The local newsrag has a car section which seems to get thicker and more vociferous every week. Discounts on this, rebates on that, free gas with the other thing. Of course, what they're pushing hardest is what nobody wants -- SUVs, full-sized pickups with big block engines, mini-vans with surprisingly mini-mileage. Hybrids? Sure. We'll put you on the waiting list for a very modest extra fee.
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June 22, 2008
June 18, 2008
Water is energy. Not literally, of course (the square of the speed of light notwithstanding), but practically. Naturally moving water can be made to yield energy, either directly or through hydroelectric generation. Unnaturally moving water (like what comes out of the faucet) consumes a tremendous amount of energy, necessary to make it follow a path of greater resistance.
June 16, 2008
Way back when I was fresh out of college, I tried to augment my meager salary by taking on some part-time sales work. As a result, I was exposed to some sales training. It didn't help much at the time -- my commissions didn't pay for more than my gasoline (even though a gallon then went for the price of a pint now). But I learned things which helped me later in life, so some of it must have stuck.
June 13, 2008
In a world where ignorance is bliss, 'tis foolish to be wise. That saying's probably been around for a long time, but I first heard it decades ago, from the mouth of a drunk who said his name was Eddie Cornell (never found out if he was related to Ezra) at a bar near or in (I forget which) the Montreal train station. (Yup, the same one that's downstairs from the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, which is sold out for this year's SCUP conference.)
June 11, 2008
As I was driving to campus this morning, I happened to hear a story on NPR about urban gardening in Detroit. One of the points was that, given a garden around which to congregate, residents are more likely to get to know their neighbors. This wasn't really a surprise. I've been re-reading Bill McKibben's Deep Economy, and one of the things he points out is that the experience of buying food at a local farmers' market stimulates about ten times as many conversations as the act of buying (nominally) similar food at a supermarket.
June 9, 2008
There's been an ongoing exchange on the Green Schools list (GRNSCH-L@listserv.brown.edu). In a nutshell, it simplifies to: Question: Is X a good speaker to bring onto campus for a sustainability presentation? Answer: He's strongly anti-immigrant. This may not play well with your intended audience:
June 9, 2008
According to Newsday (and reported worldwide), IBM and folks at Los Alamos have just raised the bar on computing power, with a $13 million, 20,000 processor, supercomputer nicknamed "Roadrunner". The thing can perform 1 quadrillion calculations (floating point operations, for those who care) in a single second. From a sustainability standpoint, the bad news is that this single computer draws about about 4 megawatts of power -- more or less the same amount of energy as a modern railroad locomotive.
June 5, 2008
So, given my evolving understanding of issues of scale, have I lost sight of what Graham Cliff calls "the substance of sustainability"? I hope not. I don't think so. If I have, I'm hoping you'll help me correct that. Cliff properly points out that climate change has been (and continues to be) caused by "profligate waste for very short term gain". He's absolutely right.
June 3, 2008
So, the Warner-Lieberman bill is finally getting to the Senate floor, and (after managing to ignore it for the entire presidential primary season), the press has rediscovered climate change in a political context. Last week, I happened across a pretty good article by Daniel Weiss, titled"Ten Industry Arguments Against Action on Global Warming ... and Why They Are Wrong."
June 2, 2008
My position at Greenback U. was created as a direct result of our president's signature on the Presidents Climate Commitment. My primary duties in the past year or so have been (1) making sure we took the requisite two immediate actions to mitigate emissions, and (2) completing our campus greenhouse gas inventory. What caused me to apply for this position was my conviction that human activity is a significant driver (whether or not it's the only driver) of global warming.