Archive for January, 2010

The prospect for global warming fixes via the government certainly looks bleak (Copenhagen’s failure and the collapse of U.S. Congress legislation), but it also provides U.S. companies with an opening to provide a fix – and that’s where a little light is added to a dark situation.

As this blog has long proclaimed, the real future in lighting is LEDs (light-emitting-diode bulbs) and not CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs), simply because the light is superior and they use even less energy. That’s right, it’s the same type of light you get in new Christmas lights.

So, while incandescent light bulbs go dimmer by 5 percent per a government mandate (this is actually a smart way to save energy as well), LEDs will be shining the way toward a new lighting future.  This article predicts, LEDS could be as common by 2020 as iPods were by 2010:

By the end of the decade, analysts predict, LEDs will be the dominant source for commercial and residential lighting.

One retailer has an even better comparison than iPods:

“From where I sit, lighting is undergoing the same transition that the film business did when digital cameras first came out,” says Chuck Swoboda, CEO of Cree, a publicly traded LED manufacturer and lighting-systems company based in Durham, N.C. “I think the writing is on the wall for older types of lighting technologies. It’s just a question of how quickly we make it happen.”

And if you fear these lights will be as distinct as the squiggly fluorescent bulbs have been said to be, then fear not. This press release shows chandelier bulbs have been created that look exactly like their incandescent rivals.

At a time when all governments are believed to be failing the climate change goals, we can take heart in the free-market ingenuity of the lighting industry. It just might help roll back greenhouse gas emissions. And that is surely good news.

A New York Times editorial says the climate bill shouldn’t die, while the Washington Post has this panel of opinions on what Scott Brown’s victory means for the bill.  The Boston Globe reports that Sen. Kerry and other advocates of the legislation may seek a compromise, and the New York Times notes that 38 senators want to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Meanwhile, this BBC blog post notes the dramatic shift in the climate change rhetoric in the last few months, while another BBC column speculates on what last week’s Supreme Court decision could mean for environmental issues.  The New York Times reports that even the weak Copenhagen agreement is in danger of coming apart.

A U.N. climate panel was wrong about Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 (MSNBC), but the panel’s head said that the mistake doesn’t reduce the situation’s urgency (Washington Post).

A new nonprofit group wants Rhode Island to have 10,000 electric cars by 2015 (Providence Journal).  The Journal also reports that a new bill in the legislature aims to stop LNG tankers from traveling under the Mt. Hope Bridge.

The head of one of Massachusetts’s largest utilities says he’s undecided about the Cape Wind project (Boston Globe).  The Globe also notes that a variety of tax credits can be claimed for energy-efficient home improvements.  Meanwhile, this L.A. Times article describes how to set up a home rain-catching system.

Florida’s governor has proposed putting $2.1 billion for the environment in the state budget (MSNBC).  MSNBC also notes that a Nature study has found that emissions from Asia contribute to smog on the U.S. West coast.

If you’re not sure whether something’s recyclable, this Washington Post article says that throwing it out is better than trying to recycle it.

Avoid using plastic in the microwave because heating plastic releases chemicals into food.

Terry wondered what happened to the climate change bill that passed the House last year. And with a Mass. Senate seat falling into the hands of the GOP last night, the climate change bill is now dead according to one top Democratic senator.

For a year, the drumbeat was that the Senate would get to climate change after health care – and now they’ve waited so long that health care is in jeopardy and they won’t have nearly enough political capital to push through a Senate bill on climate change. Sen. Byron Dorgan acknowledged as much yesterday:

“My own sense is that in the aftermath of a very, very heavy lift on health care, I think it is unlikely that the Senate will turn next to the very complicated and very controversial subject of cap-and-trade, climate change kind of legislation,” Dorgan said. “I think it is more compelling to turn to an energy bill that is bi-partisan.”
That legislation would require more U.S. electricity supplies to be generated from renewable sources like wind and solar, and expand offshore drilling into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which holds almost 4 billion barrels of oil.

And so, there will be no cap-and-trade and it seems as though the plan that Sens. Lieberman, Kerry and Graham put forth – it would tax companies for pollution and then give the money to consumers – will not be working either. A year in on President Obama’s term, and the EPA has moved forward on a lot of things, but Congress seems to have wasted the mandate they were given by the public last fall.

Hope everyone’s enjoying the long weekend, and taking some time to think about what Martin Luther King accomplished.

