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Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

We’ve voiced our concern here before that solar power generating plants still have an environmental footprint.

But this nifty graphic, by David McCandless of Information is Beautiful, places that worry within an impressively positive context.

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– more on washing lines!

Other pressing duties have kept us from updating this site anything like as often as we’d have liked, but while we’ve been somewhat dormant it’s been interesting to see what has still brought people here.  Perhaps the number one subject on the site that has drawn in visitors over the past year is the issue of washing lines.

Laundry liberation, it seems, is a big deal for a lot of people.

Well, here’s another article on the same theme.

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We’re happy to see the Nation devote an entire week of stories to the issue of green economics.  Important stuff there to check out.

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Yes, there is such a thing — running right now at the Eden Project in the UK.

It showcases “the pioneers who are making breakthroughs in aerodynamics, new fuels, engines and ultra-light materials.”

Of course you don’t have to rely on technology to make your drive greener, the Independent reminds us. As writer Sean O’Grady explains in his review of the Sexy Green Car Show, while you might knock 10 per cent off your fuel bill with a greener car, you can cut another 25 per cent simply by driving more sensibly.

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It stands to reason that larger people eat more than smaller ones, which means that it takes more agricultural production — a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions — to feed them, too.

Basic physics also tells us that it takes more energy to move larger people around in planes, trains or automobiles. And unless that transport is driven by sustainably-sourced power, it makes sense that the bigger people are, the bigger (on average) are their contributions to transportation-derived climate change.

That thesis is codified in this week’s edition of the medical journal, the Lancet, by a team from the London School Hygiene & Tropical Medicine which finds that global obesity is a contributing factor to global warming.

“The researchers pegged 40 percent of the global population as obese,” reports Reuters. That’s a lot of extra food and fossil fuel being consumed that could be saved if people just had healthier body mass indices.

This statement of the somewhat obvious might have the unfortunate effect of contributing to prejudices against the obese, for whom achieving a healthy weight is often far more than a mere matter of will power.

But it might drive something positive, too, in the shape of further pressure upon us all to ask hard questions about why so many people make the kind of nutritional and lifestyle choices that result in their becoming obese. If this research helps further discredit the US subsidization of ‘junk’ calories that reside in products like high-fructose corn syrup, for example, we might be able to both help slow the warming of our planet and give its human citizens a healthier, and longer, life upon it.

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It may be hard to believe, but some 35,000 homeowners’ associations in California alone ban clotheslines.

That’s a lot of places where the wonderfully drying California sun could be doing for free what otherwise takes a lot of energy and, these days, adds plenty to homeowners’ gas or electric bills.

As Mindy Spatt of the Utility Reform Network pointed out in an op-ed column last week, a clothes line

requires no government subsidy, no tax rebate and no expensive installation. On a hot day, it can practically match an electric or gas dryer load for load. And it costs next to nothing.

She contrasts the savings in energy we’d achieve simply by air-drying our clothes with the money the State of California is spending on finding high-tech, and too often high-cost, solutions to our energy ills.  Says Spatt:

it isn’t necessary to drive bills for essentials like heat and light through the roof to fight climate change. We can lower our bills and conserve energy at the same time with low-tech, low-cost solutions. Electric and gas dryers account for about 10 percent of residential electricity usage statewide.

So let’s press those homeowners associations to stop banning clotheslines, Spatt argues.  If, like us, you agree with her, you can find  more information at Project Laundry List.

From the news items posted at the site, that snobbery about laundry is a nationwide phenomenon.  Spatt’s op-ed suggests one good trick to get around that: Don’t call it a ‘clothes line,’ call it a ‘solar dryer.’

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As environmental issues finally seem urgent to broad swathes of the US commentariat, that reality is spawning all sorts of creative arguments for what people wanted all along.

Take the example of drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive habitats in the USA. In a Tribune Media column today, the Hoover Institution’s Victor Davis Hanson argues — quite creatively — that the proper response to our various environmental crises is for the US to drill for more oil in Alaska and off the Florida and California coasts.

His reasoning, essentially, is that right now we don’t have any decent alternatives to oil and that other oil exporters are nasty mean guys who don’t care about polluting. So if the US can become more oil-independent, it will make the polluters poorer and more likely to be deposed (at whatever human cost) and therefore make for less pollution! He says:

the choices facing us, at least for the next few decades, are not between bad and good, but between bad and far worse – and involve wider questions of global security, fairness and growing scarcity.

It’s a little like George Bush’s firm belief that the solution to everything is to cut taxes on the rich. We can expect to see a lot more of this: people finding in climate change a rationale for doing what they wanted to do, even before climate change was something they felt was an issue.

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