Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saving Money, Saving The Planet

People like to save money, if you show them how to do it (especially if it's easy) they will.  It never ceases to amaze me what a poor job of using this piece of information environmentalists do.  If you can get folks to cut their energy usage because it saves them money, do it.  Don't bother with a bid spiel about how it will save the planet or combat global warming or so on.  People don't need to care about saving the planet to help do so.

Why climate change prevention advocates aren't more results oriented is a mystery that I've given up trying to solve.  I'm with Richard Branson on this one who told the New Yorker (in a great innovators issue profile a few years ago) that we will eventually save the planet because it will make the people who come up with the solutions very, very rich.  That works on a small scale too.  Showing people that if they change to CFL bulbs, unplug electronics when not in use, and turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees they'll save on their utility bills is the same thing only on a micro scale.

Saving the world is nice and all, but financial incentives are powerful motivators.

So it was great to see the front page piece in the NYT last Tuesday about a group on Kansas that has taken this tact and successfully gotten several small towns to reduce their energy consumption and their bills, all without mentioning climate change or saving the planet. 

Getting 5% energy reductions in the Midwest, where only 48% of people agree that climate change is an issue is an amazing feat.  This is a project that needs instant replication everywhere. 

Be sure to read the whole story.  The NYT also has a page for the Beyond Fossil Fuels series of which this story is a part, and a slide show of the Kansas towns involved in the project.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juan Williams Will Never Be Able To Leave His House

Once he sees all of this 'Muslim Garb' everywhere, check out the new 'Muslim Garb' tumblr...

Like the king of Jordan, actor Alexander Siddig is also fond of Muslim Star Trek garb.  
(via TPM)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Yep that's a crock of shit name.  Jack Black's latest is either going to be a lot of fun or kind of terrible, it's too early to tell.  Either way we're probably in for quite the ride...

Episode two is up already.  You can read an interview with some of the folks behind the project, including HCAN, at Speakeasy.

Yep, that's America Ferrera.

Read This Now - Ladies & Gentlemen, Kevin Drum

I haven't been following Kevin Drum since he moved on to MoJo.  I don't remember why exactly, but it probably had to do with how his posts and feed appeared in my google reader.

It seems that I may have been missing some good stuff though, if his latest is any measure of what he has been up to...

But you can't just say this, even though it's plainly true. You have to pretend to take conservative arguments about this seriously. You have to write detailed responses, complete with quotes from law professors and health experts. You have to pretend that this is an actual issue, not just a handy attack point. And so we all spend mountains of time in a sort of pundit fantasyland where we all agree to talk about stuff that we all know nobody truly cares about.
Go read the whole thing to find out what exactly he's talking about.  Or don't, he's made his point in that graph alone.

(via EK)

Read This Now - Who's On Your TV Screen

This unscientific and admittedly imprecise glimpse of night time talk show guests this fall is still worth a look, if only for the quality of the design.

I was pretty impressed with the presentation and with the straight forward text outlining the limitations of the project.  It would be interesting to see a bigger and more robust study looking at guests across a wider range of shows in a variety of time slots...

(via Speakeasy)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Read This Now - Stepping Backwards Into Blindness

We also could call this one Republicans can't handle the truth.  From the NYT lead editorial today...

With one exception, none of the Republicans running for the Senate — including the 20 or so with a serious chance of winning — accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming. 
Be afraid people, it's your future they are messing with...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day - Water

Blog Action Day this year brings us back around to a topic that I should be focusing on more; water.

I still recall the tag line - our most precious resource - whenever the topic comes up and honestly I could ramble on for hours about various water issues and the importance of recognizing the challenges we face and choosing to take action to protect our water resources (I could also go on and on about water and the coastal hazards that it engenders).

Perhaps more so than any other water issue we should be paying attention to our clean drinking water resources.  We need to be planning for a hotter future with more people who need water.  We'll have to change many of our water use habits and landscaping will be important, as will storing water in reservoirs in ways that don't threaten the health of the attached ecosystems (we need to avoid the old canard of biting the hand that feeds us).

The recent scary Hungarian toxic sludge incident should focus our thoughts on protecting our water.  The most recent coverage of that tragedy in the NYT highlights the dangers posed by aging soviet-era facilities that threaten similar incidents.  Closer to home we need to be aware of the dangers posed by coal ash and it's impoundment in similar storage ponds that are equally vulnerable and can also wreak havoc on our water resources.

I don't have the time to get in depth on the issue and Earth Justice does a much better job than I could anyway.  So head over to their site and learn a little bit about the trouble with coal ash and what you can do to help protect your drinking water.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Raul Nuez is this year's Union of Concerned Scientists Science Idol, his cartoon will be the cover of the UCS calendar for the next year...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Read This Now - Quenching A Food Desert

Food deserts are areas without easy access to fresh food, particularly produce.  They are unfortunately common in lower socio-demographic urban neighborhoods throughout the country.

In Burlington, VT though, the Diggers Mirth Veggie Truck is providing some relief.

Barry Estabrook rode along a few weeks back and he shares the story.

While you're at it you should check out the Intervale Center and have a peek from above.

Go West!

If only it were real...

This is pretty fantastic, it has been bouncing around facebook and emails among our generation, I wonder if you can get a copy of the game to play on a computer these days...