Cost of Southern California Fires to Top $1 Billion – What Role Do the Santa Ana Winds and Global Warming Play?

| Wednesday October 24th, 2007 | 0 Comments

Fires rage in southern California. What role does global warming play?Losses the raging wildfires in San Diego county alone are expected to be at least $1 billion dollars.

With 1,500 homes destroyed and more than 500,000 people displaced, President Bush has declared the region a disaster area with many drawing comparisons with Hurricane Katrina (in terms of huge natural disasters – not necessarily the part about Bush’s response).

The fierce and feared Santa Ana winds have borne much of the blame for the unrelenting fires. But as Governor Swarchenegger almost offhandedly mentioned on national television yesterday, global warming may likely have a hand on the number and intensity of the fires.

Wait a minute, we’re going to blame the Santa Ana Winds on global warming?

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The California Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Credit System Makes Electric Cars Affordable

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday October 24th, 2007 | 2 Comments

tesla-car.jpgContrary to the title of the documentary released last year (“Who Killed the Electric Car?”), the electric car is alive and well. Independent car companies like Tesla Motors and Phoenix Motorcars have demonstrated that all-electric battery vehicle technology is feasible, sexy, and (almost) affordable. While the Tesla Roadster is still out of most people’s price range at $98,000, the Phoenix Sports Utility Truck will be available for fleet purchase in 2008 for $35,000 ($45,000 – $10,000 CA State ZEV tax refund).
How can an independent car manufacturer offer such a great deal on an electric vehicle? The Phoenix actually costs around $130,000 to manufacture, so why are they selling the vehicles to city governments and taxi services for less?

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Bamboo: A Smart Flooring Alternative

| Wednesday October 24th, 2007 | 6 Comments

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Bamboo is inexpensive, available in a variety of styles and is a renewable resource. Bamboo flooring is similar in appearance to hardwood but is even more durable in terms of scuffing, wear and expansion. Bamboo is harvested in plantations that take only 3-6 years to reach maturity. Although still not widely used, it is perhaps the most efficient material for flooring.
How do bamboo floors compare with other hardwood floors?
There are three common types of bamboo floors. Horizontal & vertical bamboo flooring is harder than Oak hardwood. Strand Woven bamboo flooring is harder than the most expensive Brazilian Walnut. An added bonus is bamboo flooring is actually less expensive than hardwood! A common problem with bamboo is expansion due to high humidity; this problem can be avoided if the flooring is allowed to acclimate for no less than 72 hours.
How is it made? Fresh & mature bamboo clums are split and flattened lengthwise into strips of equal dimensions. These are processed & kiln dried before being pressed against each other and glued under high pressure to form raw planks. From here it is finished in a variety of ways.
Is bamboo environmentally friendly?
In most cases bamboo is specially cultivated and harvested, without damaging the ecological system of renewal. Every year the parent bamboo plant develops new stems, so the stems can be harvested after a few years in a mature plantation without decreasing the size of the forest. Not all bamboo is environmentally friendly however, in some cases toxic glues and surfacing compounds are used so be certain that the product was manufactured in accordance with the E1 safety and emission standards.

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Cap and Trade, Carbon Tax, and the Aspirations of Government

| Tuesday October 23rd, 2007 | 2 Comments

Cap and trade, carbon tax, or aspirations?On hearing that the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) just named Jack Cogen, CEO of Natsource, as the their new chairman, I decided to do some research on the organization and the concept of emissions trading in general. What follows is a quick synopsis.

The IETA fully supports the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Based on this framework the IETA’s vision aims toward an ultimate objective of carbon emissions reduction and climate stabilization through a global “gas market” established with the use of market-based mechanisms such as “cap and trade”. 

Working with government in establishing effective policy and guidelines is an essential component of any global carbon market and the IETA supports the principal objectives of the Lieberman-Warner proposal for climate change legislation set forth on August 2nd.  An open letter outlining the IETA’s position and concerns on the proposal is available in pdf format here.

While it remains the position of the Bush administration to oppose any cap and trade plan, instead focusing on “aspirational goals” over mandatory mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gases, a well structured cap and trade program, as proposed by Lieberman-Warner and generally supported by the IETA, offers a realistic market-based solution to greenhouse gas emission reduction.

But what are the choices other than the simply rhetorical and a “global gas market” through cap and trade?

