Posts filed under ‘rant time’

Lazy blogger, mediocre environmentalist

soda_rings

It’s been over a month since I last wrote here, and I don’t really have an excuse. I think it’s because I keep coming up with blog topics that are kind of hard to research and/or comply with. Someone recently told me that it actually slows down your boiling water if you add salt to it first – I always have added salt in the beginning because I thought it sped up the process. Does anyone know what the truth is? I’m too lazy to look it up, but I would really like to know whether I’m wasting a ton of energy trying to heat up salty water all the time.

I’ve also been thinking about greening up my cat’s litter situation, but I’m totally hooked on Fresh Step (which is clay-based and not at all green, plus it costs about $10 a box). I’m not at all interested in potty-training my cats, (more…)

April 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

EPA Bags Eco-Fugitive in Florida

epa_fugitives

Last night the Associated Press released a breaking story about the shooting and capture of Larkin Baggett, a Utah-based chemical company owner who was wanted by the EPA for illegally disposing of hazardous waste. The EPA was tipped off about Baggett’s whereabouts after listing him as a wanted fugitive on the Criminal Enforcement section of their website, and found him in the Florida Keys yesteday where the manhunt ended in a hail of bullets. Baggett reportedly pulled out a gun when confronted by officials, who in turn shot him twice, arrested him, and brought him to a Miami hospital where he remains in critical condition.

It’s not easy enforcing environmental protection law, so back in December of last year Bush Administration EPA officials set up a webpage on theĀ  that features a saloon-style bulletin board of EPA Fugitive wanted posters. The fugitives include hazardous waste dumpers and importers of emissions-spewing vehicles and ozone-depleting chemicles, and grainy photographs of their two dozen sad faces are posted on the page along with short descriptions of their wrongdoings and last known whereabouts.

Baggett was the first EPA fugitive to be identified and captured using the Agency’s online list. When the list was first published back in December, environmentalists doubted that the digital wanted posters would help bring eco-violators to justice. Under the current administration, however, the EPA has been newly empowered and seems genuinely interested in enforcing environmental law. The story of Larkin Baggett may only be the first of its kind as the EPA enters into a new era of environmental protection by all means necessary (including the use of deadly force).

March 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

Smokey’s New Look

smokybearHave you seen Smokey the Bear lately? He had a CGI makeover. The US Forest Service has a new ad campaign to educate people about preventing forest fires (sorry, the call them “wild fires” now), and instead of bringing out the traditional, fatherly, cuddly Smokey, they made a whole new cyber Smokey, with a sexy new look, deeper voice, a snazzy website (SmokeyBear.com), and even a tag line: “Get Your Smokey On.” A far cry from the quaint, hand-painted PSA ranger bear that we know and love.

The whole thing makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but I guess it’s all well-intentioned. The campaign aims to reduce the incidence of wild fires, the large majority of which are caused by humans, and it’s definitely a worthwhile cause, considering much of southern California has been on fire for years now and several other regions of the US have experienced record droughts within the past decade. Smokey’s website offers all sorts of info on preventing fires, plus it has a nifty feature on its home page that tracks how many acres of land have burned so far in the US this year (about a half million last time I checked), and a map that shows everywhere there’s a wildfire burning today. Kind of scary, but really quite cool.

The best part of the campaign, of course, are the TV ads featuring our new and improved sexy CGI Smokey. You can see them on the home page of SmokeyBear.com. And just in case you miss the old Smokey, there’s a section on his new website called Smokey’s Vault that offers lots of history and classic images from the 60-year Smokey the Bear campaign.

January 31, 2009 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Sir.

bush_leavingToday’s a big day for you, President Bush. Tomorrow you’re moving out of the White House, which means today is packing day. I can imagine you’ve accumulated a lot over the past eight years – I hope you’ve got a big suitcase.

Don’t forget your golf clubs – I hear the new guy plays a different sport so he won’t be needing them. And be sure to take your golf buddies, too, and all the other miserly schemers that you surround yourself with. Make room in the trunk for all those new coal plants that have gone up under your watch, and the inefficient cars and trucks that have been built. Take your framed, unsigned copy of the Kyoto agreement, and those two scientists that still don’t believe in global warming. Pack up those drilling rights that you’ve issued, and please return the ice and polar bears that have gone missing. Hold on to all your other paperwork, too – you never know what you’ll need when you get indicted.

