global warming

BGnews_logoBy Alison Wentzell

Climate Panel Warns Human Activity is the Cause for Warming

Recently, a draft of the International Panel of Climate Change’s “Fifth Assessment Report” has been leaked and the report looks bleak, according to an article in the New York Times.  The International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) is a team of several hundred scientists that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore. Although the team does not conduct any of their own research, it is their duty to analyze work done by other scientists and publish the most important findings regarding climate change.  Many governments rely on these findings to create policies and prepare for the future impacts climate change will have.

This year’s assessment report, which will be finalized in September, strengthened many scientists’ beliefs regarding the future of climate change.  The assessment’s first major finding is that human activity is the cause of the increase in global temperature.  In the past climate skeptics have dismissed the idea that global warming was the adverse effects of human activity, but something that happened naturally.  But now, scientists are about 95% certain that the rapid increase in global temperature since the industrial revolution is the cause of carbon emissions produced from human activities.  Scientists have also dismissed the recent notion of a slowdown in the pace of warming.

The draft also elaborates on how strongly correlated carbon emissions and global temperatures are.  The report states that the lowest possible increase would be 2.7 degrees Celsius, down from 3.6 degrees published in the “Fourth Assessment Report”.  However, the IPCC was quick to point out that just because 2.7 degrees is possible, doesn’t mean it’s likely.  If we continue with a business as usual mindset, then carbon emission will double in the next few decades, increasing the global temperature by approximately 5 degrees.  This will cause extreme heat waves, difficulty growing food, mass extinctions and changes in plant and animal life, and land ice to melt.  The melting of ice is one of the biggest concerns for scientists, since it will displace many communities and many of the world’s major cities.

The report will be finalized in September, but until then check out this article in the New York Times.

Students Succeed in Building Electric Vehicle

A group of 7 students in Sandy Spring Friends School’s Advance Placement environmental science class won fourth place in the 2013 DC Electric Vehicle Grand Prix this summer, which was open to high school students in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  In addition to placing fourth in the competition, the students’ car won Best Technical Innovation and Best Graphic, and the team won Best Team Photo.   The team started working in December, when they were inspired to create a battery powered vehicle as a class project.  In March they started to build the vehicle to make their idea a reality.  The students hit many roadblocks while working on the project, but they believe that they learned more from the overall experience because of these roadblocks than if the project had ran smoothly.

These students are the future innovators and designers of our country, and have proven that they have the potential to change the world.  Competitions like the DC Electric Vehicle Grand Prix help to foster and motivate students to take action and prove that they can do something remarkable, not only for them but for the world.  I can only hope that these students will continue on the path of brilliance and someday change our society’s infrastructure, to create a greener, healthier world.

For the full article, check out the Gazette here.


  • 4th Annual Bake Bethesda A Pie Contest, September 1st, 9am-12pm, Bethesda Central Farm Market, located at the Bethesda Elementary School parking lot

Come out to the annual “Bake Bethesda a Pie” contest and help raise money for Mana Food Center!  Last year over 200 people attended for the judging of more than 45 different pies.

  •  Happy Hour, September 5, 5pm-8pm, The Courtyard by Marriott Chevy Chase, 5220 Wisconsin Avenue

 Join Bethesda Green for their First Thursday Happy Hour at The Courtyard and have a chance to win a raffle, get discounts on wine, beer, and cocktails, and delicious appetizers.  Also, meet the people protecting the local watershed—Cabin John, Little Falls and Rock Creek.  There is a $10 entrance fee and the proceeds are shared with local watershed groups.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

by Terri Lukas

It’s a hot day.  A walk to the Bethesda library should take 20 minutes, but in the heat, it will be at least 30.  It will feel good to reach my air-conditioned destination.  But as it turns out,  I don’t have to wait to feel the cool blast of air conditioning.  I feel it right out in the open, on the street, as I pass one establishment after another: a small tea shop, a sports clothing store, an Asian restaurant … the list goes on. 

So I ask myself: what is going on?  This is Bethesda: highly educated, connected, progressive.  If nowhere else, surely here people understand the basics about what it takes to find fossil fuels needed to meet our increasing demand for energy: deep sea drilling, fracking, troops to secure foreign sources.  Then there is the issue of a warming planet. . .

