Leonard Lin crunches the numbers and finds that if the government started a program to replace every lightbulb in every household with a CFL bulb, the American people would save $4.1 billion in electrical bills and enough power to replace a nuclear power plant. (via kottke) In other news, Mr. Luna is still plugging away at his bright idea.
Want to make sure your kids don't have bad allergies? Take them out into messy, dirty nature.
A few days ago, Stephen Hawking declared that the only hope for future human survival is space colonies. Specifically, Hawking said:It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species ... Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of. Now, I'm glad to add Hawking to the list of geniuses (genii?) who are scared witless about global warming. But is this how desperate we are, that the only choice is a reverse-Battlestar Galactica?
I can't decide whether to be heartened or depressed beyond reason by this NYT story on the recent flurry of energy-related bills in Congress. I'm leaning toward the latter. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita shut down refineries in the Gulf of Mexico region last summer, speeding the rise of gasoline costs, House members have introduced 267 energy-related bills and senators have introduced 210, according to an analysis by the Senate energy committee. On one hand, it's nice that the energy issue is rising in importance and that legislators are paying attention. On the other, the vast majority of the proposed bills are awful. Worse yet, the few that actually have a chance of passing are among the worst:
In talking with Anthony Flint and reading Big Coal, a parallel occurred to me. I asked Flint about the historical roots of single-use development -- the kind that separated out residential areas and led to the sprawl we now know and love. He told me that such zoning measures were originally passed by progressives, in an effort to move the dirty, disease-causing elements of urban life -- e.g., slaughterhouses and factories -- away from where people live. It was concern for the health of the underclass that led to single-use development. Similarly, when coal turbines were first developed, one business model was to build them small and make them residential appliances (to sell machines rather than electricity, in effect). But the early turbines were dirty. So eventually, savvy businessfolk moved the turbines far out of town and made them huge. Early on in America's industrial development, the impetus was to separate and spread out the various functions of human community, because the industrial functions were filthy and unhealthy. But we got stuck with that dissipation. A principal part of this century's environmental fight is to reintegrate and condense the functions of human community.
In the latest issue of the The New York Review of Books (not yet online here), legendary climate scientist Jim Hansen leaves behind the cozy confines of technical scientific writing and launches into the world of book review prose. He does remarkably well. The books at issue are Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes From a Catastrophe, and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, but Hansen mostly uses the books as a pretext to lay out the basic state of conventional wisdom on the climate issue, namely: Things are bad and getting worse, species are set to die out and sea levels are set to rise, we can either continue on with business as usual or set a new course, and we really should set a new course, because within 10 years we'll pass a point of no return. Regular Grist readers will find it all quite familiar, but Hansen does a nice job of presenting the information in a compact, dispassionate, and frightening form. Perhaps more juicy, from a purely tabloidy perspective, are some nuggets about Gore and Hansen's relationship toward the end of the piece. To wit:
Re: The Price Is Wrong Dear Editor: Umbra asserts that “organic food is more expensive because it costs more to produce.” This is a …
Interior Dept. unveils new conservation-minded park policies New Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne scrapped predecessor Gale Norton’s proposed policy changes to national-park management yesterday, issuing a …
The Courier-Journal (of all papers) out of Louisville, Ky. (of all places), is running a wide-ranging, in-depth look at global warming. Kudos, Kentucky!