Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

November 15, 2010

Review: Cool It — Made Me Think, Twice

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

Cool It


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.

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…)

June 22, 2008

Not All Hybrid Cars are Created Equal

Category: Save Fuel,Technology – Tom Harrison – 12:27 pm

It is a wonderful thing that car manufacturers are moving to hybrid versions of their vehicles.

Like many of the incremental features introduced in cars over the years, the good ones catch on. Shoulder belts, air bags, anti-lock braking, and many others have made cars safer.

And now, many cars are available with hybrid engines. This adds to the price of the car a little (or sometimes, it seems, a lot). And a hybrid system makes the car greener, right?

Why, the Chevy Tahoe is the green car of the year if you can believe that. (It costs $11,000 more to get the “green” hybrid version, so the car can get a paltry 22 miles per gallon).

A hybrid system does not make a car “green”, it just makes a car a little less of a bad thing. (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…)

December 2, 2007

NY Times Article on Green Scammers

Category: Observations – Tom Harrison – 10:55 pm

You know that your cause has reached some level of breadth and market viability when people start using it to sell product. How sad, in a country obsessed with consumption that this is true. And “TerraChoice Environmental Marketing” has taken it upon themselves to define the high road, as reported in an article from last week in the NY Times. Whether it be Green Spam, the people selling shower heads that don’t use less water, or companies who think they just need to buy some renewable energy credits and all will be well, the signs are all here.

We’re getting into the interesting part of the debate on what it will take to really deal with our climate and energy crises.

November 18, 2007

Greenwashing: The Evolve Shower Head

Category: Companies,Household,Little Things,Save Water,Tips – Tom Harrison – 10:41 pm

We’re looking for a good low-flow shower head. I have found some good options and am looking for suggestions. But in my hunt, I found one of the more egregious examples of green-washing I have seen recently. I found a shower head whose feature is that it turns off automatically when the water is warm. Hmm, I thought, how could that save water?

In my search, I came across the “Evolve” shower head. This shower head doesn’t actually use less water when you’re in the shower. Instead, this company has made the alarming (although probably true) assumption that the following series of events takes place:

  1. Turn on water
  2. Wait for it to warm up
  3. Walk around the house doing other things
  4. Get in the warm shower
  5. Take a shower as normal

They had me up until step 3. (more…)

October 21, 2007

Green Markets: Valuing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

Category: Big Things,Companies,Economics,News,Policy – Tom Harrison – 3:37 pm

This week’s Business Week ran an article called Little Green Lies, The Bitter Education of a Corporate Environmentalist. One thrust of the article involves renewable energy credits (RECs); they are so cheap, and provide such a small benefit (less than 3% of the total revenue), says the article, that they don’t affect what renewable energy facilities get built. This view seems very short-sighted to me. (more…)

August 4, 2007

Coal: Because you care enough to burn the very best

Category: Fun – Tom Harrison – 4:40 pm

A subtle parody of carbon industry greenwashing. Found on Grist — very funny. Sort of.

read more | digg story

June 28, 2006

Link: BP Manipulating Prices?

Category: Companies,News – Tom Harrison – 7:06 pm

From an article in today’s Business section of the New York Times:

The U.S. futures industry regulator said Wednesday that a U.S. unit of BP Plc. tried to manipulate U.S. propane prices by cornering the market in February 2004.

Don’t know what to make of it, but Enron may not have been the only one out there playing with the market…