Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

One of the office buildings I regularly spend a bit of my work week at is advertised as a ‘green’ building.  Reused materials, solar panels, recycling program, etc.  Along with this theme they have a grand total of 17 parking spots around the building that have signs posted that say ‘For Green Vehicles Only’.  After the handicapped spots, they are the prime parking areas.

Every time I’ve been at this building, every one of these spots has been empty.

A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of an epiphany.  As a result of said epiphany, I parked my Ford F-150 Crew Cab truck in a spot reserved for ‘green’ vehicles.  On my way to leave I was accosted buy building management (with a member of building security in tow).

‘You can’t park that here!’


‘It’s clearly marked for GREEN vehicles ONLY!’

‘So it is….  and?’

‘That THING is clearly NOT green!’ (Yes, he called my baby a ‘thing’. Bastard.)

‘Sure it is.’

‘What?  How?’

‘It’s a flex fuel vehicle.  In fact, I’m currently running E85.’


‘Ethanol.  E85 Ethanol.  Corn gas.  Green.’

‘That’s not what we meant!’

‘Well you don’t do a very good job of explaining it.’

‘Just don’t park it here again’ and he stormed off (security wandered off a bit earlier…  I think to keep from laughing)

In any case…  I was back at this building today and noticed something.  About a third of the spots that were previously marked as green were no long marked at all.  It looks like the unwashed parking masses were now allowed to use them.

The other spots?  They all had new shiny signs….  ‘For Hybrid Vehicles Only’.

They were also all empty.


A year ago I talked about the rumor the Rabbit Transit might actually add a route connecting PA commuters to the Maryland Light Rail system.  At first I was pretty happy to read this then had my hopes quickly dashed as I read that they planned on making it an express line (no stops) from York to Hunt Valley…  totally bypassing all the ‘bedroom communities’ in between.

A year has passed and that rumor seems a bit more concrete now.  In fact, they’re talking about a January 09 start date.  There’s still no definite info on proposed stops but the following statement from the article looks promising:

The exact route of the buses has not yet been determined, Farr said, but it would start in downtown York and work its way south to Shrewsbury and head as far south as the light rail Timonium.

The mention of Shrewsbury is a good thing since that is right smack in the middle of a pretty major commuter area.

But, as usual, they mention something that pretty much ensures I won’t be using the bus line.

The cost has not been set, but Farr estimated between $14 and $16 round trip per day, or about $280 per month for five days per week. Discount rates would be available for a monthly pass.

$14 to $16 per day.  That is far more than I currently spend on gas (and thats driving a Jeep no less).  A monthly pass wouldn’t really be an option since there are days when, for various reason, I need my vehicle at work to do my job.  I was hoping for a commuting option that I would be able to use 2-3 days a week.  With those rates it looks like I’m still driving.

Edit: Here’s something I just noticed in the article that makes things a bit more confusing:

The van pools to Maryland will continue, with a third van being added soon, he said. The vans cost $115 per month per passenger.

Interesting.  Van Pools to Maryland?  A quick Google search turns up the fact that they now run a Van service from Shrewsbury to Fort Meade (south of Baltimore).

So how is it monthly bus service from York to Hunt Valley will cost $280 but van service from Shrewsbury to Fort Meade, a longer and more congested route, costs only $115 per month?

I had the TV on in the background while doing some general work on the computer when something caught my attention. The talking heads on this local network news show were going on about ‘record high temperatures across the country’ and how they where causing people to just drop dead left and right (marathon deaths and such). While they were ranting about global warming, the melting ice cap* and on and on and on.

While they were talking, I happened to start paying attention to the news ticker scrolling by at the bottom of the screen. ‘Forcast of record low temperatures this winter causing heating oil prices to rise to near record levels.’

Ok… please… just ONE disaster at a time. Ok?

Death because of heat. Death because of cold. Record high temps. Record low temps. Record high deaths from panic attacks brought on by incessant news fear mongering.

* Yes, just one. They only talking about the North Pole. I guess the fact that Antarctica is actually growing just doesn’t fit the disaster mold they wanted to fill.

Who pass me going home every single day at 80+ MPH on I-83.

It doesn’t work that way.

Lots of discussion out there about raising the CAFE standards. Some relatively resonable (low 30’s range), some unreasonable (low to mid 50’s). The discussion seems to be centered around safety concerns with vehicles modified (mainly made lighter) to meat new standards. Not a whole lot of conversation on what the higher standards will really do to a taxpayers pocket.

For the moment, lets ignore the increased up front costs of the vehicles that would be designed to meet the CAFE numbers. Lets focus on the more ‘hidden’ costs. Taxes.