How can people spend thousands on high efficiency air conditioners, windows and doors, yet appear not to notice the weather-blind, open-door practices of stores and restaurants?

I have no answers; do you?

Terri Lukas works in public health and is an active conservationist. She lives with her husband in Chevy Chase West.

by Alison Wentzell

Maryland updates Bike and Pedestrian PlanBGnews_logo

A little over a decade ago Maryland adopted the 20-year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.  Now at the half way point, it is time for the Department of Transportation to update the plan.  While the plan does not establish any specific projects, it does set goals and outlines what we will see over the next 10 years.

A lot has changed since the plan was originally drafted, and the number of Maryland residents who choose to bike and walk has increased, with a concurrent demand for more infrastructural supports.  Bike lanes are popping up in communities that never had them before, and programs that support bicycling are growing.

The state of Maryland has budgeted $151 million over the next six years, and once the plan is complete officials can start making decisions on which projects get funded.

To see the full article published in the Gazette, click here.

Residents push back on rapid transit proposal

To improve long-range transportation options, be more environmentally friendly and support local business, the Montgomery County Planning Board recently approved a proposal to dedicate two lanes for rapid transit buses along Wisconsin Avenue from Friendship Heights Metro to the Rockville Metro.

However, according to a report published in the Gazette, many residents attending a May 28 meeting challenged the plan, especially in the Green Mile corridor between Friendship Height and downtown Bethesda.

See the Gazette article here.

CO2 Emissions Rose 1.4% in 2012     

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4% in 2012, warning that if  we don’t change by 2020, there will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we can reasonably deal with.

IEA representative Fatih Birol warns that “climate change is slipping down in the political agenda in many countries.”  To keep this issue at the forefront of our global leaders’ minds the IEA is urging countries and companies to implement four drastic measures by 2015.  This includes implementing aggressive energy efficiency measures, limiting coal output from inefficient plants, reducing the release of methane in gas and oil operations, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Click here to read the complete article published in the Washington Post.

Upcoming Events Bethesda Green Events

Come out and see entrepreneurs practice their pitch for our panel of investors, and get helpful feedback!

Join Bethesda Green for a great baseball game.  Tickets are free and available while supplies last. Email

Upcoming Partner Events

Join GreenWheaton for their 3rd anniversary!  The night includes appetizers, beer, wine, refreshments, green vendors, and door prizes!  Tickets are $30.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

by Alison Wentzell

RWFF 2013 010

Filmmakers and co-hosts at the Festival.

The second annual Reel Water Film Festival, hosted by Bethesda Green, Journey’s Crossing and Mark Leisher Productions at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club this past Saturday, helped educate the community about water issues both around the world and at home.

About 450 people showed up throughout the day with 15 different local non-profits represented.

“There was an overwhelming response to the festival,” said event director Tiffany Jones.  “We tripled the attendance from last year, and it was great seeing so many non-profit organizations participate. We’re grateful to the entire community for their support.”

Displays in the lobby from sponsors of the event and partner organizations informed festival goers about how they can get involved in all aspects of the environment, not just with water issues.  Once everyone found their seats, Dave Feldman of Bethesda Green kicked off the afternoon splash with a brief introduction about the festival and the importance water has in all of our lives.  The audience was then treated to 21 short films of different genres including animation, documentary, narrative, and claymation.  All of these films focused on the central topic of water and how everyone is affected by it, but some in more life threatening ways than others.

Visit this webpage to check out the short films presented at the festival.

After a brief intermission, round 2 of the festival began.  People had the option of attending a gourmet taco and fajita bar for dinner, or finding their own food and just watching the feature presentation Chasing Ice.  The movie captivated the audience as it portrayed the alarming rate in which glaciers are melting due to the changing climate.

