Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Encouraging Reflections on the Monumental People’s Climate March

September 24th, 2014

By Paul Walker and Matt de la Houssaye

March Photos2

Left: Matt de la Houssaye, Paul Walker and Deborah Klein Walker      Right: Paul Walker and Matt de la Houssaye march proudly


Climate change continues to threaten the planet and humankind. As the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported this year, increasing carbon emissions from China, India, the US, Europe, and elsewhere, threaten life as we know it today. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, agricultural production is down in many areas due to drought, overall temperatures are rising, and climatic disruptions are intensifying, all causing enormous negative impacts on the earth and humanity. We were therefore very committed to joining the “People’s Climate March” in New York City on Sunday, September 21st, and helping to represent Green Cross International, its US national affiliate, Global Green USA, and the other 30+ Green Cross affiliates which have all been working for two decades now to raise public attention and action on climate change.

While predictions for the march talked about “tens of thousands of people” joining the demonstration that day, we realized as we entered the New York subway at Penn Station (34th Street) on Sunday morning and saw the packed platforms, that the turnout appeared to be much heavier. By the time we reached 81st Street on the west side of Central Park, towards the tail end of the march, we witnessed the vast throngs of marchers and could barely even exit the subway! We squeezed into the crowds which covered both sidewalks and the street and waited for the march to begin.

The crowds, although overwhelming, were all in high spirits and anxious “to speak truth to power,” to march that afternoon and tell the world leaders, convening in two days at the United Nations to discuss climate change, that we wanted action, not just words, to help address this growing global crisis. The marchers were a remarkably diverse mix of young and old including infants in strollers, high school and college groups, and elderly with walkers and canes. Many demonstrators were also costumed to represent melting icebergs, coal-burning plants, “drowning clowns,” and other innovative characters. Drummers were beating out invigorating rhythms, and innumerable signs and banners demanded “no nukes,” “no Keystone XL pipeline,” “no LNG ports and tankers,” “energy conservation,” “sustainable energy,” “clean air and water,” “divestment in fossil fuels,” “no Planet B,” and many other calls for tackling climate change, protecting the environment, and improving security, safety, and public health.

March Photos1

The back end of the march at 81st Street did not begin moving until about 2 in the afternoon, given the enormous crowds in the 30 or more blocks ahead of us. We all welcomed the opportunity to begin moving after standing in place for over two hours, and marched down the west side of Central Park, then down Avenue of the Americas past Rockefeller Plaza and Radio City Music Hall, well into the late afternoon. The whole march, some 40 blocks long, was very peaceful and joyous, with everyone sharing snacks and water, and well organized by the City of New York. It reminded me (Paul) very much of the large and historic anti-nuclear march my wife, Debbie, and I, along with our first son, Ian, at age 18 months, joined in New York City on June 12, 1982, to protest US President Ronald Reagan’s dangerous nuclear weapons build-up and threats of nuclear war. Just as that large public demonstration, with well over one million marchers, led to Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreeing to nuclear abolition at the October 1986 Reykjavik Summit, we expect that this historic public outpouring of commitment and concern, matched by hundreds of other demonstrations around the world, will put pressure on the world’s leaders and parliaments to take climate change seriously and act accordingly.

We all need to think globally, but act locally, and some 400,000 or more of us did this past weekend in New York City. As many of our signs and statements on Sunday underlined, we need to act now, not just continue debating until it’s all too late.



Field Report: Wall Street Green Summit

March 20th, 2012

ny_annie_wall_street_presentationAnnie White, director of our our Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) program, presented today on the “New Ideas in Environmental Finance” panel at the Wall Street Green Summit today. Launched in 2002, the summit is a long-running and comprehensive environmental market event on cutting-edge content, industry developments, and the latest developments in green trading and finance.

Her presentation addressed CoRR’s food waste recovery program and addressed:

  • CoRR’s work in spurring innovation and infrastructure development to recover value from New York City’s 1,640 tons per day of commercial food waste.
  • Growth in the regional composting infrastructure, which is a key opportunity for composting more of New York City’s food waste. The Gore composting system is used by major food waste composting outlets that service Seattle and New York City. A closer composting location to New York City would provide a more affordable solution. (More: see CoRR’s video of the facility servicing NYC)
  • Exciting developments in the U.S. anaerobic digestion industry, including a new anaerobic digestion facility under development for food waste in Columbia, South Carolina where landfill tip fees are only $35 per ton.
  • Co-digestion at wastewater treatment plants as a strategy for utilizing existing infrastructure. This could be a good strategy to complement Mayor Bloomberg’s renewable energy from wastewater goal as stated in his recent State of the City address.
  • On-site processing and recovery will be a game-changer. By reducing the water from food waste and/or producing compost, trucks trips can be reduced. Food waste is approximately 75% water, so reducing water content could eliminate 49 long-haul truck trips per day — equivalent to 1,000 tons per day of waste.

