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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Truckers slowing down to save fuel
James MacPherson, Associated Press
Coast-to-coast trucker Lorraine Dawson says fellow drivers used to call her “Lead Foot Lorraine.” But with diesel fuel around $4 a gallon, she and other big-rig drivers have backed off their accelerators to conserve fuel.
“I used to be a speed demon, but no more,” said Dawson, based at Tacoma, Wash. “Most drivers have cut their speed considerably.”
… Truckers and industry officials say slowing a tractor-trailer rig from 75 mph to 65 mph increases fuel mileage by more than a mile a gallon, a significant bump for machines that get less than 10 miles per gallon hauling thousands of pounds of freight. Even sitting still with the engine idling, a rig gulps about a gallon of diesel every hour.
(22 March 2008)
Tyre prices for new cars to be indexed against oil: Michelin
Michelin, one of the world’s leading tyre makers, on Friday hiked prices and said that from now its charges for auto manufacturers would be indexed against the cost of oil.
“From April 1, the price of (Michelin) tyres will be adjusted each time the price of a barrel of Brent (North Sea) oil moves by five dollars (3.24 euros),” a company spokesman told AFP…
(21 March 2008)
Floating A Big Idea: Ancient Use Of Rafts To Transport Goods Demonstrated
MIT via Science Daily
Oceangoing sailing rafts plied the waters of the equatorial Pacific long before Europeans arrived in the Americas, and carried tradegoods for thousands of miles all the way from modern-day Chile to western Mexico, according to new findings by MIT researchers in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
… The voyages likely took six to eight weeks, and the trade winds only permit the voyages during certain seasons of the year, so the travelers probably stayed at their destination for six months to a year each trip, Dewan and Hosler concluded. That would have been enough time to transfer the detailed knowledge of specific metalworking techniques that Hosler had found in her earlier research.
While Hosler’s earlier work had shown a strong likelihood that there had been contact between the Andean and Mexican civilizations, it took the details of this new engineering analysis to establish that maritime trade between the two regions could indeed have taken place using the balsa rafts. “We showed from an engineering standpoint that this trip was feasible,” Dewan said. Her analysis showed that the ancient rafts likely had a cargo capacity of 10 to 30 tons-about the same capacity as the barges on the Erie canal that were once a mainstay of trade in the northeastern United States.
(22 March 2008)
Or you could just wear smaller shoes …
Reducing your carbon footprint from travel
Joseph Romm, Gristmill
If want to reduce your carbon footprint, what should you do about your air travel until we have carbon-free jet fuel?
The Stockholm Environment Institute and the Tufts Climate Initiative have a good handout on the subject, titled “Flying Green.” They note:
… the average American is responsible for the emissions of about 20 tons of CO2 annually … If you fly to Europe and back from the U.S., you’ll add about 3-4 tons to your (already large) carbon footprint. With one flight you will have caused more emissions than 20 Bangladeshi will cause in a whole year. Unfortunately they are the ones who will lose their homes and livelihood once sea level rise inundates their low lying country.
Personally, I have cut back air travel a great deal to reduce emissions, to spend time with my daughter, to spend more time blogging, and, of course, to spend less time flying, which just isn’t very pleasant anymore.
The handout has a number of good suggestions and factoids — why should flying economy be considered better for the environment than flying business class?
Also, while I’m not a big fan of carbon offsets, the handout offers some good principles for such purchases and then recommends a few offsets companies.
If you want to learn more about the controversial issue of just how much damage to the climate air travel does, you might read this [PDF]. If you want to know more about offsetting air travel emissions, read this [PDF].
(24 March 2008)
The brochure on reducing the harm from air travel is online.