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Coke, please – no ice, no animal testing…

| Tuesday October 23rd, 2007 | 4 Comments

chimp%20behind%20bars.jpgSoft drinks – animal testing; come again? Earlier this year, Coca-Cola (Coke, Minute Maid, Fruitopia) and Pepsico (Pepsi, Tropicana, Gatorage) made decisions that their value chains will no longer include animal testing. Each agreed to stop directly financing research that uses animals to test or develop their products, except where such testing is required by law. Elaine Palmer, a spokeswoman for Pepsico, said that while the company had never supported the idea of animal testing, ‚ÄòWe had not been policing it, so that part is new.‘” Danny Strickland, Coke’s chief innovation and technology officer said “senior management had not previously been aware of the (animal) studies.”
So who is watching the animals in the value chain?

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The 30 year laptop battery: Fact, fiction, or fission?

| Tuesday October 23rd, 2007 | 8 Comments

Betavoltaic.jpgHow often have you sat there, laptop battery at 3%, plug nowhere in sight, cursing it and the vermin that made it? Well, a recent story in Next Energy News may spell relief to your power woes.
The article expounds the wonders of a battery known as a betavoltaic, which utilizes among other things, radioactive isotopes. Hang on, radioactive? Apparently, it makes use of electron, or beta emissions, which happen as a neutron decays into a proton, and are not harmful to health, being a different sort of reaction then fission or fusion. I’m no scientist, so I’ll let you muddle through the rest. The end result is a battery that can last 30 years, with no recharge needed.
There are some, including myself, who at first found it a little doubtful that this is a true story, as the article, claiming that the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is working on this had no links to either them, or any further documentation/research on this. Perhaps just poor journalism, perhaps just not true. For those scientifically inclined, this page seems to give more credence to the validity of this, and in fact it appears these batteries have been in existence since the 1950s, only in much larger applications, like satellites.

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Anita Roddick Interview – On Success and Women Entrepreneurs

| Monday October 22nd, 2007 | 0 Comments

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Clay: Old World Look in the New Age

| Monday October 22nd, 2007 | 0 Comments

american%20clay.jpgThis past weekend a new all natural earth plaster was unveiled at the Traditional Building Exhibition & Conference in New Orleans. American Clay Enterprises is the company behind the all-natural plaster. The wall plaster is nothing entirely new however; it is the descendant of an ancient wall surface which happens to be an advantageous product for interior finishes. So what is this clay and what are the benefits? It is mold resistant, temperature moderating, humidity controlling, sound attenuating, no VOC’s, flexible and repairable.
The product is popular for the old world finished look bringing with it the new-aged “green” qualities. American Clay Earth Plaster products combine a variety of unique clays, aggregates and natural pigments that offers the building industry a natural and elegant option. If you have an itch to see this product look for it to be highlighted on upcoming television episodes such as E! “Green That House” and on HGTV’s “Living with Ed.” If you have to get your hands on it there is an American Clay “Try-It Kit” containing three bags of sample product, 6″x6″ pre-primed sample boards, instructions, and a mini practice trowel that can be ordered online pr at one of their select retailers.

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Mineral Resources, Society & the Environment: Where’s the Common Ground?

| Monday October 22nd, 2007 | 0 Comments

rainforest1.jpgInvestors of all sizes have for several years now been pouring savings and borrowed money into a growing range of metals, commodities markets and a variety of related investments. Lack of investment during previous decades of relatively low commodity prices and faced with diminishing supply of existing resources, energy and mineral resources companies are now trying to ride the wave and cast their nets farther afield in search of prospects. Rapid growth of the Chinese economy, which has continued pretty much unabated for two decades now, has added a lot of fuel to the fire.
The damaging environmental effects of mining activities and the socio-economic costs and benefits of developing energy and mineral resources have long been a concern and area of focus for the companies involved, as well as governments, environmental and humanitarian groups, and rightfully so. Coincidentally, growing concerns about, and action to mitigate, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation is again focusing attention on these industries’ environmental, human health and safety records, policies and actions.
This is a contentious area and one that is stereotypically portrayed as pitting crusading human rights and environmental organizations against the evils of corporate-political conspiracy and greed. This may make good Hollywood fare, but the reality isn’t nearly so simple or neat. If real positive change is to be made, it’s going to require participants from all sides to make greater efforts to better understand all facets of the associated challenges and problems, as well as each others’ goals and motivations.

