Entries Tagged as 'Environment'

Better late…

It’s been a quarter century after the automotive industry received a wake-up call and they seem to finally get it.

A few auto makers toyed with all electric vehicles in the early 90’s; but Honda introduced us to the hybrid vehicle, and Toyota catapulted it into a business success.

Both Honda and Toyota had hoped to introduce fuel cell technology vehicles, but with the world’s economy in shambles building out the infrastructure for that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

Now we have virtually every auto maker introducing electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid; many are also introducing high efficiency (bio) diesel vehicles.

Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Ford, GM, Volkswagen — just to name a few — have made a serious commitment to increasing the fuel efficiency of their fleet (and thus decreasing their carbon foot print).

GM announced a 100,000 mile, 8-year warranty on their new Volt — displaying to consumers that they have a great deal of confidence in their offering.  Other companies like Tesla have offered a pre-purchased battery replacement.

I haven’t done exhaustive research on all the offerings; the Prius is likely to continue to be a near term winner, it get’s a plug-in option next year; and the Insight get’s that the following year.  However the Volt goes the other route and is an electric car with a backup generator (giving it over 300 miles range, and a somewhat simpler design since it doesn’t require the complex drive system found in most hybrids).

I’m still driving my 1997 Toyota 4Runner, it’s got 350,000 miles on it and going strong.  I’d considered replacing it during the “cash-for-clunkers” program, but it just didn’t seem to make sense to me since I couldn’t find any suitable replacement vehicle that got better than 30 miles to the gallon — and the math just didn’t work out financially, nor did the impact on the environment for disposing of a perfectly functional vehicle seem right.

It might not be until 2014 or so that we really have a number of good options for vehicles that provide the features and economy we’re looking for… but finally we’re on a path that should reduce the environmental impact of the continuing car culture.

Originally posted 2010-07-27 02:00:24.

High Speed Rail might be de-railed

It’s very likely that one of the casualties of the mid-term elections will be the high-speed-rail grants.

Representative John Mica (R-FL) who is in line to be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has indicated he wants to re-examine all $10 billion worth of high-speed-rail grants that have already been awarded around the country.

High speed rail service would be an extremely cost effective competitor to increasing air transportation; it would be far more eco-friendly; use less energy; potentially use renewable energy; and unlike airports, high speed rail stations could be in the middle of busy metropolitan areas.

No question the US has to tighten it’s belt and bring it’s spending in line with it’s bank accounts — but investments in long term infrastructure improvements are likely what will allow the economy to rebound and gain a solid footing.

I’d say we need to look at all the spending and make sure we make cuts where it’s waste first — and then weigh the costs and benefits before making other cuts.

As I’ve posted before — we could cut down the salaries, retirement pensions, and health insurance costs for elected official… that’s a good start to savings — and elected officials should get the same “benefits” they approve for the American people.

Originally posted 2010-11-23 02:00:13.

Drug Drop Off

This weekend the Office of Diversion Control, part of the US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has organized a free way to dispose of pharmaceuticals that you might have around your home that have expired or that you no longer need.

In cooperation with a number of local law enforcement agencies, drop off locations will be available for the proper disposal of pharmaceuticals.

The drop off locations will not accept injectable drugs, IV medications, or anything involving needles — plus the DEA has stated that “illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine” are not included in it’s collection program.

I really don’t understand why the program did not include illicit substances (seems like a good thing to get off the street), and certainly (like most any pharmaceutical) you don’t want people flushing illicit substances down the toilet or throwing them in the trash.

I can understand the limitation on needles and such — but would it have been so hard for them to have collection containers and remove all the limitations.

Office of Diversion Control

Originally posted 2010-09-26 02:00:04.

Hurricane Names

Hurricane names come from six pre-established lists; however, when a storm is extremely severe, it’s name is retired from the list and replaced by a new name.  You can view lists for past and future years simply by doing an internet search on “hurricane names”.  [Notice that there are no names on the list that begin with the letters ‘Q’ or ‘U’]

The name list for 2009-2012 Atlantic Hurrican Seasons are:

  • 2009 Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian, Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda
  • 2010 Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, Walter
  • 2011 Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, Whitney
  • 2012 Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, William

 Retired hurricane names alphabetical:

