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Archive for April, 2008

In the categories of maps and carbon emissions, I present Project Vulcan (and it has nothing to do with Star Trek, except perhaps some inspiration in naming). This is a project at Purdue University to distill information about carbon emissions by economic sector (power, industry, transportation) into useful visualizations. It is funded by NASA and DOE (I wonder if the administration knows about this heresy).

Too lazy to check out the website? Here is a video that summarizes the work:

Here’s a graphic they created of the top 20 carbon emitting U.S. Counties (I find it morbidly humorous that #11 is Carbon, PA):
Top 20 U.S. Carbon Emitting Counties

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Knowledge is Power

I believe knowledge is power – the power to change our behavior for the better. Driving a hybrid car with dashboard feedback on fuel efficiency lets you know instantly how you can change your driving habits to reduce the amount of gas you use.

What if you could see instantly how much electricity, natural gas, and water you were using in your home? Would you turn off the lights more often? Plug in fewer gadgets? Turn down the gas on the stove when not needed?

To this end, I got myself a new gadget called Kill-A-Watt which provides feedback on electricity usage by standard appliances. So far I’ve tested it on my cell phone charger (0.01 kWh/h) and table lamp with CFL bulb (122.3 kWh/h). I’m going to test more appliances and gadgets around the house and will keep track of the results here. I’m especially curious about comparisons between lamps with CFL bulbs and conventional; computer in active vs. hibernate mode, etc.

In Georgia we are paying about 4 cents/kWh until June. Cost isn’t my concern (I think power is way too cheap), but it is easier to deal with psychologically than kilowatts. I’ll translate the figures to dollars eventually.

Cell phone charger (Blackberry charging and not charging, but wall wart plugged in) = 0.01 kWh/h
Table lamp with CFL bulb = 122.3 kWh/h [I think this is an error – I was looking at the wrong setting]
Computer equipment plugged into UPS = 11.3 kWh/h

To be continued…..

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Al Gore premiered his new climate change talk and slide show at the recent TED conference.  I tried to embed the video here, but it didn’t work, so here is the link.

Here is the blurb from the site:

In Al Gore‘s brand-new slideshow (premiering exclusively on TED.com), he presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists were recently predicting, and challenges us to act with a sense of “generational mission” — the kind of feeling that brought forth the civil rights movement — to set it right. Gore’s stirring presentation is followed by a brief Q&A in which he is asked for his verdict on the current political candidates’ climate policies and on what role he himself might play in future.

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It’s almost CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season! I just re-subscribed to the CSA I joined last year and am looking forward to the local, organic food that will be delivered weekly for distribution to my nearby synogogue. It’s important to eat local and organic food for a variety of reasons including reduced carbon emissions from transport, reduced packaging waste, reduced/eliminated herbicide and pesticide application to the land and exposure to your body, and supporting your local economy. There was a great article in the New York Times last week called Did Your Shopping List Kill a Songbird? about the effect of imported fruits and vegetables on songbird populations. Here’s an excerpt:

Migratory birds, modern-day canaries in the coal mine, reveal an environmental problem hidden to consumers. Testing by the United States Food and Drug Administration shows that fruits and vegetables imported from Latin America are three times as likely to violate Environmental Protection Agency standards for pesticide residues as the same foods grown in the United States. Some but not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing or peeling produce, but tests by the Centers for Disease Control show that most Americans carry traces of pesticides in their blood. American consumers can discourage this poisoning by avoiding foods that are bad for the environment, bad for farmers in Latin America and, in the worst cases, bad for their own families.

If you want to find a CSA, farmer’s market, or other source of local, organic food, check out Local Harvest, a website that lets you search by city or zip code along with a lot more information about the local/slow food movement. Enjoy your fruits and veggies!

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I made a discovery today that makes me so incredibly happy.  For months, I’ve been wondering why Atlanta can’t get with the program and submit its public transportation data to Google Transit.   I still don’t know why it hasn’t happened, but now we have something better: A-TRAIN Atlanta Transit/Bike/Walk Trip Planner.  This site is so smart it can tell you how long it will take you to get from point A to point B using whatever mode or combination of modes you choose, and it even takes into account topography and lets you change your personal walking or biking speed so you can get an accurate reflection of how much time you will need.  So. Incredibly. Awesome.

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