Bring your bad speech, your ignorant world outlook, your apathy toward those of us who don’t happen to be older, white, wealthy and male. Try and make room for all the regression and missed opportunities that you’ve created – I know it’s a lot, but you really deserve them more than anyone else. And take your corporate bedfellows, your disregard for environmental and human consequences, and your wars. I don’t care what you do with Cheney, but make sure he’s emptied all the dirt from his desk and leaves his keys.

Pack it all up, and get it out of here. It’s really not fair to leave your mess for the next tennant, and we, the people, have no need for your crappy legacy.

January 19, 2009 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

Clean Slate

holiday_tableThe holidays. They’re over now (phew), but I’m still feeling the aftershocks. It’s time for a confession.

Christmas is about gifts, and this year I bought a lot of them, made a couple (too few), and received even more. There might be a recession on, and Americans might have experienced a leaner holiday this year, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the mountain of loot that I brought home on December 26th. It’s worth noting that a few of the consumer goods I received were fairly green – I got a compost bin, some gardening tools, and a gift certificate to buy vegetable seeds from Seeds of Change. I also wrapped the presents that I gave in the paper that I saved last year. But for the most part, this Christmas was a nauseating display of consumption and waste.

And there was also food. Too much of it. And lots of alcohol to wash it down. I ate until my stomach hurt on more than one occasion, and threw a New Years party which resulted in a morning-after recycling bag full of bottles and cans whose girth rivaled that of my 1995 volvo sedan. Even a couple of days ago I caught myself eating and drinking to the point of gluttony, excusing my behavior with the pathetic phrase, “it’s the holidays, right?” No, it wasn’t the holidays. It was January.

And it still is January, which means that I’ve still got an opportunity to repent for my holiday season sins (more…)

January 5, 2009 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment

Recyclers Going Broke (just like everybody else)

recycling_money

The NY Times reported this morning that the recycling industry throughout the US is being negatively affected by the economic meltdown. It seems that the prices for recyclable materials have dropped, thereby making it unaffordable for many recycling companies to keep collecting materials. In big cities like New York, it’s not causing to much of a problem, because the cost of sending trash to the landfill is still higher than the cost of getting it recycled, but small-town Americans are seeing their recycling programs suspended or cut back, as the companies who collect their reycling are running out of space, an the companies who turn the recyclables into new stuff will only buy the materials at exceptionally low prices.

Contrary to my post the other day, this scenario is an example of how the economic crisis is, in fact, bad for the environment. Even if the crisis is causing Americans to cut back on their consumption of consumer goods, more of their garbage is now going to the landfill instead of the recycling plant, which balances out any possible positive results of our new found stinginess.

If the current government an the incoming administration support a bailout for the Auto Industry in the name of saving jobs and promoting greener cars for Americans, I think it’s only fair that they also institute some sort of recycling sector bailout that would give incentives to companies to buy USA-made recycled products. Many of our recyclable materials have traditionally been sent to China to get processed and sold back to us as paper, car parts and other small consumer goods, so promoting local processors and giving American companies a reason (tax breaks) to buy our own trash and make it into new things here would have the dual effect of keeping money and jobs here at home, and keeping trash out of our landfills. The new administration may also want to consider simply outlawing the use of newly mined or logged materials in times when recyclables are in surplus (like now).

Aside from just reducing landfill tonnage, recycling saves massive amounts of energy and other resources – there’s a great Economist article that outlined all of this a couple years ago – give it a read for more info.

December 8, 2008 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

Does a Bad Economy Spell Good News for the Environment?

hoboNow that our economic crisis has officially been declared a “recession,” I think it’s time to look for the silver lining (green lining?). Americans are losing jobs by the hundreds of thousands, major businesses and banks are going under, and economic indicators haven’t been this gloomy since the 1930’s, but let’s be positive – this could be really great for the environment.

Take your stereotypical Great Depression hobo, for example. Let’s call him, “Joe Hobo”. He’s really a green guy. He doesn’t waste a thing, and even helps to recycle other people’s trash. He takes public transit (cattle trains!), and doesn’t use plastic shopping bags, preferring to carry his purchases in an eco-friendly bindle. My depression-era grandparents were the first to remind me to turn off the lights, save water, and scrape the mold off that bread and eat it – it’s still good! To be honest, I think the American consumer could use a lesson or two from Joe Hobo, and whether they like it or not, they’re getting one now.

Earlier this month the Chicago Sun Times conducted a survey to see how people were trying to save money these days. Some common responses included a shift towards eating leftovers and buying fewer “non essential” grocery items, (more…)

December 4, 2008 at 7:44 pm 2 comments

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