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Carnival of th Green Number 100!

| Monday October 22nd, 2007 | 0 Comments

cotg.gifOn Hundred. That’s the number of “Green Carnivals” that have passed through the blogosphere as of today. The 100th carnival is over at “The Good Human” today, so be sure to check it out. David’s been working extra hard to make it a really good one.
In case you don’t know what it is – the Carnival of the Green is an idea I cooked up with Al from City Hippy over pints of beer in London 2 years ago. It’s a weekly wrap-up of post from environmentally related blogs collected and organized in one place. And that place moves every week, giving a new blog exposure and the responsibility of hosting it. For more info, check out this post on TreeHugger.

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AskPablo: Where do car tires go?

| Monday October 22nd, 2007 | 5 Comments

Kristina recently needed new car tires so she asked me where the old ones go. She wasn’t referring to the big tire pile seen in the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield but where the tread on the tire goes. In order to answer that question we first need to learn a little bit more about car tires…

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Money Don’t Buy You Happiness – Thoughts for the Weekend

| Friday October 19th, 2007 | 0 Comments

happy-money.jpgMust we really be reminded of the ancient saying, “Money Won’t Buy You Happiness?”. Evidently we do, and frequently. The fact is money *does* buy happiness if you’ve been utterly destitute and manage to achieve a middle-class level of income, but after that, money presents a diminishing margin of return. This Newsweek article sums it up great and is well worth a read for your weekend. The key take-a-way paragraph:

If more money doesn’t buy more happiness, then the behavior of most Americans looks downright insane, as we work harder and longer, decade after decade, to fatten our W-2s. But what is insane for an individual is crucial for a national economy – that is, ever more growth and consumption. … “Economies can blossom and grow only if people are deluded into believing that the production of wealth will make them happy … Economies thrive when individuals strive, but because individuals will strive only for their own happiness, it is essential that they mistakenly believe that producing and consuming are routes to personal well-being.” In other words, if you want to do your part for your country’s economy, forget all of the above about money not buying happiness.

Have a great weekend!

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Lights out San Francisco this Saturday Night

| Friday October 19th, 2007 | 0 Comments

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If you happen to be in San Francisco this weekend, don’t forget to switch your lights out at 8pm in honor of “Lights out San Francisco”, a symbolic event to promote energy conservation. Most non-essential lights on civic buildings and both bridges will go out for one hour between 8 and 9pm. There’s also a great party going on in Dolores Park. Get your candlelight dinners ready!

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A Cool Trillion in Green Markets by 2030

| Friday October 19th, 2007 | 0 Comments

Alternative energy stands poised for growthGreen markets, in particular renewable and alternative energy, stand poised to grow into a $1 trillion market by 2030 according to analysis by Morgan Stanley.

A report on Thursday in Reuters said the world market for “green” energy – including solar, wind, biomass. biofuels, tidal, and geothermal – is likely to face exponential growth in the coming decades in response to rising prices for oil and concerns over security and the environmental costs of fossil fuel.

Adding to the optimism, Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) envisions a world run on 50% renewable energy by 2050. Currently, renewable energy accounts for 13.2 percent of global supply.

While nobody denies the fundamental risks with a continued (and growing) reliance on fossil fuel, it is no surprise that not everyone shares this optimism.

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Green Collar, Green Tech, and Green Management Careers: The New Wave of Employment Generation

Shannon Arvizu | Friday October 19th, 2007 | 0 Comments

green-collar.jpgAs many of us in the field recognize, there is a slow but steady growth of “green” positions opening up for traditional blue collar, tech, and professional employees. We can expect this number to increase as our state and federal governments begin diverting money to green employment generation in the near future.
Earth2tech.com recently posted a top ten list of “hot” green jobs. For professionals, we can expect an increase in demand for green brand managers, land use planners, LEED architects, and green venture capitalists. I also foresee an increase in “Green CEO” positions, CSR managers, and green supply chain managers. For the “techies” and chemists, there will be more positions opening up for research and development in alternative energy sources. Finally, we can expect a surge in jobs for the new “green collar” workers, who will work as solar panel installers, biodiesel veggie oil pick-up providers, and green building construction workers. Check out the several other green collar jobs listed by Urban Habitat.

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