Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

April 22, 2010

Is Earth Day Just Big Business (And If So, What’s Wrong?)

Category: Climate Change,Editorial,Policy – Tom Harrison – 8:31 am

Is Earth Day just Big Business?Happy Earth Day! Please feel free to visit my company’s store and shop for as many home energy efficiency products as your credit card can handle! Spend! Buy! And while my company doesn’t sell eco-rubbers we do sell stuff.

By god, we would like to make money doing it.

Lots, if possible.

Apparently I should feel bad about this.

In today’s New York Times, a front page article raises the specter of how business has crept in to Earth Day.

Earth Day Forged from Idealism and a Vision for the Future

In 1970 when Earth Day was started 40 years ago, there were lots of things that were bad, and pretty much everything in “the establishment” would have been included. (more…)

August 14, 2009


Category: Editorial – Tom Harrison – 9:20 pm

Earlier this week, Mark Mondik wrote a post on the TerraPass Footprint blog regarding population. The post itself is remarkable for its measured and rational observations about the topic of over-population, one that has, through the course of modern history, raised the specter of many horrible things. Do you remember Charleton Heston in Soylent Green?

But what I found even more remarkable is that, over these last four days, the comments, now 37 of them, are all civil. Not all are in agreement, and there is a discourse raising several different points. But the comments are all respectful, honest, thoughtful and well-meaning. (And while TerraPass is up-front about their lack of tolerance for abusive or off-topic comments, none have been deleted — I subscribe by email, so you know when that happens).

I was cheered by this remarkable achievement in Internet history, and have hopes that it may herald a new era of civility.

February 10, 2009

Obama: The Simple Logic of Efficiency (NOT BORING!)

Category: Conservation,Editorial,Energy Independence,Household,Policy – Tom Harrison – 10:34 am

President Obama highlighted the benefits of efficiency in his press conference last night, in several different cases. For example, he said

When people suggest that, “What a waste of money to make federal buildings more energy-efficient.” Why would that be a waste of money?

We’re creating jobs immediately by retrofitting these buildings or weatherizing 2 million Americans’ homes, as was called for in the package, so that right there creates economic stimulus.

And we are saving taxpayers when it comes to federal buildings potentially $2 billion. In the case of homeowners, they will see more money in their pockets. And we’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil in the Middle East. Why wouldn’t we want to make that kind of investment?

Why not indeed?

Even my hero Jon Stewart on The Daily Show showed clips of Obama talking about weatherization as Stewart pretended to nod off. Next, they played a clip of one of Obama’s rousing speeches about grand ideas and asked “Where is that guy?” Weatherization sounds so … boring, I guess. It doesn’t sound grand, or bold.

We continually seek grand “silver bullet” solutions to our problems. Instead we need smart solutions, and lots and lots of them, boring or not. (more…)

January 26, 2009

Global Warming is the Core “Green” Issue

Category: Big Things,Climate Change,Editorial,Energy Independence,Policy – Tom Harrison – 8:54 pm

A lot of issues have arisen around “green” things having various different names: energy independence, gas prices, cap and trade, green jobs, economic meltdown, clean coal, conservation, polar bears, glacial melting, water shortages, food shortages and prices, and on, and on. Each affects various groups of citizens of the world in different ways. But they are not really different issues, they are facets of the same issue: global warming.

A lot of talk during the US election process centered around energy independence. Ok, good enough for me, because addressing energy independence in many ways results in solutions we need, such as higher fuel efficiency in cars, significant investment in alternative energy and conservation. Sort of.

As our economy bit the big one, talk moved towards jobs, and rightly towards green jobs. Ok, good enough for me, because addressing economic issues through investments in important infrastructure like a smart electrical grid, wind, solar and geothermal, that’s a good thing. Sort of.

But now we’re seeing reality, which is that if people only really understand and care about things like gas prices and jobs, the political pressure for change will be directed at gas prices (ok, well, that one’s “solved”) and jobs.

But jobs is an issue, but it’s not the the issue. The issue is global warming. We were reminded of this today in a rather stark report suggesting that CO2 doesn’t just “go away”. In fact, the thinking is that CO2 released is kind of there for a loooooong time, effectively forever.

My first thought on hearing this report is that global warming skeptics will conclude that we were already unsure of whether human efforts to mitigate global warming would do any good; now we know it’s pointless. This is not the right conclusion: Susan Solomon, the scientist reporting this finding asserts

I guess if it’s irreversible, to me it seems all the more reason you might want to do something about it, because committing to something that you can’t back out of seems to me like a step that you’d want to take even more carefully than something you thought you could reverse.

Clearly Dr. Solomon has never been to a casino. (more…)

October 5, 2008

“Truthful Terms” are not The Truth

Category: Editorial,Observations,Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 3:39 pm

(Note: this post has nothing whatsoever to do with energy or conservation: it’s a political rant)

Fox reports that McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds responded to an Obama ad.

