7GenBlog | Seventh Generation
Skip to Content

7GenBlog

  • Pin It

Just Say Know to Energy

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

A new survey
out from an environmental marketing firm called EcoAlign has found that a large percentage of Americans lack a basic understanding of the fundamental energy efficiency terms we’ll need to know in order to get smart about energy use.

The survey of 1,000 people asked them to match a handful of key energy terms (Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Demand Response, Smart Energy, Clean Energy) to provided definitions. Then interviewers asked the same respondents to simply define these terms themselves without any help. The results could be seen as slightly alarming. For example, according to EcoAlign’s analysts:

  • Only 13% of respondents think energy efficiency has to do with saving money or cutting down on fuel costs.
  • Just a third of respondents could correctly define “energy conservation” and energy efficiency.”
  • Only about one third, 30%, of Americans understand the term “smart energy” and about the same amount, 32%, say they are not doing enough in terms of “smart energy.”
  • 14% couldn’t match clean energy with its definition.

It’s tempting to look at numbers like these and be slightly if not completely dismayed. But should we be? I don’t think so.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Taking the Temperature

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Lots of climate crisis-related signals flooding the inputs lately. The level of chatter is definitely on the rise and increased activity in is popping up on radar.

What’s most interesting is the way the usual battle lines of left and right that have traditionally defined the debate are being being thoroughly trashed. As increasing numbers of companies and policymakers confront certain irrefutable, if inconvenient, truths, cross-over to the side of intelligent thinking is growing, making the idea that urgent action is needed now more of a concensus view and progressively isolating those who still insist that we just don’t have enough evidence to validate the “risk” of taking action (!). It’s not so much a liberal-activist/conservative-business stratification at this point as it us an act/don’t act split. And the “acts” are solidly ahead.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the momentum is on our side and much-needed change is coming. If this were the late 70s, when scientists rang the first alarm bells, I’d be quite confident we’d get the job done. But, as is so often the case with us wacky humans, humanity was waited until just about the last possible minute to deal with this and now we’ve got mere years rather than decades to avoid the tipping point. Still, there’s much hope for optimism. Here’s a look at the portents heating up the wires…

See Full Post
  • Pin It

For A Season of Global Giving

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

We got this guest post in this morning from our friend John Heckinger at Global Giving. They’ve got a cool new idea brewing over there, and I think it’s an inspired way to start the week and to celebrate the season.

Last week, GlobalGiving introduced a whole new way to give others a whole new way to give – GlobalGiving Gift Cards. They’re the size and shape of a normal credit or gift card, but they’re 100% biodegradable. These little pieces of wallet candy are made out of corn and can be used exactly like the gift cards you purchase from a retail store, but with much greater benefits:

GlobalGiving Gift Cards make it easy, and maybe even stylish, to help others close to home or in remote parts of the developing world, in a direct and real way. When you give a GlobalGiving Gift Card, you’re giving someone the ability to give someone else in the world something extremely meaningful– an education, a livelihood, clean water, or a safe place away from conflict.

Many of us are fortunate that we can worry about installing high-efficiency light bulbs, choosing renewable energy, and buying hybrid cars. Many others around the world deal with much more immediate problems, and giving a GlobalGiving Gift Card is a way to engage others is solving them.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Energy for Dummies, Part II: Special Congressional Edition

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

I’ve been sitting here fuming all afternoon about the information that Congress is actually considering taking renewable energy tax credits and utility mandates out of the 2007 energy bill. (And boy is my dog sick of listening to me....) But I’ve realized I should have capped my previous post with some information about what we can do to convince our elected representatives that this is a remarkably, shall we politely say, foolhardy course of sad inaction. So go here and help. Deliver a letter. Make a call. Send an e-mail. Put the pressure on. Because in 2007 it would be the absolute height of unmitigated insanity to have an energy bill that doesn’t include renewables let alone focus on them.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Energy for Dummies

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Here’s a question: Why do we even talk about fossil fuels anymore? Why do we care? Seriously. Why do we wring our hands over the price of oil? Why do we destroy entire mountain ecosystems in a fool’s errand for coal? For that matter, why do we keep irradiating ourselves with fissionable materials? Why do we give even so much as the time of day to any source of energy that involves splitting atoms or carbon-loading the atmosphere when the entire country and most of the rest of the world could do everything it needs to without depositing so much as a single thimble of anything into the air?

I have to ask because I absolutely do not get it. At all. I am utterly baffled. Truly. I’m constantly reading about incredible and incredibly workable ideas to generate power without pollution. Big, here-now, ready-to-go, here-you-are solutions that could do it all. Like Concentrated Solar Power, which could power 90% of the entire world, provide all the drinking water it could want, and here at home keep the U.S. lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids from now until the end of time using a patch of desert scrub just 92 miles square. Right here. Right now. Today. No more oil. No more OPEC. No more emissions. No more carbon. No more apocalypse. End of story.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Numerecology

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Lots of enviro fact finding on the radar this week in the form of two major reports and several public opinion surveys that point to a coming crossroads that’s fast approaching. Does humanity blow right through the intersection and run off the rails? Or do we make the right turn and drive into a new era of sustainability? That, dear Yorick, is the question...

