Category Archives: green

personal action vs legal action / living by example vs working toward effecting societal change

“The Hidden Life of Garbage is a two year old interview packed with great insights on the politics of waste, including this shocker: When we think about being “green,” reducing waste and so on, we almost always think in terms of stuff that we can do as individuals, and we almost never think about regulating manufacturing. Imagine: instead of making 50 million people feel guilty for using disposable cups at Starbucks, we could just pass a law prohibiting the manufacture of disposable cups. The reason we don’t is that in 1953 Vermont passed a law that banned disposable bottles, and polluting industries formed an organization called Keep America Beautiful, which has been working ever since to block that kind of law, and generally to make us think of waste “as an individual responsibility, and not one connected to the production process.” … the famous anti-litter commercial with the crying Indian…. It turns out that Keep America Beautiful made that ad!”
— Ran Prieur LINK

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Going Green but Getting Nowhere
By GERNOT WAGNER
Published: September 7, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/opinion/going-green-but-getting-nowhere.html?_r=0
Gernot Wagner is an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund and the author of the forthcoming “But Will the Planet Notice?”
(Commenter at amazon: Interesting book and easy to read. Author made one important point; the public will only nominally cooperate with environmental initiatives until doing so is in their best interest as individuals. If we want them to not spew carbon into the air there has to be a cost to doing so. Makes sense to me, but he could have said it in one chapter.)

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Related:

– China vs US environmentalism: China’s Coal, etc.
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-12-17/china-plans-to-dethrone-king-coal

– HANS ROSLING’s The magic washing machine

– VOTING
“I believe in the American system, and totally reject the idea that your vote doesn’t matter. You think it doesn’t matter because you haven’t discovered what it means. If you had a little faith in it, if 25 percent more people had more faith, it would work a lot better than you have imagined. Because given enough time, no matter how much they lie, we figure it out. Change will come slowly but it will come. But don’t tell me it can’t change if you haven’t even tried.” http://threads2.scripting.com/2012/september/juryDutyVotingAndRomney

– BEING GREENEST
“[Are you trying to do something] that your dead great grandfather, in the grave, can do better than you. You’re using fewer resources? Your great grandfather is using no resources, and if he could talk to you, he might say, “Stop doing stuff that a dead person can do. You’re alive — do something that an alive person can do.”
LINK

– Framing: Positive goals vs negative goals

– Shopping local vs the big store
https://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/destroying-the-earth-by-buying-organic-locally-produced-food/

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Filed under erik-green, legal action, local, personal action vs movements, vote

Competition and climate change

http://scripting.com/2015/01/18/howToGetSmaller.html

“Our programming has led us to where we are. Evolution, survival of the fittest, competitiveness. All this was good for the first 99 percent of human existence. But now we need a new kind of mind, one that does not view the self as all-important. It’s such a foreign idea, so hard to explain in words, precisely because our minds were designed to reject the idea of personal sacrifice. Our goal, which was a good one from an evolution standpoint, was to suck up as much resources as we can, so our offspring will have a better chance when fighting with nature, and competing against the other people’s offspring. This can no longer be the way we do things.”

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Filed under climate change, contrarian, erik-green, green

Heating Degree Days and NSTAR (our gas company)

NSTAR puts a nice 13 month chart of usage on your monthly bill (so one can see usage from the same month in the previous year). That’s nice. But… what would be even cooler is if they showed the HDD and CDD (heating degree days and cooling degree days) for these time periods. That way, when it says you used 100 units this year vs 140 last year, one could quickly tell if that was because it was a lot warmer this year or because of all that insulation you added!

Here’s and API for such data…
http://www.degreedays.net/api/signup Only $49/month for unlimited locations! Go to it NSTAR! Actually, surely they already have this data and probably much more because they already surely have to strategize about supply and demand and they probably consult historical data like usage and HDD and weather forecasts.

