Showing all posts tagged: green
world carbon footprint visualization
(Source: projecthires, via humulus)
Showing all posts tagged: green
world carbon footprint visualization
(Source: projecthires, via humulus)
People aren’t willing to pay for green products when money’s tight.
“In Brighton, in the United Kingdom, a group of residents living on Tidy Street are recording their daily electricity use on a giant infographic painted on the street outside their homes”
Read more at: http://www.good.is/post/u-k-neighborhood-records-its-electricity-use-on-the-street/
Perfect symbol of the GOP’s denial of the world outside their bony, white, male heads: getting rid of Pelosi’s efforts to make the House’s cafeteria green and sustainable, and doing so in a self-congratulatory way.
The about-turn was announced by a press aide to John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, who tweeted on Monday morning: “The new majority – plasticware is back”.
What do you expect from people who don’t believe in climate change and evolution?
Portugal’s recent experiences suggest that it is possible to move to green energy quickly; but at a cost.
Elisabeth Rosenthal, Portugal Makes the Leap to Renewable Energy
Today, Lisbon’s trendy bars, Porto’s factories and the Algarve’s glamorous resorts are powered substantially by clean energy. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.
Land-based wind power — this year deemed “potentially competitive” with fossil fuels by the International Energy Agency in Paris — has expanded sevenfold in that time. And Portugal expects in 2011 to become the first country to inaugurate a national network of charging stations for electric cars.
“I’ve seen all the smiles — you know: It’s a good dream. It can’t compete. It’s too expensive,” said Prime Minister José Sócrates, recalling the way Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, mockingly offered to build him an electric Ferrari. Mr. Sócrates added, “The experience of Portugal shows that it is possible to make these changes in a very short time.”
Portugal shifted to a single nationalized power grid, consolidating various regional former state utilities, and brought in private companies by structuring long-term contracts with stable, but decreasing, prices for energy.
While cosys don’t decrease immediately relatively to conventional energy, it is immediately less liable to costs due to oil fluctuations in availability and price, and is greener.
A new type of tidal turbine which its creators describe as an “underwater kite” has taken a step closer to becoming commercially available. “Deep Green,” developed by Swedish start-up Minesto, has just secured €2 million ($2.5 million) from investors to fund testing scheduled to start in 2011. The technology comprises of a turbine attached to a wing and rudder which is tethered to the ocean floor by 100 meters of cable. Anchoring “Deep Green” and steering the tethered “kite” enables the turbine to capture energy from the tidal currents at ten times the speed of the actual stream velocity, say Minesto.
(via ‘Underwater kite’ aims to turn energy tide - CNN.com)
An architectural rendering of the trellises designed to shade the western facade of the main federal building in Portland, Ore. (via NYTimes)
People can differ on anything, but ‘What shall we have for dinner?’ has a whole new range of possibilities when you are worried about sustainable practices.
When Trying to Preserve the Planet Strains the Relationship
Gordon Fleming is, by his own account, an environmentally sensitive guy.
He bikes 12 1/2 miles to and from his job at a software company outside Santa Barbara, Calif. He recycles as much as possible and takes reusable bags to the grocery store.
Still, his girlfriend, Shelly Cobb, feels he has not gone far enough.
Ms. Cobb chides him for running the water too long while he shaves or showers. And she finds it “depressing,” she tells him, that he continues to buy a steady stream of items online when her aim is for them to lead a less materialistic life.
Mr. Fleming, who says he became committed to Ms. Cobb “before her high-priestess phase,” describes their conflicts as good-natured — mostly.
But he refuses to go out to eat sushi with her anymore, he said, because he cannot stand to hear her quiz the waiters.
“None of it is sustainable or local,” he said, “and I am not eating cod or rockfish.”
As awareness of environmental concerns has grown, therapists say they are seeing a rise in bickering between couples and family members over the extent to which they should change their lives to save the planet.
In households across the country, green lines are being drawn between those who insist on wild salmon and those who buy farmed, those who calculate their carbon footprint and those who remain indifferent to greenhouse gases.
The needle is being pushed toward the left by growing awareness of the state of the planet.
If I had a girlfriend that demanded I go vegan, or only eat local food, or some other unrelenting position, I would perhaps understand her motivation, but I would not go along. ‘I love pastrami more than you, Shelly Cobb,’ I would say, even if the sex was great. And it must be, for Gordon to put up with this.
In a recent piece in Forbes, Elisabeth Eaves chides locavores for the way that large agribusiness companies have co-opted the term to ludicrous ends:
[via How Locavores Brought On Local-Washing - Forbes.com by Elisabeth Eaves]
“But the absurdity of these language-abusing corporate responses to localism highlight what’s been wrong with the movement all along, namely that it has no coherent intellectual underpinning. Locally grown food is sometimes, but not inherently, higher in quality than food from farther afield. Locally run businesses do sometimes, but not always, make more genial employers. Locally grown food is sometimes, but not intrinsically, easier on the environment: The energy it takes to grow tomatoes in a northern climate can easily exceed the energy it takes to truck them in from a warmer place. (Economist Tim Harford crunches some of the numbers here.)
