Sunday, April 19, 2015
Imagine that we all wake up to the fact that our will is being subverted. The desires of the majority for peace, true security, ecological responsibility and an end to the concentration of wealth, yet the masses walk in lock step toward a cliff as surely as they have been told to. Herd mentality can morph into revolution only when people know the score and what "team" they are on. Class warfare has raged for so long that we no longer recognize it. Our state houses are mostly bought and paid for by the same .002% who dip into their coffers to finance campaigns, as is Congress. Taking back our birthright to free flowing clear and clean rivers, exacting real penalties to those who desecrate the Earth, those are things we all agree on. Imagine the transformations that are about to occur. The revolution that is not being televised is born from dreams, funded by action and sustained through organization. Blessings to the committed participants and may we all find the courage to get active and organize, not just resistance, but positive action toward soul-utions.
Monday, April 6, 2015
This is such an awesome concept. I have not tried one yet myself, but this is the year for me, I'm about to buy an electric scooter. The scooter, from an Indian company, Mahindra will have a thirty mile range (getting me nearly all the way to work on a single charge) and the removable battery pack charges in just a few hours. I have friends who have electrified their own bikes, but the ground up design of the Mahindra scooter makes it ideal for my needs. Combining the most efficient motive force generator, the electric motor, with the bicycle, the most efficient means of transport available, slashes carbon emissions but still moves our bodies from place to place. Remember, not long ago, the Segway scooter seemed poised to revolutionize the personal transportation market. That would have required both charging stations and parking for the devices, neither of which seem to be forthcoming. With electric bikes, the infrastructure for parking exists most places already and remote charging of smaller batteries, that can be removed from the vehicles get us back into existing infrastructure support.
Worldwide, air pollution kills three million people per year. Three times the number who die in car accidents. Air pollution can create or complicate, asbestosis, chronic bronchitis, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), asthma, sinusitis, mesothelioma and other forms of lung cancer. It has been calculated that fly ash alone, a waste product from coal-fired electric generating facilities in the U.S. alone accounts for as many deaths as adding 100,000 new smokers to our population every year. Think about that the next time you have a choice between an efficient electric product and an inefficient one. any steps we can take to reign in our use of fossil energy is good and reducing the demand side of the equation will always be cheaper and more effective than trying to clean up the mess we have to make increasing supply.
I have always been a bike fanatic. When I got my first tricycle, the front wheel was tiny and my feet had to spin wildly to go slowly, which was not much fun. But the day I got my large wheel tricycle, I felt my first taste of freedom. That bike allowed me to go up and down the sidewalk like the wind. Bikes can actually move us through town and traffic faster than large vehicles can. I have actually rode circles around giant semis just for fun when I was a young punk. The drivers are trapped, like giant beetles on their backs, unable to get up much speed. They may have significant power to weight ratios, but because of their mass, have to start out slow. A bike can get up to speed in just a few turns of the crank. The aesthetic design, the beauty of the bicycle is that form has followed function so elegantly that it "works". On short trips especially, it is far less hassle than a car and with a motor assist, your legs are spared for part or all of the trip.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Context is everything. We may set a hundred, or even three-hundred and sixty-five small challenges to make the Earth a better place, from conserving water during showers or in brushing ones teeth, only running the dishwasher when it is full, or combining trips to save petrol. Now with LED technology, if every household replaced a single incandescent bulb, it would reduce emissions as much as taking one million vehicles off our roads. The avoided costs for coal alone, used to produce the majority of our power, would be 25,500 rail cars full! That would represent about two hundred million dollars worth of coal. Avoided costs only take us so far, investing in solutions that make sense longer term is the only way to build a sustainable culture. Mass transit and efficient, walking and bike friendly cities initiatives are beginning to break out everywhere. As commutes get shorter, all electric commuting becomes viable as well and that slashes emissions by over half, even when charged with dirty coal, simply because electric motors are so much more efficient than gasoline powered vehicles. We are in a position where great strides can be made with a few simple decisions and the only way to get what we want is to vote for candidates who make ecological awareness part of the decision-making process. Driving hybrids is a start, being able to rent or borrow one occasionally would be much better! I looked at my driving habits and compared them to the national average...they say that I have about .314 car. That means the average car drives over three times as much as I do! That is the power of walking and riding bike, ride sharing and carpooling.My small acts will now be to whittle that down even further, from less than 200 gallons of fuel per year to maybe one hundred, or less! Every drop counts. This is the whole reason that I teach about bio-car, how to make it and how to use it. If we develop the will to use it, and learn what we are actually doing to our soils, it would cut by half the amount of diesel used to plow the fields of the planet. Every acre would double production and there is no way to patent or trademark the material. Using what is in the public domain to solve issues of hunger and distribution of food would heal many of the worst problems across the planet.Increased production would alleviate local hunger issues greatly if we significantly reduce mega-scale farms. Another benefit that would accrue to even large farms is that char reduces the need for fertilizers by half as well, meaning less costly inputs. also, as the soil is built, rather than destroyed, it holds water and the very inputs that cost so much. These expensive inputs can easily run off the land and end up downstream choking local and distant waterways with oxygen depleting algae. Ultimately, we always face a choice. We must decide between giving back to nature, reflecting the laws of nature creating zero waste, or to blow through resources like there is no tomorrow. We must also realize that there are no dollars to be made by telling you not to buy a bigger truck than you need, or that extra boat, however, we will all be better off if you learn to borrow those things when you really need them and plant some trees along your path to work with the money you save. If you would like us to plant them for you, I looked up how many trees I would have to plant to sequester as much carbon as I burn up in gasoline every year. It turns out, that I need to plant 460 just for that. If I planted 46 trees, it would take 10 years to sequester that much carbon. Rest assured, ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. will be planting far more than that, so if you want to plant trees, but don't have the time, send us a donation and we will plant some for you! We can't officially be in the carbon sequestration market, but it costs about $10 per tree with prepping, planting, protecting and weeding, but our survival rate is extremely high. so, thumbnail math here, if you drive like I do and use about two hundred gallons of fuel per year, that would be 460 trees or 4600 dollars. If you drive the average amount, it would cost about 14K to offset your emissions by having ECO-tours plant trees. Give what you can, we'll understand. somethnig si always better than nothing and don't forget to drive less and walk more!