Half of the proceeds from the festival are to be donated to a rural community in India that will facilitate getting water to a small medical center, school, and orphanage as well as funding a local stormwater management project in Bethesda.  We can only hope that the event was able to inspire people to reconsider their relationship with water and get involved with this issue.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

RWFF logoEvent: Reel Water Film Festival

When: Saturday, June 15

Time: Doors Open: 1 PM

Afternoon Splash: 2 PM

Dinner & Movie: 6 PM  (dinner 6 PM, movie 7:15 PM)

Location: Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814



Enjoy live music and great food, meet local organizations making a difference, and check out short films from all over the world on Saturday, June 15 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, MD.  Among the more than 50 short films submitted to the festival, we have selected the best storytelling and cinematography covering a wide range of water-related topics such as wild weather, storm water management, lack of access to clean water, innovation around clean water, and more!

Scene for Chasing Ice, the evening feature at the June 15 Reel Water Film Festival in Bethesda.

Scene from Chasing Ice, the evening feature at the June 15 Reel Water Film Festival in Bethesda.

You can stop by for an “Afternoon Splash” featuring short films, come for the “Dinner & A Movie” highlighted by the award-winning documentary CHASING ICE, or stay for the entire festival and find out how you can make a difference!

Click here for ticket options and more information.

The Reel Water Film Festival is a non-profit event, with at least 50% of the proceeds donated to water projects in developing countries and right here at home.  Additional funds help support the continuation of the festival for many years to come.


by Rebecca Blaskopf

For the past decade, the worldwide environmental bandwagon has blown up; children in elementary school to senior citizens are all considering putting the world first.  However, even with so many fighting to keep the world from becoming an inhabitable place to live, there are some who still believe climate change is either a hoax or completely out of our control.  Some of these people are in fact related to me.

At a wedding last summer, I was reunited with some cousins I do not see very often.  At the reception, the issue of the environment was brought up, and I was shocked when I heard the bride exclaim, “I don’t believe in global warming. I think it’s all a bunch of crap.” I was even more taken aback when I heard another cousin agree with her.  It was shocking to realize that there are people in this country who do not think that global warming is an issue, even folks from my own family.

As I stood there, partly dumbfounded and partly not wanting to start a debate at a family event, I started to think about what to say to those who are similar to these family members. How are we supposed to get everyone involved in this worldwide issue, when some don’t even believe the issue exists?

After much deliberation and mental rough drafts made of what I would say to these cousins when I saw them again, I came to the conclusion that this event wasn’t just about figuring out how to respond to my relatives’ reasons for not being eco-conscious.  It was about discovering a passion, as corny as that may sound.

Before, I was somewhat eco-conscious; my family recycled, and we were always trying to conserve electricity and water. I believed that climate change was occurring, but that was generally the extent of my involvement and concern with the future of our planet.  After talking with these relatives who seemed so alien to what I had been taught, it made me realize that climate change is a larger and more important issue than I ever thought possible.  It made me want to educate myself on what global warming is all about, and when I learned that conservation does not mean deprivation, I wanted to spread the word to others.

That realization led me to take environmental classes in college, and even to volunteer at Bethesda Green.  So, even though I may still find my cousins’ opinions slightly illogical, I can thank them for helping me realize how important this topic is to both the world and myself.

Rebecca Blaskopf is a Bethesda Green intern and student at the University of Michigan.

Solar electric panels grace a roof on Lisa Heaton's home in Bethesda.

Solar electric panels grace a roof on Lisa Heaton's home in Bethesda. (Photo by Lisa Heaton)

It’s getting hot—and humid—here in the Washington, DC, area. Learn how you can put all that solar radiation to work for you—and how much more affordable it is now, thanks to federal, state and local incentives.

Join Bethesda Green at our first annual Solar Bethesda Expo, Saturday, June 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  It will take place at the Bethesda Green offices, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd Floor, in Bethesda, Md.

Solar Bethesda’s Gold Sponsors are Solar Energy World and the Maryland Clean Energy Center.

We’ll have exhibits from 13 local solar and energy companies, including one station where you’ll be able to view your home using satellite mapping—to determine how suitable your site is for a solar power system.

Representatives from the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Maryland Clean Energy Center will be there, too.

You can get info on costs, benefits, various types of solar equipment, tax credits and other incentives. We’ll have one discussion about solar purchasing cooperatives. There will also be a panel discussion featuring local residents who are living with solar systems.

