October 21st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) are holding public hearings this week on the country’s first greenhouse gas emissions limits for passenger vehicles.
Hearings began today in Detroit and will continue in New York City on Friday and Los Angeles on Tuesday. You can thank President Obama for pushing this environmental agenda, in concert with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, automakers, the United Auto Workers Union and eco-conscious organizations.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), passenger cars and light trucks emit “nearly 20% of the nation’s greenhouse gases, in the form of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons. In April, EPA provisionally found that these four contaminants and two other greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.”
The proposed standards would apply to new cars produced from 2012 to 2016. The EDF cites the following benefits:
- Breaking Our Oil Addiction and Strengthening National Security. The vehicles subject to the proposed standards are responsible for about 40% of all U.S. oil consumption. The standards would reduce our oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels, while achieving a 5% annual improvement in fuel efficiency for U.S. passenger cars.
- Reducing Global-Warming Pollution. Vehicles covered by the proposed standards account for 60% of heat-trapping emissions from the transportation sector and about 20% of all U.S. heat-trapping gases. These emissions have increased by more than 1% annually. The proposal would cut carbon dioxide pollution from passenger vehicles approximately 21% by 2030, reducing emissions by 950 million tons.
- Saving Money at the Pump. Families can save more than $3,000 over a vehicle’s lifetime.
Read More:Feds Hold Public Hearings on Auto Emissions Limits
June 12th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
We love big SUVs! We also love running the air-conditioning, towing huge RVs and campers, building dirty factories and every other carbon dioxide-spewing bad habit.
And by now, we all know that the United States and China are the leaders in greenhouse gas emissions, but President Obama is optimistic. He thinks the U.S. can lead the way on climate change.
Obama said the world needs target goals and not vague approaches, calling for tough decisions and concrete actions in order to stop a potentially cataclysmic disaster.
Just last month, natives of the Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea had to abandon their homes due to encroaching seawaters.
The President urged nations with large carbon footprints to lead-by-example otherwise it will be difficult to persuade emerging nations to clean up their act. In December, countries will meet in the Danish capital of Copenhagen to discuss new climate change pacts and policies to counteract global warming.
Now, saying this is one thing. But can a nation of NASCAR fans oblige? I have my doubts.
Via the AFP.
Read More:Obama Says U.S. Can Lead on Climate Change
May 11th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Ever step in dog poop? It’s so bad! It’s gross and it stinks. Now, imagine living in a house built with animal crap, seriously.
It could happen. Those bricks are made using cow dung. Believe it or not, poop bricks are 20% lighter and 20% stronger than clay bricks.
There are ecological advantages too. Digging up clay scars the land and mining equipment and machines release carbon emissions.
And as ironic as it may sound, crap bricks are actually cleaner and putting the dung to better use may help improve public hygiene in developing countries. In parts of Indonesia where cow dung from farming is abundant, rural communities may people to develop partnerships with local communities in need of building materials.
Experts call the bricks a feasible solution for rapidly emerging areas in Indonesia and other nations.
Read More:What a Crappy House…
May 5th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
I hate spam. We all do. Most of us have more spam in our inboxes than actual email. It’s annoying! And apparently bad for the environment.
Here’s the problem. Computers run on electricity and the more time you spend sifting through spam, the more power you consume:
The study, commissioned by anti-virus software maker, McAfee, and produced by the consulting firm ICF International, found that spam emails worldwide wasted 33 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2008, an amount equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million American homes.
At the individual level, a single spam email emits only 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but with an estimated 62 trillion spam emails sent worldwide in 2008, the cumulative emissions of spam are approximately 17 million metric tons of CO2 — a number equivalent to the emissions from approximately 1.5 million American homes.
The report attributes the vast majority of spam’s greenhouse gas emissions to energy used in the process of viewing and deleting spam or searching for legitimate email erroneously trapped in spam filters.
Even anti-spam developers admit their programs drain roughly 16% of a computer’s power devoted to handling spam. Granted, it’s not an ideal solution, but I think we’d all agree it’s a necessary evil.