Prediction 1 (this ones a no brainer):
Increased mileage means less gasoline purchased. Less gasoline purchased means less gasoline tax collected, less gasoline tax collected means increasing the gasoline taxes to ‘recover lost revenue’ (for the government, not you. Screw your revenue).

Prediction 2:
This will also be a foot in the door that will be used to introduce a type of GPS tracked mileage tax. Doesn’t matter what happens, this ones coming. If higher gas prices cause people to drive less (and buy less gasoline as a result), they (Government) will need the extra tax revenue to make up for ‘lost’ gas tax revenue. If higher fuel effeceincy causes people to drive more (hey! I get 50 miles to the gallon, roadtrip!), they (Government) will call for this mileage tax to ‘modify’ cosumer behavior and ‘protect the environment’.

I say #1 is a no brainer since we’ve already seen several municipalities and a couple states raise gas taxes (or threaten to) using fuel efficient prius’ and other hybrids as an excuse. Government can never be expected to make do with less. Just us.

Ok… I can’t say this actually suprises me. In fact, crap like this is exactly what I expected to start happening when this ‘oh god, oh god we’re all going to DIE!’ global warming hysteria started to spread.

Belgium to impose tax on barbequing to fight global warming

The government of Belgium’s French-speaking region of Wallonia, which has a population of about 4 million, has approved a tax on barbequing, local media reported.

Experts said that between 50 and 100 grams of CO2, a so-called greenhouse gas, is emitted during barbequing. Beginning June 2007, residents of Wallonia will have to pay 20 euros for a grilling session.

The local authorities plan to monitor compliance with the new tax legislation from helicopters, whose thermal sensors will detect burning grills.

Scientists believe CO2 emissions are a major cause of global warming.

Yes… I double checked the date. It is dated 4-3, not 4-1 so its not an April Fools joke.

Yet more proof that Goverment will tax whatever it can.

And again, I call bullshit on this being about global warming. This is all about revenue for the government. What do I mean? Did you happen to catch this: The local authorities plan to monitor compliance with the new tax legislation from helicopters, whose thermal sensors will detect burning grills. Now I wonder, how much CO2 does a helicopter engine put out? How many grills would have to be be lit to exceed the emissions of these helicopters during their tax flights?

Don’t think they won’t try and bring this here. We already have areas in the U.S. that ban woodburning fireplaces/stoves. BBQs and outdoor firepits are not far behind.

Lawsuit Over Wood-burning Fireplace Ban
Fireplace Ban Plan Spreads To Palo Alto
San Jose Studies Wood-burning Ban
Wood-burning Fireplaces May Be Banned in California

Leave it to Government to take a perfectly good idea… and screw it up.

Australia to ban incandescent bulbs

Australia will be the world’s first country to ban incandescent lightbulbs in a bid to curb greenhouse gas emissions, with the government saying on Tuesday they would be phased out within three years and replaced by compact fluorescent lighting.

Replacing incandescents with CFL’s is, in general, a good idea. However, this Australia story (California and New Jersey are also proposing the same) is a perfect example of politicians leaping with ridiculous legislation before actually looking at other problems it would cause. The problems?

Exemptions may apply for special needs such as medical lighting and oven lights.

May? May won’t cut it. CFL’s are not usable in all situations. A few examples are high vibration areas (garage doors openers), high heat (ovens), cold (refrigerators), quick on and off time and rapid power cycling (refrigerators again), enclosed recessed lighting, and most important of all, Let us not forget lava lamps and easy bake ovens! But never mind that, lets just ram a one size fits all square peg through a round hole.

BUT… have all these threatened bans (and a major push by Wal-Mart) kicked GE into gear? You may have read my earlier entry about Wal-Mart pushing CFL bulbs and manufacturer’s (Mainly GE) resistance to marketing CFLs. GE argues that CFLs are not made in America, there would be polution problems because of Mercury and (bottom line), they simply make more money with incandecents. All of the sudden, in the wake of the recent announcements from Australia, California, New Jersey, Wal-Mart and others, we get this press release from GE:

GE Announces Advancement in Incandescent Technology

GE Consumer & Industrial’s Lighting division, a world leader in the development of energy-efficient lighting products, today announced advancements to the light bulb invented by GE’s founder Thomas Edison that potentially will elevate the energy efficiency of this 125-year-old technology to levels comparable to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), delivering significant environmental benefits. Over the next several years, these advancements will lead to the introduction of high-efficiency incandescent lamps that provide the same high light quality, brightness and color as current incandescent lamps while saving energy and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The new high efficiency incandescent (HEI™) lamp, which incorporates innovative new materials being developed in partnership by GE’s Lighting division, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and GE’s Global Research Center, headquartered in Niskayuna, NY, would replace traditional 40- to 100-Watt household incandescent light bulbs, the most popular lamp type used by consumers today. The new technology could be expanded to all other incandescent types as well. The target for these bulbs at initial production is to be nearly twice as efficient, at 30 lumens-per-Watt, as current incandescent bulbs. Ultimately the high efficiency lamp (HEI) technology is expected to be about four times as efficient as current incandescent bulbs and comparable to CFL bulbs. Adoption of new technology could lead to greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 40 million tons of CO2 in the U.S. and up to 50 million tons in the EU if the entire installed base of traditional incandescent bulbs was replaced with HEI lamps.