The International Energy Agency published it’s annual summary of the global energy situation this week. The World Energy Outlook looks at the state of things around the world and is not so sanguine about what it finds. The burgeoning economies of China and India are getting as hungry for energy as ours is, and we all know what’s happened here where 4% of the world’s population has somehow and against all odds found a way to produce 25% of its greenhouse gases. Think about what happens when 33% of the world’s population develops a similar appetite. That’s essentially what the IEA does here, and believe me when I say this is not a story to read to the kids at bedtime. There’s a scary monster under the bed, and it’s called Inaction…

Meanwhile, just days earlier, the United Nations Environment Programme releasesd its Global Environment Outlook. It’s another tough read and not because it uses big words or is written in Flemish. Rather, it’s a fairly unflinching look at what the environment is up against and the many ways humans need to back off a bit. Still, unlike the IEA report, whose authors probably leapt off the nearest building ledge as soon as they shut off the printer, the U.N. maintains some level of optimism that we can do what has to be done. It’s not like we have no idea how to defeat this beast called unsustainability and have no other option but to hide quivering in caves. The knowledge we need is there. The question in the U.N.’s view is does humanity have the collective cahones to use it and can we summon the will to do what it takes to make the new paradigm it would create work?

Several new surveys suggest that we do and can.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Big Rays of Hope

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger


Kaye Evans-Lutterodt/Solar Decathlon

Technology fetishists (like me) will recognize the name of David Pogue, technology writer for the New York Times. He can usually be found in the paper’s Circuits section opining on the latest gizmological gadgetry. That’s hardly a green subject, especially given all the crazy materials they put into e-things and iToys these days, but Pogue also has a blog in which the “e” in electronics occaisionally crosses paths with the “e” in environment and Pogue can be found ruminating on what happens when it does.

His latest post covers the Solar Decathalon, a biennial event in which design teams from all over compete to build a complete off-the-grid house that runs totally on renewable energy. The hitch is that in order to qualify each house must allow its occupants to live “normally,” i.e. be able to shower, cook, watch TV, do laundry, maintain a comfortable temperature, etc.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

This and That From Here and There

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

It’s going to be a little quiet around here during the next couple of days as most of the staff heads to the hills outside Stowe for a two-day retreat. That makes it a perfect time to dump my virtual in-box out on the table and see what seems post-worthy.

A new survey finds that Americans are getting ahead of the political curve when it comes to the climate crisis. 62% think that we’re headed for major trouble if we don’t act decisively and soon. Encouragingly, 40% say a presidential candidates position on this burning issue will be extremely or very important to them. Still, we apparently aren’t quite ready to put our money where our viewpoints are. 67% are against carbon taxes on gasoline and 71% are against taxes on electricity. In other words, we don’t want to pay the price of global warming but we don’t want to pay the price of avoiding it either.

But here’s the thing: with a little investment, we could all cool out. According to a study released last week by the alarmingly named National Security Space Office, we have the technology necessary to build a bunch of giant solar space things that could collect enough energy from the sun every year to supply the entire world with all the power it could squander seven times over. The energy would be beamed back to earth via lasers or microwaves (will we also be able to set our bowls of ramen noodles outside for convenient heating?). Of course, we’d have to build these orbiting juicers and get them up there, but with crude oil closing in on $100 a barrel, giant solar space things are actually getting cost-competitive. Something tells me that if you (ahem) taxed petroleum and other energy sources to account for the environmental damage they cause, we’d be launching them even as I write.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Bitter Coal'd

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Introducing guest blogger Megan Reid. Megan is a student at Berea College and says she’s recently been awakened to the source of the coal that most of the Southeastern United States uses for energy. She writes, “I believe that if everyone knew a little more about it, the majority would have the heart to stand up for what is right and stop sacrificing the mountains and most of all the health of these people that live closest to these sites.” Here’s what else she has to say:

I recently took a field trip to eastern Kentucky, the lower section of the heart of Appalachia where mountain top removal is most popular extraction method of coal. In awe of all the beauty of this natural mountainous section of the world, there were patches of mountains that were just missing and valleys were replaced by low nutritional quality grass on a soil made of shale. Seeing these “reclamation” sites first hand matured my understanding and opinion of mountain top removal.


A “reclaimed” valley covered in this type of razor sharp seeded grass. There used to be a natural stream here.

Learning about the geological history of the Appalachian mountain chain and how coal is naturally manufactured makes it seem all the more ridiculous that we extract it, burn it, fight wars for it, and sacrifice our own people for it. It is a legal rape that effects all the people downstream, at the bottom of the valley, living within range of the vibrations of the explosions used to blow the tops off the mountains. The water is poisoned. The wildlife is poisoned. The people are poisoned.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

We Can Do This

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

We can, you know. It’s really not as hard as it looks.

I know, I know… You pick up the paper, read the headlines, and run screaming from the room in a blind war-fevered eco-panic so overwhelming the only way out you can see is to barricade the door, cut the cables, kill the lights, and hole up in the basement surrounded by soft pillows and a nice fluffy comforter with a case or two or ten of good merlot and that Sex in the City DVD set you got for Christmas but haven’t been able to watch because who’s got time for Carrie and the girls when dinner’s burning, the kids are screaming, the phone’s ringing and the nattering nabob on the evening news just said we have about ten minutes until humanity’s warranty on the whole operation expires?

But wait. Because there’s proof all around that we can do this. Kill the war and cool the world and not be so bush-wacked over it all. If you know what I mean… In fact, there are steps being taken in the right and better direction all the time. And some of them are pretty big. You just have to know where to look. I’d suggest right here…

See Full Post