Archive for January, 2007

Senator Feinstein Introduces "Electric Utility Cap-and-Trade Act of 2007"

Posted in politics on January 30, 2007 by theseep

I recently wrote a letter to Senator Feinstein of California and here is her enlightening reply:

Dear Dr. Slaughter:

Thank you for writing to me to share your concerns about global warming. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue and welcome the opportunity to respond.

I understand and share your concerns about global warming. There is clear and convincing evidence that global warming is occurring. According to a report issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the Earth’s surface temperature rose about one degree Fahrenheit during the 20th century. This warming process has intensified in the past 20 years and has been accompanied by retreating glaciers, thinning arctic ice, rising sea levels, and the increasing likelihood of droughts and floods.

If global warming continues unabated, we face a number of potential environmental problems including severe disruptions in normal weather patterns, flooding in coastal communities, changes in global agricultural production, and the spread of tropical diseases. California would be hard-hit by these changes.

I believe it is past time for Congress to act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in order to curb the impacts of climate change. As a result, I am a cosponsor of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 2 billion tons, or 25 percent, by the end of the decade and the Jeffords Clean Power Act that would reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and mercury emissions from power plants.

Not only do we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from the utility sector, it is also necessary to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. America’s cars and light trucks are responsible for 33 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide pollution. As a result, I have re-introduced the “Automobile Fuel Economy Act of 2005” (S. 889). This bill would phase in an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light duty trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) so that by 2011, light duty trucks and SUVs would meet the same CAFE standards as cars do today. Closing the “SUV loophole” will save 1 million barrels of oil a day, decrease foreign oil imports by 10 percent, and prevent 240 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.

I believe that our nation needs to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, please know that I will do everything possible to support the continued development of renewable sources of power such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, in addition to promoting the most efficient use of our finite resources.

Again, thank you for writing to me. If you have any additional comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

She expanded on this futher in this San Francisco Chronicle article:

"Trading away coal-fired power pollution"

HomeBlown U.S. Announces "Green" Surfboard Blanks

Posted in ethical consumerism, sustainability on January 23, 2007 by theseep

Surfing remains one of those activities that portrays an environmentally friendly nature, reveling in the majesty of the ocean’s power and beauty, yet utilizes very non-environmental gear. Polyethylene foam is very toxic to produce and work with and the largest supplier of surfboard blanks, Clark Foam, was shut down a few years ago for continuing to violate EPA regulations. Homeblown, a UK company, has developed deployable foam technology with an environmentally friendly twist. The stateside sister company, HomeBlown U.S., has announced the availability of a “Green” surfboard blank, with 50% of the material made from plant-based products. They claim 36% less global warming emissions and a 61% reduction in non-renewable energy use. The company is also making “Biofoam” for other applications such as insulation and panels and is employing a deployable system for site-based production, realizing that shipping raw materials is much less energy-intensive than shipping a final product. The prices of these surfboard blanks is competitive with traditional polyethylene foam yet is 10% lighter and 20% stronger! Another UK company, the ecosurfstore, has developed environmentally-friendly surfboards using balsa ribs overlayed with hemp cloth and resin. Now all we need is for all us surfers to start utilizing this technology and keep demanding eco-friendly alternatives!

via Wetsand.com

If You MUST Use Gasoline – Make The Best Choice You Can.

Posted in ethical consumerism on January 15, 2007 by theseep

The Sierra Club has published “Pick Your Poison: An updated environmentalist’s guide to gasoline“, an update to a 2001 article, which profiles the 8 largest U.S. oil companies. The review of each company includes “Black Marks”, “Stance on Global Warming”, and “Green Initiatives.”
The basic lineup is as follows:

Bottom of the Barrel: ExxonMobil -ConocoPhillips
Middle of the Barrel: Royal Dutch Shell -Chevron-Valero Energy Corp. – Citgo
Top of the Barrel: BP – Sunoco

Although we should be personally off of petrol in the next few months with our biodiesel production, it has taken us a year and a half to do so and we’re still using gasoline from time to time. Being more green has been a slow transition for Laura and I. As we learn more about where our goods come from and the true cost of the energy we use, we make slow but important changes in how and what we consume. I wouldn’t call being an ethical consumer “hard”, but it does require research education, and attention to detail. This guide is just like any other consumer guide – it puts power in the peoples’ hands to choose what companies deserve their dollar. This concept has been covered in The New Internationalist fairly well and it comes down to the fact that ethical shopping IS important and will slowly but surely change how even the biggest corporations source, manufacture, package, and transport their products. If we refuse to buy processed cheese with nitrites and preservatives, demanding organic cheese from grassfed beef, the healthier, more environmentally friendly option will become more available and less expensive. The same goes for our gasoline – if we refuse to support the likes of ExxonMobil, who has spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil, violates EPA standards routinely, and has paid millions of dollars to falsely add doubt into the science of global warming, they will lose power. If you won’t write your congresspersons, get solar, use biofuels, ride your bike, march in protests, etc, you can still be a “lazy environmentalist.” A little bit of simple research on what you consume, followed by a modicum of thought and judgement and your everyday spending habits can make a huge environmental impact (for better and for worse). This doesn’t just apply to oil – ethical consumerism is something that needs to be mainstream – your consumption choices in everything impact the market, change how products are grown, made, traded, and sold and need to be made as responsibly as possible!
Boycott ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips!