  • Agnes (1972)
  • Alicia (1983)
  • Allen (1980)
  • Allison (2001)
  • Andrew (1992)
  • Anita (1977)
  • Audrey (1957)
  • Betsy (1965)
  • Beulah (1967)
  • Bob (1991)
  • Camille (1969)
  • Carla (1961)
  • Carmen (1974)
  • Carol (1954)
  • Celia (1970)
  • Cesar (1996)
  • Charley (2004)
  • Cleo (1964)
  • Connie (1955)
  • David (1979)
  • Dean (2007)
  • Dennis (2005)
  • Diana (1990)
  • Diane (1955)
  • Donna (1960)
  • Dora (1964)
  • Edna (1968)
  • Elena (1985)
  • Eloise (1975)
  • Fabian (2003)
  • Felix (2007)
  • Fifi (1974)
  • Flora (1963)
  • Floyd (1999)
  • Fran (1996)
  • Frances (2004)
  • Frederic (1979)
  • Georges (1998)
  • Gilbert (1988)
  • Gloria (1985)
  • Gustav (2008)
  • Hattie (1961)
  • Hazel (1954)
  • Hilda (1964)
  • Hortense (1996)
  • Hugo (1989)
  • Ike (2008)
  • Inez (1966)
  • Ione (1955)
  • Iris (2001)
  • Isabel (2003)
  • Isidore (2002)
  • Ivan (2004)
  • Janet (1955)
  • Jeanne (2004)
  • Joan (1988)
  • Juan (2003)
  • Katrina (2005)
  • Keith (2000)
  • Klaus (1990)
  • Lenny (1999)
  • Lili (2002)
  • Luis (1995)
  • Marilyn (1995)
  • Michelle (2001)
  • Mitch (1998)
  • Noel (2007)
  • Opal (1995)
  • Paloma (2008)
  • Rita (2005)
  • Roxanne (1995)
  • Stan (2005)
  • Wilma (2005)

Retired hurricane names chronological:

  • 1954 – Carol
  • 1954 – Hazel
  • 1955 – Connie
  • 1955 – Diane
  • 1955 – Ione
  • 1955 – Janet
  • 1957 – Audrey
  • 1960 – Donna
  • 1961 – Carla
  • 1961 – Hattie
  • 1963 – Flora
  • 1964 – Cleo
  • 1964 – Dora
  • 1964 – Hilda
  • 1965 – Betsy
  • 1966 – Inez
  • 1967 – Beulah
  • 1968 – Edna
  • 1969 – Camille
  • 1970 – Celia
  • 1972 – Agnes
  • 1974 – Carmen
  • 1974 – Fifi
  • 1975 – Eloise
  • 1977 – Anita
  • 1979 – David
  • 1979 – Frederic
  • 1980 – Allen
  • 1983 – Alicia
  • 1985 – Elena
  • 1985 – Gloria
  • 1988 – Gilbert
  • 1988 – Joan
  • 1989 – Hugo
  • 1990 – Diana
  • 1990 – Klaus
  • 1991 – Bob
  • 1992 – Andrew
  • 1995 – Luis
  • 1995 – Marilyn
  • 1995 – Opal
  • 1995 – Roxanne
  • 1996 – Cesar
  • 1996 – Fran
  • 1996 – Hortense
  • 1998 – Georges
  • 1998 – Mitch
  • 1999 – Floyd
  • 1999 – Lenny
  • 2000 – Keith
  • 2001 – Allison
  • 2001 – Iris
  • 2001 – Michelle
  • 2002 – Isidore
  • 2002 – Lili
  • 2003 – Fabian
  • 2003 – Isabel
  • 2003 – Juan
  • 2004 – Charley
  • 2004 – Frances
  • 2004 – Ivan
  • 2004 – Jeanne
  • 2005 – Dennis
  • 2005 – Katrina
  • 2005 – Rita
  • 2005 – Stan
  • 2005 – Wilma
  • 2007 – Dean
  • 2007 – Felix
  • 2007 – Noel
  • 2008 – Gustav
  • 2008 – Ike
  • 2008 – Paloma

Originally posted 2009-08-11 01:00:26.

Carbon

Several years ago NPR and PBS put together an animated short series (five episodes) on carbon to help explain why global climate change occurs.

It’s fun to watch — and informative if you don’t have a solid background in chemistry.

Episode 1: It’s All About Carbon
Episode 2: Carbon’s Special Knack for Bonding
Episode 3: Break a Carbon Bond and — Presto! — Civilization
Episode 4: When Carbon Falls in Love, the World Heats Up
Episode 5: What We Can Do About Global Warming

Originally posted 2010-07-18 02:00:46.

The Anti-Green – Architectural Lighting

It’s estimated that US electrical plants burn six million tons of coal daily to power unnecessary outdoor lighting — this estimate doesn’t include the wasted hydroelectric in areas like Las Vegas used to power unnecessary outdoor lighting.  Another estimate puts the waste at three-hundred twenty thousand kilowatt hours per minute!

Often called “light pollution” this unnecessary outdoor lighting could be produced by individuals or businesses and both need to take responsibility for adopting more sustainable lighting policies.

Earth Day this year illustrated just how much “needless” light we humans produce… and just what the potential savings and reductions could be.

Consider that electricity isn’t free; it has the initial cost of purchasing the kilo-watt hour of power and the negative impact it’s generation had on the environment (even in areas where wind or hydroelectric are used there are negative impacts to the environment — and power saved there could be routed to areas using coal or natural gas for power further reducing the carbon footprint).

This is an excellent area where it doesn’t take much to save a great deal.

First, think — if the light doesn’t serve a useful purpose, turn it off; or use it sparingly.  Put it on a timer or a motion sensor if you’re forgetful.