Recycling Buzz in NY: Questions Answered

October 28th, 2011

The response has been great to Sunday’s New York Times story on recycling in New York City. Not surprisingly, we’ve been asked a lot of questions about what we do and what more the city can do. Here are a few answers.

Why did Global Green start this program in NY?

We started with New York because of the number of restaurants and the magnitude of the waste here. New York has a significant trash and waste problem. Also, the price of sending materials to the landfill is higher here than it is in much of the rest of the country. So if we can get it recycled, then it will actually be a savings to the restaurants — and that is obviously a great place to start.

Why can’t NYC mandate all packaging be compostable like San Francisco?

First and foremost, New York City doesn’t have the infrastructure to support it and it’s irresponsible to call for a certain type of packaging without the appropriate infrastructure in place. Developing the infrastructure is the first step.

What would it take for New York City to develop a composting infrastructure?

There already are a number of initiatives underway to develop such an infrastructure, and we are playing a leading role in helping to develop it. First, a law passed in the summer of 2010 stating that the Department of Sanitation, in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, recommend methods to expand the diversion of the compostable waste stream. Some of the specific areas of evaluation include the viability of implementing curbside organics collection, the available capacity at composting facility surrounding New York City, and opportunities to expand capacity at these facilities. Additionally the report will address opportunities to grow and support voluntary composting. The report is scheduled to be completed by July 2012.

What is Global Green doing to facilitate food waste recovery infrastructure for New York City?

To accelerate the development of a reliable, environmentally sound, and economical food waste infrastructure, specifically for the foodservice industry, we are seeking to both spur innovation and activity amongst the private sector to develop needed infrastructure as well as inform the study the city is developing.

As part of this initiative, we are developing a conceptual plan for recovering the 1,100 tons per day of food waste generated by New York City’s accommodation and foodservice sectors. To develop this plan, we are evaluating siting options and operational and environmental attributes of a range of technologies and collection scenarios and regularly convening a diverse group of stakeholder to raise awareness about the opportunities and develop solutions to existing challenges. We hosted a meeting in July with those in the industry to discuss next steps and plan another meeting in November.

I’m a New Yorker. What composting options are available in New York for composting food waste and compostable packaging?

There are three composting facilities accepting food waste from some of New York City’s restaurants and grocery stores. These include McEnroe Farms in Millerton, NY (102 miles from in NYC), New Milford Farms in New Milford, CT (84 miles from NYC), and Peninsula Compost in Wilmington, DE (approximately 130 miles from NYC). Peninsula Compost in Wilmington, DE, is the largest compost facility in the Eastern United States and is permitted to receive 550 tons of organic waste per day. We visited this facility a few weeks ago (post, including video is here).

On the residential side, there are a number of voluntary programs that receive strong participation. A few of these include:

GrowNYC: 11 Greenmarket drop-off sites where customers can buy food and drop off their food scraps in the same location.

Lower East Side Ecology Center: A composting facility in Manhattan that generates compost from food scraps dropped off at Union Square. Compost and potting soil products made from the food scraps are also sold at Union Square.

Western Queens Compost Initiative: An initiative to collect food waste at compost to generate support community gardens and urban farms.

Hurricane Irene and the Sea Level Rise Threat

August 26th, 2011

Projected path of Hurricane Irene

The New York Times has a map showing the evacuation zones for Manhattan, with flood zones — as the East Coast braces for Hurricane Irene. It’s a harsh reminder of how vulnerable our coastal cities are when facing storms of this magnitude — and how climate change has impacted these cities.

Below, a video animation that shows New York City flooding predictions as a result of global warming.

What He Said: Colbert on Fracking

July 13th, 2011

“It’s like giving the Earth an Alka Seltzer, if the Alka Seltzer shattered your internal organs so oil companies could harvest your juices.”–Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” describing the process of hydofracking during a report on the controversy  of the practice in NY. The video of the five-minute clip is worth watching.

And for more on fracking: We recently honored actor Mark Ruffalo for his efforts to ban hydrofracking at the 15th Annual Global Green Millennium Awards.

Healing the Gulf through Song: An Evening with Peter Seeger and Friends

July 25th, 2010

seeger_stage_2-cropLast week I got a call from Global Green’s headquarters in Santa Monica. Stanley Kules, a Global Green New York regional committee member, had helped arrange a series of three benefit concerts for Global Green USA and the Gulf Restoration Network at the City Winery in New York City.

I was to go and talk about the spill, Global Green’s initiatives, and to thank the audience, musicians, and the City Winery for their support. The opening night was going to be an all star line up including Pete Seeger, Julie Gold, Peter Yarrow, the Roches, and many more. » Read more: Healing the Gulf through Song: An Evening with Peter Seeger and Friends