What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Monday, 30 August 2010

Buying less food does not equal driving less, for us.

In the Deconstructing Dinner podcast "CLIMATE FRIENDLY EATING (CONSCIENTIOUS COOKS VIII)" according to Bonnie Powell of the Ethicurean 31% of the carbon footprint of food, overall responsible for 1/5th of our energy usage, comes from refridgerating it and preparing it. 15% comes from transport. I've been trying to find what percntage of that transport if any is attributable to consumer transport from the market to home. Unfortunately most food mile calculations stop at the market loading dock. However, Gail Feenstra, food systems analyst, University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (Davis, CA) says that by driving 5 miles to the market to purchase your locally sourced food, which saves approximately 150 gms of CO2 per unspecifiied unit, uses approximately 2300gms of CO2. Over at Wikipedia I found this
"A commonly ignored element is the local loop. The act of driving further to a more "right-on" food source increases the total carbon footprint. A shopper may buy say 5 kg of meat and use about a gallon to get it. That piece of meat could have gone over 60,000 miles (97,000 km) by road (40tonner at 8mpg) to require the same carbon in transportation. However, this is an extreme scenario, in which a consumer burns a gallon of gasoline (30 or 40 miles (64 km) of travel) to buy a single food item, 5 kg of meat. While extreme consumer behaviours can certainly cancel any environmental benefit arising from any food-buying choice, it is a different question whether consumer behaviours do so in practice."

Here at the Sustainable living project our food bill has gone way down, we haven't bought tomatoes, tomatoe sauce, peppers or hot sauce, squash, corn, green beans, or melons since the harvest started coming in. We do still shop at grocery stores, mostly for dairy products, organic corn chips, soy and rice milk, and cleaning supplies. We also combine our grocery shopping with picking up produce trimmings for the store to add to our compost pile. I'm interested in how this new food economy in our household has impacted our automobile use. Since we got the car running we have used it almost everyday. We visit my parents and my sister, on Thursdays I cruise the neighborhood for firewood, garden supplies, and household items that folks have put on curb to go to landfill. We have also recently purchased another rental property and have been going there almost everyday to get it ready for occupancy. This will start to drop off after the first of the month. I also go to each property to mow the lawn once a week.So the question is, has our decreased need for grocery shopping decreased our driving. Not really. We almost never take the car out for dedicated trips to the store, it is always inconjunction with other errands, mentioned above. We consciously try to do this, delaying trips to a particular location until we have other errands nearby.

The bottom line is, reducing car use remains a challenge for us.  I do believe that our food habits are not contributing significantly to increasing car use.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Climate Denial Crock of the Week - The “Earth is carbon starved” crock

Help Support Crock of the Week:

The history of the earth is immense, and diverse - and its easy to get confused and mangle history, -- to mix things that never belonged together in the real world.

What was natural in the distant past might not be a good fit alongside man's creations.
Human beings and the climate of the ancient world, could find themselves on a collision course.

Richard Alley, Bjerknes Lecture, American Geophysical Union,
December 2009

Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum sediments

Hydrogen sulfide blooms off Namibia

snowball earth - dropstones and carbon cap

"The Day Earth Died" BBC
part 1
part 2

A major drop in seawater 87Sr/86Sr during the Middle Ordovician (Darriwilian): Links to volcanism and climate?

Tripati et al, Miocene sea levels and CO2

University of York, Greenhouse/Extinction connection

US Geological Survey, Volcanic gases

Earth: A Biography

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Video - TED - Sheryl WuDunn: Our century's greatest injustice

"Sheryl WuDunn's book "Half the Sky" investigates the oppression of women globally. Her stories shock. Only when women in developing countries have equal access to education and economic opportunity will we be using all our human resources."

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The trillionth tonne

There is something hypnotic about these counters, kind of like the hypnosis of relying on industrial agriculture, auto based transport, cement based construction, coal produced electricity; switch off brain....consume....consume until we have consumed the future our children rely upon, consume until we have consumed the biodiversity our present relies upon.

The TrilionthTonne

Friday, 20 August 2010

Video - Another chapter in the life of a Plastic Bag

"The question is, and it's the top question for our time, will we take what we know and do what it takes to insure a place for ourselves within the natural systems so we survive" - Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer in Residence

"This short film by American director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) traces the epic, existential journey of a plastic bag (voiced by Werner Herzog) searching for its lost maker, the woman who took it home from the store and eventually discarded it. Along the way, it encounters strange creatures, experiences love in the sky, grieves the loss of its beloved maker, and tries to grasp its purpose in the world.

In the end, the wayward plastic bag wafts its way to the ocean, into the tides, and out into the Pacific Ocean trash vortex — a promised nirvana where it will settle among its own kind and gradually let the memories of its maker slip away."

You can see additional material related to this video at
Future States TV

Video - High-Speed Rails Too Expensive?

"The Obama administration has allocated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects taking shape across the U.S., but critics say the projects are too expensive."

I'm all for increased public transportation, anything to get us out of our climate destroying cars and airplanes. I loved riding the chunnel high speed train from England to France. Trains are so much more civilized a mode of transport than planes and auto's. We got by in the UK just fine for two years without a car. However, I'm not sure about putting a high speed line in Florida. Why build it just to watch it get washed away in a decade or two?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

DAVID FRIDLEY: The 'Pipe Dream' of Energy Independence - Building U.S. Energy Resilience

"Post Carbon Institute Renewable Energy Fellow David Fridley discusses global renewable energy technology development and what may be a 'pipe dream' of energy independence. Fridley also draws the distinction between efficiency and conservation.

Since 1995, David Fridley has been a staff scientist at the Energy Analysis Program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. He is also deputy group leader of Lawrence Berkeley's China Energy Group, which collaborates with China on end-user energy efficiency, government energy management programs, and energy policy research. Mr. Fridley has nearly 30 years of experience working and living in China in the energy sector, and is a fluent Mandarin speaker. He spent 12 years working in the petroleum industry both as a consultant on downstream oil markets in the Asia-Pacific region and as business development manager for Caltex China. He has written and spoken extensively on the energy and ecological limits of biofuels."

Sunday, 1 August 2010