“We’re going to talk in truthful terms, which they are not in that advertisement,” Bounds said. “We also want to talk in truthful terms about who Barack Obama is. These are important things for voters to know.”

Just curious, is “truthful terms” anything like talking truthfully? Or perhaps even telling the truth? Or does it just means that the terms (i.e. sound bites) will be truthful, but strung together in such a way as to be effective … which is to say, deceptive.

August 5, 2008

Global Warming: Act Now or Wait?

Category: Big Things,Climate Change,Companies,Editorial,Observations,Political – Tom Harrison – 5:16 pm

Here’s a case for action, now for those people who may be skeptical about global warming, or whether it’s caused by humans, or whether there’s anything we can do about it.

First, I think we need to agree on at least one point, to wit: there is a valid, if unresolved, theory being investigated by many scientists relating to global warming. By “valid”, I mean that it’s not a conspiracy or hoax, it’s not some horrible manifestation of group-think, and there are at least some scientists with reasonable methods and credentials who either have done studies, or have reviewed those of others.

If we cannot agree on this point, then I would certainly be interested in seeing any indications that this is not true. Without agreement, though, there’s no need to read further.

Still with me? Then here goes:

Science is equivocal by nature. There’s always a debate. I won’t characterize that debate here; you can read my previous post.

Some reasonable number of climate scientists believe, based on their studies or reviews of others’:

  1. that global warming is real,
  2. it is being exacerbated by large increase emissions in “greenhouse gasses”,
  3. that human activity, notably burning carbon-based fuels caused much of the increase,
  4. if we do not act right away, several of a number of catastrophic outcomes may ensue; if we do act, we may be able to avert some of them.

You do not have to agree with these conclusions. And that word, “catastrophic” carries some baggage — in this case, I mean that there will be catastrophes (major floods, fires, storms, etc) that significantly disrupt the way people live across the planet. (more…)

August 1, 2008

Is Global Warming a Hoax?

Category: Big Things,Climate Change,Editorial,Observations – Tom Harrison – 2:42 pm

Yes. Global Warming is a hoax, and I can prove it. Please take a moment to carefully read numerous postings from the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). More come every day. Each is backed with a link to an article by a scientist, showing why various claims are wrong, or pointing out flaws.

For example, Professor Bob Carter asserts in The Age that a green paper published by the climate minister of Australia has seven scientific errors.

The first sentence of the opening section of her paper, entitled “Why we need to act”, contains seven scientific errors — almost one error for every two words.

Here is the sentence: “Carbon pollution is causing climate change, resulting in higher temperatures, more droughts, rising sea levels and more extreme weather.”

The article continues, enumerating the seven errors. It’s worth reading, I think, as I think it helps me understand why there continues to be a debate amongst scientists about the realities of global warming and the veracity of claims made by various bodies. (more…)

July 30, 2008

Gore’s Challenge: All Electricity from Clean Sources in 10 Years

Category: Climate Change,Editorial,News,Observations,Political – Tom Harrison – 4:21 pm

Several weeks ago, Al Gore made a speech. It wasn’t just any speech. It is a national call to action such as we haven’t heard from our elected leaders in quite some time.

Gore proposed a challenge and plan for the USA to generate 100% of our electricity in 10 years from clean, renewable, carbon-free sources. He calls the plan “Repower America”.

This video summary does a nice job of getting the big points across in less than 4 minutes. (The image you see is an Apollo rocket, fulfilling the 10-year plan that JFK made.


June 8, 2008

Staying Cool without Air Conditioners

It’s hot here in Boston — mid-90s Saturday through Tuesday. But we’re cool so far here in our house. 95 outside, low-70s insideHere are my thermometer readings from yesterday.

No energy was used to keep the house this cool. And today, it’s still cool and comfortable. And quiet. I am very comfortable.

We have no air conditioners. (more…)

April 30, 2008

One honest voice on gas prices (a non-partisan rant)

Category: Editorial,Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 9:50 pm

Warning: the following is my opinion. While everything I write here is to a lesser or greater degree a reflection of my opinion, this post falls into the “greater degree” category :-)

I believe Barack Obama is the only person with a strong political voice with the courage to tell the truth and a lot to lose by doing so. Republicans and Democrats all have stood on their bully pulpits and pronounced their “solution” to high fuel prices. There’s only one I saw who had the common sense to realize that people could understand a slightly more nuanced view of the cause of high fuel prices. I don’t agree with all of Obama’s policies relating to energy, to be sure, but when it comes to common sense and honesty, this guy’s got it.

Before you watch the ad I have copied below, please be sure you read all the other responses from our elected and want-to-be elected representatives. If you don’t come away feeling as though we need Obama’s kind of honesty and courage in our White House this fall, I encourage you to help me understand what I am missing. (more…)