Plastic Bags more Green than Cotton or Paper

An article in The Independent discusses how one study shows Plastic Bags may be more ‘Green’ than paper or reusable cotton bags.

HDPE bags are, for each use, almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton hold-alls favoured by environmentalists, and have less than one third of the Co2 emissions than paper bags which are given out by retailers such as Primark.

The findings suggest that, in order to balance out the tiny impact of each lightweight plastic bag, consumers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year, or use paper bags at least thrice rather than sticking them in the bin or recycling.

The study also finds that most cotton bags are only used 51 times before being discarded. Personally I use almost every plastic bag I get twice, once for groceries and once for trash or other uses around the house. Interesting how ‘Green’ ideas aren’t always good for the environment…

Vikings were not ‘green’ – recycling was an economic necessity

An article entitled Turning Swords into Battleaxes: Recycled Vikings! just came across the twitter feed. It’s premise, that Vikings ‘recycled’ because they took broken weapons to their local blacksmith and had them made into new ones. While this is a nice story, and it’s point is somewhat relevant, let’s not delude ourselves. The Vikings weren’t ‘green’. The Vikings weren’t reusing the metal in their weapons to get carbon credits and offset all the villages they burnt to the ground. The Vikings ‘recycled’ because they had to. Metal was hard to acquire and it was much more economically viable to use metal that they already had than it was to go mine more.

In fact, if the point of this article is to encourage modern man to recycle, it kind of misses the point. The steel industry has been recycling for 150 years. Since WWII the recycling rate for steel has exceeded 50%. Why is this? Again, economics. It is cheaper to recycle steel than it is to mine new iron and process it into steel. Raw materials are saved and 75% less energy is used annually by steel manufacturers, so of course they recycle.

There is one good point that the article illustrates, and that is that waste is a phenomenon of our modern wealthy society. Many primitive cultures are renowned for for their efficiency. I remember back in school hearing so many stories about how the Native Americans would use very part of a buffalo. Why? Because it was the only resource they had. They didn’t have cotton blankets, steel sewing needles or pleather jackets. They had to use the skin and bone of the animal as well as the meat. In our modern world resources are still plentiful and it’s more cost effective to use those resources than it is to be green, conserve and recycle. Until that changes I fear there is little hope to stop the rampant waste that our society is built upon.

Compact Flourescent test results

Back in January I posted an article about CFL lights. I decided to run a test, replacing 6 of 7 light bulbs with cfls.

I’m happy to announce, the results are in. All 6 of the CFLs I installed are still burning brightly, but last week the lone incandescent burnt out. Obviously, this isn’t a perfect test, maybe I will run it again. I still have some incandescents, I think I will replace the burnt out bulb today with a new one and see if it lasts longer than the cfls.

The interesting thing would be to see if I can establish how long the bulbs last, and compare the costs with them. This CFL Savings Calculator, with it’s default settings, shows a savings of $0.44/month or $8.86/year for each CFL bulb. It would be interesting to see if my data supports that. If their numbers are accurate, and I have about 20 bulbs in my home, the total savings would be around $175/year. That’s not a huge amount of money, but worth doing.

Daylight Savings Time Costs Money in Indiana

In the spring of 2006 the Indiana legislature forced the whole state to observe Daylight Savings Time. Up until this point, the majority of Indiana counties did not change their clocks every year.

This change in the states behavior was studied by University of California-Santa Barbara. Their conclusion? Last year the change COST Indiana residents over $8 Million in electricity bills.

As the Wall Street Journal article states, there is definitely more to the story of Daylight Savings Time. There may be social and other benefits, but the study does fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Turns out Daylight Savings is not an environmentally friendly activity, and is quite likely causing us to waste more energy.

That’s a big Hole

I’m always a sucker for cool geographic features. Almost got my brother in law that Planet Earth series on Blue-Ray so I could watch it on his home theatre.

In that same vein, here is a GREAT article on 7 Amazing Holes.

