Polar Bears International

5/30/2013 8:44:43 PM

Good News Friday {German e-cars, Meeting Siku, Solar in Kansas City, YouPower}

It's Friday and we want to share some good news. There's a lot of doom and gloom out there regarding climate change--and there should be. It's a serious problem that we all need to be taking action on.

But on Fridays, we like to highlight some of the good news, and focus on what people and communities are doing right now to reduce their carbon footprint and help polar bears.

• PBI's KT Miller was recently at The Scandinavian Wildlife Park (SWP) on the lush peninsula of Djursland in Kolind, Denmark. There she got to meet the famous polar bear, Siku, in person (in bear?), as well as his new twin siblings. Read all about her experience here.

• Chancellor Angela Merkel has re-affirmed a goal to have one million electrical cars on Germany's roads by 2020. An advocate says this hinges on the right mix of cheap batteries and the pricing of electricity versus fuel. To initiate the breakthrough and reach one million by 2020, German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer said urban planning must provide infrastructure such as fast battery recharging stations that fit in "intelligently" with other forms of mobility such as trams. 

• Kansas City has announced it's going to put leased solar panels on about 80 municipal buildings, including police and fire department buildings and most of the city's community centers. The city is expecting to save $40,000 over the first year, with savings increasing over time. Good deal for taxpayers, especially since there's no upfront capital cost (that's the big benefit of leasing). 

YouPower, a bike room that opened last April on the Vermont campus of Middlebury College, let's students produce electricity while they are exercising. It's the brainchild of Astrid Schanz-Garbassi, who graduated in 2012. "My hope was that Middlebury students could start thinking of energy in almost the same way we think of, and are able to budget, our money," Schanz-Garbassi says. "We know how much everything costs, but we have no idea what we're doing with energy." Not only do riders produce energy and shrink the college's carbon footprint and electricty bill, they watch a flat screen TV that shows how much electricity they generate, and that's a great learning experience. 

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