MI Earth Day Fest Offers Fun, Practical Info, And More

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ROCHESTER — From fun stuff like kids’ games and music to cool stuff like solar power and advanced transportation to serious stuff like global warming and green burial, the MI Earth Day Fest this weekend offers something for everyone and every age group.

The event returns to downtown Rochester April 26-28 after a three-year hiatus. The 2010 event drew more than 50,000.

The event will feature green and healthy living exhibits, presentations, programs and networking, as well as entertainment, awards, food and family fun. The event is sponsored by Pure Eco Environmental Solutions, Republic Services, Bosch Automotive and Meijer.

“Earth Day is the world’s largest secular observance, and we’re joining the celebration with an event planned to inspire, entertain and educate about how we can all make every day Earth Day,” says John Batdorf, general manager of presenting organization MI Green Team.

The Earth Day Fest takes place Friday, April 26 from 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Third and Water Streets in downtown Rochester.

Highlights of several of the presentations are as follows:

Bosch: Diesel’s No Longer Dirty, Now It’s Green

As one of the major sponsors of the fest, Bosch North America is sponsoring a booth at the event and will have a vehicle with Bosch systems on display — a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI clean diesel.

“We’re focused on helping consumers maintain a green lifestyle,” said Paul Mercurio, diesel marketing manager for Bosch North America. “This Earth Day event is all about being green, and we’re showcasing clean and efficient transportation consistent with the theme of the event.”

And for Americans whose image of diesel passenger cars remains those smelly, sooty, noisy diesels of the early 1980s, Mercurio emphasized that times have changed.

For one thing, diesel is now far lower in sulfur than in past decades, making it a cleaner burning fuel. And Mercurio said Bosch technology, called a common rail system, allows diesel fuel to be injected at high pressure into the cylinder, meaning it atomizes more evenly and burns more cleanly and completely than previous diesel engines, so there’s much less soot left over after combustion than previous versions of diesels. That, and improved filtering, means today’s diesels put 90 percent less particulate matter into the atmosphere than diesels of even just a few years ago.

Mercurio said diesels remain more expensive to buy, but their longer life than gasoline engines and greater fuel economy mean a two to three year payback for many drivers.

Ultimately, diesel fuel can also be blended with diesel oil from plant sources — just like Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel, who invented the engine that now bears his name, originally intended.

At the Earth Day Fest, Bosch will also be offering chances to win a Bosch Powerbox, a rugged job site radio and .mp3 player that also is a power distribution system for tools. Runner-up prizes will include $50 fuel cards to several winners.

Sinclair: Batten Down The Hatches, Global Warming Is Here

Longtime environmental activist Peter Sinclair will speak at 2 p.m. Saturday. His sobering message: “Warming continues, it is accelerating. Sea ice loss has been staggering over the past six or seven years. And most importantly, it appears sea ice loss might be the driver behind these whiplash extremes of weather we’ve been seeing all over the planet.”

Sinclair was a videographer, illustrator and animator by trade — and, he says, a “science geek on the side.” And he started his work in making climate change understandable to the masses when he realized science “has been up against a well financed and very articulate disinformation machine the past 25 years funded by the fossil fuel industry, and it’s been very effective.”

Sinclair launched his Web site, Climate Denial Crock of the Week, at http://climatecrocks.com, five years ago. Most recently, Sinclair was asked to produce a new series of videos, This Is Not Cool, for the Yale University Forum on Climate Change.

Sinclair also said he’ll talk about a crowdsourced trip he plans this summer to study ice loss in Greenland with Jason Box, a scientist formerly with the Byrd Polar Center at Ohio State who’s now with the Danish Geological Survey, and Bill McKibben, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. (More at darksnowproject.org.) The group will also study a darkening of the snowpack (working hypothesis: increased soot in the atmosphere from increased wildfires).

Sinclair said he believes American opinion on climate change “turned a corner last summer with the incredible, just one after another, extreme events, drought, heat, flood, hurricane, tornado — the spring that we had last year where it was 90 degrees, now back to back with this very odd lingering winter that we’ve had this year. It’s related to the jet stream, which is being distorted by the loss of arctic ice. This is the new normal and I think people are starting to get that.”

Burns: Returning To The Earth — Literally — At The End Of Life’s Journey

Another speaker points out that you can even depart this mortal coil in a green fashion. Russ Burns, director of The Preserve green cemetery in Waterford Township, will speak on the growing trend toward green burial.

“When we talk about going green we’re talking about going back to what we did 150 years ago,” Burns said. “We didn’t start embalming until the Civil War, when we were bringing back soldiers from the South to the home state.”

All that embalming and traditional burial practices comes with a price — Burns said that “We put enough steel in the ground every year in caskets to build the Golden Gate Bridge, enough concrete to build a two-lane highway from New York to Michigan, and enough embalming fluid (a proven human carcinogen) to fill eight Olympic size swimming pools.”

Green funerals involve using greener embalming fluids or none at all, so that “if a family wants to do a viewing they can.” And the container the body is put in allows it to return to the Earth — a simple shroud, or biodegradable caskets made of wicker, bamboo or seaweed fiber. The cemetery itself is green, featuring native plants and flowers. Free tours are available.

The cemetery accepts anyone of the Christian faith, and Burns noted that “the Muslim faith and the Jewish faith have been doing green burials all along. They don’t go in for embalming.”

More about green funerals at www.mtelliot.com/thepreserve or www.greenburialcouncil.org.

More about the Earth Day Fest presentations at http://www.migreenteam.com/miedfpresentations.

Other highlights of the Earth Day Fest include a kickoff and awards ceremony Friday at 7 p.m., the third annual Green Hall of Fame and My Green Schools art contest award winners, a parade and pep rally at 11 a.m. Saturday, and a local talent music showcase at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Throughout the event, where will be exhibits of innovative, eco-friendly and healthy food, energy, transportaiton, clothing, home, garden and art products and services.

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