Archive for the 'Environment' category

The World’s Dirtiest Cities

 | July 8, 2008 3:24 PM

Linfen, China

From Popular Science comes this list of The World’s Dirtiest Cities.  Not surprisingly we have an industrial city from China and Mexico City.  But I was surprised to see that Pittsburgh is still on the list and I have never heard of any of the other cities except for Milan.

After reading the above article I was interested to see what the dirtiest cities in North America are and found this article, In Pictures: America’s Dirtiest Cities. Lots of California cities near Route 99 and Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Birmingham.


Monitoring that electrical bill

 | June 26, 2008 10:29 AM

I have kind of always wanted to do what was done in this article, Computer stuff and power requirements ,i.e. buy something like a Kill A Watt and measure my household electrical usage.

This is my last electrical bill which came out to over $40. As you can see Pacific Gas and Electric’s rates go up the more electricity you use.

Baseline Usage 242.00000 kWh @ $0.11559
101-130% of Baseline 72.60000 kWh@ $0.13142
131-200% of Baseline 14.40000 kWh @ $0.22580

Some numbers to think about. A router uses 8 watts or 0.008 kW and it is always on. Since there are approximately 720 hours in a month, therefore a router uses approximately 6 kWh. That would cost $1.35, obviously not breaking the bank.

An LCD monitor uses typically 30 watts for about 12 hours a day. That is approximately 10 kWh. That would cost about $2.26 per month.

I think the laptops use less power as this article, How Much Power Does My Laptop Really Use?, seems to imply. But if we assume that is it the same as the monitor then that works out to about $2 for each. I usually have two laptops on at the same time, one personal, one for work.

I think I can estimate that my computer usage is costing in total about $10 per month or 25% of my electrical bill.

I am starting to wonder if maybe the fridge is using up another 25% or $10 per month. Here is an article about Refrigerator Power Consumption. The author claims that by replacing the old fridge with a more energy efficient new fridge that the fridge will pay itself off in energy savings in eight years. Of course the author is not counting the environmental cost of filling up a land fill with another perfectly usable refrigerator.


Seafood Watch

 | May 21, 2008 12:34 PM

Seafood Watch

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Seafood Watch program.

Your seafood choices make a difference! Our Seafood Guides can help you make choices that are good for you and good for the oceans.

In the West Coast Seafood Guide it says the best choices are fish like Alaska wild salmon, U.S. farmed catfish, pacific halibut. Fishes to avoid include farmed salmon, sharks, imported shrimp, Atlantic cod.

You can download and print out pocket guides that fold up and which you can carry in your wallet or purse for your next seafood shopping or dining experience.

Update 06-23-2009: Now you can get Seafood Watch recommendations on your iPhone.

get Seafood Watch recommendations on your iPhone


drinking waterBoy the news about the environment just keeps getting worse. Now they are finding trace levels of pharmaceuticals in drinking water which were excreted from humans and there isn’t a good way of getting rid of them. The impact on humans is not known but it is generally not considered good. And it seems to me that these levels will just keep rising.

AP probe finds drugs in drinking water – Yahoo! News

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.


Suspicious of Ethanol

 | February 21, 2008 4:58 PM

George Bush Oil

In 2006 George Bush made the remarkable statement that the U.S. needed to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and pushed forward programs to promote the production of ethanol.

Though I was pleasantly surprised that an oil man like George Bush would make such a statement I was also suspicious of this ethanol proposal for several reasons.

  1. George Bush and much of his cabinet have deep relations with big oil (U.S. Energy independence? Don’t bet on it).
  2. I don’t like the government picking winners and losers in the market, I’d rather the free market determine what is the best technology.
  3. The oil companies are the ones doing the investing in ethanol and stand to benefit from this government program, along with the many other handouts from the government to them.
  4. Ethanol is much less efficient than gasoline so more ethanol has to be consumed.

Now as I do more reading I have learned that ethanol production is actually destructive to the environment.

San Jose Mercury News – Study: Ethanol may add to global warming

The study said that after taking into account expected worldwide land-use changes, corn-based ethanol, instead of reducing greenhouse gases by 20 percent, will increases it by 93 percent compared to using gasoline over a 30-year period. Biofuels from switchgrass, if they replace croplands and other carbon-absorbing lands, would result in 50 percent more greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers concluded.

We should be focusing on our use of biofuels from waste products” such as garbage, which would not result in changes in agricultural land use, Searchinger said in an interview. “And you have to be careful how much you require. Use the right biofuels, but don’t require too much too fast. Right now we’re making almost exclusively the wrong biofuels.”

Here’s another article from one of my favorite columnists, George Will.

The Biofuel Follies

Will ethanol prevent more carbon-dioxide emissions than would have been absorbed by the trees cut down to clear land for the production of crops for ethanol? Be that as it may, governments mandating the use of biofuels are one reason for the global rise in food prices, which is driving demand for more arable land. That demand is driving the destruction of forests—and animal habitats.

The argument that biofuels are important for reducing our energy dependence on unreliable or dangerous Middle Eastern nations (the two largest sources of U.S. oil imports are turbulent Canada and militant Mexico) is mocked by the 54-cents-a-gallon tariff penalizing Brazilian ethanol.