Author name: Shirley Siluk Gregory

Shirley Siluk Gregory, a transplanted Chicagoan now living in Northwest Florida, represents the progressive half of Green Options' Red, Green and Blue segment. She holds a bachelor's degree in Geological Sciences from Northwestern University but graduated in 1984, just when the market for geologists was flatter than the Florida landscape. Just as well, though: she had little interest in spending her life either in a laboratory or, heaven forbid, an oil field. So, of course, she went into journalism. After extremely low-paying but fun and educational stints at several suburban Chicago weeklies and dailies, Shirley and her then-boyfriend/now-husband Scott found themselves displaced by a media buyout and spending the next several years working as freelancers. Among their credits: The Chicago Tribune, a publication for the manufactured-housing industry, and Web Hosting Magazine, a now-defunct publication that came and went with the dotcom era. Shirley's always been concerned about nature and conservation (and an avid pack-rat, as her family can attest to), but became even more rabidly interested in the environment primarily due to two factors: the growing signs that global warming was real and threatening, and the birth of her son, Noah, in 2003. Suddenly, the prospect of a world that might not be quite as habitable in 40 or 50 years took on a whole new, and personal, meaning. Living where she lives now also helped light the fire of Shirley's environmental awareness: her hometown was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and beaten up again by Hurricane Dennis in 2005. That, and the fact that she and her family were vacationing in New Orleans until the day before Katrina -- and spent 12 hours driving home for a trip that normally takes 3 -- has made Shirley deeply appreciate how fragile our lifestyles are, and how dependent they are on sound management of natural resources and sustainable living practices. That's why she's become a passionate reader and writer about all things green and sustainable.

How Much is Military Defense of Fossil Fuels Costing Us? Up to $215 Billion a Year

Is the Iraq War all about oil? Maybe not. But even former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has acknowledged the action was “essential” to protect the world’s access to oil. With many of the world’s top-producing oil and gas fields in decline, is it unreasonable to suggest there will be more military action to defend

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Wall Street Meltdown Spells Disaster for Energy, Environment Too

The financial markets unraveled so rapidly last week, it’s still hard to process all the developments and likely consequences. But there’s no doubt that events on Wall Street carry serious implications for our energy and environmental future as well. I can’t wrap my head around all the pieces yet (and I’m not sure if I’ll

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Green Patents That are Free to All: Eco-Patent Commons

Some ideas for greening the planet are so-spot on yet so ground-breaking, they make you say, “Of course! Why didn’t anybody think of that sooner?” That pretty much sums up my reaction upon discovering Eco-Patent Commons. Launched at the beginning of 2008, Eco-Patent Commons makes available royalty-free, patented technologies for reducing pollution and waste, curbing

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Expand Offshore Drilling? Three Words for You: Katrina, Rita, Gustav

Why is expanded offshore drilling not the lasting solution to the U.S.’s energy problems? Besides many of the other valid reasons (decades to get to market, potential environmental devastation, oil as a global commodity), Satish Nagarajaiah offers another one: Billions and billions of dollars in potential storm-related losses. A civil and mechanical engineering professor at

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Odds on Earth

The recent news that Lake Mead has a 50-50 chance of going dry in the next 13 years was scary enough, but there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of ominous Earth news these days. Based on recent research, here are some of the odds we’re facing: Amount of coral reefs that will be in

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Climate Change to Bring Plagues of Insects?

New research from the National Science Foundation suggests a warming Earth could mean a significant increase in voracious, plant-eating insects. Scientists studying the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period about 55 million years ago when global carbon dioxide levels spiked rapidly, found that plant fossils from that time show noticeably more insect damage than plants

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The Rise of Urban Gaia?

Cities and their even larger, fast-growing siblings — megacities (more than 10 million people) and hypercities (more than 20 million people) — aren’t just products of human civilization that dramatically affect their surrounding ecosystems. They’ve emerged as unique ecosystems in their own rights. In “Global Change and the Ecology of Cities,” published in the Feb.

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Beyond Talking Points and Spin: Group Seeks Presidential Debate on Science

If a U.S. presidential debate on science and technology sounds too wonky for words, think again. That’s the message supporters of Science Debate 2008 are trying to hammer home. Science and technology not only contribute greatly to the nation’s bottom line (about half of U.S. gross domestic product over the past century, according to the

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Critics Call U.K. Nuclear Power Plans 'Misleading'

The British government manipulated its public consultation proceedings on plans for new nuclear power plants to ensure “particular and limited answers,” according to a new report from the Nuclear Consultation Working Group. Government officials say new nuclear facilities are needed to replace others going offline over the next two decades and are an important part

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Messing with Probabilities, Impacts, Black Swans

How do you prepare for “high impact-low probability” events? That’s a phrase that crops up regularly in global warming research and insurance industry talk. It’s also one that’s given me increasing pause, especially since I’ve begun reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.” Taleb’s argument is this: that it’s

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Businesses Blindly “Lead the Way” for Florida

The next time someone says something to you about “business leading the way” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building a sustainable future, email him a copy of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s latest blueprint for transitioning the Sunshine State into a 21st Century leader. The report, “New Cornerstone Revisited,” was rightfully derided by at least

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Looks Good on Paper: Study Says Emissions Cuts Don’t Have to Harm Economy

Once again, another report has come out showing that — with the right actions — we could see a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next couple of decades. Once again, the news raises the same question as previous reports: will we ever see enough political will to make the possible become reality?

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Drought’s Impact on Carbon Cycle Equal to Millions of Cars

Anyone who keeps up with the science of global warming knows that carbon dioxide alone isn’t the problem. Besides that and the other greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide, for instance) we spew into the atmosphere, there’s also the threat of feedback loops and other mechanisms that could magnify the impact of those pollutants even

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“Justicia Now” Documents “Rainforest Chernobyl”

“Small but mighty” is a phrase that comes to mind when watching the short film, “Justicia Now,” and the people it profiles. The 30-minute documentary, produced by the social justice-minded media organization Mofilms, follows the powerful movement of indigenous peoples in eastern Ecuador who have taken on ChevronTexaco in what could be one of the

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Bottled Water Not So Hot for Economy Either, Report Finds

Environmentalists already have good reason to despise bottled-water companies, but local economic development folks might now have reason to question the industry too. That’s the message from opponents of a proposed Nestle water-bottling facility in McCloud, California, a small community with natural springs fed by the glaciers of Mount Shasta. McCloud’s defenders today released an

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Geoengineering: Quick Fix, or a Way to Go from Bad to Worse?

Technology can undoubtedly make the world a better place. Where, after all, would we be without the wheel, agriculture or email? Still, there’s almost always a flipside to technological advances. The wheel improved not only travel, but warfare. Agriculture made food more reliable for humans … but also, eventually, helped give rise to confined animal

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