GE’s announcement was made in conjunction with its decision to support legislation in the EU, the United States and in other areas that would accelerate the introduction of all types of high efficiency lighting products as part of the global effort to promote energy security and reduce emission of greenhouse gases. GE’s HEI ™ would support attainment of the objectives of the European Commission’s Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which aims to reduce Europe’s energy consumption 20% by the year 2020.

Here’s to hoping these various governments come around and introduce reasonable legislation instead of
some draconian policies that cause more problems then they solve.

Yeah I know… dream on.

(ht to aharden for the Australia ban story)

If this story turns out to be accurate, and all indications are that it is, I’m going to be even more pissed at Gore and his audacity at telling me how I should live.

Falling For Gore

National Public Radio fell for Al Gore’s dubious claim that he buys “carbon offsets” to offset the atmosphere-polluting energy usage of his energy-hog Nashville mansion. Memo to NPR: The company Gore’s spokesman claim Gore buys his “carbon offsets” from – Generation Investment Management – doesn’t sell carbon offsets. It’s a money management firm for high net worth individuals like Al Gore who, coincidentally, is co-founder, chairman and part owner of the firm.

Translation: Gore pays himself, in the form of a LLC, when buying his much vaunted ‘carbon offsets’. Only problem is, the company he supposedly buys carbon offsets from doesn’t actually SELL them.

So, if Generation Investment Management doesn’t sell carbon offsets themselves, do they buy them for their ‘high net worth individuals like Al Gore’? And if so, why aren’t they saying who they buy them from?

Here’s hoping The Tennessean – or some mainstream media outlet – will investigate to determine the following: If Gore doesn’t buy carbon offsets from Generation Investment Management – does he buy them at all? Who from? How many? Are they from a highly-rated carbon offsets seller? Does he really buy enough to “offset” his decidedly non-carbon-neutral lifestyle?

I have to hand it to Al Gore. He’s built himself quite a little racket with this whole Global Warming thing. Paying himself to offset his carbon footprint. I mean really… that takes balls.

By now I’m sure pretty much everyon has heard the story about the energy use of Al Gore’s Tennessee Mansion and guest home. In case you’ve be under a rock the past two days:

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

Think Progress thinks Gore’s energy use is OK and calls the Drudge Report story ‘hysterics’.

Gore Responds To Drudge’s Latest Hysterics

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

The right-wing fails to understand. Heh. Trust me, the right-wing (and many others; this isn’t just a right/left issue) understands perfectly. It understands that carbon offsets/credits are nothing more then feel good bullshit that allow the rich to do whatever they want and still convince themselves what they’re doing is good for the environment. Don’t have enough money to play the carbon credit game? Too bad, so sad. Live as we tell you to live and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Hell, even the Baltimore Sun raises a few doubts about the validity of carbon offset programs (ht: SC).

“There is much validity to the argument that offsetting simply helps us assuage our guilt, while we continue to fail to change our lifestyles toward patterns that are more truly sustainable,” the report said. “Avoiding having to fly to far-away places is still the most effective way to reduce one’s personal air travel emissions.”

You’d think a guy who claimed he helped invent the internet would realize that. What better way to get your message across about climate change/global warming than to do something like, oh say… use the internet to teleconference your climate presentation… instead of jetting all over the world to present it in person. Unless you really, really need the celebrity treatment.

side note: I’m not really sure why Think Progress attributes the story to Drudge since it came from Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

So… after all of that, what is Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth? George Bush’s house is greener.

Al Gore’s Own Inconvenient Truth

Ok, so thats Texas. You can’t really compare state to state right? Ok. Here’s another Inconvenient Truth for Gore. Bill Frist’s house is greener.

goring the environment

Al Gore needs to sit down and spend some time with Ed Begley, Jr. Ed is a hard core environmentalist who is also a Hollywood star currently known for his show Living with Ed. I think Ed may be a bit extreme, but I have no problem with him, his show and his suggestions on how people can save energy and truly live greener. Simply because, unlike Gore, Streisand and their ilk, Ed practices what he preaches.

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