We’ve been familiar with market based trading schemes for emissions such as sulpher dioxide and CO2, but here’s something I hadn’t head of before – Water Quality Trading. The concept, like airborne emissions trading, is to find an efficient and cheap way to improve water quality in a given watershed. If a company faces high costs to reduce their pollutants, they can pay a more efficient company to reduce their pollutants instead, resulting in essentially the same thing. Like a CO2 emissions cap, a given watershed can have a goal established that all polluters in the watershed must achieve together. For more information check out this 120 page handbook put out by the EPA.
This was brought to my attention by a nifty new green blog – the Green Wombat.
I frequently get ask about H2, and I’m not talking about the Hummer H2 (that 8 mpg thing is dead to me), I’m talking about hydrogen. By the way, many tractor-trailers that you see on the highway get around 5 mpg, which is pretty good considering the huge load that they carry. This week I’ll be writing all about the problem of energy storage and other energy-related issues that we are facing in our carbon-constrained society.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element, and accounts for 75% of the mass of the universe. Hydrogen is found in concentrations of only 1 ppm in our atmosphere because it is actually so light that it can escape our atmosphere, however it does make up about 1/8th (by weight) of each H20 molecule. Many people make the mistake of calling hydrogen a fuel. Unlike hydrocarbon-based fuels, hydrogen does not naturally occur in any usable concentrations and must therefore be created chemically, or by electrolysis. I consider hydrogen more of an energy storage medium than a fuel. Unfortunately the problem of storing hydrogen is the major obstacle keeping us all from driving Hypercars. Hydrogen is very light but also takes up a lot of space. In addition to these two problems it has a very low energy density (around 286 kJ/g, or 68 kCal/g) so, even if you give up your entire trunk space, you would have trouble going anywhere even close to 300 miles on a single tank.
A couple years ago the Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Wangari Muta Maathai. It was the first time the prize had been awarded to someone whose primary work was in the field of environmental studies and sustainable development and it symbolizes the relationship between a healthy ecology and thriving peace and democracy.
This year, the prize is equally significant: Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus has been awarded the prize for 2006. The Grameen Bank popularized the concept of micro-lending – giving out many small, high risk loans to people of very limited means in Bangledesh which has been profoundly instrumental in bringing thousands of people out of poverty. WIth the revolutionary work of the Grameen Bank (and other microlending instututions that have followed it) countries like Bangladesh, India, and Egypt have a a much more thriving middle class, and entrupreneurial sector which is the key to stable democracy, society and indeed a healthy environment.
Worldchanging is one of the best blogs out there on environmental matters and is one of my daily reads. Last year, I was honored to have been chosen to be a contributor to their first offline production, a book called “Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century“. If you know anything about the website, your bound to love the book – a coffee table sized tome that just might change the world, whether that sound’s cheesy or not. To hazzard a wild guess, as I haven’t yet seen the book, it’s going to be the perfect reference book for greening the 21st century – from business to architecture, from agriculture to education.
Read more about the book on worldchanging, or pop over to Amazon to grab a discounted advanced copy today!
The worldchanging crew is also embarking on a cross country tour that’s bound to be worth checking out. Check out the whole schedule here.
The Orchard Garden Hotel is new hotel in San Francisco, adjacent to a parent property “The Orchard Hotel”. It claims to be the first “green” hotel in the area, and is indeed LEED certified, tobacco free, toxin free in the laundry and a few other things that are not especially remarkable.
However, one practice that The Orchard Garden introduces to the city and possibly the United States is the “key card energy system”. This is common at virtually every hotel in Europe and is one of the more brilliant ideas around – one whose absense in the United States baffles me, with or without a green concern. It works like this: You use your keycard to enter the hotel room. Then, in order to turn on the lights you have to stick the card in a slot just inside the door. When you leave, removing the key card automatically ensures the lights are out. As a bonus, it’s impossible to lose the card while in the room because you remember exactly where you left it. For that reason alone, this hotel gets major kudos as far as I’m concerned. Take a peek.
If you’re in San Francisco in October, be sure to drop in to the commonwealth club on the 19th to see Hunter Lovins offer presentation called “The Natural Capitalism Principles: Making the Case for Green Business”. It’ll probably be a great introduction to the concepts of ‘green business’ that you might consider brining a friend to!
This week on AskPablo we will be looking at various transit modes and their relative ecological impact. I have received a few related questions on this matter so I will try to address them all. Please make sure that you submit questions for the next few weeks. Otherwise I will have to start making stuff up…
Let’s start by looking at a few transit modes. We already covered the “beef-powered cyclist” a few weeks ago so I would revisit the greenhouse gas impact of cycling. According to one source a single-occupant vehicle travelling at highway speeds emits about 0.101 kg of CO2 per passenger-kilometer, or about 1kg (2.2 lbs) per 10km (6.2 miles). We all know that there are many ways to improve this. You could drive a hybrid (But is that really better, given the batteries required? Maybe some other time…), carpool, keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure, keep your car maintained, etc.
Emeryville, California, is a small enclave wedged between Oakland and Berkeley best known for its giant IKEA and even more giant freeway interchange. It’s also one of the more successful and impressive brownfield redevelopments around, with hundreds of forlorn acres having been turned into new offices, loft and retail – a lot of which is pretty strip mall-ish, but still an improvement. At any rate, Emeryville city hall is popping up an impressive solar array that will provide about 30% of its power. Not bad! If you’re in the neighborhood, there’s a dedication on Wednesday the 11th – Emeryville City Hall.
Beth Fetterly is an old freind of mine from Milwaukee who now heads up education at a wonderful organization called the Urban Ecology Center – a place that combines community education with the highest green principals for the benefit of all. The building itself is remarkable and worth learning about, but the educational programs are what really make the center shine. Anyway, Beth can tell you more in a fabulous interview that Dave Chui from TreeHugger conducted. Read the whole thing here.
If you’re like me and don’t on a TV, you don’t need to worry any more, most everything winds up on YouTube sooner or later. In the case of Simran’s appearance on the Martha Stewart Show, you’re in luck. Have a peek!
It makes perfect sense to recycle drink containers at the same location that they are purchased at. That’s the idea behind a British firm called “Reverse Vending“. The customer can drop off any number of contatiners (plastic or aluminum) and rest easy knowing that they will be properly recycled before making their next purchase. No word on whether or not the deposit earns the buyer a discount.
(Image from springwise, tip thx Jamie)
There has been a spate of strange anti-environmentalist propaganda hitting the internet and cinema lately, see the CEI ads and Al Gore’s Penguin Army for examples. But it seems these strange, highly funded attacks keep coming. Here’s one called “Mine your own business“. It’s a film that roughly claims that environmentalism is an evil force that wants to keep people in poverty, as “happy peasants”. It actually looks pretty funny.
I asked some Presidio students to come up with a response to this and Orion Fulton hit back with a nice piece of satire….
Martha Stewart is going green this week and she’s being led by none other than Presidio MBA grad and TreeHuggerTV host, Simran Sethi.
Tune in on Wednesday morning, Octover 4th as Simran represents TreehuggerTV. To find out when and where, go to this website and slap in your zip code (ignore the chevy suburban).
To make things even cooler, Simran’s segment follows Mr T. No idea what he’s up to, but Simran intends to inquire…