Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Best of Environmentalism

My Favorites:
The environmental rewards card
Acres and gallons
Can you be a frequent flyer green?

Best of the Rest:

Global Warming
I start by taking a look at some philosophical point on global warming. What is ideal temperature for life on Earth? Why does it matter if global warming is man made? Is it possible that global warming could be good for the earth and allow for more life on earth? Are CO2 levels at historically high levels?

I then look at what it would take to stabilize the climate. What would be the cost of stabilizing carbon emissions or making world carbon neutral?

One plan to halt climate change is carbon stabilization wedges. Ways to achieve this include carbon sequestering, currently being started in Japan. Another is to char agricultural waste and till it back in the earth (Terra Preta). More radical ways include geoengineering, the large-scale manipulation of the environment, by sending sulfur particles into the air, fertilizing the sea with iron or putting mirrors in space to reflect sunlight.

I compare the greenhouse gas emissions of cows vs. cars and light bulbs vs. cars. I review An Inconvenient Truth.

Buying green and social/environmental labeling
The amount of people willing to buy green can be seen by the 30:3 ratio and the Landor Associates study on consumer and 'Green'. Customers pony up for renewable energy.

I am a big fan of social environmental labeling to give more information to consumers to make more informed decisions. This starts with an augmented barcode, and can be used by services such as Grass Commons or Greenscanner. In the future I see stores having environmental rewards cards that allow customers to track the environmental impact of their purchases. The labels will answer questions like how many acres and gallons of fuel does it take to make my food, or how much death does my consumption cause? It will also help you to figure out which fish are being harvested sustainably and which aren't.

When it comes to carbon emissions, I can't wait for the day to pull into the gas station and be able to choose regular, premium, or carbon neutral. You can now offset your carbon emissions from your car emits with an SUV redemption sticker and from your flying with the Climate Care. When you purchase a car you will be able to see a climate label. The UK is planning a carbon swipe card.

The Oil Curse
Although you would think countries that have oil and other natural resources would experience robust economies and economic growth, usually the opposite occurs. This is known as the oil curse or the paradox of plenty. As this map or this Transparency International report show, natural resources and corruption show up in the same places. Tom Friedman calls it Petrolism and explains it in his first law of petrolpolitics.

I was against the Iraq war, in large part because I thought it would be extremely tough to install a democracy with all that oil money lying around. Foreign Affairs talked about the potential problem and how to save Iraq from its oil. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that worked out so well as I outline in Iraq and the oil curse, oil graft fuels Iraqi insurgency and its the oil, stupid.

Can Chad break the oil curse with oversight from the UN? Apparently not as Chad's oil riches meant for poor are diverted. How about Angola or Russia?

One attempt to stop the oil curse is to have oil companies publish what they pay.

I am not a big fan of hydrogen powered fuel cell cars. Toyota agrees as they explain why they think hydrogen cars are lame. Instead I like cars that get high mileage such as the Daimler Chrysler 70mpg diesel car based on the aerodynamics of a cowfish or the next generation Prius that will get 94mpg. While hybrids are good, care needs to be taken not to over hype them as Seattle found out with their hybrid buses.

Even better is turning hybrids into plugins. In the short to medium term I think biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol (see Best of Ethanol) will play big roles. Add biofuels with plugin hybrids and you get a car that gets 500 miles per gallon of gasoline. Biofuels and plugin hybrids will lead us to battery powered electric cars like the one Tesla is making. I completely agree with their master plan.

I think a $2 gasoline tax is the best way to reduce Americans use (and importation) of oil and would help to fund research of alternative fuels. Surprisingly, Americans are open to gas tax rise although no politician is currently willing to do it.

Real money is getting into being green. VCs are funding clean tech. Wal-Mart announces green initiatives. GE will double spending on ecofriendly business.

Green Computing
There is the energy equivalent of 50 gallons of gasoline in each PC. Intel outlines shift toward saving energy in processors.

Can the Earth Handle all Humans Consuming at American Levels?
2,000 watt society

Sustainable Artifical Fertilizer
Organic Crops can use Pesticides?
Energy should not be part of ecological footprint
Sinful second homes
A million Manhattan project
Green tags vs. solar panels
Geo-green alternative
Making China green
Life in green lane
Gold facts and figures
Chernobyl's wasn't as bad as originally thought
Agriculture is not natural
Guide book owners discourage casual flying

See also Best of Ethanol and Best of Energy

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