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News Nuggets: Carbon, Pebble Mine & the Encyclopedia of Life

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here in the Northern Vermont Hinterlands, I’m preparing for a brief escape. A long weekend in the big city. Going on blind faith to see a little music. Catch a flick. Peruse the shops for weird Moroccan light fixtures. Eat some foods I can’t pronounce. Enjoy a few adult beverages. Should be just the thing to forestall cabin fever a bit longer. Cause it be getting crazy. 15 inches of new snow on the way to push us into the snowiest February ever and one of the top ten snowiest winters, which up here is really saying something. Gotta get out from under it for a bit. But before I go, here are a few interesting items of note from the news desk…

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This Moment On Earth

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Author: the Inkslinger

The day’s dawned bright and sharp here in the hinterlands of Vermont. In cloudless skies, winter’s own thin brand of blue telegraphs all we need to know. That the cold just beyond window etched in swirls of frost is deep and unmovable. And indeed the thermometer reads just 6° at morning’s first glance. It’s shiver-inducing fragment of briefest knowledge magnified by hard-edged north country sunlight rising frigid and unforgiving over the gleaming snowpack. A fine morning day to stoke the fire, uncork the informational bottle, and see what news of this moment on Earth pours out.

Let’s begin on the open seas where a coming U.N. report finds the world’s fast-growing shipping fleet is responsible for about 4.5% of global CO2 emissions, a figure that could rise 30% by 2030 because of zooming rates of international trade. It appears that when transportation-related environmental costs are factored in, goods from overseas aren’t so cheap after all. In fact, container ship ports have been identified as one of the biggest sources of pollution in the U.S. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s two largest, have recognized the problem and are taking steps like requiring all ships to shut-down their on-board power systems when docked and banning vessels built before 1989, the year pollution-controls became standard gear on freighters. This is the sort of stuff regular folk like us never think too much about, but it’s good to know someone is. For our part, the lesson here is that the farther away something was made, the more CO2 its shipping generated. As always, sourcing whatever we can as locally as possible is hugely important where the climate crisis is concerned. Buy local!

News like that is why I like this:

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Good Energies

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Author: the Inkslinger

This comment from Dani at EnergyBill 2007 came in late last week in response to our latest automobile mileage standards post. We wanted to promote it to official post status to make sure that everybody sees it and has the opportunity to lend a hand to the effort to get the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks where it needs to go.

It's is awesome that the public has responded so quickly to Toyota's campaign against the 35 mpg fuel efficiency standard set for 2020. Delaying the energy bill's effects by trying to lower the standards is not going to help anyone in the future. It's time for a change. I think that a great way to stop Toyota is to reach out to our government directly. They are the ones who are supposed to be serving out best interest, it is not Toyota's job. I'm working for a coalition that is trying to persuade Congress to stand strong against the tactics of Toyota and others who would like to see the standards lowered. It is easy to help by reaching out to your representatives directly through this petition: www.energybill2007.org. Thanks for bringing this important moment in environmental policy to your readers attention! We all have a chance to do something big here!

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Correcting Toyota’s Wrong Turn

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’ve had a few things to say about Toyota’s disappointing decision to oppose efforts to increase average fuel efficiency standards to 35 mpg by 2020. And apparently we’re not the only ones. Nine environmental orgs have come together to create a new website, TruthAboutToyoya.com and jump start the effort to convince the automaker to do the right thing.

There are going to be rallies at Toyota dealerships to call attention to the issue and some full page ads in big national newspapers. Hopefully by the time it’s all over, Toyota will figure out that its penny-wise-pound-foolish stance is driving its image (and sales) into the ditch, and the company will change its mind and actually be the responsible caring carmaker its marketing department keeps telling us it is. Visit the web site and check out what’s up. And if you’ve got a Prius or were thinking about one and maybe aren’t so much anymore, the most effectove action you can take is to tell the company how you feel. (There’s a page on the new website that makes it easy to send your own message.)

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Things Worth Knowing

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Author: the Inkslinger

They say we live in the age of information. Wireless internet, satellite TV, digital radio, ThisTube, ThatTube, a zillion channels and everything’s on. Information is everywhere. People traffic in it. Profit from it. Spread it. Share it. Find it. Know it. We cram our tired heads with trivia and ephemera and worse, but to what end?

Because the fact is, information is only as useful as the things we can do with it. If we can’t do anything personally constructive or publicly useful with a specific piece of information, that’s the tip-off that we should ignore it and move on. There’s nothing to see here.

Slap that kind of filter over your private inputs and watch the static and the noise drop like a stone. Listen to how quiet it gets. See how very little useful necessary vital information there actually is swirling around out there in the i-storm we call the modern world. 99.99% of it just goes poof. Still, there is always information we can use in some way. There are always some things worth knowing. Here’s a few that are…

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Greasing My Wheels: My Car Now Runs On Vegetable Oil

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As promised, my 1983 Mercedes diesel station wagon is now powered by pure vegetable oil. What’s so amazing is that you’d never know it. If anything my car now runs better than before. And even buying new vegetable oil I’m saving about a dollar a gallon over diesel. We’re still working on setting up the filtering system that will allow me to run on recycled (i.e. used) oil. At 30 miles to the gallon it emits about 25% of the CO2 of a Prius.

The average American drives 12,100 miles per year. By switching from a car that burns gasoline and gets 22 mpg to one that burns vegetable oil (directly), a driver would save 550 gallons of gasoline, and avoid releasing 6,500 pounds (3.2 tons) of carbon dioxide into the air!

I actually feel proud every time I sit behind the wheel.

The conversion was done by Gilead Garage in Randolph, Vermont at a cost of about $1,700 including parts and labor. They did an amazing job and I recommend them highly!

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On the Road to Running on Vegetable Oil

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Well, the first leg of the journey is complete. I recently purchased a 1983 Mercedes Diesel station Wagon with somewhere over 128,000 miles on it.

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