True Green

Do the right green thing

In this HND piece, we invoke Spike Lee's film of nearly the same name while we ponder what ARE the right Green things?

Just as in the film, choosing the the right thing to do is not easy, and involves trade-offs. I cite a couple of examples...

While you would be hard-pressed to find a Green who is pro-Nuke, nuclear power surely gets us away from most of the bad things caused by fossil fuels---while presenting its own set of problems. Likewise, in the mad rush to seal up our homes tight as a drum in order that we could save every single bit of energy, we also created a massive problem with indoor air quality.

Fortunately, there are ways to be Green besides being an academic or politician. We discuss how innovative businesses and get into the act...and, no, I don't mean by becoming a federally-subsidized joke such as Solyndra.

Read the complete article.


Wi-Fi can be green

That notion, among other items, is covered in my latest HND piece. While running Ethernet cable in a home or small business is not such a big deal, doing the same thing in the Caribbean—where all the walls are reinforced concrete—presents some real challenges.

Consider the excessively long cable runs, as well as the disfiguring of historical properties.

For those who like a bit of stream of consciousness, we discuss Joni Mitchell, Gutenberg, early PCs, and the first James Bond movie. I think it all works...

Read the complete article.


Let's hear it for offshore oil

My latest HND piece shines the spotlight on offshore oil drilling, and contrasts it with recent "venture socialism" green energy debacles. It's hard to imagine a failure more epic than Solyndra, but given this clueless administration, there could be more.

In the meantime, real people need real energy, so—to quote a famous phrase from the 60s—"You're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem." If the Feds intend to stay in the energy business, they're going to have to do WAY better. One tack might be to grant loans to companies that are actually worthwhile, rather than those that are merely politically connected.

We also take a look at a Triumph Drilling, a leader in the offshore space.

Read the complete article.


Greening up trade shows

That's the title of my HND piece from a few days ago. Inasmuch as these conventions are truly a giant waste of resources in this age of instant and eco-friendly communications, organizers of the events are forced to make the appearance of being Green.

Of course, the Greenest thing would be to conduct virtual trade shows, and some of the organizers are doing just that. For the most part, though, the organizers are coming up with mostly trivial ways in which the exhibitors can be more environmentally conscious, such as bringing only the amount of product literature they really think they will pass out, and suggesting less disposable (i.e. non-trinket) sorts of booth giveaways.

Another item of interest is more sustainable badge holders, and boojeebeads offers a line of these that can morph into eyeglass holders, after the trade show.

Still, other than being a big fund-raising exercise for the organizers, not much else is Green about trade shows.

Read the complete article.


Defeating the BPA fear entrepreneurs

My latest HND piece takes a look at the so-called Precautionary Principle, and how the fear entrepreneurs have used it to propose bans on bisphenol-A (BPA).

Since BPA does appear in so many consumer products, it has become a favorite target—perhaps THE favorite target—of fear entrepreneurial and "environmental" fund-raising groups. Even though there is not a scintilla of evidence showing harm to humans at any rational level of exposure to this chemical, BPA has been a successful fund-raising scapegoat for five main reasons:

  • Minute (but harmless) amounts of BPA can leach out from polycarbonate baby bottles.
  • Trace amounts of BPA metabolites have been detected in urine.
  • Grant-awarding agencies and scientific journals tend to like sensationalistic results more than actual science.
  • The bewildered public has been sold on the notion that evil industry alone has sordid motives, while the fear entrepreneurs are simon-pure.
  • There is an appalling lack of understanding of risk assessment even among so-called scientists.

I quote noted toxicologist Julie Goodman, Ph.D., Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology...

There is no proposed BPA ban anywhere in the world that is based on the premise that BPA causes harm. Rather, such bans are said to be based on the Precautionary Principle, which demands proof that something is not harmful—essentially demanding the inherent impossibility of proving a negative.

 

Many toxicologists believe that if there is not sufficient knowledge on a chemical, the Principle should apply. They would argue, though, that for compounds such as BPA, there is a mountain of data showing that it is safe, and those who still clamor for its ban will never be satisfied. (How much data is enough?)