Read More:Spam Email Devours a Ton of Electricity!
April 22nd, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Being overweight or obese is bad. The health risks are significant. It’s common knowledge. You’re more likely to get heart disease and diabetes if you’re heavy, but could being fat whack the planet too? Experts say yes.
Think about it. I’m you’re thin taking a stroll to the store sounds like a great idea, but if you’re fat and have a hard time getting around. You’re not walking anywhere. Instead you’ll probably jump in the car for that five minute trip:
“When it comes to food consumption, moving about in a heavy body is like driving around in a gas guzzler,” and food production is a major source of greenhouse gases, researchers Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts wrote in their study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
“We need to be doing a lot more to reverse the global trend toward fatness, and recognize it as a key factor in the battle to reduce (carbon) emissions and slow climate change,” the British scientists said.
They estimated that each fat person is responsible for about one ton of carbon dioxide emissions a year more on average than each thin person, adding up to an extra one billion tons of CO2 a year in a population of one billion overweight people.
I guess walking to and fro the refrigerator doesn’t count. European experts estimate each citizen contributes 11 tons of emissions each year. Now, when you consider the obesity epidemic, I guess it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
With gasoline at $8.20 a gallon in the United Kingdom, they might want to get a handle on all this.
Read More:Fat People Weighing Down the Planet
January 28th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
New research in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals improved air quality in the United States has added months to people’s lives.
Between 1978 and 2001, the average lifespan in the U.S. increased to 77 years old, up 3 years from previous figures, experts attribute the jump to lower levels of harmful particulates.
Particulate matter in air pollution, like grit, dust, soot and chemicals from factories and cars, can lodge deep in people’s lungs and heighten risk of lung disease, heart attack and stroke.
Scientists examined government census data and death records from 51 U.S. cities and after adjusting for variables, such as smoking habits, income, education and migration, they determined from 1978 to 2001 particulate matter in the air fell from 21 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 14 micrograms per cubic meter in the studied cities and during this time Americans lived an average of 2.72 years longer; the Associated Press reports.
The Clean Air Act, passed in the 1970s, is credited for the improvements. The legislation gave the Environmental Protection Agency the power to establish and enforce national standards to protect people from particulates and other pollutants.
Now, states like California are doing their part to improve air quality. Starting this year, all new cars sold in the state will display labels ranking the vehicle’s smog emissions and impact on global warming.
Read More:Cleaner Air Lengthens Lives
January 8th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
It might look like something out of a 1960’s future world, but Drake Landing Solar Community, just outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada is North America’s first solar-powered community, 52 houses getting most of their space-heating energy needs from an interconnected network of solar panels.
A total of 800 panels, installed on garage roofs throughout the neighborhood, generate 1.5 megawatts of thermal energy during the summer. And extra power is stored underground for the shorter, colder days of winter.
The homes sold quickly, especially after June testing revealed the system captured and stored exactly the amount of energy that had been calculated, with the last house going this October.
In 5 years, together the neighborhood will have saved up enough solar energy to provide 90% of the community’s heating needs during the winter.
Also, all the houses are gold-certified for being green. The average Canadian household emits 6 to 7 tons of greenhouse gas annually, but Drake Landing’s homes only produce 1 to 2 tons per year.
Read More:Canada Establishes Solar Powered Community
January 7th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
That big sticker on new cars at the dealership is mystifying. So much information! And I have no idea what it all means. But California is about to cram more details on there.
Starting this year, all 2009 model cars sold in California will post labels ranking the vehicle’s emission standards, specifically smog and the car’s impact on global warming.
The brainchild of California’s Air Resources Board, the new stickers will rate smog and global warming on a scale of 1 to 10. The higher the scores, the more environmentally-friendly the car is.
Most vehicles receive an average rank of 5 for both criteria.
The global warming score is based on the car’s greenhouse gas emissions and pollution caused during manufacturing. And the smog rating tallies the vehicle’s non-methane organic gases and nitrogen oxides.
To learn more, check out www.DriveClean.ca.gov.
Read More:California to Rate Cars on Smog and Global Warming