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May 07, 2005


We eat free range chicken and organic when possible, buy Japanese cars for the milage and performance (read: they don't wind up in the shop), use the flourescent bulbs and wear the sweaters. We don't have solar panels 'cause in CT you can use them 3 weeks a year.

We bike when we can, and live close to work so we don't have to burn up fuel to commute. In fact, stubborn NE folks won't go 5 minutes out of their way if they don't have to. None of this driving 40 minutes for milk (or mail) like in CA.

But winters are cold and one has to do what one has to do to stay warm.

Two comments, and then I'll share my meagre contributions to conservation.

First, on peak oil: I'm probably going to do a post next week on what we haven't heard about from Iraq, or what hasn't happened on issues not affected by the insurgency. One of the things I've read almost nothing about is the condition of the Iraqi oilfields, and any assessments of how much oil is actually there. About 16-18 months ago there was an article in the NYT about the horrible condition of the wells, which hadn't been pumped with water properly to keep the earth from collapsing into the openings from which the oil has been pumped, how the oil has been degraded and some of it lost to efficient extraction, etc. And the fact that the Saudis claim to be pumping at full capacity is a little scary.

The other comment is that when California had all the electricity problems a few years back, didn't state gov't end up cutting way back on energy usuage through some fairly simply measures, like turning off all office lights and office machines every night instead of leaving them running? IIRC, the reduction in energy usage was quite remarkable.

Now, I live in the Detroit area, where back in the 1930's or 1949's, General Motors bought up the streetcars and took them off line (so people would be forced to drive or ride busses). Public transportation in Michigan (other than the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area) is a complete joke. So since I have to drive everywhere, I drive a Saturn; it's union-made in the U.S., has a very light fiberglass body, and gets great gas milage (+35 on the highway). I attempt to buy groceries that aren't highly processed, and are seasonal in this area as opposed to something imported from across the globe. In various places I've lived I seal the windows in the winter, keep the blinds closed when it's hot, use the timer on the air conditioner so it turns off in the early morning hours, and I don't try to shake the voices of my grandparents, who grew up without electricity and lived through the Depression, telling me to "shut off the damn lights." During the winter, I wear sweaters in the house. When I buy a house, I'll try to ensure it's well insulated, and will do some simple things like rake leaves into bags and line parts of the base of the house with those bags (which cuts down on drafts and made my parent's basement noticable warmer and more efficient). And if it's not shaded to the late afternoon sunlight, I'll probably plant a maple of something that will shade the house from sunlight during the hottest part of the day (usually around 5-6 PM).

California DID conserve massively during the "energy crisis" without a major publicity push.

What's really scary about oil reserves - in Iraq and elsewhere - is that almost everybody has inflated estimates of what they have.

89 Civic. Gets about 40 mpg highway! Woo-hoo. I will need to modernize soon, but 35 mpg will be the lowest milage of my next car. But that one will have airbags, and maybe a little more between me and the folks in the Escalades going 88 on the 110.

Um, I know most of you have heard this a lot, but for those who have missed it: next time you gas up, check your tire pressure!!! Underinflated = Bad Milage + Unsafe. Next time, not the time after that.

Those of us without kids have some luxuries in these departments. For instance, I can live close enough to work to walk or bike in.

Nevertheless, I gotta say that I am continuously floored by how sucky it is to bike in S. California.

One other thing - I pay Pasadena Water & Power an extra $3 a month or so to subsidize wind power. Wind is not any magic bullet, but I think it makes a lot of sense.

As someone who sailed through the 60's as a hippy, I can assure everyone that it is possible to have twice as much fun with half as much energy. I think those who see the future as preserving our energy profligate ways, are doomed to a neo-con view, i.e., secure what we can of the world's resources, and damn everybody else.

Our new, as yet unresolved, future energy paradigm might indeed ramp up enough to power a heavily energy dependent culture, but until then we may need to think of cutting our energy use, conserving wasted energy and learning to do with less energy. Keeping on the present course with either 2000 fossil fuel power plants or 2000 nuclear power plants just propels us along the road to our own destruction. (cf., Jared Diamond)

We should also not turn up our noses at the small scale energy production that is starting to creep up in our neighborhoods. In the adirondack mtns. in NY, there is a small wind farm being proposed near a ski area. The opponents are complaining about visual impacts (the dumbest reason to oppose its development, IMO) and the "miniscule" amount of power it produced. Our energy future will most likely rely on lots of small scale productions (small solar/wind farms).

As said in that earth day thread: VW golf, running on biodiesel, 45 mpg average. It's a beauty of a vehicle. And biodiesel is another small-scale technology that can take a big chunk out of our dependence on fossil fuels.

MB, check out this great story on Bush Energy Policy...

Changing all the rules

MB, check out this great story on Bush Energy Policy...

Changing all the rules

You measure your own windows and fit your own blinds. Buy blinds on-line in minutes. They make and deliver your blinds in five working days. Browse their range and get a quote. Here

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