle Mariners recycle food waste, paper and plastic.
2. National Football League
The MLB is certainly tackling the environment dilemma from all angles, but the National Football League (NFL) is also doing their fair share to make football a green sport.
Although the NFL has had an environmental program since 1992, it wasn’t until recently the league has begun making key improvements, particularly when it comes to the Super Bowl. The program has been working to:
- Improve solid waste management at all NFL facilities.
- Develop environmental guidelines for all contractors and vendors.
- Donate food and leftover building material, office supplies, and sports equipment.
- Make any Super Bowl event carbon neutral.
For the 2008 Super Bowl, the NFL committed to planting 2,700 trees to help offset gas-emissions and the Tampa Electric Company provided renewable energy for 100% of the electricity needs for the game.
At the team level, the Philadelphia Eagles have taken the greatest responsibility for the environment and developed ways to decrease their environmental footprint.
In 2007, the Eagles developed an ambitious program that rewarded all Eagle employees who signed up for Wind Energy. The employees are then reimbursed by the team so there is no out of pocket cost. In 2008, the Eagles purchased 14 million kilowatts of wind power to help the team run on 100% renewable energy at both their Lincoln Financial Field and their training facilities.
As a result of their initiatives, the Eagles have managed to switch 25% of the team’s energy use to renewable sources, avoided 65 tons of greenhouse emission and 2 billion BTUs of dirty energy generation, and also saved 100,000 trees.
3. National Hockey League
Although hockey is sometimes considered a cleaner sport than others due to shorter schedules and smaller arenas, there is a still a huge footprint left behind from this sport.
In 2007, the National Hockey League (NHL) partnered with The GreenLife Organization to develop solutions to help the league go green. The program focuses on:
- Creating green initiatives.
- Identifying areas that need improvement.
- Offsetting carbon emissions.
- Switching to renewable energy.
- Generating public awareness and promote green living outside the sport.
Like the MLB, the NHL has also been working with the NRDC to provide advice and resources to reduce each NHL club’s impact. The league has also had much success with the NHLPA Carbon Neutral program that encourages players to take action to decrease their footprint on and off the ice.
The program was developed by the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) and the David Suzuki Foundation. So far, the program has helped offset more than 4,200 tonnes of carbon emissions this season and 420 NHLPA members have signed on for year two.
4. National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association has also teamed up with the NRDC to develop programs and events that will help generate awareness and funding to protect the environment.
While the NBA’s partnership with NRDC isn’t as extensive as the MLB or NHL, they are still taking positive steps toward preserving the environment.
The inaugural NBA Green Week, which was held between April 2 and April 10 2009, is a week-long event that engages all 30 teams in auctions, community service programs, and public service announcements. They are also working to create a new micro-website, www.nba.com/green that will feature green tips for fans.
Noted environmentalist and actor, Robert Redford was involved, as well as Addidas, who pledged to outfit players with 100% organic shirts. The NBA store will also host Recycling Dreams, a footwear drive to collect gently used athletic shoes.
Beyond public awareness events, the NBA is working with NRDC to offset energy usage and waste in offices and arenas. Green modifications that are currently underway include:
- Installing solar panels and wind-powered energy sources.
- Installing water-saving fixtures.
- Using organic food in concessions.
- Encouraging public transportation.
- Creating a recycling program.
- Purchasing energy credits.
Understandably, a sport that involves very fast cars with low miles per gallon, circling a track 500 times is a hard sport to make environmentally friendly.
However, where others may choose the easy road, NASCAR has decided to take the green road and make an effort to reduce their negative impact.
In 2007, NASCAR partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency and announced that they would switch to unleaded racing fuel by the start of the 2008 season. NASCAR’s environmental services provider, Safety-Kleen has also begun collecting the 240 million gallons of used motor oil to re-refine and reuse. Beyond the obvious benefit of reusing the oil rather than throwing it out, re-refined oil also uses 85 percent less energy than making new oil.
NASCAR also participates in National Car Care Month where they help promote better car maintenance, which in turn increases vehicle performance and reduces fuel consumption.
Even some speedways are getting involved to help make a difference. The Michigan International Speedway preserves 200 acres of wetlands and is looking to use wind and solar energy within the next 10-12 months.
While many argue these steps don’t entirely negate the negative impact professional sports can have on the environment, the initiatives do make a difference. If you consider how many professional sports teams there are, simply making even the smallest step can have a massive affect not only on the environment, but also on the millions of fans who watch them.
I just read an article today about the decline in the travel industry. The downturn is not surprising in this economic climate, but what is a little surprising is that the wealthy are cutting back on their vacations too.
In a recent survey of travelers’ intentions, Forrester Research found the solidly middle class intended to cut back on travel, but so did 28% of those with household incomes of $100,000 and above. “It shows that the well-to-do are not being spared by this recession,” says travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt.
“Luxury shame is very real,” says Harteveldt of Forrester Research. “When your neighbors are losing their jobs and you’re doing well, you don’t flaunt your success.”
What this means is that guilt is causing the rich to down-size their vacations or to cancel them outright. Now on the surface, this makes sense. Everyone is tightening their belts.
However, my concern stems from the fact that we need the wealthy to stimulate the economy in these harsh times. Middle Americans are losing jobs and homes while the wealthy seem to be hoarding money for a rainy day.
To all the rich Americans out there, in case you didn’t notice, it’s pouring outside. Yes, some of us may be jealous of your cash flow and your ability to go out to fancy restaurants and take expensive cruises, but we also need you to keep spending your money.
Feel free to cut back on mink coats, as long as you are taking that money and spending it elsewhere. If luxury cruises make you feel guilty, then take your money and donate it to the local foodbank so they can restock the shelves for those who need it. If you don’t feel comfortable investing in the volatile stock markets, take your money and invest it in our children. Give schools money for new books and playground equipment.
