Friday, June 10, 2011

Community effort, part 1: Geocaching and "Cache in Trash out"

This is the first post of my series on various volunteer community projects and actions related to environment and sustainability. This first post introduces Geocaching and the "Cache in Trash out" environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community.

What is Geocaching ?

First, a short introduction. Geocaching is treasure hunting hobby, where you search for hidden treasures around the world, in various locations, with the help of a GPS-enabled device. Coordinates or hints on how to find them are posted on a web site dedicated to geocaching. There are many, one of the most popular (and first) is that started it all in 2000.

There are over 1 million geocaches hidden all over the world. A basic geocache is just a container with a logbook. When one finds a geocache, an entry is added to the logbook and also logged on a geocaching website that lists that particular cache. Usually a rating system is used to describe how easy or hard a geocache is to find and reach.
Geocaches can be places almost anywhere (that is open to the  public, with some specific rules), in cities or out in the wild, often located near something special, for example like a beautifull view or something geolocialy interesting, or just simply fun in some way. Anyone can place a cache.
A geocache can also be an event where geocachers meet, discuss and/or do something at a specific location.

Cache In Trash Out

"Cache In Trash Out" or CITO for short, is environmental initiative practised by the worldwide geocaching community where we, very simply, collect trash. A CITO can be an a bigger organized event or just something we do when out searching for a cache. Basically it means that we collect trash along trails and places when we search for caches. And it's easy, all you need is trash bag (and maybe some gloves) !

A CITO event is a much larger clean-up event where a number of volunteer geocachers gather to clean-up some particular place, for example a park. The event can also be something else than trash pickup, it can focus on anything good for the environment.

Various sized CITO events are organized around the world almost daily, anyone can set up one. Most events are done by volunteers without any external help. But some even get help or sponsored by municipalities or other organization. For example in this event the city of Porvoo sponsors waste bags and equipment for the CITO participants.

More information

Interested in geocaching or organsing/sponsoring a CITO event? Here are some pointers to some geocaching services and a more in-depth description about geocaching.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Finding Win Wind solutions for Europe

The times of recession are turning and the world can go back to efficient production. Unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency state that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing again, faster than ever, hitting records last year. Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA note that the United Nations-led negotiations on a new global treaty on climate change have stalled, showing also that the significance of climate change in international policy debates is much less pronounced than it was a few years ago.

At the same time the Fukushima catastrophy makes minds turn about nuclear power. Germany’s decision to shut all nuclear reactors by 2022, makes the situation on greenhouse gas emissions even more interesting. How is Germany planning to reach its ambitiously set goals on CO2 reduction? Ac-cording to Reuter, Angela Merkel’s ruling Coalition has planned to cut power use by 10 percent by 2020 and further expand the use of renewable energy such as wind and solar power. This is a piece of good news! Europe’s biggest economy has opened the doors to suppliers of renewable solutions, showing example also to others who will be affected by the closure of nuclear stations. In yesterday’s news a representative of a Finnish Wind Power provider happily expressed his enthusiasm to stand in the first row to sell their solutions around Europe.

What about the German-Russian natural gas pipeline that was completed earlier this month, and the second that is being built? Nord Stream Joint Venture is enjoying favourable times. Fukushima came just on time for a German decision on nuclear power, and a more easily accepted transition into lighting German houses through the Natural Gas pipeline that has awoke much mystification especially in the states between Europe’s two power poles. John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, reminds about the ways politicians and other actors in the world’s great powers are eyeing up extraordinary and risky ways to extract the world's last remaining reserves of fossil fuels – even from under the melting ice of the Arctic.

Indeed, Germany is showing example on what kind of energy source is desirable to be used to reach goals on emissions reduction. I hope that the Finnish Wind Power provider will make it to the first row and has a clear throat when selling his solutions. There seems to be a somewhat bigger actor on the playground, with a stronger voice. It will not be easy to convince decision makers on the “Win Wind situation”, when gas is soon to be provided directly from underneath the surface of the Baltic Sea.

Picture source: City of Turku

AFP - YLE Uutiset

The Guardian: Fiona Harvey -
Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

Anna Stenberg