iPhone announced at MacWorld 2007!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2007 by theseep

OK, so it’s not environmental and everyone else already posted this yesterday, but being an avid PDA user and a Newton user from days past, I feel a need to weigh in.
The iPhone looks to be indeed revolutionary as Mr. Jobs is touting. Widescreen video iPod. Phone. Interned communications device. 4-8 gb built in memory. Wi-Fi. Bluetooth. And what I’m most impressed by – the high-resoultion, “multi-touch” screen. Take all of that and wrap it in the typical apple-ly stylistic manner and you have an amazing device.
A few questions that I’m sure will reveal themselves as the iPhone comes out with the usual cultish behavior from apple fans (I’m only partially in the cult).
How will the purported “OS X” be implemented? Will it be easy to develop 3rd party applications? Will I have medical software? Can it really compete with Windows Mobile? Where in the he%$ is the handwriting recognition? Hello? Apple started the PDA thing with the Newton! The processor hasn’t been revealed, will it be fast enough to handle this “OS X” when taxed with more advanced apps? Most importantly, where can I get one without having to sign up with Cingular? T-Mo has better data plans and the coverage is the same (T-Mobile has unlimited data for $20-30/month, Cingular’s is $45/month).
No more drooling. Although the iPhone looks delicious as Apple’s offerings usually do, will it really stand up when put to the PDA test? Then again, does it need to – do people just want a sweet-looking wide/touchscreen video iPod Nano slash phone or do they want the power and customizability of Windows Mobile? I was a Newton guy for years until Jobs killed it, went straight to PocketPC (now Windows Mobile) skipping Palm OS altogether. If Apple mistankenly(not a spelling error) locks the iPhone down, not allowing 3rd party applications and limiting platform development, it will lose the business and power-user sectors and will be reliant on the die-hard apple fanboys and the pocketbooks of middle-class teens’ parents for their marketshare.

Treehugger.com’s Go Green Guides

Posted in conservation, ethical consumerism, green energy, recycling, sustainability on January 7, 2007 by theseep


One of my favorite eco-blogs of course is Treehugger.com and I just noticed that they built a new “Go Green Guide” section! They break it down into the following sections:

Go treehuggers go.

graphic is from a t-shirt available at the American made and sweatshop-free bant-shirts.com

Home Biodiesel Production Diary

Posted in biodiesel on January 4, 2007 by theseep

I’m starting a diary of our use of biodiesel for a reference to those curious about getting involved. Here’s the first entry:

Biodiesel Diary: Our 1 year and counting experience with biodiesel

1/3/07

Progress thus far: Since 10/05 we have made 420 Gallons of Biodiesel using used vegetable oil from The Splash Cafe in San Luis Obispo, CA. We have spent a total of $1665 on our system and supplies thus far (not counting the cars), making our total cost per gallon $3.96, but with an ongoing supply cost of only $1.40/gallon. By the time we’ve made 650 gallons or so, we will have brought our total cost down to $2.50/gallon, the current market price for petrol diesel. From there on out, we’re saving money by making our own fuel from renewable, domestic resources.

Impressive.

We have driven over 8,000 miles in a 1984 Mercedes diesel wagon. The Mercedes ran very well with biodiesel, the only conversion we had to do was to change the fuel lines to vyton to prevent breakdown from the fuel and change the fuel filter twice over 3-6 months due to the solvent powers of biodiesel and leftover gunk in the tank from petrol diesel. These can be done fairly easily yourself or can be done for a few hundred dollars or less with a local mechanic. The mercedes never stalled, never needed other servicing and ran like a classic 22 year jalopy should – reliably and resolutely.

Current car: 2003 Jetta TD Wagon, purchased 11/06 and we’ve driven over 1000 miles with no problems. We have not modified the car in any way from stock to run our home-brew biodiesel and are doing great! We love the heated leather seats and power sunroof, not to mention that it gets over 40 miles per gallon!. I’ll post a full review of this biodiesel gem soon.

What You Can Do About Global Warming!

Posted in biodiesel, conservation, ethical consumerism, green energy, politics, recycling, solar, sustainability on January 4, 2007 by theseep


A few months ago I started an info page with basic tips on how to decrease your Carbon footprint and contribute to lessening global warming.
It will be the basis for our “solution library” where it will be easy to find resources to help you along in lessening your impact and starting to help the solution. I think the biggest things that we can all do right now is improve our own habits, spread awareness, and educate yourself, your family and your friends about our global energy crisis and our climate crisis. As more people realize where humanity stands, on the brink of a fall from grace, they will instigate change, they will pressure our government to take the necessary actions to save our economy, or civilization, and our planet.

Do it. Do it. (Not a Nike “do it. “, like Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in Starsky and Hutch.)
photo credit: Betty Slaughter