Monday, October 13, 2008

Podcars in Raleigh??

I read this earlier today, about Ithaca, NY possibly getting a podcar system. For those that may not know, a podcar is kind of like a monorail, except with many small 4 passenger maximum cars. It's described a lot of times like an elevator, only it goes horizontal. It is fully electric and very efficient (they also say that a single rail system would be the equivalent of a 3 lane highway). It got me thinking, why not in the triangle? Public transit systems have notoriously been doomed around here, partially because of just how spread out things are, but also the overall traffic on the roads, but most importantly the price. If this truly is about 10% as expensive as a light rail system or a subway, it is definitely worth a look. Here is the Unimodal website (the company mentioned in the article). This just looks SOOOO cool. I've been trying to imagine just how awesome it would be to see this in the triangle all day. Anyone have any great ideas on how we can make it happen?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Drill Drill Drill :(

So the news today is basically the moratorium on offshore oil drilling will be allowed to expire. Forget about any of these comprehensive energy bills that include renewables that everyone SAYS they want. This is pretty discouraging to me personally, since it is pretty much all of the bad with none of the good. Hopefully, one the election is over though this will be be revisited and done the way it should be.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Big Day Today

Today was a pretty big news day. First off is the new Energy Bills floating around Congress. We might as well all accept that there will be some sort of bill that will open up offshore drilling at each state's preference. The moratorium will end, and if nothing is done, it will open up drilling as close as 3 miles off the coast. Anyway, clearly my favorite is the one introduced by the Senate;

"The bi-partisan group's bill, which has not yet been formally introduced, calls for increased tax credits for renewable and clean energy production, as well as consumer tax credits for purchasing energy-efficient vehicles and business tax credits for investing in clean energy like solar power. The cost of the tax credits to the government would be offset by repealing tax credits to major oil and gas companies.

The compromise bill would also transition 85% of the nation's cars and trucks away from gasoline and diesel to renewable fuels by 2028. In the meantime, the New ERA bill would increase domestic production by expanding drilling leases to 100 miles offshore like in Pelosi's bill. The Senate bill would also permit Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas to petition for leasing as close as 50 miles offshore, and some analysts believe Alaska could be added to the fray as well. In return, the states would receive some royalty sharing from the drilling companies.

The bill would also increase energy conservation and ban exports on domestic oil, in addition to the consumer and corporate tax credits for renewables."

This is the exact type of comprehensive energy bill that McCain claims he would support, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for this one. As you may know, the president has in the past threatened to veto any bill that would repeal the tax credits to oil companies, and then there is this tidbit, "Though Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will try to filibuster any bill that includes raising taxes on oil and natural gas companies to offset the costs of renewable energy tax credits, compromises between lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem to be gaining." Needless to say, I am watching this one VERY closely.

The other bit of info today was a new study released about Bisphenol A used in water bottles (among other things). I've posted about this in the past as well warning of the possible dangers. This new study has found some statistical connection to higher levels of BPA in people's systems to higher risk of things like heart disease and diabetes. The scientists say that nothing conclusive has come from this yet, but the fact is that there is enough evidence out there that would point to the possibility that this stuff isn't safe that it needs to be pulled from the shelves until we have something that proves it's safety. We should not be put at risk because there is not yet enough conclusive evidence that these products are unsafe. Canada has already all but phased these things out, but the truly disappointing and disturbing part about all of this was the response from the FDA. “A margin of safety exists that is adequate to protect consumers, including infants and children, at the current levels of exposure,” What exactly is a "Margin of safety?" I am continually shocked with the philosophy of the FDA that products innocent until proven guilty. This is great for our criminal justice system, but not for the regulating body that is supposed to be acting in the best interest of the citizens of this country. sigh... I've personally been working on using less and less plastic, but it really is nearly impossible. I can only hope at this point that FDA changes it's stance instead of hoping that all these studies are totally wrong and BPA is perfectly safe.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

EPA actually doing their job

This came up today in my newsfeed. To sum up, the EPA took advantage of a little used veto they have for public works that could threaten the environment and natural habitats. In this case, it was a a flood control pumping station along the lower Mississippi delta area that has been in the works since the 40's. This project would potentially severely damage extremely important wetlands along the gulf of mexico. Not just for the wildlife, but also the natural barrier that these wetlands form against stormswells. So I say well done EPA. Keep up the good work and fight the good fight. Looks like this one will continue to be fought in the courts, but I'm jut happy that the EPA is standing up and doing what they are supposed to do.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nature is getting Rights!!!

