Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


March 14, 2012

Patriots Reportedly lose Superbowl, but Questions about Score Persist

Category: Climate Change – Tom Harrison – 9:36 am

On Sunday February 5th, 2012, the New England Patriots were said to have lost to the New York Giants by a score of 21 to 17. The game was recorded and watched by millions of people. But questions continue to linger as to whether the score as reported by the NFL, and it’s business partners in the media, is accurate.

These sorts of questions have been raised by football experts, not just in this year’s contest, but, according to some reports, for all prior Super Bowls. Dismissed as “ridiculous” by mainstream followers of the sport, the evidence supports a consistent and nagging uncertainty about the veracity of Super Bowl scores, and researchers have found the inconsistency may be endemic, not just in professional football, but in other sports as well.

Sports Score Deniers

Roger L. Verisim holds a PhD from Rutgers University in Astrophysics, and reported within minutes of the game’s conclusion, “No way. There’s simply no way the Patriots could have lost this game. It’s impossible.” Additional reporting suggests that many other scientists who also observed the game made similar assertions (more…)

December 13, 2010

Why Is My Refrigerator Running When It’s Colder Outside?

Category: Economics,Household – Tom Harrison – 12:02 am

Steam Heat

Baby Its Warm Outside

Last week, it was colder outside than the temperature inside my fridge and freezer … but the fridge kept running — why can’t it use the cold air from outside? And while I am asking questions, why do I need a humidifier in winter while exhausting that nice, hot, humid air from our showers outside with a fan? Or, that nice hot humid air from the dryer — big plumes of hot air into the icy cold? It smells nice, too.

Our homes and their appliances are dumb as stumps. Or, is it us?

To be sure, the bathroom exhaust fan is not a simple problem — there are indeed times when that which is being exhausted is, um, best left outside.

But the clothes dryer — if you put in a dryer sheet, you’re sending nice smelling, warm, humid air outside (and, by blowing air outside through one hole, it is replaced by sucking in cold, dry, outside air through some other leak or hole). The fridge is even more perverse: 20°F outside, and the motor is running? Huh?

Afraid To Be Too Smart

Of course the reason for these inefficiencies is simply that adding smarts to appliances increases complexity, and that increases cost. (more…)

November 15, 2010

Review: Cool It — Made Me Think, Twice

Category: Climate Change,Green Reviews – Tom Harrison – 9:10 pm

Cool It

Think

I saw the movie Cool It based on the book of the same name, by Bjørn Lomborg. You should either read the book or see the movie.

And then you should think a little. Actually, think a lot, for this movie is very clever, I think.

The movie is well-crafted, if not as slickly produced as movies such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. In particular, Cool It presents a different take on climate change than Inconvenient Truth. It is convincing — skipping between scenes of the youthful Lomburg in his Greenpeace days, to his canonical assertion, which is that to fight climate change, we’re spending our money the wrong way, and efforts to date have been largely ineffective and fantastically cost-ineffective.

But something did not seem to quite “add up” to me. That’s when I started thinking again.
(more…)

September 16, 2010

Review: SodaStream Gets Fizzy Water Right

Category: Green Reviews,Household,Organic & Local Food – Tom Harrison – 2:42 pm

sodastreamI continue to be stunned when I am at the market and see people buying bottled water, soda, flavored seltzers and other such products. They are heavy. They use plastic or aluminum containers. They are expensive. In short, a huge waste of resources at every level. And if you like soda (pop) it’s the same deal.

So make your own seltzer and soda at home — it’s easy, convenient, and saves money, and may also be good for the environment.

Not Your Dad’s Old Seltzer Bottle

I used to buy flavored seltzer in one liter bottles — lime, orange, and other flavors and fizzy water (no sugar). Then I recalled that when I was a kid, my dad had a seltzer bottle — one (CO2) charger would make a quart — a while back, I bought a Liss Soda Siphon and would regularly order packs of 10 chargers in the mail — I think they were about 50 cents a liter, which compares favorably to the 99 cents a liter at the store.

But the big wins: no bottles to lug, and as much water as you needed when you wanted it (as long as you keep chargers on hand). And no bottles in the landfill or to recycle. It was a reasonable solution, but after a year or so, a couple of the parts on the bottle started failing so that gas would leak out. I could usually make it work, but it was always a bit of a hassle to make a new batch. I think repair parts are available, so it’s still a pretty good option. (more…)

August 24, 2010

Pakistan, Niger, Russian, US Floods, Droughts: Climate Change Preview

Category: Climate Change,Economics,Political – Tom Harrison – 11:37 am

Click To Enlarge

There’s been a lot of dramatic weather this year, in fact more records than in recorded history — I would like to take a moment to consider their impact.

Many, many people suffer, and much property was damaged or destroyed. These extreme weather events are all consistent with the predictions of climate change. Let’s go out on a limb, for a moment, and consider a world that has, with increasing frequencies, climate events like these. This isn’t going far out on a limb, because this kind of weather instability is one thing climate scientists have been predicting, correctly, as a result of climate change.

What climate change scientists predict are resulting in some downstream impacts, which I tend to think are likely to be the most immediate threats to our “first world” ways of life. (more…)

June 7, 2010

Do We Need An Oil Spill for Climate Change Action?

Category: Climate Change,Policy – Tom Harrison – 6:18 pm

(I wrote this on May 28th, but never published. I am publishing now because I think things might have changed enough).

I have an opinion about just about everything, including opinions. Daniel Weiss did a nice post on the Climate Progress blog showing how dramatically public opinion has shifted in the month or so since the oil spill started.

In short, people don’t think offshore drilling is such a good idea any more, and they’re willing to trade off economic development for environmental protection.

In my opinion, this shows how little value there is in the opinions of people. I am not trying to be negative, or get attention by being contrarian, smug, or elitist.

Instead, I think we’re at some rather great risk of self-destruction if we keep making policy opportunistically, and avoiding discourse and action until the time is right. (more…)

April 29, 2010

“Spill Baby, Spill” – Oil Leak “May Be Five Times Initial Estimate”

Category: Climate Change,Companies,Energy Independence,Political – Tom Harrison – 8:26 am

Credit: New York Times

I think I should claim a scoop on this story, as when I wrote my post the other day, I had beat the New York Times and most other media to identifying the BP Oil Spill as a rather major disaster. I am sad to say “I told you so”.

The news media seem to be coming around to my way of thinking. The New York Times is now reporting as the lead story that, um, those 42,000 gallons of oil per day leaking into the sea may be more like, um 210,000 gallons (this is all converted to “barrels” now — an oil barrel holds 42 US gallons, so the initial estimate was 1,000 barrels/day is now 5,000).

Holy hole, Batman!

And it appears that BP’s public relations operation has also gotten bigger.

Fortunately, the problem isn’t that bad. No, really. (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…)

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…)

April 5, 2010

Cape Wind Attacked By Its Own Proponents

Category: Climate Change,Conservation,Policy,Technology – Tom Harrison – 10:32 pm

I am beginning to think Jane Fonda is going to reincarnate (sorry, is she still with us?) and create a sequel to The China Syndrome called The Cape Windrome or something. Today the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation recommended that Cape Wind not be approved. Because what, the waves of yesteryear are going to be different? Come on, let’s get a little real, please?

The single most infuriating example of how the United States is sometimes able to undermine even the simplest, most obvious options is being played out in the great saga of Cape Wind. A small array of wind turbines is planned for Cape Cod Bay, generating a substantial amount of power, efficiently, locally and cleanly. But it represents change, and change is bad. Right? (more…)