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Filed under erik-green

What if there was good bicycle parking at McDonalds

http://streetsblog.net/2014/12/01/what-if-every-mcdonalds-had-really-good-bike-parking/

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Filed under bikes, erik-green, green, structural

Amazon deforestation contributing to drought

Two recent articles about the drought in Brazil. Worst since 1930 made worse (probably much worse) by deforestation. Go humans.

“The Amazon works as a giant pump, channeling moisture inland via aerial rivers and rainclouds that form over the forest more dramatically than over the sea … It also provides a buffer against extreme weather events, such as tornados and hurricanes.”
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/31/amazon-rainforest-deforestation-weather-droughts-report

“Natural forests act like giant sponges soaking up rain and gradually releasing it into streams,”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/05/opinion/the-world-is-fast.html

From 2009:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/news-scan-briefs-jul-09/
“Long-standing assumption: rain forests are a consequence of heavy rainfall. New hypothesis: some forested regions may produce conditions that lead to heavy rainfall. This “biotic pump” model contends that a vast forest such as the Amazon draws in large amounts of water vapor. Evaporation and condensation of the acquired water lead to a local atmospheric pressure drop. That decrease causes rain and attracts more water vapor to the forest, in a continuous positive feedback loop. “This theory could explain why continental interiors with huge rain forests remain so moist,” says Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Douglas Sheil, who in an April Bioscience paper revived the biotic pump model, originally proposed in 2006 by Anastassia Makarieva and Victor Gorshkov, both at the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute in Russia. “It could also underline the dangers of widespread deforestation.” Though promising, the model needs more data regarding air circulation patterns and vegetation types to support it, Sheil notes. —Steve Mirsky

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Filed under erik-green, nature / outdoors, trees

AI is problematic

Artificial intelligence (AI) is problematic. I mean, well, it just builds on the basic problem of computers in general. It allows people to do amazing things. So when someone is clever at using them to make money in one way or another, it can make them A LOT of money. Hence huge inequalities in income and wealth (and hence power and freedom).

By…

1) eliminating the need for expensive human workers doing boring work
2) analyzing data in ways that we couldn’t before

and more and more…

3) And AI can/will allow for even fancier ways of doing more of 1 and 2.

THE PROBLEM is that these computers (and the AI) also can do cool stuff for individuals — computers can be used by individuals in many many amazing ways. So it seduces us into thinking we are getting a good deal. But the reality MIGHT be that on balance they (computers) are doing more harm than good when one looks at the overall picture. This is JERRY MANDER’s “limitation of the personal view” which he applies to all technologies. I personally think the jury is out on that. We might swing from one extreme to another, or we may not. I recognize we might look back and realize it’s rather obvious one way or the other.

So anyway, it’s funny that David Brooks is questioning and paints 2 scenarios since his final sentence answers his own question.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/opinion/david-brooks-our-machine-masters.html?_r=0

ASIDE:
This sorta connects to a “PRETTY GOOD HOUSE” article I just read over at greenbuildingadvisor.com. Point being that Passive Houses (kinda high tech/complicated to build) can be pretty amazing, but even more amazing is probably building a small and simple house that can get to maybe 90% of a passivhaus (depending on climate) but for a much lower price and complexity — meaning available to be built by more people, more local people, local matericals, etc. etc.

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Filed under computers, erik-green, future, passive house, person: Jerry Mander

using employee happiness reviews in choosing one product over another

Let’s say you are on the fence about which product or service to buy.

–One consideration is the environmental track record of the company as a whole.

–Another is to consider the makeup of the individual product itself. It’s likely (for example) that the lighter product will have less impact (as a very rough rule of thumb).

–Spending less is also always good, since it frees up your money to be used in more productive ways. Choosing between a $200 phone and a $15 phone? Get the $15 one and give the $165 to your favorite non-profit/NPO/charity.

–As well, you probably can’t go wrong looking at how well they treat their employees. For instance: Virgin Mobile or Lycamobile for a cell phone prepay plan?

https://www.google.com/search?q=reviews+virgin+mobile++site:glassdoor.com

https://www.google.com/search?q=reviews+lycamobile++site:glassdoor.com

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Filed under erik-green, erik-reviews, green, shopping