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Solutions & sustainability - Feb 12

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Suzuki Climate Interview

Chris Arsenault and David Suzuki, Znet
For the first time in a long time, the environment is getting some major attention, or at least major lip-service, from the powers that be, nationally and internationally.

To try and "turn concern into concrete action" David Suzuki, one of Canada's leading environmentalists, will be crossing the country in February on a 50 city tour, speaking with communities on the theme 'what would you do if you were Prime Minister.'

David Suzuki is author of more than 40 books including From Ape to Super Species and the Sacred Balance. He has a PHD in Zoology from the University of Chicago and was named one of the ten greatest Canadians in CBC's competition.

The following is what transpired when Suzuki spoke with ZNet columnist Chris Arsenault by phone from his office in Vancouver just before deadline last week.

...CA: If we are talking about the economy, the Alberta tar-sands oil industry is a major engine of growth and Canada's biggest polluter. How are we going to take on an industry with such political, regional and economic clout?

David Suzuki: Even [former reactionary Reform Party leader Preston] Manning, is saying that you can't just act as if air and water are free. It takes a huge amount of energy just to melt the tar sands and then you have to use a huge quantity of water. That's a cost which has to be internalized. Right now the oil industry is getting away scotch free. They aren't having to pay for the air and water they use.

If the industry were paying for the pollution, I don't think the tar sands would be economical right now. We've already subsidized the tar stands to the tune of billions of dollars. Those costs have been externalized; they should be internalized by the companies who are doing the polluting.

The reality is what we need right now is strong Federal leadership to set standards, concrete targets and legislate timelines to meet those targets.

We've got to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. They're making windfall profits and we're still subsidizing them to the tune of billions of dollars. It doesn't make any sense. Take that money and use it for green energy, rapid transit and all sorts of other good stuff.
(12 Feb 2007)


Transforming Los Angeles into a Sustainable City

Micki Krimmel, WorldChanging
Mayor Villaraigosa has made it one of his goals to transform Los Angeles into “the greenest big city in America.” Plagued with traffic problems and the worst air quality in the country, LA is more often equated with urban sprawl and asthma than a model of sustainability. But that transformation is exactly what Villaraigosa and Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley have in mind.

...Tuesday night, I joined 100 other Los Angeles residents for a talk with the Deputy Mayor hosted by the Hollywood Hill. Sutley outlined a wide range of current and upcoming environmental initiatives addressing everything from energy and transportation to waste management and the revitalization of the LA River.

Energy

The majority of energy for Los Angeles comes from coal plants in Arizona and Utah. Currently, only 6% of LA’s power is renewable (mostly wind power from the San Francisco Bay area). The mayor’s office has set a goal for the city to use 20% green energy by 2010. Is it realistic to jump from 6% to 20% renewable energy in just three years? In a word, yes.

Southern California Edison is building a huge solar farm in the Mojave Desert. New technologies are making solar energy more affordable and less space-intensive. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is also working on geothermal projects in the Salton Sea area. ... Sutley also noted the continuing need to decrease LA’s demand for energy.
(12 Feb 2007)


Texas: Green movement grows in area suburbs

Jake Batsell, Dallas Morning News
From composting to computer disposal, cities embrace options
----
PLANO - Meet Michele Carey-Davé, suburban mom and self-proclaimed tree-hugger.

She rinses out Ziploc bags and reuses them. She hauls groceries in cloth sacks. And most days, she leaves the gas-guzzling Lincoln Navigator at home and walks a half-mile to pick her kids up from school.

"The first time that I walked to the PTA meeting, four very nice people stopped and asked if I needed a lift," Ms. Carey-Davé said. "Somehow that's sort of seen as, 'Wow. You walk.' It's like, three blocks."

In 14 years as a Collin County suburbanite, Ms. Carey-Davé says she's weathered some teasing for her "green" lifestyle. But she may soon get some more company.

Now, Plano and other North Texas suburbs are creating environmental programs that go beyond the typical bin or bag recycling routine.

Last month, city leaders launched Live Green in Plano, a yearlong campaign aimed at spurring residents to make simple changes, such as buying compact fluorescent bulbs and shortening showers by one minute.

The green movement might seem out of place in suburbs known for unbridled growth that brings environmental consequences to native prairie.
(12 Feb 2007)


Developing nations to test new $150 laptops

Jason Szep, Reuters
From Brazil to Pakistan, some of the world's poorest children will peer across the digital divide this month -- reading electronic books, shooting digital video, creating music and chatting with classmates online.

Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology academics, the non-profit "One Laptop per Child" project will roll out nearly 2,500 of its $150-laptops to eight nations in February.

The experiment is a prelude to mass production of the kid-friendly, lime-green-and-white laptops scheduled to begin in July, when five million will be built.

Its technological triumphs include a hand crank to charge its battery, a keyboard that switches between languages, a digital video camera, wireless connectivity and
Linux open-source operating software tailored for remote regions.

The project's operators say the price should fall to $100 apiece next year, when they hope to produce 50 million of the so-called "XO" machines, before dipping below $100 by 2010 when they aim to reach 150 million of the world's poorest children.
(12 Feb 2007)


Uganda: Giving Free Bulbs Starts Feb 20

Elias Biryabarema, The Monitor
Kampala - The government will give three free energy saver bulbs to everyone of Umeme's domestic customers starting on February 20. Speaking at a press briefing in Kampala on February 9, Energy State Minister Simon D'ujanga said to receive these lamps one would have to first handover three of the incandescent bulbs, which the government intends to eliminate on account of their high energy consumption.

Mr D'ujanga said the measure was to substantially reduce electricity demand on the grid and that it is expected to enable a saving of between 30 to 40 mega watts. This extra power will then be available to consumers who would otherwise have been switched off. "If we get this power back into the grid, it will significantly reduce load shedding and secondly, it will cut back our reliance on the expensive thermal power," he said. ..
(12 Feb 2007)

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