WE WANT OUR SHARE, BP: Alabama Senator Richard Shelby sent a letter to British Petroleum (BP) CEO Robert Dudley, on Monday, November 22, requesting that BP fund efforts to revitalize Alabama’s tourism and fisheries industries, according to a release from Shelby’s press office. Senator Shelby’s letter comes in response to a recent agreement between BP and the State of Louisiana wherein BP will provide $78 million to fund marketing efforts to revitalize Louisiana’s seafood and tourism industries. “I can only assume that with the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem inextricably intertwined and damage not confined by States’ boundaries, a similar payment will be made to the State of Alabama,” Shelby says in the letter. “The damages caused by the oil spill could last years as we are faced with a potentially severe decline in fisheries stock and a negative media image of our beaches,” Shelby says. “The economic impact is severe and extensive across the Gulf Coast, not simply limited to any one state. BP needs to commit to Alabama’s recovery by funding efforts to revitalize our State’s tourism and fisheries industries.” JC
GIVE ME WHAT I WANT, SANTA: The Alabama Wildlife Center (AWC)— Alabama’s oldest wildlife rehabilitation organization—will host its annual Holiday Craft & Bake Sale on Saturday, December 11, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The event will take place at the AWC, which is located at 100 Terrace Drive in Pelham, inside Oak Mountain State Park. The sale will feature such items as jewelry, quilts, decorations, nature-themed gift items, bird feeders and houses, and homemade jams, jellies and baked goods. In addition to shopping, visitors can enjoy free hot cider and coffee, take a self-guided tour of AWC’s rehabilitation facility, attend wildlife presentations or take a hike to the Treetop Nature Trail and view some non-releasable birds of prey, including owls, hawks and vultures. Oh, and Santa will be there. Yee-hah! Admission to the event is free after paid entrance to the park (adults $3; seniors and children $1). AWC will have its 2011 Alabama Wild Bird calendar available for purchase at the sale for $10. Proceeds from calendar sales support the AWC’s efforts to rescue and rehabilitate Alabama’s injured and orphaned wild birds. The calendar features color photos of actual AWC wild-bird patients and their rescue, recovery and release stories. The calendar is also available seven days a week at the AWC office or can be ordered from the group’s web site at www.awrc.org. JC
THE NEXT GOOD WAR: There was cause for celebration at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month. They celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Coastal Program, dedicated to conserving coastal wetlands and protecting the habitats of native fish and wildlife. The Coastal Program is truly a grassroots success story. It’s entirely volunteer-based and, in the past 25 years, has grown to encompass 23 Coastal Program offices throughout the United States. By cooperating with other conservation groups, local and state agencies, and even private land owners, the Coastal Program has managed to restore 251,000 acres of coastal land and protected a staggering two million acres total. According to Rowan Gould, FWS acting director, “This voluntary, cooperative program has conserved some of our nation’s most imperiled estuaries, wetlands and coastal habitats for current and future generations to enjoy.” Unfortunately, coastal conservation on the whole is still an uphill battle. Look no further than the recent Gulf oil spill for a good example— not to mention climate change, chemical pollution and invasive species. Still, it’s good to know that the people out there fighting these battles are winning a few victories. For more information, or to find out how you too can fight the good fight, go to www.fws.gov/coastal. AM
STUFF YOU CAN DO: As the United Nations Climate Change Conference convenes in Cancun this week, American Public Media’s Marketplace radio program is helping listeners improve their own environmental routines. Marketplace has launched “The Green Tip & Trade” at its Sustainability Desk. The new program provides tips and tricks on going green, submitted by environmental experts, organizations and even individual listeners. Most of the tips are focused on ways people can change their impact at home, at work and in their day-to-day lives. The program has received tips from across the country, according to a Marketplace news release. “Don’t pay to heat the outdoors,” says the National Resource Council. “Seal and insulate your home to keep warm air inside.” Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, says, “Don’t stuff your fridge.” In addition to providing tips from and for individual citizens, the station has begun to cover the efforts of small business and corporations to reduce their impact on the environment. The program has quickly turned into an information network, with different categories of tips and discussion on the value of each. As the Climate Change Conference kicks off, it’s refreshing to see change initiated by the populace. Even if national governments sit on their haunches, the citizens can still do their part. For more information and to check out some tips for yourself, visit www.marketplace.org. AM
OH GOD, I’M BLEEDING! Ever try to open one of those plastic packages that Japanese electronics tend to come in—the ones that will slice your hand in half on a good day? Or have you ever bought anything that comes individually wrapped, like candy bars? You tear open the package it came in to find . . . more packaging. Maybe even more packaging after that. All too often, the things we buy in America come wrapped in a Russian nesting doll of plastic. Fortunately, a few people are trying to strip away the excess. New York-based Q.bel Foods, makers of Q.bel all-natural chocolate candy wafer rolls and wafer bars, has decided to reduce the width of the boxes that their candy comes in from 6½ inches to 6 inches. While the change might seem negligible, the reduction is significant when taken to scale. The change reduces materials used in the product, reduces shelf space and even reduces fuel consumption. Q.bel’s change proves that moving towards more sustainable business models make sense on an economic level as well as an environmental level. According to Q.bel CEO Bahram Shirazi in a recent news release, “Rather than live with excess packaging, we decided to reduce. It’s a win-win-win all around.” For more information, visit www.qbelfoods.com. AM
THAT’S A TURNIP, JUNIOR: In America, it’s all too common to run across a substance that masquerades as actual food when, in reality, it’s little more than a shoddy facsimile of the genuine article. Walk down any aisle in a supermarket, pick something off the shelf and the odds are pretty good that the item you chose is processed food, chock full of chemicals, preservatives and all kinds of cancer-causing substances. Even the produce department, the last bastion of the healthminded, is a minefield of genetically engineered Franken-food. To address this issue, Annie’s, a California-based organic and natural food, snack and cereal maker, launched the new “Root 4 Kids” campaign. The campaign is designed to educate school kids across the nation on planting, raising and harvesting vegetables, and their goal is to have one million kids growing veggies by harvest in 2011. Annie’s will give the school with the most pledges either its own garden, a Farm to School program or gardening supplies for a year. Additionally, for every 1000 pledges received, Annie’s will contribute funding to a garden or Farm to School program at an underprivileged school. For more information, visit www.annies. com. Parents, teachers and kids can pledge their support at www.root4kids.com.
YO, CHECK THIS OUT: Pat Byington, publisher of Bama Environmental News at www.bamanews.com, published an op-ed last Sunday in the Florence Times-Daily. Called “Take a stand to save ‘special places,’” the piece praises the federal Land Water and Conservation Fund. According to Byington, the fund—which has been in existence for 40 years—“is one of the most successful conservation programs in U.S. history.” The fund has created or funded more than 700 local and state parks in Alabama alone. The problem, according to Byington, is that the fund has never been funded adequately, despite bipartisan support in congress. However, he says that a bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July to provide full and permanent funding of the fund. The bill will be considered by the Senate during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress. Byington hopes that Alabama senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions will vote yes. Read all about it at www.timesdaily.com. JC