Solar Really Pays for One Neighbor

One Bethesda homeowner who will be on the panel is Lisa Heaton, who had a 4.5 kilowatt solar electric system installed on her roof in May 2009. It cost her about $5,000–after a federal tax credit, a Montgomery County grant of $5000, and a Maryland grant of $10,000. And she’ll earn back her investment fairly quickly, thanks to much lower electric bills. To wit:

In 2009, their first calendar year with solar, Lisa and family paid a total of $591 for electricity. From January through April 2010 they paid $117.  In comparison, during their last full year with only Pepco power, they paid $2,035–so they saved $1,444 on electricity that first year and this year they’ll probably save around $1,684. At that rate, the system will pay for itself in another two years. Plus they are generating their own electricity with no emissions!

And that doesn’t even count the months, such as this past April, when the Heatons generated more electricity than they used, resulting in a $53 credit from Pepco!

So it does pay to go solar! And solar hot water systems are even less expensive.

Come to Solar Bethesda, Saturday, June 12, and find out if solar is right for your home!

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Solar Bethesda expoSolar Bethesda

When: Saturday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd Floor, Bethesda, Md. (we’re in the Chevy Chase Bank building!)

Click Here to RSVP

[Do you already have solar? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment!]

Rabbi Warren Stone (seated, right) with part of a Bethesda Green group discussing the recent Copenhagen Climate Conference.

Rabbi Warren Stone from Temple Emanuel in Kensington, MD, led a fascinating lunchtime discussion Jan. 19 at Bethesda Green about his experience as an official delegate at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

While his presentation touched on some of the troubling outcomes of climate change — rising ocean levels, leading to loss of arable land and resulting evacuations of small island nations in Micronesia to much larger threats in densely populated areas such as Bangladesh — Stone sounded a note of optimism.

In fact, one of the highlights for Stone was the opportunity to sound an awakening call with a shofar, a ram’s horn, in a symbolic gesture at the world’s largest offshore wind farm — a call to action for all to consider how they can do their part to address global environmental issues.

Bringing it back to the local level and our efforts to build community around sustainable living practices, one of the key pieces of advice Stone offered was to include a “joyful component” in our activities and events.

Sounding the shofar at an offshore wind farm in Denmark.

Having fun, according to the rabbi, is an important part of any learning experience.  We couldn’t agree more.

For more information about Copenhagen and Stone’s experience there, see the blog posting from Lee Chottiner, executive editor of The Jewish Chronicle.

If you’re like me, you struggle to sort through a host of action steps to conserve energy and natural resources, save money, and reduce carbon output.  Ranging from easy things such as turning off the lights when you leave a room to more baffling challenges such as convincing yourself about the charms of waterless, composting toilets, a great user-friendly resource to guide your decisions is now available.

Author Susan Hartsfield

Author Susan Hartsfield

Written by Susan Hartsfield and illustrated by Rajeev Athale, The Complete Guide to Energy Conservation for Smarties assembles numerous energy-saving recommendations into a fun, easy-to-read format organized into three main sections: 100+ free and easy ideas, small investments/big savings, and big investments/lifetime savings.

We have a copy of the guide at Bethesda Green and invite you to take a look and judge for yourself.   The book is available through Susan’s website, Barnes and Noble, or Authors Bookshop.  Also, a couple of the Whole Food stores have it in stock.

In addition to being an author, Susan’s building a business, Global Baskets, selling Fair Trade baskets made from elephant grass by Ghanaian women — all this in her spare time from her regular gig as a nurse practitioner.  Whew!

Recommended reading for our Bethesda Green friends and neighbors is wapomagcover1yesterday’s cover story in the Washington Post Magazine.  Liza Mundy, magazine staffer and veteran DC reporter, profiles her personal experience trying to make her pre-World War II Arlington home greener and answers the question, “Can one small household help save the planet from global warming?” 

In a well-researched, fact-filled and often-humorous piece, Mundy muses about the challenges of identifying what’s the right thing to do and changing well-entrenched habits among family members.  She tries to answer three key questions: “Do small actions matter?  How do we know the right actions to take?  And can we really address global warming without sacrificing too much comfort and leisure, not to mention family harmony?”

In many ways, the article reflects my personal position in this journey to creating a greener society.  Also worth checking out are the numerous article comments, covering the range of perspectives, and tomorrow’s online chat with the Mundy.