Most of the values the locavore movement claims to embrace—healthier food, environmentalism, good treatment of labor—actually have little to do with whether or not a producer is located in one’s own ZIP code. So why not just tackle the issues themselves, rather than using localism as a proxy?
Ah, says the local movement, but the point isn’t to be absolutist, it’s simply to be conscious of where my stuff comes from. But consciousness leads different people to different conclusions. The branch of a national chain located in my neighborhood does, in fact, employ my neighbors. That brand that sources materials globally is providing livelihoods to people somewhere else. Shouldn’t I be conscious of them? Why this parochialism that only seeks prosperity for those in my immediate midst?
What localism does have going for it is aesthetic appeal. Fresh fish and berries do often taste better. The eye grows weary of seeing the same chains and brands, the same décor and packaging labels, everywhere one turns. And producers should make no mistake: The feel-good aesthetic of localism is a real consumer demand, even if its definitions are fuzzy.
But by never coming up with a coherent argument, the locavore movement invited corporations to do what they do best. Localism is mostly style over substance, an area where big companies with big marketing departments excel.”
Aside from the snarky, reverse jui jitsu argument that we, those in favor of local food, are somehow responsible for Walmart advertising local food, Eaves does make — inadvertently — a really important point: we have failed to clearly and concisely captured what we are talking about with a defining term.
I offer one up, one that I plan to use myself.
There is an inextricable relationship between food and economy. The economy is all about what we value, and the exchanges we make in our personal and collective lives. Food is one of the most fundamental of things we value, intrinsically, and a great deal of our economy is geared to producing food and delivering it to people. But we are at a fork in the road, where food and economic practices that have emerged in the last 50 years need to be reworked, drastically. There are several dimensions of this revolution, which most are acquainted with, but the unification of several threads has not been clearly stated in rallying cry.
* Biodiversity and Organic — This is an attempt, a movement, to reject high input, chemistry based farming technologies and to return to a more natural approach. This is based on the principles that nitrogen fertilizers and chemical pesticides are dangerous and should not be used. I leave the arguments to one side, since I am only trying to point out that these arguments, individually, are inadequate.
* Sustainable — Many farming and economic practices are unsustainable: they are based on some sort of ponzi scheme, or tapping exhaustible resources. American farming in the last 50 years has drawn down aquifers without any consideration, and eroded the soil though overly aggressive farming schemes.
* Justice — Many practices in the current food production and distribution system are inherently unfair. Farmer and farm workers are kept in poverty. Inner city residents have no access to good food. Developing countries export grain for livestock in developed countries while citizens starve.
* Local — The various arguments in favor of local can be countered one by one, but not when combined together. Yes, it may be less costly and perhaps (in some cases) more green to import a squash from Peru than eating a local one, but that is predicated on cheap oil, which we know to be unsustainable. Not all foods can be raised in all locales, they argue. But what we have lost is local cuisine, where we are forced to take advantage of what is locally available, instead of eating bland tomatoes every day. And so on. While a case can be made for importing coffee, orange juice, and ramps, cucumbers and kale can be grown almost anywhere.
* Slow — Slow food is a movement away from the fast food culture, but is tied in people’s minds with the rise of local famrs creating high quality, high priced food principally for Chez Panisse style restaurants for the weatlhy. It may be possible to budge that perception (which I have no proof of) but it may be hard.
So I am proposing the term ‘grounded’, as in grounded food or grounded economics.
From the outset, I intend that this will be the collation of organic/biodiverse, local, sustainable, fair, and slow.
Every once in a while I hear a ‘clang’ when reading a NY Time editorial, where the thinking is so obviously out if sync with my perceptions that it hurst.
In this piece, I align with the NY Times sentiments regarding the benefits of getting Detroit to build greener cars, but the lack of understanding about marketing is baffling:
[via Editorial - Mind Over Muscle - NYTimes.com]
“America’s automakers have long claimed that it will take major technological breakthroughs to meet the stringent fuel efficiency standards needed to slash carbon emissions and cope with rising energy prices. But Detroit’s new display of muscle cars suggests fuel efficiency is, at this stage, more of a problem of taste and will.
More efficient vehicles are within Detroit’s technological reach. Carmakers must decide to make them and consumers must be convinced to buy them.
The latest hot rod to hit showrooms is the new Chevy Camaro. Chrysler recently introduced a new Dodge Challenger. Ford had a hit with the new Mustang. The three cars might help carmakers’ bottom lines, but they are unlikely to reduce the United States’ carbon footprint. A car that could have — Chevy’s hybrid Malibu sedan — was killed in June because of lackluster sales.”
So, people didn’t like the Malibu hybrid, and muscle cars still seem to be big. Saying that more fuel efficient cars are good for us — “Carmakers must decide to make them and consumers must be convinced to buy them.” — is like tring to make children eat spinach.
This is a failure NOT of marketing by car makers, but of the government. If more fuel efficient cars are a social good, we should raise gar taxes and directly subsidize fuel efficient cars. Otherwise, the draw of the muscle cars will win. And all the finger wagging in the world won’t help.