A meeting in London this week seeks to protect global biodiversity (BBC).

A new paper in Science says mountaintop mining should be stopped (Washington Post).

A new leader helps Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources start distributing stimulus funds (Providence Journal).  In Massachusetts, budget cuts have a cost for the environment (Boston Globe).

Natural gas is promoted as a clean alternative energy source, yet two proposed pipelines in the Rockies are drawing pushback from environmentalists (MSNBC).  And the debate over solar panels in California (Newsweek) sounds very similar to the Cape Wind project.  Speaking of which, the project’s developers have recently sought a compromise with its foes (Boston Globe), and a decision from the Obama administration could come by April (New York Times).

When it comes to skiing, some slopes are less environmentally-friendly than others (New York Times).

Window film is a relatively cheap way of improving window efficiency and saving energy.

Thousands are feared dead in the biggest earthquake to hit Haiti in at least 200 years. It is an unthinkable disaster and the initial reaction is to worry and pray for all who are connected to this tragedy. Sadly in a culture where we are all so quick to cast blame for an event on someone, there is nobody to blame here. Research on tectonic plates and earthquake warning signs has evolved, but there is no foolproof way to predict them. You are at the mercy of Earth – or if you’re inclined to believe a higher being.

Looking at video and photos of the wreckage, you wish you had more of a say. There’s an old adage: You worry about the things you can control, and then deal with all the others as they come along. For all the health advances to make people live longer, we’ll never be able to stop something such as an earthquake or a tragic twist of fate such as a car accident.

However, seeing all these people in need harkens back to such disasters as Hurricane Katrina, the Tsunami of 2004 and other events with death tolls in the thousands. It gives you a look into a future of wreckage and body counts as storms rise in severity and rising sea levels cause more flooding. These are things we do have a say in. These are effects of climate change. Sooner or later, we won’t have a say anymore. But we still have a say now. Let’s stop more destruction and do something about it.

Be sure to keep Haiti in your thoughts today.

Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer death. The best time to test your home for it is winter.

The New York Times notes that the recent cold weather does not signify global cooling, and reports that climate scientists are helped by getting access to CIA data.

This Wall Street Journal column argues argues that the fight against climate change is starting to resemble a drive for economic development.

The EPA is proposing to tighten smog restrictions (LA Times).  Meanwhile, some states want to delay regulation of greenhouse gas emissions (Wall Street Journal).

The Washington Post has this panel of opinions on rising sea levels.  It also has this article about how hotels can struggle in trying to be green.  And speaking of rising sea levels, the Maldives, threatened by rising sea levels, strive to be more eco-friendly (LA Times).

You’re usually advised that walking through Boston Common at night could be a little dangerous. However, with the Mayor’s Walk having an LED exhibit, there is a reason to stroll through the Common at night these days. The city has set up 7 different types of LED lights and will have citizens vote on which type of LED light they like best. The winning light will be used as the city switches its outdoor lights to LEDs.

LEDs have a number of benefits: They use half the energy of traditional bulbs, last 3 to 4 times longer and give off a more focused light. Since they’re using half the energy, they also create half the greenhouse gas emissions. Other cities making the same move to LEDs are: Flint, Mich.; Boise, Idaho; Seattle, Wash., and Los Angeles.

LED lights are a better bet than compact-fluorescent lights, but they’re only fiscally viable right now for outdoor bulbs. More than 11,000 traffic signals and 1,800 pedestrian crossing lights in Boston were gradually replaced with LEDs over the past ten years, which has saved the city nearly $400,000 annually in energy costs. The LED lights do come with one unforeseen drawback, which is that the lights can easily be snow-covered since they are not hot (and thus don’t melt the snow).

With all this in mind, I checked out the Mayor’s Walk in Boston, which is located near the Park Street T stop on the Common and runs toward the Public Garden with the Frog Pond on your right. There are 7 different types of LED lights fitting those retro gas-lamp style lights. The city has labeled them A-G. I thought the best one in regards to filling up the whole gas-lamp with light, giving off the best type of light and giving off the most light was the “C” choice. This is far and away the best light. I thought the “B” option also was fairly good. The “E” option only filled up half of the gas-lamp and thus looked funny, while the “D” choice left something to be desired in the amount of ground the light covered. The “A” and “F” choices just weren’t as appealing a light to my eyes – and in all honesty I couldn’t find the “G” option.

Check it out for yourself and take the survey. I’ll be sure to fill you in on the results.