Monday, March 16, 2009

Ben Jelen Foundation Blog featured in New Book!

Blogging is a new word to most people, but here's a book that lets you know what it is and how to do it!

Check out "Blogging for Fame and Fortune" by Jason R. Rich! - Its hitting the bookstores very soon and has interviews with Perez Hilton, Chris Crocker as well as yours truly.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Obama and the stimulus

In my mind, the biggest news for the environment is President Obama's win.

Finally, after 8 years of attacks on our environment, we finally have a president in office who realizes that the trees, air, and water have a very real value. I'm so interested to see how the environmental movement changes now that it may not have to be so completely on the defensive.

There is a lot of argument about how to spend the 800 billion proposed stimulus package that Obama is trying to deliver. There is a large segment of money going toward "green" initiatives. Arguments that this does not immediately create jobs are flying. First of all, I disagree, the jobs created run the gamut from manufacturing parts (huge steel windmills) to final installation (roof solar panels), as well as all the work involved in building a smart power grid to manage power coming in and going out of the system. Perhaps more importantly I would argue that it gives us jobs in an area that gives us long term advantages (energy independence) and doesn't create jobs just to fill parking lots with the same gas eating cars we need to move on from. Some of the stimulus money would also go to research in environmental areas so that the dollars we spend on infrastructure pack more of a punch. During the Bush years, the NASA mission statement was changed to obscure the earth science division. Finally in this stimulus package they will be getting the real support they need again. I hope Obama "stays the course" on this one - of course there is argument about how to spend such a massive sum of money, but energy independence and control of carbon emissions is a no-brainer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bicycle For A Day

I had a really fun show on Saturday at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. I'd taken care of everything the day before so was actually able to wake up with Fern and ride my bicycle across the Brooklyn bridge with her. What a great way to get to Sound Check - and we were early!

Bicycle for a day is a yearly event set up by Matthew Modine to encourage people to bike and be environmentally friendly. During the day there was a walk, and a group of bicyclists that left to Washington DC to take the message there too.

There were rumors that Bobby Kennedy Jr. (a top environmental lawyer and activist) might show up with his kids on his sailboat. During my set, he did just that so I got to introduce him and took a seat with my band behind him as he spoke about cleaning up the Hudson, the first of his Waterkeepers projects. I didn't know that they had turned the Hudson around - it still looks pretty murky to me, but biologically its doing a lot better than it was 2 decades ago.

Well that was an honor and inspiring to see what someone who cares so much can do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I just got back from a 2 week trip to namibia with my family. It was stunning, the landscapes beautiful and extreme. We travelled most of the time with a group of 16 in a Safari truck. I was amazed that 9 of the 10 campsites not only had running water but showers and toilets! It was so dry there, you wonder how a well of any depth could find any at all.

When you look out from the dunes to the sea, with the warm bright sun ahead and massive amount of space behind you (Namibia has only two million people and is one of the least densely populated in the world), you wonder whether you couldn't just engineer sun, water and land to work together and become more biologically productive.

On my return my brother sent me this link - you HAVE to see it - its AMAZING and looks like it is taking off!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

check out this oxfam link

I found these stories on climate change to be illuminating and inspiring. They are four videos about how women in various different countries have taken it upon themselves to tackle those problems coming with climate change. I kept noticing that in the poorer societies, their big problems are crop failure from not knowing when to plant the crops - the signs have all changed and the long term weather is much less predictable.

Also, did you know that because of the increased CO2 in the air, the oceans are absorbing CO2 as well, making them more acidic. This acidity is beginning to prevent some organisms from creating their shells. Of course, this is the end of the line for these creatures... and coral, which is bleaching from the higher temperatures at an alarming rate all over the world -- these are the canaries is the coal mine!

keep spreading the word! Here's some good news -- Scotland will be building the worlds largest windmill farm by 2011! The news looks amazing, especially the way that it is creating so many jobs! Lets get it going here too!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Weather Makers

I'm babysitting my friend's record collection and listening to Allman Brother Band, 'Ain't Wastin Time no more'

sounds sweet. I also just read 'The Weather Makers' by Time Flannery. Its about that most uplifting topic of climate change!

The time has come that our human activities have started to have a stronger effect than natural influences on our climate -- which means we're making the weather!! Only thing is, we don't really need a hotter planet - I'd be all for burning up the coal and warming our planet if the ice age was coming, but its not!! Fortunately, we collectively know what to do about this, we just need to understand the basics and make some small changes to start cooling our planet. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the ones that sticks out to me is the rate at which species are going extinct and how fast Earth's biodiversity is being lost. Just a 1 degree celsius global average change has already had huge impacts.


Here are some things that everyone reading this can do to help.

Have you looked into a Green power option where you live (for electricity) If there isn't one, find out why and let them know they have consumers.

Solar Panels are a double investment now - one for the Earth and one for you since power is getting more and more expensive!

Check fuel efficieny of your next car! Don't end up with a gas-guzzler with these fuel prices! And walk/cycling, if your area is appropriate can also reduce emissions.

If you're someone that writes to their politician, please include carbon emissions and green energy initiatives. If not, there's always a first time.

Our solution to this will be multi-faceted, relying on carbon sequestering, wind and solar power, research into tidal power, and perhaps nuclear. There is research out into compressed air cars!! What a clean way to store energy!

Monday, May 5, 2008

another reason to plant a garden

The Food and Agriculture Organization says that food prices have gone up 83% in the last three years. Rice prices alone have gone up 141% since January of this year alone! The impact of higher food prices ultimately means that more impoverished people will suffer from malnutrition and could starve.

Woah!!! Time to plant those veggies and start growing some extra!

And since us grown-ups over 18 can have a massive effect on the outcome of the Nov 3rd ELECTION!!! Here is a breakdown of the candidates and their environmental stance.

Barack Obama

Is a current frontrunner as a democratic presidential candidate. He currently serves as the US Senator of Illinois. His previous experience is in the Illinois state senate. Barack Obama believes that we should take steps to limit the effects global warming. He wants to increase fuel efficiency standards and lower the carbon in our fuels. He would encourage auto manufacturers to create more advanced vehicles and he would require that 20% of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. These issues come together as an intuitive and comprehensive action plan with regards to the environment. The League of Conservation Voters rates Barack Obama with a 100% for 2006.

John McCain

Is a republican presidential candidate that currently holds a position as Senator of Arizona. In general, Senator McCain is a pro-business kind of guy. He usually doesn’t care about the environment if it means businesses will lose money. However, he does have a mixed voting record that includes pro-environment bills. For example, he voted yes for including oil and gas smokestacks to be included in the mercury regulations put out by the EPA to cap mercury emissions. If I was a republican that cared about the environment, I think that I might vote for someone else who had a more positive solid stance for the environment. The League of Conservation Voters rated Senator John McCain at 29% for 2006.

A democratic presidential candidate that is currently holding a seat in the U.S. senate in New York. Her voting record in the senate proves that she really cares about environmental issues regarding energy and global warming. Some people say that the United States isn’t ready for a female president, but I say that she fits the bill quite well. She has a decent shot at winning the democratic primaries, but she’ll have to put up quite a fight. Hillary Clinton “introduced a plan to Congress to create a Strategic Energy Fund that would inject $50 billion into research, development, and deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean coal technology, ethanol and other homegrown biofuels, and more.” She wouldn’t raise taxes to its citizen’s but instead would give oil companies a choice: to invest in renewable energies themselves, or put money into a fund that will invest into renewable energy research ( Her scorecard on the League of Conservation Voters in 2006 was 71%.