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Solutions & sustainability - Oct 3

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Green-Conscious GE Develops Hybrid Lightbulb

The Onion
FAIRFIELD, CT-One year after pledging to develop more energy-efficient products, General Electric Co. unveiled a product it is calling its most eco-friendly lighting source to date: the first-ever gasoline-electric hybrid lightbulb.

"With the price of gas escalating as its supply dwindles, now is the perfect time to introduce innovative lighting technology that only relies on this fast-depleting, nonrenewable resource for a portion of its power," GE chairman Jeff Immelt said in a statement released Monday.

If the Wisebulb, which will be available in stores by November for the retail price of $89.99, is used only for recommended short-term, dim, and frequent on-and-off lighting, it could eliminate nearly 80 percent of global-warming pollution that would be caused by using solely gas-powered lightbulbs, GE spokesman Brian Tormey said.

"A full tank of gas can illuminate a hybrid bulb for an average of two weeks," Tormey said. "Once the 1.5-gallon tank is empty, all customers have to do is drive their lightbulb to the gas station and fill it up for only about $6."

The hybrid bulb's structure-slightly more complex than the older filament-and-wire models-features a small, efficient four-cylinder internal-combustion engine at the base of the bulb that powers an electric generator attached to the glass mount.
(2 Oct 2006)
Satire. See original for diagram.


Eco-Mags Go High Gloss

Myrna Blyth, NY Sun
It's getting easier to be green - at least in the publishing world now that interest in protecting the environment is hot. Both Vanity Fair and Elle devoted their May issues to the subject, and Al Gore's tome about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," has become a surprising bestseller.

"Interest has reached a tipping point in the last couple of years,"director of marketing for the Vermont publishing company Chelsea Green, Beau Friedlander, said. "It isn't on the fringe anymore. Nowadays doing the right thing can also pay off for publishers. It works in three ways. You have happy, committed employees with a mission.You know you are getting the message out and helping to save the planet. And being green adds green to the bottom line."
(2 Oct 2006)
Note to writers -- it looks like the market for green-oriented articles is opening up. Let's make sure the new publications have some real content (not just fluff). -BA


The 2030 Climate Challenge and West Coast Green

Gil Friend, WorldChanging
Ed Mazria presented the opening keynote at West Coast Green in San Francisco September 28, and offered what was probably the most compelling, moving and useful global warming presentation I"ve heard yet. (No offense, Al, but Ed got more usefully into what to do for high leverage impact.)

When the US balked at Kyoto, the stated concern was impact on industry and competitiveness. But US industry has held emissions relatively flat for the last 20 years (part thru efficiency, part thru export of industry and emissions.

But the lions share of US emissions -- 48% -- and the fastest growing sector is emissions from buildings (about 1/6 of that in their construction, and 5/6 in their operations) The usual energy pies show US energy yse approximately evenly divided between buildings, transportation, industry and commerce. But transportation, industry and commerce all involve buildings, so slicing the pies differently ties nearly half of US energy use to buildings. Moveover, building decisions are long-lived -- They can have impact for decades.

'We are the problem,' Mazria told 7000 building industry professionals, 'and we are the solution.'
(2 Oct 2006)


The Language of Green is Universal...or is it?

Katie Kurtz, WorldChanging
"Beyond the Tipping Point" was the track I followed throughout the weekend at West Coast Green ...I'm not sure whether or not this influenced the high rate of the phrase "tipping point" being used but I heard it in every session and keynote I attended (including Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s powerful and erudite keynote). A couple of the speakers cited the number of registered conference attendees (about 8,000) as evidence of this conference being the tipping point for the public's interest in sustainability. True to its track, the speakers also cited examples of how, well, we've gone beyond that point and are already experiencing a different kind of climate change - one that is more hospitable to adopting green practices.

On Friday, I came in a little late to Ray Cole's "Building New Expectations: Zero Energy Housing" but arrived in time to see his example of how - as he said it - "we can't legislate our way into change" when it comes to human interaction with the natural and built environments. The slide on the screen was an aerial view of a street with a traffic roundabout that had been installed in order to slow down drivers. The photo showed how drivers drove around the barrier and over the grass in order to maintain their speed. Cole used this photo to tell a story, something he returned to again and again throughout his presentation - that new ways need to be developed to tell stories and communicate information about sustainable practices.

Cole also suggested the need for establishing a common language about sustainability across industries and questioned the potency of terms like "ecological footprint," "carbon neutral," and "zero energy" when it comes to marketing and the public's perception of what those terms mean. "You hardly hear the word 'conservation' in contemporary debates," Cole pointed out. You also don't hear "preservation," "protection," and "reclamation," words I heard a lot growing up in an environmentally-conscious household. What the conference demonstrated more than anything is the high currency of "green" as a codeword for sustainable practices across industries and the high number of green-named businesses (green*light, Green Builder, Green Building Pages, Green-e, Green Festival, Built Green, etc.) indicate that they trust the customer knows what green means.

...The general mood of the conference is a call for paradigm shifts in every area. Both Van der Ryn and Cole came back again and again to the same idea: that the built environment can no longer be addressed separate from values, ethics, emotions, and language.

...The conference also underscored how the current environmental movement is now framed as a consumerist's movement.
(3 Oct 2006)


In the battle to be green, the human factor can work wonders

Elizabeth Farrelly, Sydney Morning Herald
NEWS from Britain that the Home Counties arms manufacturer BAE Systems will include eco-aware weaponry in its spring collection is heart-warming stuff, a spin-off, no doubt, of the Tories' "vote blue, go green" election couture.

Low-lead bullets, low-tox rockets and self-composting explosives should really blow 'em away. Now you can invade a country, depopulate and go, while the landscape blooms. How to spread democracy in a way agent orange could only dream of.

Still, that's the easy route. Anyone can solve nature's problem by deleting culture; human culture, specifically.

...Gore's film is hard to swallow, but not because the science isn't convincing. It is. Even our own federal minister, Ian Campbell, concedes that. Climate change is fact. No, the real stretch is that humanity could be so unbelievably dumb. That, even knowing what we do about corporate and political deceit, we welcome lies on climate change just as we did on the perils of smoking.

For if Gore is even half-right, it's a gross oversight that we are not ending sprawl; severely constraining cars, making rainwater tanks mandatory; requiring worm farms, vege gardens and personal electricity generators. (Tell the kids: no screen activity till they've cycle-generated the power; sort fat and climate change at once).

Democracy hates that; hates to impose on the voters (though it's less fussy about anyone else). Democracy's best defence, though, is not to obliterate dissent, even with eco-weapons, but to demonstrate that even pleasure-seeking democracies can lift their heads from the trough occasionally and show some collective, long-term intelligence. Maybe the US needs a (genuine) conservative party.
(4 Oct 2006)

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