AskPablo: Lighten the Load

I recently listened to one of my favorite podcasts, On Point with Tom Ashbrook, and heard an interview with Bob Lutz, General Motors’ Vice Chairman. In this interview he expressed dismay that Toyota is thought to be the fuel efficiency leader in the industry. This week I will run some numbers to shed light on … Continued

AskPablo: Napkins

This weeks question is from Nick Gruber: “My question has to do with linen napkins vs. paper napkins. Is it more efficient to use linen napkins (factoring in the energy for picking them up and washing them) or paper napkins (recycled paper napkins)?”

AskPablo: OTEC Revisited

This week’s question comes from Olle Holm, the editor of The Baltic Eye. “A question about ‘arctic OTEC’: I saw somewhere the idea to utilize the temperature gradient between arctic under-ice seawater (+1¬∞C) and the air above the ice (-40¬∞C). Would that be at all feasible for an OTEC-plant?” This question came in response to … Continued

AskPablo is taking a break this week

In honor of memorial day I will be taking a carbon-neutral trip to the mountains. I will be back with answers to your sustainability questions next week. If you have a great question please send it to pablo.paster(at)

AskPablo: Fuel Cells

Energy supply problems and the realization that a carbon-based economy cannot be sustained indefinitely have prompted us to look for alternatives. One such alternative is hydrogen, a noble gas abundant in water (H2O). Combustion of hydrogen releases only pure water and hydrogen fuel cells have a theoretical efficiency of 83%. Why is there not a … Continued

AskPablo: Online Shopping

This week Julio asks: “Is it more environmentally friendly to shop online or shop in-store? Or, is there a guideline I should use, since I shop online a lot?” I will try to offer my best answer and hopefully we will all learn something. I would like to remind the rest of you to please … Continued

AskPablo: Foodmiles

Perhaps spawned by the immense popularity of Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma or just the recent explosion of interest in both food safety and climate change, people are demanding locally grown. Such “locavores” are participating in the 100 Mile Diet and are making the local farmers’ market the place to be. In March 2005 … Continued

AskPablo: Well to Wheel Efficiency Part III

In Part I we learned about the energy required to overcome rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag. In Part II we learned about the energy consumed in acceleration. Now it’s time to bring it all together. We know how much energy it takes to get a vehicle up to a certain speed and to keep it … Continued

AskPablo: Well to Wheel Efficiency Part II

This week we are continuing last week’s discussion on vehicle efficiency, from well to wheel. In last week’s column I introduced calculations for determining the energy needed to overcome aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance at a constant freeway speed of 65 mph. Using these equations I was able to show that my car is about … Continued

AskPablo: Well to Wheel Efficiency Part I

With gasoline prices as high as they are many people are concerned about vehicle efficiency. Other people who are concerned about their impact on the future of our climate care about vehicle efficiency as well. Where does the energy that we put into our cars actually go? And what is the overall efficiency of a … Continued

AskPablo: American Idle

Is it better to let your car warm up for a bit or tear off down the road right after ignition? Having lived in Maine I know that automatic car starters are a hot commodity when it is -30F outside. It is understandable that people don’t want to get in their car if their hands … Continued

AskPablo: Lightbulb Philanthropy

Are you concerned about your contribution to the climate change crisis? Are you still unsure about carbon offset programs? Well, you are not alone. While I am a strong believer in the value and importance of offset providers such as DriveNeutral and Native Energy I also realize that there are some organizations out there, whose … Continued

AskPablo: Climate Change Q&A with Hoff Stauffer

This week we are honored to have climate change expert Hoff Stauffer answering reader submitted climate change questions. Thank you to all of you who submitted questions during the last week.

AskPablo: Cold Storage

According to Supercomputing Online ” in 2005, total data center electricity consumption in the U.S., including servers, cooling and auxiliary equipment, was approximately 45 billion kWh, resulting in total utility bills amounting to $2.7 billion.” The average emissions per MWh in the US are 0.61 metric tons (mT), so US data center electricity use amounts … Continued