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Umbra on hybrid cars

Umbra, hi, With Honda having just released its gas-electric hybrid Civic in the U.S., many enviros are scrambling to buy one. But one question that hasn't been answered to my knowledge is whether the total amount of energy, pollution, mining, etc. involved in making a new car -- even a hybrid -- constitutes a greater overall environmental impact than the added emissions and fossil-fuel consumption of a huge old second-hand clunker that would cost less and, with one of those hoods that extends for approximately 1/4 mile, probably be just as safe. Thompson Smith Dearest Thompson, Hi. No. The manufacture …


Umbra on grocery bags

Dear Umbra, At the grocery store, when they ask "Paper or plastic?" (and you have left your eco-friendly organic cotton tote bag at home), which is the lesser of two evils as far as total pounds of pollutants per bag (including solid waste, hazardous waste, and air and water pollution), and as far as ecological damage from raw material extraction and processing? Anna Dearest Anna, I am beginning to believe that true national environmental consciousness will be heralded by the cessation of this constant concern over tiny little bags. Stop your worrying. Take the energy you spent writing to me …

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Umbra on computers

Dear Umbra, I normally turn my computer off when I leave the office. However, I was recently told that the act of turning on a computer requires more energy than is saved by keeping it off from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. The person said that it is better to let your computer go into "sleep" mode and just wake it up when you get in. Is this true? Thanks,Bryna Dearest Bryna, Simply putting the computer in "sleep" mode will not permit it to get enough deep, R.E.M. sleep, making it distracted and jittery the next day. Har! Har! No, …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Umbra on corporate paper recycling

I work for a large corporation that is very wasteful with paper. I am looking for information on whom I can complain to about this so that something will happen. They do not use recycled paper or require any recycling of paper. Beth Dearest Beth, Prepare yourself: The fate of reams of office paper is in your hands. You must be the defender of the discarded draft, the champion of the crumpled wad, the protector of the printer jam victim. Happily, the path you are about to travel is well-trodden; most large municipalities have programs to promote business recycling. You …


Umbra on farmed fish

I have a friend who is a homeopathic. She told me that I should stop eating pen-raised salmon because they are fed a lot of antibiotics. I was very disappointed because I thought I was eating a safe product. I don't know how to get more info about this, but if you guys know anything about it, I'm sure a lot of us would appreciate it. Claudia Dearest Claudia, I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that your question is quite au courant -- the talk of the seafood counter -- so there's no …

Read more: Food


Umbra on chemtrails

I'm interested in learning more about Chemtrails. I understand that they are spread in the sky by jets using aluminum particles and that they are used to create cooler weather to slow down global warming. However, people are suffering from health problems as a result of this spraying action. If you have more information on Chemtrails, I would be interested in hearing about it. Terry Dearest Terry, Airplanes release water vapor as a byproduct of engine action. At certain altitudes and temperatures, this water vapor causes the surrounding air to cool and condense. We notice this condensation as the white …

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