Chris Schults

Web Developer for PCC Natural Markets

The hundred-mile diet

Sustainable, yes. Possible, not so sure.

So you want to make sure your eating habits are not contributing to global warming, but aren't ready to go veg. You like the idea of eating only organic food, but worry about the long trek much of it makes to get from producer to grocer. So you're thinking about consuming only locally produced fare. But is it possible? Well, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon are giving it a go and sharing their experience with our friends to the north, The Tyee. In part one, we get the background: For the average American meal (and we assume the average Canadian meal is similar), World Watch reports that the ingredients typically travel between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres, a 25 percent increase from 1980 alone. This average meal uses up to 17 times more petroleum products, and increases carbon dioxide emissions by the same amount, compared to an entirely local meal.Let's translate that into the ecological footprint model devised by Dr. William Rees of UBC which measures how many planets'-worth of resources would be needed if everyone did the same. If you had an average North American lifestyle in every other way, from driving habits to the size of your house, by switching to a local diet you would save almost an entire planet's worth of resources (though you'd still be gobbling up seven earths).

Get a free (Terra)Pass for $79.95

For you all SUV drivers who fear the "eco-terrorists" mentioned here, and must continue to drive said SUVs, there is some potentially good news: TerraPass decals. In Washington, DC, eco-vandals smear SUV door handles with dog crap. In Santa Cruz, California, protestors tag more than 60 gas-guzzlers with anti-oil graffiti. In Los Angeles, a Caltech grad student is sentenced to eight years in prison for trashing more than 120 SUVs around the city. It's almost enough to make you feel bad for SUV drivers. After all, some of them are green, too - just not as hardcore about it.Now they have TerraPass, a clever eco-capitalism experiment. Launched by a group of Wharton Business School classmates, the startup sells a decal that drivers can slap on their windshields. The sticker price - $79.95 for SUVs, less for greener cars - gets invested in renewable energy projects and credits. The credits are traded through local brokers on the new Chicago Climate Exchange. To purchase your decal, or to learn more, do not pass Go and head directly to the TerraPass website. (Via Wired) [editor's note, by Chris Schults] And to read Grist's piece on the aforementioned Chicago Climate Exchange go here.

Another Prius sighting

They’re everywhere!

I can't go outside anymore in Seattle without seeing a Toyota Prius -- actually make that several. To escape the onslaught, I ducked into a movie theater this past weekend to watch War of the Worlds. Just as I was thinking it would be just me, Tom, Dakota and a few alien friends, Mr. Prius showed up on the big screen to remind me that he's watching me. Is there no escape!?

Go veg to save the planet

Or, try a lab burger.

Several Gristmillians, myself included, believe that going veg is one of many ways to help prevent climate change. That belief is now supported by British scientist Alan Calverd, who wrote in the journal Physics World that "carbon emissions could be slashed by an incredible 21% overnight if we all stopped eating meat" (via edie news centre). Can't kick the animal flesh habit? Then maybe you want to look into lab burgers -- that is animal tissue engineered in a laboratory: Writing in the journal Tissue Engineering, Matheny said scientists could grow cells from the muscle tissue of cattle, pigs, poultry or fish in large flat sheets on thin membranes. These sheets of cells would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked to increase thickness and resemble meat.Using another method, scientists could grow muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The resulting tissue could be used to make processed meat such as chicken nuggets or hamburgers. Sounds appetizing doesn't it? I'll stick with good ol' plant-based foods thank you.

Appleseed the movie

Planting the seeds of sustainability in pop culture.

Okay. It is Friday and the last day of Grist's summer publishing break -- which means a little diversion from the more serious posts. Now, the images below are not conceptual renderings of DestiNY part deux, but pics of Olympus, a fictional "utopian" city featured in the anime movie Appleseed. While I won't go on and rave about this movie as I did with Sky Blue, I did want to mention that Olympus had a few interesting qualities. One, a million solar roofs that would make Arnold envious. (Okay, so I'm not sure how many there were, but it seemed like a million). Two, green roofs. Three, Olympus seemed to be an efficiently dense city. Four, it is run by Gaia! (So what if this Gaia is actually a self evolving computer network -- they used the term Gaia!)

Greens in space

Can the moon provide infinite clean, cheap energy?

Ok, since no one else has been brave enough to post this one ... from Wired re: Chip Proser's new documentary, Gaia Selene: The moon, the film argues, will provide the Earth with infinite clean, cheap energy. Our ailing globe will stabilize. Wealth and good fortune will spread throughout the planetary system. Not sold yet? Nibble on this: Gaia Selene begins by building a picture of an Earth on the verge of environmental collapse. Global demand for energy is spiking. Nukes (too dangerous) and fossil fuels (dirty and limited) are problematic. With no earthly solution on the horizon, Gaia Selene insists we look to space, where we'll find two sources of cheap, clean energy. And once we establish our moon base, we'll head out to explore the galaxy using our no-energy-required solar sails! Luna, here I come! Who's with me?

George Will on global warming

His critics speak.

I'm pleased to announce that ABC News' This Week has also joined the list of news outlets covering global warming. In addition to the energy bill, roundtable panelists debated climate change, in response to George Will's position that we shouldn't believe the overwhelming scientific evidence because the "same" scientists warned us in the 1970s that the next global ice age was imminent due to global cooling. If those pesky scientists were wrong about global cooling then they got to be wrong about global warming, right? Gotta love that logic! Fortunately, George's colleagues pointed out that mayors from around the country are taking the issue seriously (which he scoffed at), as well as major corporations. And This Week's viewers didn't let George off the hook easily either. Let's get these people on Gristmill!

Changing clothes to battle climate change

Japanese dress down to save 81 million gallons of oil in summer

What do you do if your country needs to meet targets under the Kyoto global warming protocol? You dress down. Yup, the Japanese government is encouraging public workers to wear less in order to use less oil. Since many in Japan don dark suits in summer, they crank up the AC to maintain an average temperature of 77 degrees. Someone figured out that Japan could save 81 million gallons of oil in one summer by setting the temperature at 82. To make the warmer workplace more bearable, employees now have the okay to wear short sleeves and go sans tie. However, one possible unintended consequence of this move is that shirt sales are up. I'm guessing that they are not organic.

Today the kitchen, tomorrow the world

Grist’s green moms setup new Yahoo! group

For all you moms out there who were thinking about joining the green moms, but didn't ... they've setup shop at a new location: queensofgreen. For the uninitiated, here is what they're about: We in this yet-to-be-named group are dedicated to bringing together moms - the smartest, savviest, most flexible people we know - to take on the challenge of environmental issues. We believe every mom has something to contribute. For many, it is taking the first steps to limit toxins in the home. For others, it is the chance to take their passion out in the world to organize and lead. For all, it is about cleaning up the environmental legacy we leave to our children.This is not a political forum, a religious platform, or a depressing review of global warming. Plenty of other well-organized groups are offering those opportunities (some of which are listed under Links). Instead, we bring community, idea-exchange, and support right to your (Energy Star?) computer. It's a place to meet other like-minded moms, and to share your experiences or expertise. Most important, it's a place to learn that we as mothers have the power to change the world for the better, starting in our own homes. Today the kitchen, tomorrow the world. Go join them!