Second, consider the lighting technology.  Lights that need to be on quite a bit should use technology that’s efficient, like LED lighting.  Lights that are on occasionally could use (and recycle your existing CF bulbs — remember production and disposal of those lighting elements have an adverse effect on the environment).  For lights that are rarely on, and heat does not pose a problem re-using your existing incandescent bulbs might make sense.

Third, consider using solar powered LED lighting completely for outdoor lighting.  While the rechargeable batteries in those devices do impose potential environmental impact, properly recycled their impact is greatly mitigated by their years of service lighting without drawing power from the grid.

In commercial applications it’s probably a no win situation unless the business takes directed action to improve their lighting; and that might require local, state, and federal government taking action to make it fiscally desirable — a combination of taxes and tax credits.  Here we as individuals might want to take the initiatives to make heavy consumers of electricity pay a “waste” tax (users who actually produce real goods and services would have a threshold for the tax than those who simply consume it for eye candy effect).

I certainly believe that an individual or company should be able to purchase and use electricity for whatever purpose they desire; however, I also believe that individuals and companies that waste that electricity without providing benefit to society as a whole should shoulder the costs of the impact on the environment more than those who attempt to use resources responsibly.

Originally posted 2010-05-24 02:00:04.

Hemp for Victory

latin: cannapaceus (made from hemp) from greek: κάνναβις (cannabis)

 

The US Government once denied this film was ever made — hemp (marijuana) production was apparently acceptable (encouraged) to win World War II, but quickly the view shifted (and not because of concerns for abuse).

 



Originally posted 2015-04-29 12:00:08.

The Anti-Green – Junk Mail

Why does the United States Postal Service encourage companies to send “Junk Mail” by substantially reducing the costs of distributing it?

It just doesn’t make sense.

Sure, I understand that it may actually cost the post office a little less to distribute junk mail than it does to distribute first class letters and such — but take a look at how little junk mail you even look at… and how much ends up in your recycle bin (and I’m not even going to bring up the large number of people who probably don’t recycle since they don’t have curb-side recycling programs).

America needs to take action to reduce it’s carbon footprint — and as I have pointed out for the last few days it would be extremely easy to make a fairly substantial improvement without sacrificing anything most consumers care about — and in fact, it would probably improve the quality of life for most Americans not having a mailbox full of junk mail they have to sort through so as not to miss something that might be important.

Sure, the post office would probably have to raise the cost of postage, and possibly reduce the service level (hey — I have no problem with mail not being delivered on Saturday — of maybe being delivered only on alternate days or only a few days per week).  The overall effect would be a decrease in the waste (of natural resources and energy).

Originally posted 2010-05-10 02:00:50.

The Anti-Green – Phone Books

Wasting natural resources and destroying the environment to produce and distribute phone books is simply unconscionable.

Ask yourself why a company would produce a paper phone book and distribute them to every household they serve.  In fact, there are multiple “yellow pages” produced and distributed.

Why???

Many, though admittedly not all, households in this country have broadband internet connections — and that enables them to locate up-to-the minute information online… none of these people really need a phone book of any kind.

Further, automated directory assistance actually makes it considerably less expensive for a company to do away with phone books entirely and just provide free directory service to their customers — and certainly there are a number of providers that offer free directory service to anyone (you do generally have to listen to an advertisement).

This country could greatly reduce it’s carbon footprint simply be eliminating much of the waste… and phone books are a good place to start.

I certainly don’t want a phone book or any “yellow pages” style book delivered to my house — and while I do recycle them, eliminating them entirely would save the trees, the paper, the energy required to produce and distribute as well as recycle!!!

Obviously American business isn’t going to change without encouragement (if they were going to change and do “the right thing” we’d see a movement in that direction by now)… so why don’t we as a country implement a recycling tax???  Simply put, each and every producer must pay a fee based on materials used in the production of goods and services — that get’s passed along and those who turn the items back in for recycling or re-use get a credit.

Obviously companies that send out “free” items have to bear the cost of the fee, and consumers who receive these un-wanted items get the credit.

My guess is even a modest fee would reshape the landscape almost overnight.


You might want to make sure you read the terms and conditions on the below link and understand that you’re disclosing information to a third party who you will have to decide whether or not to trust… I personally find the web site a little light on providing me with legal information to take serious.

YellowPagesGoesGreen.org

Originally posted 2010-05-08 05:00:25.

100 miles to the gallon

That’s right.  The Edison2 (Lynchburg, VA, US) won half of the $10 million US  Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize for a gasoline powered vehicle capable of seating four adults that cruises city streets at over 100 mpg dubbed the Very Light Car.

Most of the high efficiency vehicles in the competition are electric powered.

X-Tracer (Winterthur,  CH [Switzerland]) with their two passenger E-Tracer; and Li-ion Motors (Charlotte, NC, US) with their two passenger Wave2 each won a quarter of the prize.

Originally posted 2010-09-18 02:00:20.