Now, if Google Earth would just stop crashing my Slackware 12 installation I could go check these all out from satellite.

monticello dam spillway

Alone in the dark

compact fluorescent bulb

Ever since moving into my home in 2001 I have had a problem with lightbulbs. It seems that the bulbs typically only last a few months at most. I have attempted to research the reason behind this and have come to the conclusion that it’s either because incandescent lightbulbs are worthless, or there is some type of electrical problem in my house (I’ve also read that the problem could be due to screwing the bulbs in too tight, but last time I replaced them I was careful not to overtighten).

While at my local Wal-Mart, buying bulbs I decided to conduct an experiment. I replaced six of the seven bulbs that are burnt out with Compact Flourescent bulbs. These bulbs are supposed to use less power (so I’m saving the planet), and last for five years.

I was a bit skeptical, but the new bulbs put out a pleasing light. The only caveat so far is that they take a second or two to come on, not a problem but a bit of an annoyance. Every time I flip the switch I think they’ve burnt out. I’m sure that will pass.

Now we just need to see how long they last. I’ll be sure to post if/when any of them burn out.

California sues carmakers

In the most insane news of the day the State of California is suing automakers for Global Warming.

This is actually an interesting case. California is going to have to convince a jury that

  1. Global Warming actually is occurring
  2. Greenhouse gasses are causing global warming
  3. Automakers are responsible for these greenhous gasses

This should really bring the global warming to the forefront – what do you want to bet that automakers can find (buy) scientists that dispute global warming alltogether thus disputing the idea that there is a consensus in the scientific community on the subject.

Personally, I think we should all get together and sue the State of California for global warming since they have

  • Allowed drivers to drive too fast and not enforced traffic laws causeing vehicles to burn excess fuel
  • Created bigger roads to encourage more driving than needed
  • Provided it’s citizens with inadequate public transportation forcing them to drive their cars
  • Allowed businesses and residences to run air conditioning which uses power causing greenhouse gasses from coal-fired power plants

In fact, should also have a lawsuit against the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and other environmental organizations for blocking US production of Nuclear power plants. If they had not done so, cheap electricity would have promoted the widespread use of electric cars.

Stupid Global Warming

Global Warming. It’s the hot buzzword these days. Between Al Gore’s movie, the price of gas and the scientists testifying in Congress it’s all you hear.

Funny thing though, wouldn’t have thought Global Warming would make it COLDER. Yet here I am, on the 8th of July 2006, in a Colorado summer and it’s 69 degrees and raining. Not even the afternoon thunderstorm raining we typically get, no, it’s a November drizzle. If it was 20 degrees colder it would be snowing.

Anyone who has ever spent any time on the Colorado Front Range could tell you we have two kinds of weather. Warm and dry in the summer, cold and dry in the winter. A normal summer day consists of beautiful morning, temperatures rising into the 90s in the after noon and a thunderstorm about 4:00pm. I heard somewhere that we have more sunny days in Colorado than they do in Florida, The Sunshine State.

This summer, has not quite been so predictable. We started out in April and May with scorching temperatures (for the time of year), but by mid June it started cooling off. The 4th of July sky looked like a December snowstorm. I’m sure my localized observations are not indicative of planet wide climate change, but I definitely don’t think the whole global warming bit is living up to it’s name.

When is it litter?

I’m pretty sure if I went and dumped trash on somebody’s front step I would get in trouble. The owner of the house would probably call the police and I’d get a ticket for littering. There are signs on the highway warning about fines for dumping. So why is it that people can just come along and leave their trash on my doorstep? Doesn’t seem fair.

About once a month our local newspaper, the wonderful Greeley Tribune, sends somebody around to dump a ‘free’ paper on my step. Now this paper is some syndicated thing with celebrity gossip that’s two weeks old called Extra. Now, would somebody please explain to me how it’s even legal for a newspaper to hire people and dump trash on my doorstep. I don’t subscribe to their paper, I’ve never been their customer, but somehow they think it’s OK to hire somebody to drive around our city and dump TONS of newspapers on people that don’t want or read them. What a waste.

If we are all so worried about foriegn oil dependency, global warming and saving the planet we should put a stop to things like this first.