The Future of Roller Coasters?

I came across these pictures on a tech blog entitled, "5 Roller Coasters You Probably Shouldn't Ride" It is The Skycycle at Washuzan Highland Park in Okayama, Japan. Flintstones or Jetsons? If you disregard the enormous amount of carbon emmissions that it took to build the steel tracks and the obvious fact that most Americans: a) can't fit their large rear ends on bicycle seats and b) can't peddle through the average fast food drive-thrus, it may not be a viable option.

...and I always thought it was the fish-based diet of the Japanese that had them living better and longer.

Cheat Neutral

Spoof of the day: Cheat Neutral

When the idea of carbon neutrality came into being, I thought it was such a great idea, but like fat free ice cream and lapdances, is it cheating no matter how one justifies it?

On a personal level with environmentalism I've seen the greenwashing and its cousin, the "pay as you cheat" concept, come into prominence. As a conscious society we hope hope to do just that - be conscious The idea of carbon offsets seem so......American don't they? Don't get me wrong, it's much better to recognize it and take action than to do neither, but it does allow the rich to feel good about themselves without actually reducing their personal emissions, which is what we ultimately need for the survival of our planet as we've known it.

We come up with some pretty half-baked idea at times, and the future might show that carbon offsets are as ill-advised as cheat offsets.

As the founders of Cheat Neutral say at the end of the video: "We need to start cherishing our planet, not cheating on it.”

Gas Boycott: Nice Idea, Totally Misguided

I received an email from a friend today with the subject line, "Don't Pump Gas On May 15, 2007."
Subject: FW: Don't pump gas May 15th 2007

NO GAS...On May 15th 2007

Don't pump gas on may 15th

In April 1997, there was a "gas out" conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

On May 15th 2007, all internet users are to not go to a gas station in protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most places.
It seemed familiar. Sure enough, a quick search turned up that some version of this email has been circulating for seven years now.

It's a well-intentioned idea, but totally misguided, which is what I tactfully told the friend who sent me the email. Someone else has summed up the reasons why.
1. There was no nationwide "gas out" in 1997. There was one in 1999, but it didn't cause gas prices to drop 30 cents per gallon overnight. In fact, it didn't cause them to drop at all.

2. There are over 205 million Internet users in the United States, far more than the 73 million claimed.

3. If, say, a hundred million drivers refused en masse to fill up their tanks on May 15, the total of what they didn't spend could amount to as much as $3 billion. However, it doesn't follow that such a boycott would actually decrease oil companies' revenues by that amount, given that the average sales of gasoline across the entire U.S. is under $1 billion per day in the first place.

4. Whether the total impact was a half-billion, 3 billion, or 10 billion dollars, the sales missed due to a one-day consumer boycott wouldn't hurt the oil companies one bit. Think about it. Every single American who doesn't buy gas on Tuesday is still going to have to fill up their tank on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, making up for Tuesday's losses. Sales for the whole week would be normal, or very close to it.

A meaningful boycott would entail participants actually consuming less fuel -- and doing so in a sustained, disciplined fashion over a defined period of time -- not just choosing to wait a day or two before filling up as usual.
It's that last part which is most important -- consuming less fuel.

So there are better ideas than a boycott and they all boil down to one thing -- driving less. Bike to work. Carpool. Take the bus. Telecommute. Group your trips together.

Did you know?
  • Most American families spend more on transportation than on healthcare, education or food.
  • Shopping and leisure activities account for over half of all car trips.
  • A daily commute of 20 miles round trip in your car can add up to more than
    $2,000 per year, not including parking!

$46 to Stop Global Warming?

How much will it cost to stop global warming? A lot less than it will cost if we don't act now.

According to a report released last week by the World Wildlife Fund,
global warming can be stopped for 0.1 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product per year. Emissions would have to begin to decline before 2015 and 50 to 85 percent of CO2 emissions would have to be cut by the middle of this century. Doing nothing will cost up to 20 times more and bring about suffering and hardship, according to the most recent science.

"This report shows that the cost of acting today to reduce emissions is small compared to the cost of inaction," said Richard Mott, Vice President for International Policy at World Wildlife Fund. "We know the steps that must be taken to impact global climate change. The catch is that we need to act now."
This news courtesy of Rocketboom.

What if American households -- "every American is responsible for about 22 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year" -- were to spend 0.1 percent of their annual income on reducing their carbon imprint? Since the median household income is about $46,000, that amounts to just $46 per year.

What good can $46 do? More than you might think. You can:But there are many ways to reduce carbon emissions that don't cost a thing, or save you money, eg driving less, turning off the lights and a/c, unplugging appliances and power chargers when not in use, etc.

"Hot Politics"

In "Hot Politics," FRONTLINE recounts attempts by members of both Bush administrations, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to get the United States to set mandatory carbon caps and sign international treaties on global warming.

It's a story about missed opportunities, suppressed science, empty rhetoric and politics as usual in America. What the story doesn't really focus on is what's at stake: the survival of our planet.

I thought that conservative Newt Gingrich summed up the failures of the past three administrations best.
FRONTLINE: We've had three administrations: one early, and maybe not technology there yet; a second administration that reportedly knew everything about global warming; and now we've got another administration that has been saying all along that it's not a problem. Why do you think we have had three administrations who have not been able to deal with this issue on the federal level?

Gingrich: Because the left insists on pain, and the right insists on avoidance, and you've had no real leadership that says there's a positive, economically rational, science-and-technology way to solve this that makes your life better, not worse, and gives you more options, not fewer. ...
While I can accept his contention that "more litigation, more regulation, bigger government, higher taxes" can be "painful," I don't accept his portrait of the left in general.
The left has this passion for using whatever issue they can find as an excuse to eliminate capitalism, to eliminate markets, to eliminate personal choice, to demand a lower standard of living. I think that's all, frankly, irrational.
Of course it's irrational, and a total misrepresentation. While I imagine that some liberals may want an end to capitalism, I believe most want to improve it, not destroy it. I'll give him this, though:
The average American, in fact, wants a healthy environment, but they also want a healthy economy. And the average American would like their political leadership to figure out a solution which is economically rational, environmentally favorable, and which leads to the creation of a better future using better science and technology to give them more choices and a higher quality of living.

"The Hippies Were Right!"

Mark Morford writes in today's San Francisco Chronicle:
There is but one conclusion you can draw from the astonishing (albeit fitful, bittersweet) pro-environment sea change now happening in the culture and (reluctantly, nervously) in the halls of power in D.C., one thing we must all acknowledge in our wary, jaded, globally warmed universe: The hippies had it right all along. Oh yes they did.

You know it's true. All this hot enthusiasm for healing the planet and eating whole foods and avoiding chemicals and working with nature and developing the self? Came from the hippies. Alternative health? Hippies. Green cotton? Hippies. Reclaimed wood? Recycling? Humane treatment of animals? Medical pot? Alternative energy? Natural childbirth? Non-GMO seeds? It came from the granola types (who, of course, absorbed much of it from ancient cultures), from the alternative worldviews, from the underground and the sidelines and from far off the goddamn grid and it's about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.
The Chronicle's hippie readers, myself included, apparently like to email stories to their friends. This is tody's most-emailed story, beating out "SUV jumps curb, strikes Belmont middle school students" and "Man Dies of Thirst During Survival Test."
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