Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


September 21, 2010

PlotWatt at Energy Circle, and Programmable Thermostats at Hohm

Category: News,Save Electricity,Save Fuel,Tips – Tom Harrison – 12:49 pm

PlotWatt logoHere are a couple of posts I have written elsewhere. Everything you want to know about how (not) to program your thermostat, posted on the Microsoft Hohm blog, and a pretty cool post about an incredibly cool new bit of software for recognizing patterns in electricity use data with pretty pictures and all, called PlotWatt.

I never have time to write here any more :-(

April 27, 2010

Oil Spill: A Great News Day for British Petroleum

Category: Companies,News,Technology – Tom Harrison – 7:41 pm

oil rig explosion

Not As Important as...

I was surprised to hear (for the first time today) that there was an oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico that, um, exploded last week (a couple days before Earth Day), and is currently pumping 42,000 barrels of oil a day into the water, and attempts to shut down the leak (1 mile down) have failed repeatedly since the leak was discovered on Saturday — I happened to be in my car and heard a report on NPR.

After dinner, I went to the New York Times to read more.

But I didn’t find anything without a search. Granted, lots of news today:

  • Goldman Sachs CEO questioned on possible fraud
  • Republicans blocking attempt to reform our financial regulations
  • Stock market down 2% because Greek credit rating cut to “junk”
  • Strict abortion measures enacted in Oklahoma
  • Impacts from Arizona’s immigration laws

So I started trolling around the sections. World: nada. Business: nope, all front page stuff, plus Ford makes a big profit. Technology: Apple iPad related story. Science? Nope. Green? Nope. (Really!) Health? Nope. US: fifth story, something about Robots (turns out to be about the oil disaster).

Good thing for British Petroleum, apparently a lot of other big news pushed their little disaster to the back of the book. (more…)

June 16, 2009

Now Is The Time To Act on Climate Change Legislation

Category: Climate Change,News,Policy – Tom Harrison – 4:34 pm

Days over 90° in Boston (click to enlarge)

Days over 90° in Boston (click to enlarge)

Fossil fuel use has created a quickly accelerating problem in the US and world. It has already and will continue to affect our water and food supplies, our safety and health, our security. It’s impacts also compound each other, are unpredictable, not fully understood, are not reversible, and which we need to act now to mitigate or adapt to; every day we delay makes the problem less solvable.

This is how I summarize the report issued today titled Authoritative Assessment of National, Regional Impacts of Global Climate Change from the United States Global Change Research Program. All regions of the country are discussed, so pick yours and see if you like what’s coming. Here’s a link to the summary of my region, the Northeast US (pdf).

Right now Congress is considering the Waxman-Markey Bill (officially, “American Clean Energy and Security Act”, and the official summary).

Views from the right and left have taken issue with the legislation. In my book, this is a sign of a bill that is about as good as a bill can get. That’s not to say it’s “great”, but it is a start.

To those who would hold out for something more perfect, I encourage you to carefully look at the Assessment report that came out today. (more…)

October 21, 2008

Is Gasoline at $2.79/gallon Good?

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

On Sunday an article by Roger Lowenstein, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, appeared in the New York Times titled “What’s Really Wrong with the Price of Oil?” It’s pretty long, and thorough. He dispassionately describes the various forces affecting the price of oil, especially its price over the last year or so, in economic terms.

He’s pretty economically conservative, in my estimation, which is why I was surprised to see the following:

The way to avoid a repeat is to dust off an idea that Gerald Ford once proposed: a tax on oil. Ideally, it would kick in only if the price fell back to, say, $70 a barrel. The beauty of this tax is that, very likely, no one would have to pay it. The tax would merely serve as a floor — a new lower bound.

What? A tax on oil? Wouldn’t that make it even more expensive?

Then today, the Times has an article reporting on OPEC’s response to the slumping price of oil (which is nearly the same price as it was last year at this time). And then, an article on how alternative energy is going to have a hard time competing against these low energy prices.

All of these are related.
(more…)

August 12, 2008

Oil Prices are Falling, and that is a Good Thing

Category: Economics,News,Observations,Political – Tom Harrison – 8:50 am

Oil Prices as of August 12, 2008, from WRTG EconomicsThis Spring and Summer, oil prices spiked. They got our attention. Boy did they get our attention!

But prices are falling again, and are now down. This is good.

So why are lower prices good? The recent oil price spike has done what it can to wake us up. We need a respite; a chance to calm down, and a chance to see that the oil market is doing what markets do. They go up, they go down. When things are clear and investors are confident, markets respond calmly. When there’s a surprise, markets over-react, then settle. When there’s general nervousness, they become volatile and hard to predict. (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.

(more…)

June 26, 2008

White House Doesn’t Open Mail from EPA Stating Carbon is a Pollutant

Category: Climate Change,News,Observations,Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 8:29 am

If you cover your ears and say “la-la-la-la-la” does that mean you don’t hear your parents telling you go to bed? Not in my house.

Apparently the White House feels differently. The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House simply refused to open an email sent by the EPA. (Please read this article!).

Nothing important, just the EPA’s response to the Supreme Court ruling stating that is wasn’t ok to ignore the Clean Air Act. As a result CO2 needed to be treated as a pollutant just like other effluents.

So it seems the EPA wrote up rather extensive study in 2007 after the ruling showing how the country could actually benefit from acting upon this ruling, such as how having strict rules on vehicle emissions could save (not cost) billions of dollars.

But the administration doesn’t think the Clean Air Act is a good thing, it seems, so they refused to accept these findings. “La-la-la-la-la” (more…)

June 17, 2008

A Car that Runs on Water (Alchemy makes its grand return)

Category: Companies,News,Technology,Transportation – Tom Harrison – 3:51 pm

Reuters is reporting a water powered car by a company called Genepax. Almost every source I could find left it at that: you pour in some water (any kind will do) and its generator will separate hydrogen from water, then use the hydrogen to power the vehicle. Just pour in more water to make the car go further. Just like the press release says. Nothing more.

Phew — our energy problems are solved!

(Oh, except for one little thing. Pesky annoying laws of physics. (more…)

May 29, 2008

Can one person make a difference? (Yes, and it’s Celine Dion)

Category: Conservation,News,Save Water – Tom Harrison – 9:15 pm

Ugh. I had to add this little gem from ABC news, because it’s always so much fun to slam self-righteous celebrities. Yes, Celine Dion uses 6.5 Million Gallons of Water per year in her Florida house.

Climate Change is Here Now, Says US Federal Government (for the first time)

Category: Climate Change,News,Political – Tom Harrison – 1:44 pm

The American public

imagine all these ecological impacts are in some distant future. They’re not in some distant future. We’re experiencing them now.

said Anthony Janetos, as reported in today’s Washington Post.

Janetos is one of the lead scientists commissioned by the US Government to study effects of fossil fuel on agriculture. Significant measured impacts from this cause (that have already happened) include:

Alabama Farmer Surveying Drought (From New York Times)

  • More frequent forest fires
  • Reduced snow pack
  • Drought

This is not a prediction for what may happen in the next fifty years. These already happened enough to measure. They are still happening (more…)