This is a very pervasive issue and one that comes with a bit of wry humor attached. There are millions of tons of waste discharged legally, so the illegal dumping seems to be a bit less dangerous, however, when illegal dumping is allowed, it can lead folks to think that any dumping is acceptable. There have been almost as many recovery operations for illegally dumped materials as trips to the woods for me. It seems that every time i go to the wilds, I return with illegally dumped waste. In fact, much of my life, people never thought twice about driving up as close as possible to a ravine or breach hole and throwing all manner of trash out into the environment. Many modern landfills are able to sequester waste much more effectively than in the past, but the unsightliness of refuse continues to be a problem in almost every place people settle or pass through. In addition, there are legal ways to "dispose" of waste that defy logic and even though some are allowed to pump toxic wastes into our drinking water supplies and even though surface waters are also allowed to be used as sewers in many areas, does not mean that we should grow complacent. This is something we all need to be aware of, document and demand clean up. As the cost of disposing of waste increases, the lure for people to dump illegally increases as well and for some the temptation is too great or they think that "just this little bit" won't make a difference. However, in my considerable experience, trash breeds trash and once a single item is placed in an improper resting place, other objectionable things follow. Many a trail has become strewn with rubbish because someone tried to throw a single item beyond their view, down the cliff, only to have it snag on the precipice, before long, you have empty bottles and cigarette butts all around the area. Without exception, pack it out! Whatever waste you leave behind degrades the place forever. a friend, just yesterday, told me the story of having found a beer can in the woods. It was a Bicentennial commemorative can, manufactured in 1976. When I asked him if he disposed of it properly, he laughed and said, "No, I took a picture of it, posted it to my social network, and put it back down, where I found it." Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure that is exactly what he did. Trash, can last for decades at least. One of the things manufacturers say is "It's recyclable." Well, if that is so, then take your waste back and recycle it! Many a trail head gets strewn with disgusting waste only because people are unprepared, lazy, inept, or just plain rude to fellow travelers. In the military, they have a word for cleaning up all trace of human beings, they call it policing. It is well to remember that someone else will pass by this same place and they do not need to see our mess. Only by being ever-vigilant can we hope to reign in illegal dumping, but more so, we need to cultivate in other human beings, the idea that the planet as a whole is a sacred space, deserving of our compassion. After all, our well-being, or lack of it depends on an intact ecosystem able to support our lives. It turns out that the forests really are the lungs of the planet, along with phytoplankton that float in the oceans. The habitat for many of these microscopic creatures who figure so heavily into the atmospheric oxygen equation are having to compete in the worlds gyrae for space with the plastic that is choking the oceans.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
The term fair trade implies that the producers of products that we purchase receive a living wage for their efforts. The income that they generate enables them to meet their needs for housing, food, health and education. Fair trade cooperatives are springing up the world over in communities that have faced the meager economic prospects of extraction and the oppressive conditions foisted upon them by multi-national corporations. Understanding cradle to grave where each of our consumer goods comes from and where it goes after leaving our hands is an important first step in understanding the full impact of spending our dollars, euros, yuan, etc. Keeping in mind that money is really just a stand in to represent time, we need to give generously to those who make the things we enjoy possible. A decade ago, about 1/2 of 1% of the world markets were fair trade, but the slow and steady increase in the availability of certified products and consumer desire for purchasing of these goods has made them a steady growth sector. One thing that has also come about is as more money flows into the hands of workers and certification agencies, the biggest players are mounting an all out assault on the idea of workers, especially in third world nations, being cheated by outsiders, exactly the same behavior that they have practiced for decades. check the wikipedia page and you will see a litany of sources willing to claim that paying fair wages destabilizes the economy, harms farmers surrounding the co-ops and that the ability to free oneself from abject poverty is somehow exposing local communities to hazard. I have belonged to over a dozen cooperatives over the course of my life and none of them impacted my life negatively. Most often they made it easier to feed myself healthy food for less money. That can never be bad. Trusting that we are doing our fellow humans a good turn by allowing them to earn a decent living from their labor can never be a bad thing. as far as I know there are no fair trade certified weapons manufacturers or drug manufacturing facilities, but who would question whether or not those employees deserve to make a comfortable living from their efforts? My own standard for Fair Trade is even higher than most of the certification agencies. I want to see the Earth considered, as part of a three legged stool, supported by the planet, her people and profit. Without consideration and respect for all three of these aspects, a business fails my test for being fair. That means that I do not want to trade with them.