Archive for December, 2006

Biofuels from Alge lecture in San Fran – January 9th

Posted in biodiesel on December 30, 2006 by theseep

My biodiesel mentor, Girl Mark from localb100.com and goddess of the “appleseed processor”, is setting up a fun and educational sounding biofuels presentation:

Biofuels from Algae, presentation and lecture
Tuesday, january 9th, 6-9pm
at Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia Street (at 21st), San Francisco, CA
Admission free, donations accepted
Speaker: Algae researcher jon Meuser, Ph.D. Candidate – Division of Environmental Science and Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

for more info email: classregistration@girlmark.com


		
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Lack of Airline Recycling – As if Flying Isn’t Bad Enough!

Posted in recycling on December 19, 2006 by theseep

Treehugger posted a synopsis of a NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) report that has come up with some incredible numbers on the waste that airlines produce.
“. . Airlines in the U.S. throw away enough aluminum cans every year to build 58 new 747s. . . The airline industry threw out 9,000 tons of plastic in 2004, and enough newspapers and magazines to bury a football field more than 230 feet deep. . . Each passenger today leaves behind 1.3 pounds of trash, . . Seventy five percent of which is recycleable.”
Wow. On our flight back from our family holiday trip (at least it was CO2 offset), we noticed the Delta flight attendants neatly stacking the plastic trays and cups on their cart. We asked excitedly, “Do you recycle those?” Dissapointingly they said, “Sometimes an individual flight attendant will take them off the plane and recycle them, but the company doesn’t do it and we usually don’t have access to reycling in airports.”
Making a mental note recently, it is true that many if not most airports don’t have any recycling containers avaliable. Why is this? And why don’t airlines recycle? I propose a grassroots airline recycling effort. When you fly, write a letter to the airline requesting recycling and when you are on the plane, offer to the flight attendants to take the recycling off of the plane for them.
We recycled a whole bag of plastic! only 8,999.999 tons to go!
Form Letter:

To: ________ Airlines

Re: Recycling

To Whom It May Concern:

I was on a recent flight with your airline and was quite surprised to find that despite the large amount of plastic and aluminum waste that we as passengers generated, there was no recycling of this waste at all. I am writing to encourage your company to begin a recycling program with passenger waste which could save thousands of tons of landfill per year and thousands of dollars in disposal costs for your company.

The National Resource Defense Council recently released a report on airline waste which you can see at http://www.nrdc.org/media/pressReleases/061212.asp which details how much is thrown away per year by the industry. It also discusses the cost savings to airlines when they undertake recycling as part of their waste disposal operations. In Oakland, CA they have begun recycling and costs from one airline have dropped from $7,700/month to $2,500 and another airline is saving $1,300/month.

This proposal is not only an environmentally conscious and ethical choice, but a financial and cost-saving choice for your company. Please consider an aggressive recycling program for your airline to minimize your waste and maximize your profits.

Thank you,

Your Name

Hand Sanitizers and Wusses

Posted in conservation, ethical consumerism, healthcare on December 19, 2006 by theseep

Why have we become a nation of germophobes and wimps? I hadn’t used the term since middle school, but over the last year working in the ER, the word “wussy” has come to mind over and over again. I’ve actually been inspired to write a book (in early stages) entitled “The Wussification of America.” The “wussification” ranges from everyday whining about irrelevant minutia, pointing fingers for everything rather than just taking personal responsibility, requesting large doses of narcotics in the ER for a simple ankle sprain (ibuprofen does just fine for the vast majority of non-wusses), and to this whole “germophobe” movement.
When did people start opening doors with paper towels? Why does everyone carry little tubes of chemical sanitizer on their keychains and squirt it all over whenever they touch anything? Why is nearly every soap on the store shelves “anti-bacterial”?
This rant was inspired by an “Ideal Bite” Tip, a daily eco-friendly email tip by some green-gal bloggers. I generally agree with thier advice, but this one deserves a rant.
Here’s my addition to their discussion on the subject:
. . . there is almost no need for the germophobe craze that we have developed in our country. I am an ER doctor and as JS said, studies have shown that you kill 99.9% of worrisome bacteria with regular soap and H2O (not bad for the sewer if we use biodegradeable soap!).
The harsh, unsanitary truth is, we have bacteria all over us all of the time! It is a commensualistic relationship and “good bacteria” keep “bad bacteria” from causing problematic infections. You cannot and should not get all of the germs off of your skin, your door handles, your dishes, etc.
That is not to say that you can’t catch viruses or bacteria from contact, and hygiene is a good idea to prevent spread of disease, but in general all of the sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps are just more scented chemicals in more plastic bottles that we don’t need and very well might be pressuring bacteria towards resistance.
Get over the germophobia and concentrate your efforts on things that can actually harm you, like smoking, oil companies, and politicians controlled by corporations!