I found this today and had to pass it along. It would seem that Ecuador is doing something revolutionary and placing the same rights that fall onto individuals and corporations in this country on nature itself. The result being that people can sue for the rights of the environment in cases where there are mistreatments. It sounds really cool and I'm really curious and excited about what the ending result could be. Perhaps, mother nature fighting back in the courts and getting justice for pollution? Wouldn't that be incredible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pollution in China

A lot has been said about the state of the air quality in Beijing over the last few weeks with the Olympics now ongoing there. I'm not exactly going to jump into that debate. It is what it is, we can all make our own opinions, but a lot has also been said about the efforts that the Chinese government has made to clean up the place. This article I read today from a newspaper in Tanzania is one of them. I do think it is great that China has added all this green space to the city, and I was even commenting about it while I was watching the marathon the other day. I really have never seen a city with so much greenery. Still, a lot of the things they have done are hardly permanent, such as shutting down industry while the games are going on and banning half the cities cars from the roads are just not realistic to continue. I imagine the factories are firing back up and the gridlock will continue as soon as the flame is extinguished.

On top of that I just feel like the whole thing is just one big illusion. Great, they have spent tons of money to "clean" Beijing, but what about all the other cities where all the other 1 Billion plus Chinese live. What of all the other parts of the country that they are banning reporters from seeing. I really do feel like they are trying, but I have an extremely hard time praising a government for anything when they are detaining people without cause, deporting anyone who shows signs of protest to their government, flat out barring the media from reporting certain details, news reports about their president of the Olympic organization committee having been convicted of torture in the past and just their complete and total refusal to address the human rights issues that they promised they would adjust when they were awarded the games eight years ago.

I love that the environment is making headlines. Very few things make me as happy actually, but the problems they have in China just are not going to be solved by transplanting a few trees and rolling out a few fuel cell buses.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Yes we are still alive

I feel horrible having not posted in a while. I'm really sorry for such a big gap in posts. We are still alive I promise. It's been really hectic around here lately, but I'm definitely going to get back to business soon. We had a nice vacation to Ocracoke Island a couple weeks ago that that really recharged our batteries. I actually had a small accident where I broke one of my ribs not too long ago. I'm pretty well healed up now, so I'm ready to get back to things full speed again. Check back please. Hopefully by next time I'll have some really great stuff to talk about.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kudzu to Ethanol

Personally, I am very against the use of ethanol to fuel cars. Mainly because as it is the main source of ethanol is corn, which is delicious... so it just doesn't make sense to me use something to run a machine that I could just as soon eat. Anyway, for those of you that live in the southeast, you know of the plaque that is Kudzu... I have found a couple good posts in the last couple weeks about the possibility of using it to create ethanol. Now that's more like it. Check out the article on ecogeek here. And this one on chemically green. This is the kind of thinking we need to encourage and pursue. The answer is out there, just not in my stomach.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spin Dryer

I got an e-mail about this great product today, so I am passing it along to all of you. It is called a spin dryer. Basically it gives your clothes a nice fast spin after the washing machine to wring the water out of them, making it so that your drying time can be cut in half or more. Pretty cool product. Could for sure make a big difference in the electric bill.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Waste Management in Korea

A while back I stumbled upon a blog talking about living in Seoul for a period of time. Nothing too out of the ordinary about it at all except for a post about how they handled the trash there. It was really just a genius system to me. In order to encourage more recycling, they put together a system where you have to buy government issued bags for your garbage. In other words you can only use these certain bags that they sell for something like $1 a bag for your garbage. You can use any bag for recycling. So in effect instead of paying the flat rate for garbage like most of us currently do as part of our water bill, you would pay for the bags, and the more you use the more you pay. So the people that never recycle and fill their bin to the brim every week would actually pay more for their garbage pickup than someone like Anna and myself that get by most weeks with one bag of garbage.. wouldn't that be nice. Anyway, they also are using this system for compost, so you can limit your garbage even further by sending organic materials to the community compost heap. I would love something like that here, but who knows how or when anything like that would ever happen. They basically were having serious problems with landfills becoming too full too fast, so they came up with a new idea that is turning out to be a HUGE success. If you want to read more check out some of the links about it I've found. Anyone that has some ideas for how we could make this happen here, feel free to share.

Link1, Link2, Link3, Link4
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