The only trouble with this more nuanced view is that there are precious few—if any—cases in which the Principle has been fairly applied. Indeed, as I point out, the Principle only became well-known in this country in 1998, more than 27 years after EPA was founded, and all its regulatory zeal had been unleashed.

Consider the words of the Precautionary Principle, as stated in 1998 in the Wingspread Conference:

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

 

Thus, I lay down the gauntlet...

BPA has been used for decades with absolutely no ill effect, and any proposed alternative does not have a fraction of the research data behind it. Therefore, according to the Precautionary Principle, those who propose the ban of BPA—and not the users and manufacturers of the compound—should bear the burden of proof.

"For 'tis the sport to have the engineer Hoist with his own petard."    (Hamlet Act III, scene 4)

Read the complete article.


More on the 1.8 billion dollar man

Let's follow-up on the last posting, covering John Groom's new book.

We can get more specific on one glaring anti-Green aspect of the Obama White House, and that is travel.

Here's a guy with access to the bully pulpit, nearly anytime he wants, yet...

He traveled to Phoenix (and this is but one example) to announce a foreclosure prevention program. Supposedly, there is some sort of symbolism here in that Phoenix is one of the areas hardest hit. But, who cares? The news footage would look about the same if it originated from DC, wouldn't it?

Bear in mind that this is not a case of you or me traveling with hundreds of others on a jumbo jet, thus maximizing the energy usage, and minimizing the environmental impact. Rather, there is massive environmental impact because everything he does is on the biggest scale: huge jumbo jets, motorcades, and moving hundreds of security and other staff people around. And don't forget all the people who must travel to see him.

The Greenies voted for Obama en masse, but every trip he makes costs millions of dollars, and wreaks havoc with the environment. More than that, no person in the world has as large a carbon footprint as the president.

Isn't it interesting that the symbolism of Phoenix trumps the reality of Obama's non-Green ways.


The 1.8 billion dollar man

That's the title of John Groom's new book. Here's the blurb...

Did you know that, despite a token salary, Barack Obama has the most expensive lifestyle in human history, costing more than any other US president? That taxpayers pay $300,000 for every night he spends at the Camp David retreat? That, even after adjusting for inflation, the entire Versailles palace in France could be completely rebuilt every single year for what it costs to support the current US President? That his limousine costs over $2 million? That he has the most expensive fleet of aircraft in the world?

John Groom and his researchers have just completed the first ever complete investigation into the costs of the White House, and you’ll see how, even in the midst of recession, the US president lives like a king.

The environmental angle here is really quite simple. No organization can be Green, or even claim to support such a notion if it is this big and bloated. Moreover, under these rubrics, there cannot be some sort of exemption for the White House, just because it is the White House.

Either the future of the planet is at stake, or it isn't. Only don't hold your breath waiting for his supporters to call him on this.


Yes, there really is such a thing as green broadband

Contrary to what Kermit the Frog once said, it IS easy being green, mainly because there is no accepted definition of the term. To cite but one example, how was it ever decreed that reusable shopping bags are green?

Even though some of them are made from recycled materials (although the percentage is not easily determined), all of them are derived from petroleum, and are manufactured in what overall cannot be a benign or low-energy process. Then, millions of them are shipped over here from China, at a cost of still more energy and carbon emissions.

They don't last forever, of course, and are then discarded—mostly to landfills, while conventional grocery bags are easily recycled.

Yet, because they are visible and are used by self-affirmed trendsetters, they have become a symbol for environmental stewardship.

Traditional broadband requires laying fiber or cable and the attendant energy and pollution costs. Broadband over power line (BPL), however, allows already in-place power lines to be the conduit, and this is green by anyone's reasoning.

One innovative company in this space is Gridline Communications, coming off successful projects in Africa, Latin America, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. CEO Terry Dillon speaks of his company's new intellectual property that will have "disruptive impact" (in a good way) on BPL.

A recent HND article covers green broadband, the smart grid, and smart meters. Check it out.