"Clean-n-Green" Method Soap Founders Named "Persons of the Year" by PETA

Posted in ethical consumerism, sustainability on December 16, 2006 by theseep

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, the two young gentlemen who founded method, an environmentally responsible soap and household cleanser company, have been named PETA’s “Persons of the Year.”
In case you haven’t heard of them, they are a fantastic company who makes biodegradeable, environmentally friendly cleaning products from natural oils and safe chemicals. They’ve managed to combine style with responsibility and have fantastic scents like spearmint, sweetwater, pomegranate, grapefruit, lemongrass, almond wood cleaner, the list goes on. Target carries some things but they have a much larger selection online.
So far we’ve used the hand soap, hand lotion, compostable counter wipes, surface cleaner, glass cleaner, wood polish, laundry detergent, fabric softener, tile cleaner and candles. We still have some product categories to go! Ther cleaner works great, the soap cleans and smells incredible, and the wood polish gave a nice sheen to the wood floor in the S.E.E.P.’s soon-to-be biodiesel westfalia!
One of the best parts about this company is their commitment to “doing the right thing.” Our first internet order came dissapointingly packed in styrofoam peanuts and plastic bubble wrap. They happen to have gone to school at Stanford with one of my CEP America partners and I asked him to give them feedback about their lack of environmentally friendly shipping methods at one of their reunions. Well wouldn’t you know it, we made another order a few months later and it came shipped in dissolveable corn-starch peanuts (I ate one to test it – they don’t taste good, but they melt fast!) and paper packing! Way to go guys, this is one company that will get a lot of business from environmentally conscious consumers.

via Stefan Teitge, M.D.

Carbon/Source Labels for Products: How Much CO2 Did it Take to Make My Chips?

Posted in sustainability on December 12, 2006 by theseep


Michael McCarthy at The Independent posted a commentary discussing a trend towards consumer product labeling that includes a “carbon breakdown”, essentially alerting consumers to how much CO2 was emitted in the manufacture of a given product.
This is the start of what I think will lead consumers to responsible purchasing – mostly out of guilt, likely, but this should be beyond just CO2 emissions. We need to institute a product labeling system that includes not only CO2 produced in production and transport of the goods, but fair trade status, working conditions of factories, source material information, and waste disposal information. It seems like a lot of data, but I think that seeing the actual effects of production will force less conscious consumers to begin making more ethical decisions.
That and a nice worldwide Carbon Tax might just stimulate the economic change necessary to pull us out of this mess.

via Treehugger

National Science Teachers Association Bribed by Big Oil

Posted in ethical consumerism, politics, sustainability on December 12, 2006 by theseep


Dammit. I had already given up on politicians, but for some reason I was holding out faith that our nation’s teachers would be a bastion of honesty and integrity, leading our children to a brighter and greener future through education. Now we see that the big oil companies like ExxonMobile, Shell Oil, ConocoPhillips and the American Petroleum Institute have infiltrated our schools and our children’s‘ minds with their propaganda through huge donations to the NSTA (6 million +), even going so far as to producing energy curriculum that downplays environmental crises and emphasizing oil’s importance. The NSTA even turned down a donation of 50,000 copies of An Inconvenient Truth, citing that it would violate their policy on endorsements. I guess you just have to pay them more to violate their policies and sell their scruples. Disgusting and appalling. As usual, there’s a coverup with websites being taken down, Lori David describes the whole sordid tale at The Huffington Post.
If you’re a self-respecting science teacher, you’ll either oust your executive director, Dr. Gerry Wheeler(dealer), or disavow yourself with this crooked professional organization and start teaching some unbiased science.

via Hugg, The Huffington Post

Letter to Fox News’s "Junkman" at Junkscience.com

Posted in ethical consumerism on December 6, 2006 by theseep


While I’m not an expert in global warming science, I know how to properly research and review scientific studies and as any decent scientist, I know how to analyze an article for bias and study design flaws. I was reading Sourcewatch’s representation of Fox News and all of the oh-so-obvious bias and came across the Junkscience site, hosted by Fox News’s Steven Milloy. Within a few sentences it became obvious that this is biased as well and the page takes liberties with scientific data as well as people’s emotions.
Here is the letter:

I came across your site while reading about how Fox News is biased towards conservative Republicanism and caters to the Bush administrations agenda. In the usual Fox News idiom, this spin-off does exactly that: misrepresent real data for it’s own ends. After reading your column on global warming, I cannot in any way call you a scientist or support the notion that your site is able to accurately research and synthesize scientific data.
Your column regurgitates quite a few facts and formulas, but distorts them in a biased and unfair manner. Your discussion deals largely with semantics of nomenclature rather than any actual science. The jovial and insulting nature of the writing essentially removes any credibility from your discussion. Similar to Ann Coulter’s rambling and flaming of those that do not agree with her, you present any opposing data derisively, immediately adding bias to your supposed scientific analysis. Arguments like trying to debunk computer models are pointless – of course there are many assumptions built in, if you knew all of the variables, you wouldn’t have to model it!
If you want to truly represent scientific data and present an organized, fair position, you need to stop the theatrics, stop omitting relevant data, and look inside yourself to see what your true motivations are.
Sincerely,
Clint Slaughter, M.D.