Just whatever you do, don’t keep your money in your pockets, the rest of the country is counting on you to spend your money and help dig us out of this economic vortex.
The original deadline to switch off analog TV signals is today, Feb 17, 2009. And some broadcasters are switching to all-digital broadcasts today despite the fact that the government has delayed the mandatory shut-down of analog TV signals by 4 months.
Americans who rely on analog TV signals need a digital converter box or a new TV with a digital tuner or cable or satellite service in order to receive digital broadcasts once the changeover has been made.
More than 5.8 million US households are not ready for the analog shutdown. This is partially due to the fact that the government ran out of funds for the $40 coupons that subsidize the digital converter boxes. Presently, there is a waiting list of approximately 4 million coupons.
“In San Diego, the nation’s eighth-largest city, the ABC, CBS, Fox and CW affiliates plan to end analog broadcasts Tuesday.”
“They’ve had two years to get ready is our feeling,” said Larry Patton, general manager of KSWO-TV, an ABC affiliate in Lawton, Okla. “We feel there’s always going to be a few people who are going to wake up on the morning of Feb. 17, or June 17, or whenever it is, and not be ready.”
What will the fall out be tomorrow?
Michael Copps, the acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is expecting consumer confusion. Hopefully he is mistaken and the changeover will cause little disruption in the lives of people already feeling monetary pressures. Denying anyone basic TV is a little much when people are unable to afford any other type of entertainment in these harsh economic times.
(AP Photo/Olivier Asselin)
In Panama and other tropical countries around the world, large tracts of farmland are being abandoned as their owners move in search of a better life. However, these tracts of land are not remaining stagnant. They are being reclaimed by nature, developing into new jungles full of trees and wildlife.
These new forests are growing at such a rapid pace that earnest debate has erupted concerning the importance of saving primeval (or original) rain forests. Estimates range wildly, but some experts claim that more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics for every acre of rain forest that is cut down.
Dr. Joe Wright, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, claims that the protection of old rain forests prevents poor locals from profiting from the new rain forests on their land and takes efforts away from other plans to fight global warming, such as eliminating coal plants.
Dr. Bill Laurance, another senior scientist at the Smithsonian, contests that not all forests are created equal. He agrees that new forests may absorb carbon emissions, however, he insists, “They are not the rich ecosystem of a rain forest.”
Many biologists question how Amazonian species can be saved when these new forests grow, not in the Amazon, but in places like the outskirts of Panama City?
No one is disputing the benefits of rain forests. Rain forests absorb emissions and provide habitat for biodiversity. The debate deals with the fact that these new forests are not being considered when tallying the costs and benefits of saving the rain forests in the Amazon or Indonesia.
The United Nations has reported the increase in these new forests; however, the concern is that although some of the land has the potential to become vibrant new rain forests, other pieces of land may become nothing more than a jumble of trees and weeds.
Everyone knows that a man’s home is supposed to be his castle, his refuge and his sanctuary from the rest of the world. Unfortunately this was not the case for 93-year-old Marvin Schur of Bay City Michigan. Mr. Schur was found frozen to death in his home on January 17, 2009; four days after a municipal power company limited his electricity usage.
Mr. Schur was in arrears to the power company for over $1000 so the power company installed a “limiter” on Mr. Schur’s house. A “limiter” restricts the amount of power that gets to the home and blows out like a fuse if consumption is too high. The power to the home can be restored when the device is reset. However, no one personally explained to Mr. Schur how the limiter worked. Therefore once the power went out, it never got turned back on.
Bay City officials have stated that limiters will be removed from all homes while the city’s electricity policy is being reviewed. Bay City Mayor, Charles Brunner, wants to make sure nothing like this happens again. Mr. Bruner said that the city has never had a problem with the use of limiters before and the power company only uses them after multiple notices are mailed out to residents of the home.
While I am glad that the power company policy is being reviewed, there is another serious matter here that is not being discussed. Many seniors living on their own have no support system in place. It is not my desire to infringe on senior’s rights, however, if Mr. Schur had someone visiting him on a daily basis, the power outage would have been reported within 24 hours and his death by hypothermia could have been prevented.
Everyone needs a place to call home but that is becoming more of a problem as foreclosures continue to skyrocket with no immediate relief in sight.
According to CCNMoney.com, “U.S. foreclosure filings spiked by more than 81% in 2008… and they’re up 225% compared with 2006.” In spite of the efforts of the foreclosure prevention programs put on by government and the banking industry, defaults continued to climb right through to the end of December 2008.
In addition to soaring foreclosure rates, housing prices continue their downward spiral. Declining prices mean that many homeowners owe more on their homes than the homes are worth on paper. This inequity increases the likelihood that these homeowners will default on their loan.
As you can see, foreclosures and falling home prices go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, foreclosed homes tend to sell at a steep discount compared to the rest of the market. This means that when foreclosed homes make up a large percentage of all home sales, they can exaggerate the intensity of price declines. Therefore, an influx of more bank-owned homes in an already slow housing market will continue to push the prices down even further and increase the possibility of more foreclosures.
S&Ps chief economist, David Wyss, expects home prices to continue to go down, finally bottoming out in early 2010 at roughly 33% below their 2006 peak. This could mean that more than 860,000 families will lose their homes to foreclosure in the upcoming year.
This is tragic news for homeowners that are barely making ends meet and a possible premonition of things to come for those who have already missed one mortgage payment.
There are no quick fixes to this huge economic issue but if you are a homeowner who is having financial difficulties you should contact your mortgage holder now and try to work out a realistic plan for you. There may be the potential to re-mortgage your home at a lower rate or the possibility to skip one monthly payment per year. The key is to contact your financial institution before there are no other alternatives to foreclosure.